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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Halloween (1978)

You had to know this was coming, especially on the day itself.

Michael Myers, who just escaped from a mental hospital, goes on a murderous rampage on Halloween night after returning to his hometown of Haddonfield, Ill. Inexplicably, his prize victim seems to be babysitter Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis). Psychiatrist Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) is on a mission to stop Myers.

Now that the official day of Halloween is actually here, I thought what better way to end my little horror movie marathon by going out with the film that practically started it all.

John Carpenter basically did this film for about $300,000 and it shows but not in a bad way because this is how low-budget films should be. Carpenter starts this film off strong with some very creepy music and very creepy angles to get you inside the head and view-point of not only the teenagers, but the killer as well and it’s all so freaky. Carpenter also uses a great deal of suspense for this film where you think somethings going to pop out right away, and then it doesn’t but when you least expect it, it does. After seeing this about 10 times now, it’s not as scary but still done very well by the legend John Carpenter.

It’s also a very impressive film because it was one of the first teenage slasher flicks that created basically all of the cliches we see now (teenagers who have sex in any horror film, basically die) and although almost every single slasher flick is exactly like the other, it’s cool to see where it all got its start and why this is the classic it should always be remembered as. There’s also not that much blood and gore and I thought that this was so cool because instead of just throwing all of these blood and guts at your face with these kills, Carpenter focuses more on keeping you tense the whole time until the big scares come.

The direction is good but I do have to say that I feel like the script wasn’t one of the film’s major points of attention. The lines are really cheesy and just really bad to the point of where you’re just laughing at all of these characters, and it gets even worse when the film wants to be totally creepy but instead just has you cracking up by all of the cheesy lines. It was also pretty obvious when Michael Myers would go after a person and get ready to stab them until he missed by a whole mile to the right of that person.

I think the main problem that this film suffers from is the fact that it does get pretty old, pretty quick after you have seen it about 10 times.I mean I like this film I really do, but the fact that you can’t really re-watch this film just about all of the time is kind of a problem considering any horror film should be for a good time but it’s just too dated in some parts and won’t really have you as much as in suspense as it would for somebody who hasn’t seen it.

The acting is pretty bad especially Jamie Lee Curtis as the goodie-goodie Laurie. I guess I have to sort of take it easy because it was her first film, or at least her first leading role and although she has done so much better lately, I can’t help but remember how terrible she was in this. Donald Pleasence is also one crazy mofo as Dr. Loomis and basically makes you understand forever: When Donald Pleasence tells you that something is important, you better damn well listen to him. I don’t know who played Michael Myers but regardless, sporting a William Shatner and still being able to walk around killing little sex-crazed teenagers sounds pretty bad-ass to me.

Consensus: It may be very dated and not so fun the second or third time around, Halloween is still a classic because it creates plenty of tension, a great low-budget look, and still has some of the best damn horror-music in any film ever.

8/10=Matinee!! (but definitely watch it at night)

Happy Halloween everyone!

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Puss in Boots (2011)

I can’t ever look at my cat the same again.

Voiced by Antonio Banderas, the dauntless feline of legend goes on an animated adventure to purloin a priceless golden-egg-laying goose. To help him on his mission, Puss brings along his friends Humpty Dumpty and the super-stealthy Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).

Having a spin-off of the famous ‘Shrek‘ series seems like a hard thing to accomplish with any film, but it seems like no matter what, cute little kitties always prevail victorious. I know I sounded really soft right there but still, it’s true.

Even though this is a spin-off, I still felt like this was a lot better than the last two films of that series and probably because it just didn’t try too hard at all for anything especially the humor. The jokes felt natural and were very funny without trying to make any Hollywood in-jokes or jokes that went way too over the little kids that inhabits these films heads.

Another reason why it’s so fun is because it just looks and feels like it. I didn’t see this in 3-D but I could tell that it probably looked so beautiful with all of the vibrant colors they had displayed in almost every scene. There are some scenes where it is taking place in a desert, in the sky, or in a small Mexicano town, and just about every scene looks very detailed and gorgeous. There’s also plenty of action that keeps this plot going as it almost never stalls and just feels over-done because the action comes so often and frequent in case this film had any chances of slowing down.

This film also works especially if you love cats or have a cat, like myself because there is so much they do with cats here it’s not even funny. A lot of the crazy things that cats do all somehow come into play with this story and made me laugh and probably appreciate my little cat named Henry, a lot more. Things they do such as howl in the middle of the night and driving people around them crazy, or following shiny lights, or even giving those little cute eyes whenever they want or need something. No matter what the crazy thing was, the film made me have a whole lot more fun with the whole cat angle as well. Also, I’ve never ever wanted to actually go up to the screen and actually pet it more than I ever have with this film. I mean Puss just looks so soft and cuddly, how could I not?

The problem I think that this film runs into is that I was expecting exactly what i got, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but then again it’s nothing special like it could have been. I think the problem that this film ran into was that everybody knows the whole formula this film goes through because what it is spun-off of. This sounds dumb to some, but for me I guess I just would have wanted some originality when it came to what it was trying to do with its story.

Another thing that kind of kept this film away from being taken to the next level was that it is essentially a 70-minute film stretched into a 90-minute film, which to some may not seem like a total problem but it does drag on just a tad too long for my own liking. By the end, I kind of more or less just wanted the film to get on with itself. I was also pretty bummed that there’s no real mention or any reference to the other ‘Shrek‘ films which I would have really liked but hey I guess you can’t really judge a film on what it doesn’t have and more or less what it does.

The cast for this film is also very good especially Antonio Banderas as our furry little hero for the nest hour 30 minutes. This is basically Zorro as a cat the whole time, but Antonio keeps him funny, suave, and overall just a totally cool and lovable kitty. He’s a fun character and its really easy to see why they would want to do a film that’s just all about him, instead of continuing the story about the donkey and the ogre.

Salma Hayek joins him as Kitty Softpaws and does a great job with her first time at doing a voice for a film. She has a lot of fun energy that goes very well with her character and how the animation makes her look. Zach Galifianakis is pretty funny as Humpty Dumpty and doesn’t really do much else but how his voice sounds adds a lot to the overall look and feel of this character and what I would expect him to actually sound like. He looks more like a Conehead rather than an actual egg, but hey, he still looks like Humpty Dumpty would. There are also other voices such as Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris as Jack & Jill and director Guillermo del Toro as Moustache Man / Comandate.

Consensus: Puss in Boots may not be ground-breaking, or wholly original but for a spin-off it features a lot of humor, fun, and beautiful animation to give this a very fun treat for kids, adults, and cat lovers everywhere.

8/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Trick ‘r Treat (2008)

I will never be able to look at pumpkins the same again.

Halloween’s usually boisterous traditions turn deadly, and everyone in a small town tries to survive one night in pure hell … but who will still be alive in the morning? Several stories weave together, including a loner fending off a demented trick-or-treater’s attacks; kids uncovering a freaky secret; a school principal — who moonlights as a serial killer — poisoning his candy; and more.

I’m not quite sure exactly when this film came out, or when it even hit theaters but since it’s the right time for the season, I thought why the hell not!?!?

This is an anthology film feature all of these four different segments that aren’t really all that connected other than the fact that everybody seems to live pretty close to each other. This approach to the film worked because I constantly got that feeling of knowing what’s going to happen next because you get to see just what is going to happen, when maybe the first time around you were a little bit confused by what you didn’t see on-screen.

First-time writer/director Michael Dougherty does a pretty good job of keeping the feel and spirit of Halloween alive in this film because there are moments where this film seems like a lot of fun, and although it didn’t really scare the pants off of me, it really did keep me entertained as to where this guy was going to go towards next. A lot of this film is pretty messed up (kids getting killed) but somehow there is a fun touch to it that isn’t campy or tongue-in-cheek, it’s more just fun and that’s why I enjoyed myself.

However, the film did have some moments where I think it messed up and sort of dropped the ball. Each little segment has their own twist in there, which I thought was cool, but what I didn’t like is how too much of this felt more scary and serious without any real comedy added to it. The one segment with Anna Paquin I can think of was actually very funny the whole way through, but other than that, there wasn’t much of a balance between the two to get it perfect right away.

There’s also a lot of this film that doesn’t feel all that original and kind of bummed me out especially the segment about the kids at the site of the supposed “bus crashing incident”. This to me felt like it was directed by a whole different person because it spent its time on jump-scares, what we don’t see, and the run away and hide thingy that bothers me so much. This was a little annoying and by the end of the film, I feel like it totally drops the ball when it shows what that freaky little dude on the poster looks like without his mask. He looks really freakin’ weird (not in a good way), and I think the film could have really kept me a bit more freaked out if I didn’t know what the hell that creepy thing actually looked like.

The cast is here and there but they are all good. Brian Cox is awesome as the grouchy and grumpy old dude from the last segment; Anna Paquin is funny as well as pretty hot as the “virgin”; and Dylan Baker is probably the best out of the whole cast because he constantly kept me laughing and giggling even when he just killed a kid by feeding him a terrible chocolate bar. Yeah, it’s that disturbing sometimes.

Consensus: Trick ‘r Treat may not score the most points when it comes to originality and scares, but it keeps a fun tone and segments that bring a lot of twists and turns that you can’t help but have a fun time.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Zombies are dumb, but they do love the mall.

Running for their lives, Peter (Ken Foree), Roger (Scott H. Reiniger), Stephen (David Emge) and Frances (Gaylen Ross) find refuge in a remote shopping mall, only to discover they have to fight a motorcycle gang, too.

George A. Romero will always and forever be known as the “zombie-king” and after finally being able to see this classic, I can’t say that I disagree with that statement.

I still can’t believe I went my whole movie-viewing without seeing this and seeing the remake, that is actually pretty good as well. I don’t know where to begin with this film other than the fact that right from the get-go ish is just crazy and it doesn’t stop once until the final second is off. There are so many scenes filled with action, blood, gore, teared limbs, etc. and for some it will turn them away, but if you’re looking for just the right amount of action and gore then this will definitely satisfy.

There’s this one scene that sticks out in my mind right away when they need to get supplies and they are carrying around this big-cart full of supplies because not only does it rack up the tension as to whether or not they’re going to get everything out alive and well but the fact that they are constantly just shooting down these zombies left-and-right but having a fun time even though half of the world on the outside is just about dead as well. I don’t know why this scene stuck in my head the most but for some reason I came away thinking about this film.

I thought that since these zombies were just a bunch of walking dumbies, that everything was going to be pretty much a bore and nothing unlike any other zombie flick before, but much to my surprise, these ones were actually pretty freaky and it wasn’t how one just lunged at you, it was the fact that there was about 500 coming at you, at one time. This made me feel really creeped out and even more then a little claustrophobic especially when they all get inside the mall.

What sets Romero away from any other zombie-film director is how he’s able to bring a lot of humor and social commentary into his script, even though the film itself is just about a bunch of walking dead. Somehow Romero is able to bring in a lot of funny moments with these people just having a lot of fun basically running around the mall, taking whatever they’d like not having any problems at all. However, there is an under-lining sadness to it all as well.

Even though they are all doing what they want in the mall and having a bangin’ time, they are still in a world that seems to be falling apart. A little bit of life of solitude, no matter how comfy or relaxing it may actually be can still provide people with an empty existence in the world we live in especially when everything else in the outside world seems just about dead. It’s an important point to bring up and it’s surprisingly done very well in this zombie flick.

The only problem I had with this film is that I did not like the ending, and the reason I did not was because of how they originally had it made out to be. *SPOILER ALERT* At the end of the flick, Francine is seen waiting in the chopper, hopeful that Peter will come to his senses and come with her, which he ends up doing even though he was contemplating suicide. The original ending was that he actually did kill himself and Francine was going to end up getting her head chopped off by a chopper blade and to have the end credits roll and then end as soon as the choppers blades stopped moving, showing that had they made it out alive, they wouldn’t have had much fuel in the first place. This I thought would have been a very powerful and great ending even if it sounded a tad bit too depressing for the people who would have seen it but hey, it was banned so having an abrupt and sort of sad ending wouldn’t have done too much either I don’t think.

The whole cast here is pretty alright with everyone doing a good job of reading their own lines but the one who stands out the most to me is none other than Ken Foree as Peter. Of course, the black man is the coolest guy in the film but that’s because his character always seems not just one step ahead of the zombies, but ahead of everyone else around him as well and that’s what sets him apart from many other zombie flick protagonists. It also helps that every time I look at him, I can’t stop thinking of Kenan & Kel. That show was the shit!

Consensus: George A. Romero’s classic, Dawn of the Dead, is exactly what everybody has said it is: action-packed, fun, entertaining, gory, bloody, smart, full of humor, and altogether just a total classic that had me watching the whole time.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Fly (1986)

Talk about FLYing solo. Actually I have no idea what that term has to do with this film I just felt like being witty.

While testing his teleportation device, scientist Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) accidentally merges his cells with those of a housefly. As his reporter girlfriend (Geena Davis) bears witness, Seth slowly — and quite disgustingly — morphs into an insect.

I’ve never really taken time out of my film-reviewing and looked at any of David Cronenberg‘s films but after seeing this one, I may just check out more because this guy’s crazy!

The one thing that Cronenberg does well is that instead of being just another dumb and silly gore-fest about a dude who turns into a fly is that he actually lets there be time for the story to actually build up to where we actually care for everything that happens. There’s a very smooth pace that Cronenberg brings to this film and one that seems like it’s more of just developing the story and characters rather than just being slooooow.

Another thing that Cronenberg does well is that he takes all of these different sides of the story, and puts them together well. There’s a little bit of romantic comedy stuff here, some sci-fi stuff as well, real human drama too, and then to top it all off a lot of scary stuff to keep people scared as well. It seems like a very goofy combination that wouldn’t work at all but somehow Cronenberg makes it work beyond belief. There’s a lot of people who said they saw a metaphor for AIDS in here too but I mostly just saw how people react to a disease all differently and how it can make some people never want to let go, but in some cases, you just have to no matter how much you love them.

The make-up and costumes are also pretty cool looking even though they may be incredibly gory and will turn many others away. We see how Seth’s body changes and transforms over time and to say the least, it’s not pretty but it actually looks very detailed and disgusting in a good way. In a world filled with CGI everything, it’s a huge relief to see an 80’s film that makes a dude who is turning into a fly, actually look like a fly with the power of some really cool-looking make-up and costumes.

My main problem with this film is that I feel like too much of it was a little too over-the-top just for the sake of being over-the-top. Granted, I liked how gory and disgusting these costumes looked but there were times where I felt like Cronenberg just wanted to shock people with what he was showing in Seth’s transformation and for me, it came off as a bit annoying.

One example is that Seth’s girl, Veronica, gets pregnant and she has no idea what’s in her. Is it a human, a fly, or a flyhuman? Nobody knows and neither does she but she has a dream that she actually gives birth to a little fly baby thing and she’s just yelling and screaming with this blood all over and to me this just seemed random and really forced. It was almost like Cronenberg just wanted us to see something we’ve never seen before by showing us a little fly thingy coming out of a woman and it seemed a tad forced and random.

The cast isn’t a real big one but with the people they have, it really is a treat. Jeff Goldblum is perfect here as Seth because Goldblum is such a goofy actor that to have him as this guy go through this total transformation works because he brings this sort of funny charm to his character as well. I was rooting for this guy even though he did go through this terrible transformation and how Goldblum plays him like a real, likable human being is also very sad especially when he starts to really turn into a fly at the end. It’s also rare to ever see him in a leading role and he does great with it. Geena Davis is also very good as Veronica, as she doesn’t lose sight of her love for Seth even as times get harder and harder. Their chemistry is great and how these build it up more and more as time goes on really adds an extra layer of heart to this film and works for the full product as a whole.

Consensus: The Fly is a little too over-the-top at points, but David Cronenberg perfectly mashes all of these different elements of romance, drama, and horror as well as a great leading role from Jeff Goldblum to give is a disgusting but emotionally well-told film.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Basically just don’t eff with gypsies.

After denying a woman the extension she needs to keep her home, loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) sees her once-promising life take a startling turn for the worse. Christine is convinced she’s been cursed by a Gypsy, but her boyfriend (Justin Long) is skeptical. Her only hope seems to lie in a psychic (Dileep Rao) who claims he can help her lift the curse and keep her soul from being dragged straight to hell.

Writer/director Sam Raimi took a break from making horror films for awhile and actually went on to make the Spider-Man films. Although I haven’t really checked out all of his horror films yet, I still get the urge to after seeing a crazy film like this.

The one thing about Raimi and horror films is that they aren’t necessarily scary as much as they are just totally freaky thrill rides. He doesn’t really go for scaring the pants off of the audience, and he just more or less focuses on a way to keep an audience entertained, while giving them some freaky happenings on screen.

I have to say that this is what Raimi does incredibly well here because he seems like he is just having a ball putting this good-looking girl through all of this torture, and adding a nice little funny moment to top it all off. You get a lot of goofy stuff in this film and for other directors it would seem forced and totally unnecessary but the way Raimi uses it to his advantage, works for him because the whole tone of this film is playful rather than being way too serious for somebody to actually chuckle at intentionally.

There’s some pretty disgusting things in this film that may turn some people away like random bugs, rancid meat, and eyeballs but it’s all toned down for at least a safer Pg-13 rating. A lot of those disgusting things that I saw on-screen too had me laughing but I kind of wish they pushed the boundaries when it came to sickening parts of this film. Raimi is a man about gore when it comes to horror (I’m a poet and didn’t even know it) so when I just saw him put little disgusting things here and there, I kind of got disappointed because I knew he could have really thrown it in our faces, but still went with that Pg-13 rating probably because nobody would see an R-rated film from the director of ‘Spider-Man‘. Stupid, but true.

Another problem I had with this film was how it seemed like Raimi kind of focused too much on the whole moral of this story. Well, not really the moral, but the reason all of this crazy stuff is happening to this girl. I mean we get it, it was her decision to not let this old lady have her house back, stop hitting me over the head with this big moral story and just show me this girl getting terrorized by evil demons again.

The acting front of this film isn’t really anything special, but it will hold you over for the whole hour and 40 minutes. Alison Lohman is good as Christine Brown because she just gets tortured the whole film but by the end you see a transition in her that’s really cool and pretty believable. She’s never really been one of my favorite actresses but she does good here. Justin Long isn’t his usual comedic-self as Clay, but plays the loving boyfriend role pretty well although his parents are assholes. Dileep Rao is also pretty funny as Rham Jas, the fortune-teller who seems like he’s out of a comedy.

Consensus: Drag Me to Hell is too toned-down and has problems with its script but when it comes to Sam Raimi’s direction this horror flick is fun, creepy, dumb, and very much what people should expect from him.

7/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Let the Right One In (2008)

Little kiddie vampires are still tougher than ones named Edward or Jacob.

Twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), the constant target of bullies, spends his time plotting revenge and collecting news items about the grisly murders plaguing his town. But things change when he meets a new girl named Eli (Lina Leandersson), a misfit vampire who steals his heart. As a serial killer continues to prey on teen boys in their small Swedish village, Eli helps Oskar find the courage to stand up to his tormenters.

When this film came around 3 years ago, I always heard great things about it but never got a total chance to watch it myself. However, I’ve realized that those damn Swedish people are messed up and cute as hell.

The one thing that this film has going for it is that it blends two different stories together real well. You have this sort of creepy and disturbing horror film about a teen vampire constantly killing people for more blood, but then you got this sweet little kiddie drama about the romance between a troubled kid and a teen vampire. This seems strange that they would both actually fit very well into one film together but what really works so well here is just how genuine both sides of this film feel which is something you almost never get let alone see in any type of film.

As a horror film, there isn’t many scares here that keep you constantly jumping out-of-your seat but more of give you this eerie feeling that something just is not right with this little teenage vampire running rampant on the whole neighborhood. All of the creepiness and horror of this film eventually leads up to the final act, and that’s when everything gets pretty scary. There’s also plenty of gruesome blood and gore that I felt were very well-done and came in at the right moments rather than just popping up every-time to be a gory, horror vampire film.

Despite the gore and blood this film showed me, there are other couple instances of special effects that this film has, which is probably about 3 scenes but they are all pretty laughable I hate to say. There is a scene where these CGI-like cats start attacking this woman who has come under the bite of the vampire and there faces and her reaction just had me cracking up unintentionally, which is sad to say because I didn’t laugh at all once during this whole film by how serious everything was. CGI cats are no good no matter what you do.

As a drama/romance film, this is a pretty genuine take on first loves. I have to say that in the beginning it was a bit slow and I had no idea where this relationship between Oskar and Eli would go, but where it ended up going seemed like something that was so realistic and honest that I almost forgot that Eli had the craving for some human juice. The scenes with these two just talking and being very sincere with each other and it’s a very beautiful thing to see because this is how little kids talk especially if their little hearts are in love. If you really want to know how it feels to be in love for the first time, then check out the little love-fest going on with Oskar and Eli, it will probably make your tummy all warm and fuzzy inside. It did to mine.

The one thing about this film that kind of bothered me was that we never exactly find out why and how Eli is this vampire, we just guess she’s one for some odd reason. The whole film I was expecting to find out why she is the way she is and in return almost got noting. Did her daddy or mommy get it on with Bela Lugosi? How old is she really? Who is the strange man she’s with? Why doesn’t she give in to her hunger and eat up Oskar like crazy? Also, why the hell is she even a vampire is all I wanted to know! This pissed me off because I feel like I deserved to know and it would have made a lot more sense if the film just explained exactly why she is the way she is.

The kids here though are perfectly cast and made me want to practically cry my eyes out by how real they seemed. Kåre Hedebrant plays Oskar and Lina Leandersson plays Eli, and they are just both amazing at everything they do here with almost every single scene. Apparently for the casting of these two kids, director Tomas Alfredson went all over Sweden for over a year to find the perfect Eli and Oskar and the choice of these two was perfect. Every time they’re on screen, it doesn’t feel like either of them are even acting and more or less just being themselves in front of a camera like a documentary almost. The spot-light is on them the whole time and not once did I question their abilities to bring emotions to the screen and make me believe in the little love that they have.

Consensus: Let the Right One In isn’t necessarily scary as it is disturbing, bloody, and kind of gory but still features drama that brings out the most in its two young actors, heart and a genuine feeling to the story, and a look of how important having that first love and how beautiful, romantic, and sweet everything is when it’s happening to you.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

Sherrybaby (2006)

Jeez, this Gyllenhaal sure is messed up.

Newly released from prison, recovering addict Sherry Swanson (Maggie Gyllenhaal) struggles to normalize her life so she can be a good person and a trustworthy mother to her young daughter, Lexie (Ryan Simpkins). The stresses mount as she clashes with her sober housemates, disappoints a parole officer who’s growing impatient and faces old temptations, all the while her daughter grows attached to Sherry’s brother, Bobby (Brad William Henke).

The thing about Sherrybaby that works is just how the script shows you this menacing world we live in, where no matter how much we want to get past all of our problems and faults from the past, we always have to confront our consequences. It’s hard to get past such problems in life, and you sometimes need to rely on others to make everything better. The problem with life is that sometimes those people aren’t always there to make it better.

I liked this point that the film tried to get across but too many times did a lot of this feel just bleak, and nothing else really. I never really felt drawn into the actual story because too much of this just lagged on without any real meaning, just another moment of bleakness that so many of these kitchen-sink dramas have and show about so proudly.

There was also times when I feel like a lot of this story was under-developed when it shouldn’t have been. We have these little hints here and there that she was molested by her father, reasons for her drug-addiction, and why she exchanges sexual favors with almost anyone that offers her a job or opportunity to do something. I don’t understand as to why these points in the story weren’t brought up more because if you think about it, more development within this story could have added to so much more emotion and depth as well.

The reason why Sherrybaby is a not a bad film, and more mediocre, is because of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance as Sherry Swanson. Maggie is raw and totally convincing because she goes that extra mile to make her character seem like a real human-being, rather than just another cliched drug-addict. Sherry, as a character, is pretty loose, out-of-control, and very unpredictable as to what she might do or say next, but Maggie has us believe that she is in full control the whole time and makes everything out of what she’s given to do up on the screen. The rest of the cast is pretty good but compared to Gyllenhaal, there’s no real comparison.

Consensus: Sherrybaby lacks in a convincing and actually emotional weighty story, but the near-perfect performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal is what makes this film better and actually very watchable as depressing as it may get.

6/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

This family should just stop filming anything.

A malign and murderous spirit continues to dwell within a San Diego home. Hoping to catch photo evidence of Bloody Mary, the residents soon become victims in their own horror film.

The ‘Paranormal Activity‘ series has been going on for 3 years now, with each one coming out on Halloween and not really ever disappointing. It’s sort of like a Halloween tradition and once they stop churning these films out every year, were going to have films like ‘The Last Exorcism‘ coming back for more and more sequels. NOOOOOO!

When the plans for this sequel/prequel were already announced, and the main people behind this film would be Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, who did ‘Catfish‘, I was kind of skeptical but also intrigued by what they could bring to the table. Their first feature was a big-time play on the audience as to what we thought was real and fake, and I think the choice of these guys was a great idea because they actually do bring a lot more.

The scares start out the same, with little things happening here and there, until one night where they have a baby-sitter come over and it just takes everything to the next level. This is exactly what I wanted this film to be because so much crazy shit happens that when it was all over, I just looked at my friends and all of the other people around me, and everybody was just practically dumb-founded and shocked by what we were seeing up on the screen. Almost every single scene leading up to the big scare has this great deal of tension that honestly had my knees shaking at a 100 mph and my fingers covering my ears. It’s some pretty freaky stuff as usual but there’s also things here that are a lot more cool looking than I actually expected.

Another reason this film works is because there’s also a lot more danger with this film. Whenever you have little kids in horror films, it’s always scary but this time these kids are in complete and utter danger with me actually not being able to watch at points because it was getting so tense. I think the directors eff with us enough to the point of where we know what’s going to happen next, but instead play with us and give us something else totally unexpectedly cool that they end up doing what the ghost is doing to this family: toying with them. Bastards!

I also have to give a lot of props to this film for making these trailers that were totally nothing like the film at all. When I saw the numerous trailers for this film I felt like I knew all the scenes going in, but when I got there probably about 1 and a half of the scenes that were in the trailer, were actually in the film, so therefore the scares were totally shocking and this is how you should always advertise your horror films no matter what.

My only problem with this film is that I do feel like they should have explained what in the hell happened to the dad after all. I thought it was a little strange how they never explained what exactly happened to the daddy of these girls and why this chick was just left with them after all. Was the dad killed too? Did he leave? Was it a divorce? I don’t know but then again, I smell sequel…..or prequel….or whatever the hell you wanna call it…

The characters in this film aren’t perfectly rounded out but we do care for them, especially the stepfather Dennis. This guy isn’t a real douche bag like all of the other males in these films have been and instead he actually acts like a regular human-being, rather than how a horror cliche actually would. He’s also very funny and very proactive like any person would be in something as crazy and creepy as this and that’s probably why I liked him a bit more than Micah.

I still think that the series has another film in its system somewhere before its totally past-death but to be truly honest I had so much fun here, probably more fun I had with this than I did with the 2nd one. The film should probably end on a note that answers all the questions that it brought up so very very much here and in the 2nd one, and hopefully will keep on scaring the ish out of me as well.

Consensus: Paranormal Activity 3 is basically the same film as every single other one that came before it, with a lot more insane scares, questions brought up, and more tension than ever before thanks to the new directors on-hand.

9/10=Full Pricee!!

Predators (2010)

Oh, if only Arnie was still around to do this and wasn’t off with chicks that weren’t his wife.

Rugged mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) inherits command of an elite team of human fighters — including dorky-but-dangerous Edwin (Topher Grace) and tough-but-beautiful Isabelle (Alice Braga) — as they are hunted by a race of ruthless alien trackers known as Predators.

Being a fan of the original as I was, a sequel that was practically 20 years in the making almost seemed too cheesy to be true! Sadly, it just made me miss the governors and Apollo Creed so much more.

Director Nimród Antal does a very good job here playing with a formula that we already know, and making it very fun to watch due to his incredibly fun style. Antal knows how to make a film entertaining with some really cool visuals and some slick production designs that actually add a lot more to the environment, as well as the story and the action.

The first 30 to 40 minutes the tension is fully raised up as the characters are trying to gather up what’s going on, and what’s going to happen next, until the CGI dogs come out and it’s killing time! But then that energy is suddenly lost so we can have some down-time for these characters to talk and so we can actually care about them. This was fine since we need character development for this type-of film to actually give two-shits, but by the second or third time they have some down-time it’s nothing but annoying considering the fast pace that it goes through sometimes.

The premise itself also starts to fall into the usual and predictable way the first one originally panned out which was kind of expected, but for some reason I still thought it wouldn’t happen. Every character gets picked off one-by-one, the kill count goes up and lands on the characters you would expect it too, and the premise pretty much turns out the way you would expect it to. Also, the way these people begin to find out what’s going on here is kind of far-fetched considering a lot of it is trying to date back to the first one and seems nothing more than just to reference that superior film.

However, as bad as some of the writing and pacing may be, I still found myself having a fun time here especially with the action and just how it kept the pace going at a rapid speed. The predators this time around are also something that are a lot more menacing, and for once I actually just wanted those mother-humpers dead rather than not caring one way or another. I thought the way they were dudes in costumes, and not just CGI effects made it incredibly realistic (well, as realistic as this material can get), and kept me further excited when the action scenes were going down.

The characters may be more of character devices rather than actual humans, but the cast surprisingly makes it all better. Adrien Brody is fine as the tough-as-nails Royce, and although he’s the main bad mofo, I never really felt like he was in trouble; Alice Braga does a good job of keeping up with the dudes as Isabelle; Topher Grace is kind of funny and extremely dorky as Edwin; and Laurence Fishburne shows up about half-way through the film to show that he is still Morpheus after all these years and is pretty good but I just wondering one thing: why was he so fat when his character had been on that “planet” for so so long? I never understood but then again, the writing didn’t really seem to care either.

Consensus: The pacing may be off, and lacks any genuine surprises as well, Predators still has enough action-packed sequences, cool visuals and production design, and a quick pace that feels like a better sequel than those other pieces of crap that have come out in the past.

6/10=Rental!!

The Three Musketeers (2011)

I guess it’s time for there to be a rum-drinking, Keith Richards impersonating musketeer.

The original three musketeers are past their prime and working menial jobs in Paris when their friend D’Artagnan rallies them to defend the nation. To do so, they must undermine Cardinal Richelieu’s plot to have himself crowned France’s next king.

I wasn’t a huge fan of ‘The Three Musketeers‘ when I was a kid, and having a film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson doesn’t make me want to go out there and watch some either.

The whole film is surprisingly straight-forward and with a run-time of only about 100 minutes, the film basically resolves itself pretty well in that time-limit. The film also is pretty entertaining with a lot of jokes, that sometimes fall completely flat on their face, but others actually work and made me chuckle. Too bad the same couldn’t have been said for the actual writing of this film.

The problem this film has is that it’s plot, direction, and writing don’t really jell well together at all and come off a bit jumbled. The plot goes all-over-the-place and gets too in-depth about a couple of dudes with swords, which wasn’t needed at all. It’s also a bit confusing because they do a lot of pointless talking to where I didn’t really care what they were even talking about, but somehow there was some back-stabbing going on and other crap that didn’t really matter.

The writing is also kind of off because even though it did have me laughing at times, a lot of it just felt like total cheesiness that reminded me of something I would see in an 80’s film. Granted, this film doesn’t really take itself too seriously, which is what I liked but the one-liners just try too hard to be funny and instead come off a bit corny. Also, the film is called The Three Musketeers but they were barely even in it. It was always this smart-ass kid and these three villains that I didn’t give two shits about, which was annoying since they were probably the funniest parts of the whole film.

The direction from Anderson is a little hectic but he still does keep this film moving at a quick enough pace to where we get enough story, romance, action, and humor, which don’t all work well together still make us have a lot of fun. I didn’t see this film in 3-D but I could bet it’d be a lot of fun because Anderson does know how to film action and make it a lot of fun with swords, bullets, glass, and little boat bombs constantly flying at the screen. There’s also a bout 5 slow-mo scenes as opposed to other films directed by Anderson that usually have about 30, so at least he’s moving up in the world.

The cast is here just to chew up scenery but that is not so bad really. The Three Musketeers Athos (Matthew Macfadyen), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans) are all having a ball with their roles and that transits to us watching as well. The problem is that even though the film is named after them, they aren’t in it as much as you would expect and it’s a real bummer. It’s an even bigger bummer that I had to watch Logan Lerman as D’Artagnan because out of this whole cast, he is probably the weakest link. A lot of his lines just seem off as cocky and arrogant as opposed to being funny and even though that’s basically what his character was supposed to be, I still shouldn’t want to be the main characters face in every time he’s on screen.

The villains are fun to watch too but all under-utilized by some bad writing. Orlando Bloom looks like a parody of a movie-villain and comes off as Will Turner gone bad, rather than this bad guy he was supposed to be playing. Milla Jovovich, who is obviously in this because her hubby’s the director, is under-written as Milady and doesn’t really do anything special and new with this character that I haven’t already seen her do as Alice from Resident Evil. The best of the villains is probably Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu because he seems like he is in such an entirely different film. He has many moments where he seems like he breaks the fourth wall many times, and just features this funny, sarcastic side to him that made him the best “villain” in this whole film.

Consensus: The cast is here to chew up scenery, and the action is very fun to watch but the plot is too detailed, the writing is too cheesy, and a lot of it just feels dull but The Three Musketeers is still entertaining, just leave your brain at the door.

5/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Last Exorcism (2010)

Girls who still go to sleep in night-gowns are definitely possessed.

Ready to expose his miraculous deeds as mere trickery, Rev. Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) invites a documentary crew to film his final exorcism. But when the devil actually possesses a girl’s body, Marcus must regain his faith and engage in the fight of his life.

You put two great horror classics together, ‘The Blair Witch Project‘ and ‘The Exorcist‘, and you get this. Now I know they’re could have been a better way to combine those two films, or at least better than this crap.

The film is shown in the usual “found footage” way that has practically plagued horror ever since the first idea of ‘Paranormal Activity‘ was talked about. Some films use it the right way, like Paranormal Activity, others don’t. This is one of those that actually don’t.

Director Daniel Stamm does a pretty good job in the beginning of the film, of actually creating this creepy and pretty realistic look at a Reverend who takes up one last job of performing an exorcism on this girl. Stamm is able to create some pretty tense moments of suspense and mystery because you never quite know what just is going to happen next with these unpredictable people at-hand and the lack of many CG effects and gore actually help the way this film looks and feels.

However, where Stamm fails is actually in convincing us that this story could ever be real, because none of it ever feels like that. When you are filming something in a documentary style, it’s always best to use one camera and no score or soundtrack to convey a creepy mood considering that’s what makes it seem even scarier. However, the film starts to dive into the constant, multi-camera editing and the score that all seem misplaced and take a lot away from this film and make it seem more like an indie feature with a very low budget.

The writing is also pretty bad too because everything just got very silly, real quick. These sort of films usually depend on improvisation for its “realistic factor”, but the film uses a very tight-script with characters that just spout out lines like they were from a natural horror film, or just a film none the less. The ending is also somewhat atrocious as it just starts to dive into some pretty familiar territory that we have seen done before and to even worse effect here by how stupid and dumb it gets.

Two great performances from this cast is probably what really kept me watching this film. Patrick Fabian is very charming as this arrogant, and sort of cocky reverend named Cotton Marcus. This guy is really entertaining to watch on screen because he seems like a pretty real dude that seems like he would do the right thing, in any situation because he is a good guy and pretty honest one as well. I believed him more as just a regular dude, rather than just another yelling and howling preacher boy.

Ashley Bell is also very good as Nell Sweetzer because it’s all about the look with her, and she owns it. Bell is actually in her mid-20’s in real-life, so it’s a little hard to believe her as a teenager here but she makes us see her as this troubled, teenage virgin who is so messed up that the quiet scenes, she’s very good with but as well as the other scenes where she just totally loses all control. But still, she looked like she was 30 while she was playing a 16-year old. Maybe in the 80’s you could have gotten away with this, but now in 2011, it’s a lot more noticeable.

Consensus: The Last Exorcism features some thrills and two good performances from this cast, but overall features too much silly writing that totally loses itself by the end, and a low-budget direction that actually makes this film seem less realistic and more of just an indie production.

4/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

The Cooler (2003)

Vegas: women, money, and Alec Baldwin.

Hey, hey, hey, hey everyone! Well, it’s been awhile since I have been around their parks lately but finally Boomtron has taken me back and put up a review of mine. So just go on over to the link and check it out.

http://www.boomtron.com/2011/10/the-cooler-movie-review/

Thanks everybody! Don’t forget to show me some love over there too!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The Thing (2011)

If I see an alien frozen in ice, I’m gonna leave that damn ice alone.

This prequel tells the story of a team of Norwegian scientists who find an alien ship frozen in Antarctica. When the organism inside awakens, blood flows across the frozen landscape. Leading the group is pilot Carter (Joel Edgerton), who allies with paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a desperate attempt to rally the paranoid workers to combat the deadly threat.

When I first heard rumors about a prequel to the John Carpenter horror classic, ‘The Thing‘, I thought that this would once again just be another cash-grab for the Halloween audience of October. However, it didn’t play out as bad as I would have expected, but I still missed the bearded Kurt Russell.

Dutch director Matthijs van Heijninger Jr. actually does a surprisingly good job here recreating the tone and feel that Carpenter explored very well in his classic. There were times when I felt the paranoia of not knowing who was infected and who was not and the whole film just keeps on building little tiny bits of suspense. It isn’t the kind of suspense where I was practically on the edge of my seat the whole entire dang time, it still had enough of it to where I actually felt it.

Also, having any film in an Antarctic setting is just plain and simply freaky. The only time I can think of where it actually didn’t work was that piece of crap Whiteout, but other than that, placing your film in a place where it’s surrounded by snow, snow, and more snow just cooks up the perfect recipe for a good horror film.

The problem that I knew that I was going to have with this film beforehand, was the fact that everything that happened in this film, was something I already saw in the Carpenter film. The whole idea of who was or who wasn’t taken over by an alien, the reason how and why they take over the body, and the way they find out who is real and who isn’t, are all ideas from the first that seemed so original and novel then, but instead now just feel like recycled material over-and-over again. On it’s own, the film doesn’t really have much of a leg to stand on and it was kind of a drag at times too.

The scares also sort of work here but too many times it just feels like those same old “boo” scares that we get in so many horror films today, whereas the Carpenter version never did that. You know the scares, everything gets all quiet with little sounds and no score, until suddenly something incredibly crazy and loud happens and that’s the scare-factor right there. It also didn’t help that the volume in my theater was up to about 100 so every time these damn aliens yelled or screamed, I went deaf for about 5 minutes.

If you couldn’t already tell by the trailer in the beginning, there is a lot of action that is actually pretty fun to watch even if it is a bit the same things we have already seen and done better. Instead of also focusing on actual costumes, make-up, and designs for the scary “infected” this film uses a lot of CG creatures that actually look pretty detailed as well as disgusting. It didn’t really stun me the way the Carpenter version did but I have to say that when I saw these creatures, I was pretty disgusted in a good way.

When you have a cast for a horror film, you know not to really expect much, and as is the case with this one as well. Joel Edgerton is the obvious choice to replace the hard-assed Kurt Russell hero role from the Carpenter film, but he does an alright job with what he’s given as Carter even though his role and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje‘s are both very minimal considering that they are gone from the screen for a long period of time. Why though, is something I cannot say. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is alright as Kate Lloyd, even though I think her performance just mainly consisted of her being scared or determined. There are also plenty of other Norwegian dudes playing Norwegians which was kind of a problem considering the fact that we can’t really tell each of them apart, and the fact is that there is just too many characters to begin with in the first place.

Probably my favorite part of the film was the credits and that’s not me being an ass either, the credits are pretty cool. Considering how lame and cheesy the ending is (it takes place in an alien spaceship?) when the credits came up it sent chills down my spine because as soon as I heard the Carpenter score, I just knew what I was getting. I was expecting it to lead me to the opening of Carpenter’s film but the way they did it, I thought was pretty cool and a nice twist on the whole film in general.

Consensus: Though not as bad as I imagined at first, The Thing is an unnecessary prequel that has some chills and thrills, but still doesn’t have the originality, creepiness, and overall effect on you as Carpenter’s version might have.

5.5/10=Rental!!

Despicable Me (2010)

Now I see why every kid is in love with this movie and those little yellow things too.

Villainous Gru (Steve Carell) lives up to his reputation as a despicable, deplorable and downright unlikable guy when he hatches a plan to steal the moon from the sky. But he has a tough time staying on task after three orphans land in his care. There’s also problems with another villain named Vector (Jason Segel)

With almost every animated film that’s been coming out lately, being incredibly amazing, this one seemed like it had a lot of potential. But really, it’s potential didn’t really go anywhere.

I know that this film wasn’t aiming for the 18-year old kind of potty-mouthed film critic but almost every single Pixar film that has come out within the past 3 years, has had me balling like a 5-year old, so why shouldn’t this either? The answer to that question is that this film is centered too much towards kids with no real jokes actually being as funny as they should be.

This is a pretty cool premise with a lot of gags that had me chuckling here and there, but ultimately the film goes for the “cute” laughs that will get the kids laughing more than the parents, which is alright but you really have to have some stuff for mommy and daddy. But the humor also seemed like it was trying too hard with these gags and the humor that it all had that “been there, done that” feel to it and ended up being some pretty predictable stuff.

The emotional aspect of this film isn’t terrible but at times it’s just way too in your face to really care for. I thought that Gru and Vector were going to be the meanest sons of bitches in the whole movie but there’s these side characters that are actually worse. There’s a woman who runs the orphanage telling these kids “they will never get adopted!”, and also puts them in these little cardboard boxes called “The Boxes of Shame”. There’s also a park carnie that is the biggest dick ever and just sticks it in these kids face that they didn’t win a fuzzy unicorn because they couldn’t knock down some stupid target. It’s annoying when these moments just hit you over the head with how emotional they want you to feel and it’s just downright annoying.

Probably what really kept me going for this film was the animation that looked very very good. I liked how all of these characters were all unique in their own look and how the constant colors just kept popping up everywhere, creating an even better film to look at. I saw this in the regular 2-D version but I have to say that if I did see it in 3-D it probably would have been awesome because of just how this film looks and all.

The cast here has a lot of heavy-hitters but nothing really amazing. Steve Carell is good as Gru with his European accent; Jason Segel is annoying as Vector; I didn’t even notice Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario; and Will Arnett does what he does with the Bank of Evil (formerly Lehman Brothers) loan officer, Mr. Perkins. There’s also some nice bit parts from the likes of Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, Miranda Cosgrove, Danny McBride, and Jemaine Clement to top off this whole cast. The problem here is that everybody’s fine I guess, they just aren’t given much and there’s nothing really all that funny about what each of these characters do and it’s kind of disappointing considering all the talent they have, I usually laugh at no matter what.

Consensus: Despicable Me has great-looking animation and some chuckles here and there, but overall it’s too centered towards kids, predictable by the end, and just an animated film that doesn’t do much else different than what we have already seen done before and better from far-superior Pixar films.

5/10=Rental!!

Also, if you want to check out what I said about Javier Bardem joining the cast of ‘Despicable Me 2‘, go on over to http://www.boomtron.com/2011/10/despicable-me-2-may-be-getting-some-oscar-talent/ and give me some love on back. Thanks everybody!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: The House of the Devil (2009)

Now when I’m looking to babysit, I know to cross Satan worshipers off the list.

A cash-strapped college student named Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) takes a babysitting job during a full lunar eclipse and ends up fighting for her life. She soon discovers that her employers, Tom (Tom Noonan) and Mary (Mary Woronov) Ulman, are hiding a wicked, sick and twisted secret.

Giving the fact that it’s October and I’ve been doing this little “Horror Movie Month” thingy, I finally get the chance to actually look at a lot of horror films that I wouldn’t normally look at if it were say December of November. So when peeps started telling me that I needed to check this flick out for this month, I did not hesitate once.

Writer/director Ti West does a great job here with this 80’s look-alike because he’s more about the suspense of the horror film rather than the numerous jump-scares we always get nowadays. It’s less about scaring you and more about keeping you scared that something scary is about to happen soon. The first hour or so is all about creating the tension for this film with basically Samantha just walking around the house, looking at the rooms, listening and dancing to The Fixx, and watching some really crappy TV. This, to many people may sound really boring, but I can promise you, it’s probably the most tense I’ve been in a horror film for a long time. Never would I have thought

However, as subtle as the first hour was, the last 30 minutes of the film kind of delves into more straight-up in-your-face horror. To me, I still was very freaked out by everything that happened in these last 30 minutes because you actually get to see all of the devil-work but since the first hour is all about what you don’t see and what you imagine, this came off as a bit of a disappointment. But it’s still really creepy and even though I knew where it was all going, it still worked which is something I can’t say for half of the horror crap that comes out nowadays.

Another minor problem I had with this film was how a gun came into play with this film. A gun is not really a weapon you see used in a horror film, let alone a killing device like it’s used here because it comes into place the first time and is extremely destructive, but the next time it’s used, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was actually a BB-gun after all. This wasn’t a problem that took me away from the film as a whole, but the way its used and how differently its effects are shown, raised a little bit of eye-brows for yours truly.

If you are a fan though of Freddy, Jason, or any other of those other crazy son-of-a-bitches from the 80’s, then this is definitely the horror film for you. Right from the opening credits, I knew I was in for an 80’s horror film tribute and instead of just being a total mirror-copy of that style without any originality I actually found myself wondering why more horror films can’t be like this nowadays. The certain camera angles, lighting effects, and synthesizer-powered score that this film uses is in great effect and made me feel like I was actually watching a Grindhouse flick from those days that I would go to see on a boring Saturday night.

Earlier in the week, I heard that a little-known Indie film-maker was looking to make a $500 remake of the horror classic, ‘Halloween‘. This came as a total surprise to me because I felt that ever since Rob Zombie touched that franchise, it was practically dead. It also had me thinking that maybe some directors out there could possibly breath some new-life into old horror films, rather than just being a carbon-copy placed in the 21st century. Ti West is one of those guys who bring some new game to these old-school films but instead he gets stuck with crap like ‘Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever’ but I still have faith that he could just possibly do something cool and new in the future.

Jocelin Donahue plays Samantha, who does a good job at being pretty but also scared. It also helps that Samantha is incredibly smart and actually makes a lot of good decisions as the whole film goes which isn’t a lot we could say for many of the other teens we see in any horror film in today’s world. It also helps that she looks like Ally Sheedy, another 80’s film legend. Greta Gerwig is also pretty good as her bestie; Tom Noonan is brilliant as this insanely creepy and strange as the mysterious as Mr. Ullman; and Mary Woronov is equally as weird as her husband. The cast is all pretty good but it’s really West who is the star and finds away to take over the spot-light every time.

Consensus: With the grainy throw-back look to the horror films of the 80’s, Ti West makes The House of the Devil a very tense and creepy flick that may take awhile to get where it has to go, but it’s worth it in the end.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Munich (2005)

A little friendly advice: when you’re in the cinema watching this flick, don’t stand up, wave your hands in the air and shout “Allahu akbar!” It doesn’t go down well.

Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, prompting a Mossad agent Avner (Eric Bana) to track down the assassins in the tragic aftermath.

Director Steven Spielberg kind of seemed like an odd choice for this type of material, since it is a relatively action/thriller type, set in the 70’s but it seems a lot like his other films. Except not as good.

What Spielberg does right here is that he does an amazing job when it comes down to creating the right amount of tension for the whole film and each individual scene. I actually was on the edge of my seat wondering just what was going to happen next and the way Spielberg just throws us and himself into the mix of suspense, is very compelling and works well for a lot of the more subtle and trickier scenes.

The film also looks beautiful and shows that Spielberg not only has a knack for creating a good story, but also creating a very beautiful picture to look at. There are a lot of areas this film takes place in and the production and costume design really adds a lot to the whole vibe of 70’s Europe. So many films that are based on the 70’s, just look lame and don’t bring anything new at all to the look of it’s story, but somehow the production designs had me feeling as if I really was there after all.

The problem that Spielberg runs into with this film is that it almost seems like it’s never going anywhere, especially within the last hour. I won’t lie, the first hour and say 15 minutes had me totally on the edge of my seat and riveted, but when the last hour for this film (the film is a staggering 165 minutes long), I just felt like Spielberg got lost as to where he wanted his story to go and just let there be random scenes of violence and messages that are way too heavy-handed.

The messages here are good as it talks about how how the killing and “victory” we want with any war is worth killing and dying for. Spielberg also does a very fine connections between Israel of 1972 and of America today, and how the quest for getting rid of terrorists is basically the same, with nothing changing. These are all good points but they get so muddled and so blatantly obvious that it’s almost way too much for you to believe, let alone enjoy.

There’s this very dumb and pretty obvious scene where these Mossad agents find themselves sharing a safe house with a bunch of Palestinian terrorists, which practically gives this film a chance to show us that if they just put their problems aside with no violence whatsoever, it would be a lot easier for things to get done in this world as well as getting along with each other. This scene also allows a nice little monologue between these two camps, but it’s used so obvious that it’s really hard to care.

The cast here is what really keeps this film running, especially Eric Bana as Avner. Bana owns this film and shows exactly why he deserves more roles like this because even with a lot of the sillier scenes this film has, especially by the end, Bana makes it seem real and builds this compelling character up more and more as the film goes on. Great performance by this dude, and it shows why The Hulk was just a fluke. Daniel Craig is good as the angry voice of reason; Ciarán Hinds is good here as well and plays the man with a conscience, who’s been in the game so long named Carl; and Geoffrey Rush isn’t here too much, but still does a great job with every scene he has as Ephraim, and it’s pretty cool to see him play such an unlikable character.

Consensus: Munich shows Steven Spielberg’s strengths for a compelling story, good performances from the cast, and deep messages about important subjects, but it goes on way too long and obvious that it feels cliche, and something that starts to lose its thrill as you get to the half-way mark.

7/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Dream House (2011)

A guy who doesn’t know who he is. Original.

Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, a successful businessman who forsakes New York City for the rural pleasures of New England, only to discover that the tranquil abode he’s moved into was the scene of an as-yet-unsolved multiple homicide. Drawn reluctantly into the mystery surrounding the tragic events, Will and his wife (Rachel Weisz) soon begin finding plenty of reasons to worry about their own safety.

For the last three months I’ve been going to the movies, the trailer for this has been everywhere and let’s just say that if you have seen it too, you know this film already.

See the problem with the trailer is that it shows everything that we weren’t supposed to know already. It shows us the major “plot-twist”, what’s going to happen, and why so when these moments of strangeness pop-up, we don’t feel confused by it as more as we know why it’s there because of the trailer. Many times the film had a creepy atmosphere and maybe could have actually worked better if it weren’t for this dumb trailer that shows all that happens, and takes almost every sort of momentum this film had going for itself.

Another part of the problem with this film too is that the direction from Jim Sheridan and screenplay from writer David Loucka. The direction from Sheridan (who seems like he needs to pay somebody back with all of the crap he’s done in the past 6 years) doesn’t really bring anything new to this material with a slow-pace that seems like it really wants to go somewhere, but never fully does. Sheridan also seems very lazy with certain explanations of things that are supposed to make sense by the end of the film, but have no logic in what it’s trying to show. Sheridan really doesn’t know what he’s doing here with this film and the whole time, I kind of felt like this could have been directed by anybody and I would have not even cared. But then again, I guess that’s why this guy didn’t even want his name attached to the film in the first place anyway.

The generic screenplay from Loucka just makes everything worse too. The film begins with the usual noises, shadows, and creepy things in the woods, which is only the first hour of the film. Then we go into this totally amateurish last act where we get all of the explanations that made no sense in the first place, flashbacks that were as obvious as Craig’s British accent, and some really laughable effects that seemed like they were just tacked on when the film was in post-production. Loucka doesn’t bring anything new to this material, and it just blows even worse with the “direction” from Sheridan.

There’s only a couple of positives to this film which don’t run very far in the first place. I thought the plot was at least a little bit interesting when it first started off. Although I knew what was going to happen thanks to that son-of-a-bitch trailer, I was still a tad interested with this premise and felt like it could not be as bad as I originally thought it was. However, I was wrong. Another positive to this film was the cast, which was OK to say the least.

Daniel Craig is likable and very believable as Will Atenton, and brings a lot of charm to the more predictable and silly lines that this film has its characters spout out; Rachel Weisz is good in this role because she’s both fragile and beautiful, which works in her advantage; and Naomi Watts doesn’t really have any reason to be here, other than the fact that she’s the chick who lives across the street.

I don’t really think that this is a terrible film, and not the worst of 2011 already (trust me, I still need to see Bucky Larson and Jack & Jill). The problem is that as time goes on, trailers for more and more movies start to give major plot points and twists away without really caring about the people who want to be surprised when they see it. This is a biggest problem here because I feel like I would have been a bit interested by all of the mystery that surrounded this film, but I didn’t care because I knew what was going to happen thanks to the marketing. Bastards.

Consensus: Dream House has a good premise, but is just terribly slow, predictable, and featured a trailer that gave away all of the major plot twists that took any type of mystery or suspense away from the film and makes director Jim Sheridan, look more and more like a slacker as his films keep coming out.

3/10=SomeOleBullShitt!!

Real Steel (2011)

Just a two-hour long flick of Rock’em Sock’em Robots, with Wolverine.

In a future world where flesh-and-blood boxers have been replaced by towering mechanized fighters, pugilist-turned-promoter Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) reconnects with his estranged son, Max, to convert a discarded machine into a World Robot Boxing contender.

Upon seeing the first trailer, I was thinking that this was going to be incredibly stupid. However, I wasn’t wrong really, but I’m glad to be wrong this time.

Director Shawn Levy does a great job here of actually making all of the robot fighting sequences a lot of fun to watch. If you love robots, and you love robots beating the crap out of each other, then you’re going to love this because we get a whole bunch of brawls between robots from a little Texas rodeo to an abandoned zoo, and then to a huge stadium where they have a huge PPV fight every month.

Levy also creates a great atmosphere with a lot of the fights because of the way everything looks and feels. The robots are colorful and look as if they really are there, and the songs that play in the background of each and every fight, are just plain kick-ass awesome and just keep me in all of the fights. The fights are awesome, just because they beat the hell out of each other so well which is a lot of thanks to having Sugar Ray Leonard on the set as a boxing consultant, giving it a REAListic feel.

There’s also a huge heart that comes with all of these robots smashing each other as well. The central story is something we’ve seen before (father-and-son relationship) but how Levy can balance both the intensity of the robots fighting and the heart of the relationship, really makes this film seem like more than just a film about robots kicking the hell out of each other, there’s actually something to care about and sort of feel emotional towards.

Despite this actually being a very fun film to watch, there were problems that I still had here as well. The script is very predictable though and a lot of it feels like something I’ve seen before, actually something I saw about a month ago in a film called ‘Warrior’. By the end of that film, everybody starts getting real lovey-dovey and I sort of liked it but at the same time, thought it was a bit too over-dramatic. The same thing happens here at the end of this film and once again, I was kind of annoyed but at least it serves a bit of a purpose as well.

I still also can see why this film would be advertised as a kids family, but there is actually a lot of stuff in this film that will sort of turn parents and kids away. There were a couple of little kiddies in my theater, that were having a ball, but I thought there was a lot of language and way too much violence here, for parents to actually be happy they took their kids to see. I think they needed the Pg-13 rating, so it wouldn’t just be noticed as a kids movie, however, I think if they were to just tone it down a bit, it would have probably been more effective.

Another problem I had with this film was some of the plot didn’t seem right to me. If I were going to see two 1000 pound robots beating the scrap out of each other, I would not want to be standing 5 away from them. I’d actually probably be standing about 100 feet away from them, or in a protective glass or something too. I know that this film isn’t really going for the reality points with this material, but it did seem a little strange.

Also, the little kids mom just died, and I did not see this kid cry, be upset, or mope about it at all. As soon as he saw the robot, he lit up like a Christmas tree but before that he just seemed annoyed, not sad at all that his mommy just got killed in a car-accident. Hey, if you’re kid is sad about a passing in the family, especially a mommy or daddy, buy him a robot.

Hugh Jackman is a great choice here as Charlie Kenton because he is probably the only guy that could make a dick-head dad likable. He’s selfish, self-centered, and kind of a con man, but I still somehow liked him for this because I thought Jackman made this guy seems so cool and real. The kid in this film Max, played by Dakota Goyo, seemed like he wasn’t going to be an annoying little shit at first, but somehow made himself the heart of the film. He looks as if he was cloned from Jake Lloyd, but can actually act and be a little kid instead of a too-smart-for-his-own-good kind of little crap head that we see in all of these film’s with a kid in them. The chemistry that these two create together is great because at first, they barely even get along but as time goes on they become more and more attached and it feels real as well as a lot less corny, when all of the tear-drops start to fall.

Consensus: Although Real Steel is corny, predictable, and not for the whole family, the film still is incredibly well-made with a huge heart in the right place, fun scenes to watch of robots wackin’ each other left-and-right, and good performances from the whole cast.

7/10=Rental!!

Halloween Horror Movie Month: Seven (1995)

Pitt being Pitt, Morgan being Morgan, Spacey being Spacey, and Fincher being Fincher. Hell yeah.

Two homicide detectives are on a desperate hunt for a serial killer whose crimes are based on the “seven deadly sins”. The seasoned Det. Sommerset (Morgan Freeman) researches each sin in an effort to get inside the killer’s mind, while his novice partner, Mills (Brad Pitt), scoffs at his efforts to unravel the case.

David Fincher is a total mad-man and I think he has only gotten better as the years have gone on, but it’s great to see where it all started.

This film is straight-up messed up however, it is also a very smartly written one to say the least which is a lot of thanks to writer Andrew Kevin Walker, who did a lot of junk before and after this film but somehow got thing clickin’ at the right time and place. The film shows the characters always one step behind the killer so we’re constantly left wondering how is this damn guy so freakin’ smart and we don’t quite know what he’ll do next. It fully keeps you on the edge of your seat, until the grand finale comes up and then were left with, “Wow”.

However, it’s not the smarty-pants that the killer has is what’s so good about this screenplay, it’s the fact that it is actually horror/thriller film that has something to say. The killer’s motives really stuck into my head because he is only doing this to people that are not innocent, but more as to people who deserve it because of the hurt and pain they push onto others so subtly. This film will mess with how you view the world and most of all will take you inside of the mind of the serial killer it’s showing, which is unlike any thriller I have ever seen before. What the killer says is still in my mind and will stick with yours probably too.

The real reason this film works though is Fincher’s direction, that is almost nothing short of brilliant. His use of lighting still works in any film, and especially here because he knows how to make any place, no matter where it may be, and just make it the most dirty, grimy, and disturbing place you have ever seen on film. The thing is though, that he’s making Chicago look like this shit-hole where it doesn’t stop raining for a whole week. All of Fincher’s visual flairs add to the depressed and dark setting of this film and just about every sequence is thrilling just by the way he keeps the tension and mystery going.

Oh and let’s not forget the opening title sequence to the remix of the song “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Like that damn song didn’t already have me creeped out. Thanks Finch.

I also liked the fact that we never actually got to see any of the killing’s happen, and more of just the aftermath of these grisly murders. There’s a lot to be shocked by after seeing this film, and although I have seen this about 4 times now, I have to say that I still get a little grossed out by what I see. Others may like this, may despise it and this is one of those films where it’s just “not for everybody”. That can be said for a lot of Fincher films except for maybe his last two that came out, but with The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, I think he’s back on-track for grossing people out again.

The cast is also nothing short of magnificent either. Brad Pitt is great as the young, cocky, and headstrong cop David Mills who wants to get the bad-guy at any way possible, and Morgan Freeman is even better as William Somerset, the laid-back, seasoned cop who plays the voice of reason every time Mills gets a little loose with it. They’re contrast of old school vs. new school is amazing to see on-screen and they work together so well having me actually believing them as a real-life detective team. The real shining star of this whole film is probably Kevin Spacey, who you will probably be stuck remembering long after the final credit reels off the screen. I can’t say much else about this role, but this is easily the best performance from the whole film by just how much he gets into not only the character’s heads, but also the audiences head as well.

Consensus: Although it may not be for everybody, Seven is still one of Fincher’s best with a tension-filled atmosphere, brilliant script, superb writing, and a grand finale that will be sure to stay in your mind way long after the film is over.

9/10=Full Price!!

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