Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Monthly Archives: October 2009

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Next film for Halloween is Dawn Of The Dead remake.

Based on the George Romero 1979 gore classic, this remake takes place as the United States is overrun (after a plague) by millions of corpses who walk the earth as cannibalistic zombies. A small group of survivors, including a nurse (Sarah Polley) and a police officer (Ving Rhames), try to find shelter within a massive shopping mall. But the zombies have a kind of sense memory and start arriving — in droves — for a shopping spree.

This is not so much of a remake as it is an update of the 1979 classic. The whole premise remains faithful to the original but then after that makes its own elements, which really was a good thing after all.

Dawn Of The Dead really does succeed because its use of exciting action and most of all, the gore. The added on blood and violence really does make this film exciting and fun to watch. Also, in the original the zombies were really slow and if you just ran they would’ve never caught up to you. Now, they are fast as a bullet and you can’t run or hide barely, and I think that is what makes this film even better.

The film also has little unriddle social commentary, and zero exposition. For instance, when a government official is asked “what are these things? are they contagious?” he simply responds “We don’t know!”. Giving you this idea of nobody knowing what is going on.

Zack Snyder, in his directorial debut, really does show some really great direction in this film. Many of the scenes he films with the action are slick and feature a lot of good camera angles that really do fit the part of the action.

I only had little minor problems with this film that aren’t as bad as you would expect. In George A. Romero’s 1979 Dawn Of The Dead, there was a lot more comedy and a satirical take on these zombies and the incidents that are being caused. I felt like this film was toned one way throughout, and although it did have some comedy it was more blatant than wise, as the original one was.

I also found the origins of why these zombies came to be very unknown and I wish I knew more of what was actually going on.

Consensus: Dawn Of The Dead is a gruesome, violent, tasteless, and well-directed take on the 1979 classic.

9/10=Fulll Pricee!!!!


Candyman (1992)

Next Horror film in line is Candyman.

While researching urban myths, grad student Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen) learns about the Candyman (Tony Todd), a hook-handed creature who’s said to haunt a Chicago housing project. In this creepy film based on a Clive Barker story, the Candyman is made flesh by other people’s belief in him. Not surprisingly, Lyle manages to summon him. Soon, the Candyman has committed a series of murders, and the cops are holding Lyle responsible.

Candy man at points can be seen as your typical thriller with horror elements, but is also part slasher.

I was really surprised by how this film really does turn out to be effective, because it actually does ground itself so realistically, in a city where they do not believe in urban legends, until the very end of the movie.

However, I felt that this film really does suffer from a script and story that starts to drag on a little. I thought that some of the lines were pretty cheesy compared to others, and weren’t as witty as you would expect coming from a movie of this nature.

I also did not find this movie as terrifying as I thought it would have. Tony Todd really does look like an old 1970 pimp with the bad jacket and the killer claw. Didn’t really find his character that all too scary, but I liked how they set him up to be like a normal person, although we never really get where this guy comes from and why he seems to spark so much havoc, one time after another.

I also think that the story really would have worked well if it didn’t succumb to the over-use of the blood and gore scenes. The film features many little flashbacks of previous murders from The Candyman, and are so disgusting and down right grotesque, that I was a little confused if I was watching a remake of Friday the 13th.

Virginia Madsen actually does take this film by storm and give it her all. She isn’t your typical female horror leading woman who fights the odds. She seems real, with real problems, and most of all with a real purpose, and that purpose is to finally track down The Candyman. Tony Todd, also gives a good performance here as The Canydman, but isn’t seen very much to come off as really scary or frightful. It’s just the look, that looks like an outtake from Shaft.

Consensus: Candyman is smarter than your typical slasher-horror film, but with some added elements that weren’t needed and a not so frightening antagonist, Candyman falls short of horror film greatness.


Shadow of the Vampire (2000)

The next horror film is sometimes considered a horror film, but not really.

Director F.W. Murnau (John Malkovich) yearns to create the most terrifying vampire tale imaginable. Unknown actor Max Schreck (Willem Dafoe), cast as the vampire Count Orlock, makes an impressive debut as filming begins, even as he hides an unearthly secret, the secret that he is secretly is a vampire.

Shadow Of The Vampire, is a reimagianing and also look behind the scenes, of the making of the silent film 1922 classic Nosferatu. I usually don’t like these movies where they tell just false stories about something big, but for this film I let that slide and I actually got a good experience from it.

Shadow Of The Vampire contains more humor than I expected, as well as the backstage movie lore, with an underlining but focused horror story. It’s a lot to get into one story, and sometimes the progress the film goes through is a little uneven. At many points, there was a little too many blood and gore for a film of this nature. It turned me away from the film and I didn’t know whether or not to laugh or be frightened by Count Orlock, as I didn’t find him scary nor compelling.

I thought the setting was very eerie, as they were on the island all by themselves making this film, but I didn’t feel much tension throughout many of the scenes. This lack of tension also made the last 20 minutes of this film seem very predictable and just a bit tedious.

I liked the way the film was directed however. I felt like many of the scenes actually did mean something and they weren’t just put in to add a scene, and show how it ended up in Nosferatu. The scenes where you get to see how the scenes are filmed, by Malkovich were very funny and also very amusing.

Willem Dafoe is what really makes this film for what it is, he looks, acts, and just feels like Max Schrek. After this film, I actually looked at some old shots from Nosferatu and I was really astonished by how much Dafoe basically embodied the life and soul of Schrek, but also not forgetting to be creepy. Also, Joh Malkovich is dry, self-centered, and overall in mannered as the director, and really does capture a director that does start to obsess with getting his work done and out there.

Consensus: Though it has some rough editing, Shadow Of The Vampire is funny, creepy, and overall a good look at the filming of Nosferatu, with an incredible performance from Dafoe.


Tremors (1990)

For all this week leading up to Halloween I will be doing 5 movie reviews on horror films startiing with this one first.

Hick handymen Val McKee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward) can barely eke out a living in the Nevada hamlet of Perfection, so they decide to leave town — despite am admonition from a shapely seismology coed (Finn Carter) who’s picking up odd readings on her equipment. Before long, Val and Earl discover what’s responsible for those readings: 30-foot-long carnivorous worms with a proclivity for sucking their prey underground.

Tremors is sort of a present-day Western, with some really insane scinece fiction elements. The Tremors in the titles, refers to the shock effects caused by these worms tunneling underground.

I can really see why Tremors found a lot of really good exposure after it’s disasterous box office debut. It has some good elements that weren’t really caught by the genre at the time. What makes it most different is that it really does start off like a normal comedy, with some mildly funny jokes mixed in with little heartfelt moments. Then halfway through the film it turns itself sideways and becomes a totally different film with plenty of horror B-movie elements.

There are many elements that really do make this film a bag load of fun. Even just the fact that there is a bunch of giant worms as credible villains makes it worth while, but it really can’t sustain itself for too long.

There we’re an awful lot of satrcial takes on many reoccuring characters throughout this movie that were based on the conventional characters from horror movies. However, after awhile I found these little parodies to be lame and the jokes to be even more of somewhat overrun.

I also didn’t like the addition to the over-excessive use of the modernized blood and gore. I thought this movie would’ve really refrained from it, and keep to it’s natural roots but really just does this too much after a long time and becomes a little disgusting.

The whole nature of this film is really what makes this film the more enjoyable, is that it really doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are a lot of funny staged reactions, and the tenseful scenes mixed with some of the most obvious score music really do make this film all the while funny and joyful.

Tremors has a diverse cast that really does hit the button with many of their scenes. Kevin Bacon was really good and I thought it was nice to see that he could carry a movie so early in his career, but it’s mostly the side performers that make this a worth while. Fred Ward, really does an excellent job playing the witty but also more intelligent buisness partner of Bacon, and males this film a much funnier trip.

Consensus: Tremors is a different horror film with some good comedy, and a well-acted diverse cast. But, doesn’t quite stick with me as I thought it should’ve.


Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

There’s a one inside of us.

Max (Max Records) imagines running away from his mom and sailing to a far-off land where large talking beasts — Ira, Carol, Douglas, the Bull, Judith and Alexander — crown him as their king, play rumpus, build forts and discover secret hideaways. Voices by Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O’Hara, and many others.

Once in a lifetime a very noble director will get a hold of a wonderful children book and really turn it into something magical, this is close to what I thought I was going to have.

I had a really hard time with this film overall. I was expecting a beautiful, exciting adventure from the out-of-this world mind from Spike Jonze. However, all the hype that the film was getting it quite didn’t live up to what I was expecting. Well, I guess adapting a movie from a 10 page book, isn’t the easiest thing to do.

The emotional depth this film goes into is perfect and really handled well in this film. There are just some really profoundly beautiful scenes that really do shine with emotion and old natural beauty. Jonze connects the character of Max to all the other Wild Things, and shows how both of their lives are both equal in every single way, and how they can both learn from one another. Jonze even goes as far as to sort of get adults thinking about these messages about childhood, and how they felt at their age as well.

The only problem I had with this film is that it just wasn’t as powerful as it could’ve been. There were so many scenes that could’ve been handled better if the right attitude was given towards it. In most of these scenes I almost thought that Jonze was going to pull off the scene and really make it memorable. However, Jonze takes another road that doesn’t seem like the best solution for it.

Another problem I had with this film was that although there is a lot of kid-friendly elements to this film, I don’t think that kids will quite have a ball with this film. This movie is more about the message of Max, and most kids won’t look at this. They’ll look at the Wild Things and how scary they look, and the little fun montages, not necessarily the message that Jonze was really going for here.

The little things of this film we’re really good add-ons however. I liked the soundtrack with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and I thought all of those songs really did connect to the mood of each scene. The visuals that combine the elements of people in costumes, CGI, and animations. They look real and actually could get a nomination cause of how spectacular they look.

Max Records, who plays little Max does a good job at showing some future star quality. Though he can be a little annoying at some points, I really did feel like he was one of the more realistic protagonists in a film in a long time. The voices in this film are good as well, but the best has got to be James Gandolfini as Carol. He really does give the emotion that is needed to play this character and overall has a more effective job than any other of the Wild Things.

The ending that most of you all know from the book, is not as emotionally-charged as you would think. I left the film with a very bad taste cause of the ending, because overall it was just a lame ending for a very powerful movie.

Consensus: Spike Jonze, doesn’t deliver on every spectrum, but does create a very true, emotionally-powerful fable about what it’s really like as a child and the kind’s of turmoil they face at such a young age.


RocknRolla (2008)

Guy Ritchie doing what he does best.

Thandie Newton and Gerard Butler co-star in director Guy Ritchie’s crime thriller about crooks from London’s underworld who set out to nab millions of dollars left for the taking when a Russian mobster’s real estate scam falls apart. Tom Wilkinson plays a powerful crime boss, with Jeremy Piven and rapper Ludacris appearing as record producers who get strong-armed into looking for a drug-addicted rock star.

It’s good to see Guy Ritchie get back on the horse with this smoothly crafted tale of greed and deceit among thieves. Seeing the cast selection made me feel like Ritchie was a magical pizza-maker who somehow knew my favorite toppings without having to even take my order. Each ingredient combined for a perfect medley to my movie taste buds.

Now for me I loved Guy Ritchie’s previous gangster-comedy films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, are my two favorites of all-time. Now RocknRolla, is like those two but with a little less flair and charm that his last two have held up so well.

The film’s jokes aren’t as funny until you actually think about them and then you finally get them. This is a lot of different humor from Guy Ritchie, as the jokes are far more blatant and obvious, at some points. I never thought thought that Ritchie would go for the gay jokes, but in this film I guess he does, and there actually pretty funny.

The best thing about all of Ricthie’s stories is that no matter how confusing they can get, they seem to all come together by the end. At times watching RocknRolla, I was wondering if or even how this was all going to come all together. It does and I was really shocked and overall I thought it was a good turn out.

I just felt like this film could’ve been a lot more dynamic and different from Ritchie’s others. Still, it isn’t better than them two and it really isn’t that different. I’m glad that Ritchie went back to his London-based roots cause obviously he’s amazing at them, but I just wanted something new and a little bit more than what I got.

I liked the cast a lot. Gerard Butler does a great job here, and he and Idris Elba, actually do have great chemistry as two crooks. Thandie Newtown’s character wasn’t that interesting and I thought she could’ve been a better character. But the one that really shines here is Tom Wilkinson, who really does make a great villain, that we all want to see dead but also we kind of like because of his smart way of business making. Never would I have thought a film with Ludacris and Tom Wilkinson together actually be good.

Consensus: RockNRolla goes back to Ricthie’s roots, and is a credible caper gangster comedy. It just doesn’t feature anything new and seems like overall this genre may be soon to die out.


Fighting (2009)

The 21st century Fight Club, without the brain-busting plot.

When Sean Arthur (Channing Tatum),an unmotivated young man who hustles counterfeit merchandise in New York City, meets seasoned street-fighting coach Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard) by chance, his whole life changes. Sean’s fights are dangerous, but he sets out to win the prize money at stake and the respect of those around him.

When I first saw this film I was saying “Oh god they decided to rip off The Karate Kid and put it along with Never Back Down”, but when I actually watched the film I was a little surprised.

The fights of this movie are mainly the strong point of the film. The scenes are heavily stylized and aren’t as great until you realize they have a certain life or death consequence to actually winning them, is when you start to get into them. They are filmed very realistically of how you would feel in a fight and you can just feel the excitement with these numerous fight scenes.

The fights also feel genuine, cause it shows that in the middle of a fight when you do get hit, it actually does hurt and it’s not something you just shrug off and get right back up of. There is a sense of realism within these fights and it makes the movie a whole lot of a better ride.

The only problem that when these fight scenes aren’t occurring, there isn’t much really going on. The plot starts to meander and go between two stories of Tatum and his love for a waitress, his personal struggles with his father, and his relationship with Terence Howard. I felt like there were way too many scenes of this and it just became way too boring.

Surprisingly the strong point of this film lies within it’s charming performance from Channing Tatum. He show’s that he actually can act and carry a movie with the type of star-quality that many actors do have in big-time Hollywood. Terence Howard also turns in a very different performance, that was good but i couldn’t really tell what his intentions were at times throughout the movie, and he didn’t seem all that too interesting as he could’ve been.

Consensus: Fighting has a very charming performance from Tatum, and features some stylized excited fight sequences. But the film starts to become a little too boring when it’s plot starts to unravel.


Shakespeare in Love (1998)

I actually like Shakespeare now because of this film.

What if a penniless William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) fell in love with a noblewoman (Oscar-winner Gwyneth Paltrow) while struggling to write a comedy with the unlikely title “Romeo and Ethel the Sea Pirate’s Daughter?” Might the emotional turmoil inspire him to recraft the play into a tragedy with a more familiar-sounding name?

I mostly heard of this film before, because at the 1998 Oscars it beat out one of my favorite movies of all-time, Saving Private Ryan, for a the Best Picture Oscar. I was ready to see this film and tear it apart because I thought it was bogus that this ended up winning. But now that I’ve seen this I don’t know who deserved to win.

This is a wonderful film in all ways possible. Director John Madden really does create this vibrant fun new world filled with love literature, and most of all Shakespeare. Most of the characters and the events that happen are mostly fictional, but Madden does such a great job at showing how it all comes together at the end, and you have a great blend of mixing fiction with reality.

The most props of this film have to go to the screenplay. Throughout the whole film, I was so taken away by the wit of all these jokes and I liked how the olde english language was there but still made for the “modern” ear to understand. Though there is a lot of seriousness I felt there was also a lot of wonderful comedy that really did brighten up the tone and make this film a lot more enjoyable.

The most beautiful thing about this film really does come from the romance between Viola and Shakespeare which is really what the film is centered on. It feels and looks real, as you can see what really happens to a person when they fall in love and where the inspiration of it lies within Shakespeare’s work.

Gwyneth Paltrow turns in a magnificent Oscar-winning performance as Viola, as she shows a lot of depth of what seemed like a one-note character, and really does stay on top with the rest of these characters on screen. The whole cast does a great job but I feel like the one that really does the best job and doesn’t get any credit for it is Joseph Fiennes. If there is anyone in the world I wanted to meet it was Shakespeare, and Fiennes plays this person we already know and allow him to have more excitement and boldness added to his character, so that we cheer and love him even more.

The only problem I had with this film was very minor and that it didn’t feature much of the play itself and focused more on the romance. I wanted to know more of what happened behind the scenes of one of the most famous plays of all-time, and I didn’t get that much of it.

Consensus: One of the most delightfully charming romantic comedies of all time. With a clever script, wonderful acting, and perfect direction, Shakespeare In Love hits the spot on every level.

9.5/10=Full Priceee!!!

Up (2009)

An old geezer takes flight.

After a lifetime of dreaming of traveling the world, 78-year-old homebody Carl (voiced by Ed Asner) is lured into an unbelievable adventure, thanks in part to the persistence of Russell, an 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer (Jordan Nagai). Together, the unlikely pair embarks on a thrilling odyssey full of jungle beasts and rough terrain.

This is Pixar’s first hit at a 3-D film and might as well be their best work to date. With Up they dive into a world vivid and alive, rich in detail, and somehow despite the obvious lack of realism, completely authentic.

Pixar’s one great thing about their films is that they can create this mashing of heart and humor in one film to make it work, but I think this is one of their best work combining the two. In the beginning of the film we get a montage of Carl and his wife together throughout the years of their marriage, is some of the best animation in a film to date. It’s gut-wrenching, and true showing all the high’s and the low’s of marriage.

Up is actually one of those really special films that when it comes out you must see. It’s a very timeless film tat doesn’t act like many other Pixar films. It doesn’t have those jokes that are more for the adults and go right over the children head, there all for everyone in the crowd to understand.

Never in my life have I come closer to crying at a Pixar film in my life. Up really deals with some tough and heart-wrenching themes, such as love, death, and most all life in general. There are some scenes that just bring out a huge batch of emotion from inside of you out into this movie, and it was all worth it, cause it really does mean something when you cry watching this film.

Ed Asner voices Carl, and if there is anybody that can do the voice of an old grumpy man it’s him, because he does an amazing job right here. Also the voice of the little kid was also very good, along with the talking doug ,Dug, who every time talked made me laugh every time. Christopher Plummer also comes out of nowhere and does a great voice over playing the villain.

Though Up was sad and serious it still has some comedy that stays with you throughout the film and is well-worth it. Also, there is a message that really means something that is saying that you did accomplish something in life and life is an adventure.

Consensus: Up is exciting, heart-felt, and also hilarious. This is one of more Pixar’s most serious work to date, but has a great message and brings out the best within you.

10/10=Fulll Priceee!!!

Life (1999)

Finally these two all-stars meet up but in a jail.

It’s 1932; Ray (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time hustler, and Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) is a bank teller with a taste for gambling. When Ray picks Claude’s pocket to pay off a debt, the two men are framed and land in the same jail for 60 years; trouble is, they can’t stand each other! Stuck in a work camp, they hope to be proved innocent someday — if they don’t kill each other in the meantime.

I first heard about this film and was interested in seeing it cause it had my two favorite African-American comedians finally together in a movie. I was just expecting on-going laughs from these great actors, and although I got that the story of this film was a lot more than I was even thinking about.

However, this movie has an inherent sadness to it. These two men have their dreams crushed and are trapped in prison their entire lives. And yet they always remain hopeful about getting out and starting their lives. It creates a weird balance in the movie between the comic and the tragic.

Life started to lose me cause I think the way the whole film acted around it’s setting didn’t seem like the place for comedic effect. The Louisiana prison they are sentenced to, the future there isn’t so bright and many moments are very serious but aren’t taken very seriously, and that’s what kind of threw me off this film. I think this story could’ve really worked if it was used in a 1999 prison instead a 1930’s one.

I liked the comedy though even without the serious parts. I felt like the comedy does get a little over-the-top, but overall succeeds in making you laugh. I enjoyed how the jokes weren’t really centered towards racism and crime jokes and they stood up between mature and sometimes immature.

Lawrence and Murphy really do shine in this film however. I hear that they didn’t really like their Director Ted Demme, but he must have done something to them cause they give out great little performances here. This is very different from a lot of their other work, because it has more of a serious side to it, but they do take the ball and run with this film every scene they get. There are also little supporting characters in this film that are good that feature Bernie Mac (R.I.P), Anthony Anderson, and if you don’t blink you can catch Ned Beatty.

Consensus: Life is set-up in a very strange way, but features great performances from Lawrence and Murphy, and a great life lesson on love and friendship.


Couples Retreat (2009)

All in the title.

Desperate to save their marriage, one couple convinces three other couples to go in on a group rate price for an island retreat designed for troubled unions. But the “mandatory therapy” brews up nothing but trouble for everyone. Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis and Faizon Love star in this comedy penned by Favreau.

The movie tries to work really hard as being a date movie like Forgetting Sarah Marshall or Sleepless in Seattle, but it doesn’t give any answers to how these couples can react to their problems they face as a couple.

The script is written by Swingers stars Faverau and Vaughn, and you can actually see some really good interplay between them two really does shine through on this script. This movie has it’s moments, and some parts that don’t seem funny actually end up being funnier than you expected.

Though the script was good it did feel a little lazy and the jokes really got repetitive and annoying. There were countless amounts of dirty sex jokes that we’re not only meaningless to the plot at hand but overall just not funny and stupid. The jokes also really do start out as really funny, but then they really over due and just have the jokes go on and on, till where it just becomes tiring and you want a new scene. The perverted muscle dude scene got out of hand and although I laughed for awhile I felt like they were just finding any sex position to role play with.

I liked the good cast with some great stars, but most of them didn’t create laughs for me like I thought they would. It was funny seeing Vince Vaughn as being the responsible father figure, but he does actually give some really comedy even though he doesn’t play himself. Along with Faverau who once again is acting like a fool. Though I was confused of why Jason Bateman was used so wrong. He’s one of the more funnier men in Hollywood, but he just doesn’t have any funny material to work with here and comes off as very misused.

Consensus: Though with it’s moments, Couple Retreat seems very lazy, and not very funny nor very providing on relationships and couples.


The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Sean Connery trying to be a Russian, nothing else is better than that.

When a Soviet nuclear sub headed toward American waters drops off U.S.scanners, the Yanks scramble to take defensive steps. But CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) convinces the brass that the sub’s commander (Sean Connery) has something other than a first strike in mind.

Now getting ready to watch this movie I was all hyped up. I love Sean Connery in any movie, and it actually looked like a reasonably slick thriller with little tweaks of action. Too bad that wasn’t what happened at all.

The film I guess you could call it a thriller, that’s if what your definition of thriller is. If your definition is a movie that has little or no action in the middle and suddenly picks up speed bu the end, with the other 95% of the film all just useless talking, then yeah this is a thriller.

Other than the talking about God knows what with these characters nothing really happens. I felt myself zoning out plenty of times and just bored all together. I mean I know sound pretty stingy but this film just didn’t hold my attention. They play this score music that tries to get you all in suspense when really there was no suspense to begin with, and its just put at random times of the movie.

The acting in this movie is actually the one thing that makes it watchable. Sean Connery as usual does a great job in this film and it seems like he really does try his hardest with this film and actually make a run with it. Alec Baldwin does a good job to and has more effective scenes than Connery which kind of threw me off, but they were still good nonetheless.

By the end of the film there is some CGI that comes into play and I could not help but just laugh at how pitiful it really looked. I thought I was playing a video game or something when that crap came up.

Consensus: Though it has good performances, The Hunt For Red October doesn’t really have much going on and tries to act like a suspenseful thriller when it’s neither.


Paranormal Activity (2009)

Don’t go to sleep!

The movie centers on a young couple, Katie and Micah, who are haunted by a supernatural presence in their home. The movie is presented through the camera set up by the couple to capture the paranormal activity.

Now with any mockumentary horror film, right from the get go you know there’s going to be contrasts to The Blair Witch Project, and I can ultimately see why. The atmosphere is creepy, no script with very unknown actors, films the same way, and no soundtrack what so ever. However, I found this even freakier than Blair Witch, which really is one of my favorite horror films of all-time.

The film starts out really all nice and happy, and although there’s little thumps here and there it’s really nothing serious. But then when things start to pick up, it starts getting shit crazyyy!!!

First of all, the real reason why Paranormal works is because the special effects look so real. I have no clue how they did some of these scenes but almost every scene feels and just looks so legit, that it actually feels like your watching a documentary happen, right in front of your eyes.

Secondly, the acting in this film is top-notched probably cause all the film is just ad-libbing but the two stars Micah and Katie are actually a very believable couple, and when they are freaked they look and sound freaked out it’s not this usual scream fest to get a cheap scare. Also believe it or not in this hugely suspenseful scary movie, there is some comedy from Micah and his little one-liners that are more clever than most think.

Lastly, the real reason to see this film would definably have to be is seeing it in the theaters. This is what real cinema is all about. I was packed with my sister in a sold-out crowd in an IMAX theater, and as soon as the lights went out you know it was going down. I was really freaked out but the whole crowd was even more freaked out with me so I didn’t really feel alone. But if you do go and see this film, hurry up and look for it to the closest theater near you cause I can assure you it’s the full crowd experience which is just amazing.

Though I really did like this film it did have it’s problems. I really liked Micah in this film but I though the decisions in this film were so dumb that it really just made me yell “THE HOUSE IS CRAZYYYY GETT OUTTT!!!”. He starts insulting and leading on the demon throughout the whole film and while your sitting there watching your wondering if this guy want’s to die. Also, there are many points in this film where I would just be out of that house right away no matter what.

I think the other thing that Blair Witch really had going for itself that we all kind of thought that the whole film was actually real. When I went into this film I know it wasn’t real so that kind of brought down the realistic factor for me, but ultimately that’s probably not even much of a bad thing.

The whole film basically just leads up all the way to the end of the film, and when the ending happens your flipping out the whole time. I flipped, my sister flipped, every one in that theater must have flipped, cause when the ending is all said and done with you will be so effected by this movie.

Consensus: With a low-budget look and realistic effects, Paranormal Activity is one of those mockumentaries that will make you feel like everything you are seeing is real, and all the scares you get are absolutely worth it.

9/10=Full Priceee!!

Midnight Express (1978)

Turks are so evil.

A young American Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is arrested in Turkey for smuggling hashish and then is sentenced to unreasonable time in a hellish Turkish prison, where he begins to self-destruct, until he musters the courage to plan his escape.

This film was based on the book from the real Billy Hayes, and it shows just how crazy you can really get in jail, and how much you really hate those damn security officers.

When I saw this film I wasn’t expecting anything great or remarkably, but that is totally a different response than what I was going into. The film is really brutal for all those squeamish people out there. Some will say it was too outlandish or brutal, I say the more violence the better. This got me to really understand how vicious it really was in the Turkish jail.

I was kind of on the fence with one factor however. I liked how the film made the Turks the ultimate bad guys that you just want to kill yourselves, but I fell like they were stereotypically horribly portrayed here. They seem so evil, so arrogant, and so very cartoon in the way they act that’s it’s very hard to believe that they are actually real.

In the middle of the film there turns out to be a little romance between Hayes and another prisoner, and although I’m not homophobic, I just didn’t feel like it mattered at all. It happens for a scene or two and then it’s gone, and Hayes soon becomes straight once again.

This screenplay was written by one of my favorites Oliver Stone and it really does feel like what you see and hear is the harsh reality of prison. The way the violence was depicted and the way these inmates interacted with one another it all felt real, and made me cheer for these prisoners as the story went on.

Brad Davis really does a great job here as basically throughout the whole film it all relies on him to carry this film, and he does and gives one of the most powerful performances in a prison film to date. John Hurt is also in this and does very well with the short amount of time he has on screen. The only problem I had with these characters was there wasn’t much of character building on these prisoners. I didn’t feel like I knew them quite well, and I felt like they didn’t know each other well as well.

Consensus: Midnight Express gives a very brutal but powerful look at a Turkish prison, but falls a little too overboard when it shows the Turks as just simply evil people.


Year One (2009)

If Jack Black and Micheal Cera were my ancestors, I would probably be insane.

Banished from their primitive village after the tribe elders deem them too lazy, Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) leave everything they’ve ever known behind and embark upon an adventure-filled journey through the ancient world.

This is pretty much a remake of History of The World: Part 1, where at least that movie showed it was a bunch of skits, this film tries to weave a story together and ultimately just fails. The story tries to be set around all these biblical figures such as Cain and Abel, or Abraham, and they just come off as dumb and not really making any sense.

Year One is mostly killed from it’s various jokes that seem a little bit too dated. The sex jokes become so obvious and they seem so familiar that I can’t just help to think where have I heard these jokes before. There are parts in this film that just seem destined to be comedic gold for the cast, but then they just end up not turning out the way they could’ve. The film goes from one scene to another acting like the last one didn’t happen, and you just totally forget as well.

The thing that was actually pretty funny about this film was it’s comedy about the Bible, and the Christian faith, that just seemed a little too smart for a PG-13 film. There are many parodies on Biblical history that do sometimes work, but other times seem like it’s just trying too hard to be funny and just ends up being confusing.

Harold Ramis really has got me bummed out here. I really do like a lot of his other films such as Groundhog Day and Caddyshack, but he just doesn’t seem himself at all this movie. His direction is very bad and doesn’t seem inspired at all, and the production values just seem so cheap. I honestly felt like they just filmed this whole movie in the same piece of land throughout the whole filming process.

The one thing about this film that seems to shine is it’s cast. Jack Black and Micheal Cera basically play the same characters they always do in every film and try their hardest with this poor script, but don’t come up very well in the end. The little supporting characters in this film make this good with stars such as Bill Hader, Oliver Platt, and Hank Azaria, they look like their having fun it just doesn’t inspire us to have fun with this movie.

Consensus: Year One has the right factors going for them, but looks cheaply made, is poorly directed, and doesn’t feature many laughs to complete this star-studded cast.


An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1998)

Somebody needs to burn this film.

In this satire skewering Hollywood movie making, Eric Idle stars as a film editor who gets a shot at directing a big-budget film (starring Sylvester Stallone and Whoopi Goldberg, no less) but is foiled by his producer (Ryan O’Neal). The premise builds on the age-old showbiz tradition of directors pulling their names from projects and replacing them with “Alan Smithee” credits to show that too many cooks have spoiled the cinematic broth.

OK, so now that the movie is finished with let me just start by saying this is a horrible film. I heard that this film was basically called “the worst film of all-time”, and liked swooped seven awards at The Golden Raspberry’s, and I wanted to give it a shot and actually see for myself. Now I wish I never made that decision.

Basically this film has a Mockumentary feel to it, like The Office or This Is Spinal Tap…., but this film takes that and moves it completely nowhere we expected. The film had little scenes that were just interviews that seemed to talk about the same crap after all this time. They were either talking about the director or the movie, or they were showing scenes that had nothing to do with the story at hand.

The worst thing about this film that really just made me want to kill something was it’s annoying on-going jokes about bigger and better stars. I understand a little pun joke here and there but once you do the same joke in a different format then I start to get really annoyed. The jokes labeled around stars such as Hugh Grant, OJ Simpson, and others I can’t remember cause there were so many.

I hated how this film tried to be funny but also insightful in a way, and does neither. The film tries showing how people in the film industry react with one another and really it just doesn’t play out to where we get what is the message behind it all.

Maybe the only the only thing saving this movie is it’s lead performance from Ryan O’Neal. Out of this whole film he is the only good thing as he is so condescending and arrogant that he actually feels like a real person that you just hate. There are little cameos in this film that are just meaningful and make no addition to the story other than just having another big name for the card.

Consensus: Irony has never been placed so wisely. This film should’ve been burned right from the moment it was conceived. The comedy is so obvious that it’s just dumb, and there is absolute no insight about Hollywood that we haven’t seen before.


Unforgiven (1992)

Clint Eastwood doing what he does best.

Retired gunslinger William Munny (Clint Eastwood) reluctantly takes one last job — and even more reluctantly accepts a boastful youth (Jaimz Woolvett) as a partner. Together, they learn how easily complicated truths are distorted into simplistic myths about the Old West. Richard Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Gene Hackman also star.

If you were to stumble upon any known spaghetti-western film of the 60’s and 70’s you were probably going to see the face of Clint Eastwood, who’s violent and quotable protagonists have made him a huge pop cultural icon. So if you liked any of those films you may like this one.

The one thing about Unforgiven that you have to notice is that it’s very different from many other of the huge Westerns. This film instead being all about the action and violence that come within the story, it’s more about the story at hand. It shows these characters as actually more than just one-dimensional characters, and shows their feelings and how real they seem to be.

A lot of the stereotypes that are in many Westerns are basically thrown right out the window in this film. There are a lot of meaningful discussions on life, love, death, and most of all murder, and how they affect each and every one of these characters.

Though I really liked this film it did have it’s problems. Though I liked the performances from these actors I felt like some of these side characters weren’t really needed and just felt like they were put in to put in big names for a main card. Another thing that really does beat this film is that it really doesn’t add any suspense to the last 20 minutes of the film. The film really doesn’t all lead up to it’s final minutes which would’ve created those last couple of minutes to be really good.

Clint Eastwood, who also directs, does a great job in this film, and shows one of his better performances. He shows us this two-dimensional character that does seem real, and has feelings unlike may of his others. Though I felt like he was too silent, he still does a great job with adding emotion to a character that sometimes seems like he has none. Gene Hackman, also brings in an Oscar-winning performance, as he plays the hated sheriff of the town and creates a character that we just hate and want dead right away.

Consensus: With a couple of misfires, Unforgiven still makes a wonderful Western film, that has more story, and better acting than your normal Western. This is certainly my favorite Western of all-time, and shows that Clint Eastwood surely can make masterpieces.

9/10=Full Price!!!

Running on Empty (1988)

Was not expecting what I got.

After they bomb a napalm plant during the Vietnam War, Arthur and Annie Pope (Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti) are fugitives, never able to settle down in one place for too long. Years later, their son (River Phoenix) falls in love with a young woman (Martha Plimpton) and must decide whether to keep running with his family or stay put and risk never seeing them again.

Now I know what your probably saying is that yeah yeah it looks like another one of those family on the run until boy falls in love story, well yeah your right but it so much better than what you first think about it.

The whole film is based on this family trying to run away from its past, but it all somehow ends up coming after them. Although you will probably think that many of the scenes would be as cheesy as a Lifetime movie of the week it actually succeeds a lot more with it’s scenes. There are probably about 4 or 5 just heart drenching scenes that made me feel emotions that I haven’t felt towards a film in years. However, don’t get yourself wrong this is not a total tear-jerker is anything there are a lot of scenes that have somewhat little bits of humor, that really does pay off for this film.

Most of the credit should definitely go to the screenplay writer Naomi Foner, who seems like she has a lot on her plate, but actually does do a very good job with it. Many of the overused cliche lines in any film that has strong emotion are simply thrown away and put in with new twists and sometimes even more inventive ways to deliver a line.

River Pheonix is the real reason why to see this film. I first saw him first in Stand By Me, and now as I grow older I realize just how truly great of an actor he was and always will be, and without this film he wouldn’t have been known by how he is now. He shows a great performance that isn’t so much of a supporting act as a story that the film is mostly based on. Also, Christine Lahti has a couple of really good scenes especially the one with her father where she shows she really can act. Judd Hirsh is a good actor I just didn’t feel like he belonged in this film and was miscast. He looked a little too old, and sort of over did the witty hippie look.

The one thing I liked about it the most that really kept me glued on was the way this family interacted with each other. The acting is good, but the way they interact with each other actually made me feel like I was watching a home documentary. They felt like a real family that just had problems and throughout the whole film they were instantly believable.

Consensus: Running On Empty, is a beautiful portrait of a family that tries to escape it’s past with very fresh dialogue, phenomenal acting from Pheonix, and some of the most tear-jerking scenes of all time.

9.5/10=Full Priceee!!!

88 Minutes (2007)

What were you thinking Al Pacino?!?!?!

Jack Gramm (Al Pacino)– a college professor and occasional forensic psychologist for the FBI– finds himself in a race against time when he receives a mysterious phone call telling him he has exactly 88 minutes left to live. Can he track down his would-be killer before the clock runs out?

About 15 minutes into this piece of junk I literally wanted to turn away, and spend a better time of 88 minutes counting to 5,208. As this film started to continue on I actually wondered to myself could this be Al Pacino’s worst film? Then the answer came to me, and it was a HELL YES!!!

There are so many problems with this film that it’s actually hard to say them all in one bite. The whole film is just so outlandishly confusing, and half of the times while I was watching this I was really confused of what was actually going on. Either that or I just wasn’t interested enough.

The film is called 88 Minutes, and to be truly honest it should’ve been that long cause although it was about 1 hour and 48 minutes it felt like a 3 hour film, and at times I really didn’t have a clue where they were trying to get at with this movie. It’s slow as snail pace never really picks up and isn’t very exciting for a thriller, and half of the time I even forgot how much longer Pacino had to live. Instead of actually looking for the person that tries to kill him, Pacino’s character is too busy having feelings about a dozen old flames, talking about a previous case, and just way too busy answering his phone for dumb crap that have nothing to do with his life.

Al Pacino does try his hardest despite this lousy script, but he still fails in so many ways. He just doesn’t feel right in this movie at all. If I had about 88 minutes to live, I think I would be a little more frantic then just going around and dropping dumb lines like, “What the hell!!!”, or “Who is this”, every time I get a call. Pacino not very convincing in his role although I will at least give him props for trying.

This film was advertised as a huge action-packed thriller, and it wasn’t that one bit. The film tried to keep me on the edge of my seat and not once was I on the edge of my seat, and if I was it was to go to the bathroom and take time from watching this piece of crap.

Consensus: 88 Minutes tries to act like a suspense thriller, that features no suspense, confusion throughout, and just not a very convincing from Al Pacino. Surely one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and one of Pacino’s worst.

0/10=STAY AWAY!!!!!!

Say Anything (1989)

Very first Gen-X romantic comedy.

A budding romance between noble under achiever Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and high school valedictorian Diane Court (Ione Skye) is threatened when Diane’s overly possessive, disapproving father (John Mahoney) interferes with their relationship. With a prized scholarship to study abroad hanging in the balance, Diane must find a way to make both men happy.

The one thing that I first realized about this film was that the whole love part of the film didn’t feel exploited or shown in any wrong way.

The film was written and directed by Cameron Crowe, who also made one of my other favorite high school comedy films, Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Crowe shows us with his screenplay that he knows how young people talk, interact, and even how their moods change from time to time. Crowe also shows the randomness of life, with the uprising things that happen in life when you have fallen in love.

The one thing that really touched me about this film was it’s sense of realism. It all seemed so real with it’s underlying messages about the future, and the little father-daughter relationship. All of it felt so real and not so much of as it was a really dumb film.

Unfortunately for me, this film flopped like a dead fish. It tripped over its own heels, alternately over-dramatic and sappy love story. One minute were on the edge of our seats with her father under investigation, the next minute Lloyds sobbing over her in the rain. Sometimes I felt like the film moved away from it’s comedy element and just stayed a little too much on the romantic element.

I do have to give a lot of props to John Cusack who is so good at playing that lovable loser that we all know and love him for. He makes this character a lot more likable because of his desperate attempts to have this girl like him, and also his little insight on how he interacts with his family. I also enjoyed John Mahoney and thought he gave a very good portrayal of a father trying to come to terms with his own life and his daughter’s life.

Consensus: One of the best Generation X films. Though it’s not perfect it shows a great realistic look on love with a fresh screenplay and a very likable performance from Cusack, Say Anything is one of the best modern romantic comedies in a long time.