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Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Boogeyman Lives on Halloween

Halloween = 5 out of 5 Stars
Dr. Sam Loomis: I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes... the devil's eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy's eyes was purely and simply... evil.
Watching this movie again, for the umpteenth time, knowing every scare that will happen, character action that will be taken, and music cue that will continue to help maintain the tone of this film, I've come to acknowledge that I love this movie for its simplicity. By no means do I find it scary anymore, but I appreciate the way in which it has been made, how the scares as well as the rest of the film has been carefully set up and deliberately paced, and what it has tried to accomplish. Like Psycho, among others, Halloween stands as one of my favorite horror films, as I can revisit it always and enjoy everything about the film.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saw 3D - The Final Chapter, Finally

Saw 3D - The Final Chapter = 1 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Gibson: She's as crazy as a bag of cats.
So to get this out of the way, this movie is pretty terrible, but gets a bonus half of a star because the film was in fact shot in 3D (as opposed to converted) and did feature saws. Anyway, seven years later after the flawed, but only acceptable film in this series, Saw once again opens on Halloween weekend, but this time adding a whole new dimension. While I am aware that the gore-hounds will once again enjoy this film for the most part, the same problems and reasons for why I dislike this series exist:  Ridiculous logic, plot, and characters, along with a lack of suspense, instead replaced by ample ways for you to feel dirty afterward. But hey, at least this should be the final Saw we see.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day of the Dead: The Last Crusade

Day of the Dead = 3 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Miguel: HELLO!?!?!...Is ANYONE THERE...Hello?!
The least of Romero's original 'of the dead' movie trilogy, still effective enough. It is the goriest of the three and that's not bad.  The problem is mainly due to the poor characters in this film, as opposed to the more effective work done in the previous features.  Still, it's very well made for what it is and has the right kind of cult appeal to please zombie fans everywhere.

Hereafter I Was Drawn In

Hereafter = 4 out of 5 Stars
George: I don't really do this anymore.
There are certain words that I generally don't like to use. One of those words is corny.  Unfortunately, upon seeing initial trailers for this film, "corny" was the only word that really kept coming to mind.  I was not quite sure why.  The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, who has a pretty solid track record.  It stars Matt Damon, who is consistently good in films.  And it has an interesting premise, which is quite a change up as far as Eastwood films are concerned. Fortunately, this film actually delivered far greater than I thought it would.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dawn of the Dead Is the 'Empire' of Zombie Films



Dawn of the Dead = 4 and 1/2 out of 5
Francine Parker: What are they doing? Why do they come here?
Stephen: Some kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.
The first zombie sequel from George A. Romero.  This film is just as good as Night of the Living Dead, but different in many ways.  The original 'Dawn' is broader in its scope and more a social commentary about American consumerism mixed with satirical views on some of regular culture's habits.  That being said, the film is still mixed with horror goodness, done so with an almost comic booky feel to the horrific violence that the zombies add.  It's more leisurely in pace, but a great film nonetheless.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Night of the Living Dead: The Grandfather of Zombie Films

Night of the Living Dead = 4 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Johnny: They're coming to get you Barbara.  Look! There's one of them now.
The original film about Zombies, though they are never called zombies, at least in the majority of Romero and others zombie movies.  Regardless, this is the one that started it all, and it still gets what tries to do right.  Well made, fairly graphic for its time, and unintentional or not, full of some Romero-style social commentary.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

28 Weeks Later Sprints Along as Fast as its Zombies

28 Weeks Later = 4 out of 5 Stars
Stone: Why do you think she's not showing any symptoms?
Scarlett: I don't know.
Stone: Speculate.

A quality sequel to 28 Days Later. To me, it didn't capture the more unique and personal isolation experience that made the first film work well, but because its a sequel, we at least get more blood, more gore, and a bigger scope in general.  Update:  I've come to actually like this film just as much as the original.

28 Days Later Introduces Fast Zombies

28 Days Later = 4 out of 5 Stars
Mark: What's your name?
Jim: Jim.
Mark: I'm Mark. This is Selena. Ok, Jim. I've got some bad news.

A modern day zombie movie...well they're not technically zombies, they're infected. A quality take on the genre, with stylish, digi cam direction from Danny Boyle and good characters. Very watchable, although it doesn't shine so well in the third act.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paranormal Activity: 2 Fast 2 Poltergeist

Paranormal Activity 2 = 3 ½ out of 5 Stars
Dan: Someone came in and trashed the house. Kristi thought it was a ghost...
As a quick message for those trying to go in as fresh as they can:  This film works for what it is.  If you enjoyed the first film, then you will most likely enjoy this film.  It may not be perfect, but it achieves something that most horror movies, these days, don’t – it scared me.  Similar to the first film, this film plays with a simple idea and covers much of the same ground that the first film did.  However, with a change in location, use of multiple cameras, and a higher budget, this film manages to build upon what the first achieved as well as tie in nicely to the story that took place in the first.  I may not have thought this film was at all necessary to make, but I am glad that it makes for a nice companion with the first.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paranormal Activity Didn't Help with Sleepy Time Afterwards

Paranormal Activity = 4 out of 5 Stars
Katie: Did you actually go back to get the camera?
Helpful Disclaimer: If you have any interest in this film, do not watch the trailer, go in as fresh as possible.

A very low budget, supernatural thriller about a couple trying to learn what goes bump in the night. While I initially walked out of the theater appreciating the film and liking it just alright, I then had a bit of trouble going to sleep that night, and I can safely say that this film is effectively chilling due to its proper use of tension, suspense, and appropriate realism factor.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

‘Monsters’ Consumes Genre Convention and Scares Up an Arthouse Film

Monsters = 4 out of 5
Andrew:  All I want is to go back to America.
Ferry Ticket Man:  ...Very dangerous.  You have the money, you take the risk.
 Many will definitely be mislead by the title, but Monsters is a low budget sci-fi drama about two characters trying to get back home.  While the film is certainly set in a world where aliens exist, with many scenes that show the destruction and changes in the world that have resulted from them, the film is in fact handled in a much more minimalist fashion.  Structured as a road movie, the film is more about developing the relationship between two characters on a journey, with subtle commentary regarding immigration and government protocol, among other themes.  This is an independent film that brushes against some genre elements, but is more about observing this world that we see in the background.  As a result, there are some moments of suspense, but it is more of a slow boil as we follow two characters on a trek.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Predators Is a B-Movie Ride Back To Its Jungle Roots

Predators = 3 and 1/2 out of 5
Edwin: Excuse me, I'm - just what the hell is going on here?
Royce: We're being hunted. The cages, soldier, all of us. We were all brought here for the same purpose. This planet is a game preserve, and we're the game.
Another entry into the Predator franchise, this time harking back to its 80s roots. Based on a story from the mind of producer Robert Rodriguez, this new Predator film essentially takes the concept of 'The Most Dangerous Game' and throws in the sci-fi element to make for a mostly satisfying action thriller. While the pacing could have been tightened a bit, there were enough solid elements here to really let me enjoy a new legitimate entry into this series.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stone Isn't Quite Rock Solid, But Has Strong Performances

Stone = 3 out of 5 Stars
Stone:  Can we talk straight? You gonna help me out or what?
A meandering drama that makes sure to preach its themes pretty loud and clear, but also features very good performances from its stars.  It deals with characters suffering from their own flaws and also looks to add some twists on atonement and what makes someone a sinner.  Then you have the element of a sexually charged thriller to bring in the kids.  Basically you have a lot of ins and outs for this OK film.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Evil Dead Drinking Game


The Evil Dead Drinking Game


Groovy

The Evil Dead trilogy is my favorite horror trilogy. It is a mix of classic genre tropes, over-the-top gore, comedy, and Three Stooges humor. Directed by Sam Raimi (the Spider-Man trilogy) and starring Bruce "Don't Call Me Ash" Campbell, the series has become a cult favorite for many, due to how entertaining it is. The following post is a set of rules for a drinking game that I have established, but beware - it's very easy to get trashed based on how often the rules come into play.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Jackass 3D Shows You Things In 3D You Wouldn't Want To See, In A Good Way

Jackass 3D = 3 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Johnny Knoxville: Me and the boys are about to do a little duck huntin'.
I'll keep this one short, because I don't really want to spoil the highlights of this film. Obviously, if you've been a fan of Jackass in the past, then you should feel welcome to check out this crew's latest collection of stunts and pranks. And you have the added bonus of the film being in 3D.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

RED – Reasonable Elderly Delight

RED = 3 out of 5 Stars

Sarah:  Are you ok.
Frank:  C’mon.  People get shot all the time.
Sarah:  No, they don’t…people get paper cuts all the time.
Marvin:  I mostly get shot.

A decent action comedy that I feel is going to get more love from general audiences than I had for it.  I certainly enjoyed the movie overall, thanks to its casting and a couple of fun action scenes, but something about this film’s energy just did not hold up well throughout.  While based on a much darker graphic novel, I was not as much disappointed with this film’s departure from the source material as much as I just didn’t really care for the story presented in this movie.  To make a vague reference, this movie is more fun than it is good.

Tamara Drewe Gets Around, and Has Fun

Tamara Drewe = 4 out of 5
Poppy Hardiment:  I love your new hooter.
Tamara Drewe:  It’s not actually new, it’s just smaller.
Of all the films adapted from graphic novels released this year, Tamara Drewe will probably be the one met with the least amount of fanfare.  Despite being based on a very popular British comic strip by Posy Simmonds, it is not one about having a flashy genre premise.  As fun as those films can be (and as much as I enjoy them, e.g. Kick Ass and I think I’ve been clear about my love for Scott Pilgrim) Tamara Drewe is a very enjoyable and sexy contemporary comedy.  The film is full of quick witted dialogue, many interlocking plot threads, and an atmosphere that is very breezy in its presentation.  The action in this comic adaptation comes from the way these characters interact both verbally and romantically.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Frozen is a Chilling Thriller

Frozen = 4 out of 5 Stars
Dan Walker: Remember that thing I said about having done this before? I totally lied. I'm scared shitless.
2010 has apparently become a year rife with thrillers that place characters in one tight location for the majority of the film. Devil was an exorcise in B-movie fun. Buried was a solid homage to make Hitchcock proud. And now Frozen functions as a fine film that takes an incredibly simple premise and makes it work very effectively.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Get Your Degree in Dragon Training

How To Train Your Dragon = 3 and 1/2 out of 5
 
[After flying all crazy like]
Hiccup: Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.


Dreamworks Animation has a sketchy track record. Sometimes you get a quality film with a lot of humor, fun, and even some heart; such as in the first Shrek and Kung Fu Panda. However, the majority of the time you get the standard Dreamworks class of films such as Shark Tale or Madagascar. Not all of the ladder class films are necessarily bad, but the former is certainly preferable. This film falls into that former category, and while it doesn't succeed into a higher level of greatness, it's certainly a fun adventure film and certainly among the best dragon movies ever made.

Jonah Hex Isn't The Only Thing Ugly About This Movie

Jonah Hex = 1 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars

(Approaches Hex with a knife)
Bar Patron: Hey Hex, what happened to your face?
(Hex shoots the man)
Jonah Hex: Cut myself shavin'. What happened to yours?


A big sloppy mess of a film, dumped into theaters, featuring a varied cast of bland characters, a boring plot, meh action, and hilariously bad dialogue, all crammed into a short running time of 80 minutes (including the credits).

The Hangover Gave Me A Headache from Laughing So Much

The Hangover = 4 out of 5 Stars
 
Phil Wenneck: Tracy, it's Phil.
Tracy Garner: Phil, where the hell are you guys?
Phil Wenneck: We lost Doug.
Tracy Garner: What? We're getting married in *five hours*.
Phil Wenneck: Yeah... that's not gonna happen. 

 
A hilarious and hard R-rated comedy that takes a wonderful premise and makes it all work. It has a great cast, great reveals, and tons of memorable lines, visuals, and moments scattered throughout.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird Has Fantastic Action

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird = 4 out of 5 Stars
Man-gil: The bounty on your head is 300 won.
Yoon Tae-goo: What? I'm only worth a piano?
Man-gil: A used one at that.
A kick ass Korean Spaghetti Western. Regardless of what country this film originates from, it is easily one of the most enjoyable, mindless action films I have seen in years. I want other action films to do what the cameras do in this film. The action is so much fun and awesome to watch. The story is simple, taking cues from Sergio Leone and the Mad Max films, as we follow a few characters in pursuit of great reward. But really, this film boils down to going over-the-top with stylized action in a western-type setting.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Waiting for Superman Fights For Truth and Justice


Waiting For Superman = 4 out of 5 Stars
Michelle Rhee:  You wake up every morning thinking how crappy an education kids are getting right now.
Davis:  You think kids are getting a crappy education?
Michelle Rhee:  Oh I don't think they are, I know they are.
It generally takes a lot for me to recommend a documentary on better terms than whether it was good or bad, or if it’s strong enough to catch in cinemas.  Some, in recent time, have naturally led me to strong recommendations, like King of Kong or Murderball, which are very well made, but also edited to have a fairly linear plot line, despite being a doc.  For docs such as this one, where the film has a lot of strong things to say about its subject matter, but also functions like a lecture or an info-dump, it can be harder to strongly get behind.  However, for this particular film, I would say that the subject matter is important enough and made well enough to go check out much sooner rather than later.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a Pretty Apt Description

It’s Kind of a Funny Story = 3 out of 5 Stars
Bobby: Why are you here; in an ER, at 5:00 on a Sunday morning?
Craig: Lot going on in my brain right now.
A mildly entertaining comedy drama that functions like a John Hughes film set in a psychiatric ward. There are elements present that could have made this a much better movie, chief among them being the performance by Zach Galifianakis, but the overall tone of the film never quite pulls off being both effectively comedic and dramatic in the right fashion. More disheartening is that the lead actor's performance is incredibly bland, which really does the film no favors. It is unfortunate for a director team coming off two better films.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My Soul to Take is The Worst Film of the Year


My Soul to Take = ½ out of 5 Stars


Bug:  If something dead was evil enough, do you think it could come back to life?

 Wes Craven deserves some kind of recognition this year.  Despite having to suffer through such duds as The Last Airbender, Jonah Hex, and even a remake of Craven’s own horror classic A Nightmare On Elm Street, somehow, Craven has managed to write and direct the worst film of the year, which is the best thing I can say about My Soul to Take.  I am not one to be caught up in the star ratings I assign to movies, but while I may give only so many movies five stars, it is definitely rarer for me to give a movie half of a star.  It is not something I take joy in; really, it just makes me sad.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Life As We Know It Is, Apparently, Very Predictable

Life as We Know It = 2 out of 5 Stars
[Eric is singing "Creep" to Sophie as a lullaby]
Holly: What are you singing to her?
Eric: Everybody loves Radiohead.
I told my friend Allison that I would be attending a screening of Katherine Heigl's latest rom-com disaster. Her response to me was as follows: "The JD [Josh Duhamel] one? The cliché about the couple who get the baby, fall in love, and have a bunch of funny mishaps along the way?" Allison gets props for this, because it is a very accurate summation of the flick, with the mishap of course being that this film was made. That may be a bit harsh, but suffice it to say, there is nothing very special about this very predictable story.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Secretariat Wins the Triple Crown for Mediocre Disney Sports Films

 Secretariat = 2 ½ out of 5
[Secretariat has just been born]
Lucien Laurin:  Have you ever seen anything like that.
Eddie Sweat:  No, no I haven't
Penny Chenery:  What?
Eddie Sweat:  A colt stand up that fast.
The best way I can describe this film is "very Disney."  It follows all the rules of the inspiring, Disney-produced, sports film, based on a true story.  You have a few underdogs, characters with determination, the wild card mentor character, the skeptical stand by characters, the arrogant former champions, and even a "magical negro character."  All of these factors add up to making a film deemed “crowd pleasing” by general audiences.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this film (despite the many character changes for it); it is just very shallow and by-the-numbers.

Wax Off Your Skepticism and Check Out The Karate Kid

The Karate Kid = 4 out of 5
(Dre has a black eye from a fight)
Mr. Han: What happened to your eye?
Dre: I ran into a pole.
Mr. Han: Hm. Interesting pole.
I'm gonna start by pointing out with the obvious. Yes, this is a remake of the 1984 Karate Kid, despite being set in China and featuring Kung Fu. If that is truly the hang up that is stopping someone from seeing this film, they better get over it, because this is a crowd pleaser all the way. A well made film that proves how strong a formula can be if handled properly.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Splice Together Some Gross Genre Fun

Splice = 4 out of 5
Elsa: What's the worst that could happen?
A very solid sci-fi flick with horror elements, that does a great job at echoing the creepier works of a Cronenberg film, while mostly maintaining a fresh sense of direction in the realm of scientists going to far in films.

You Can Walk Safely Down the Scare Free Streets of A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street = 1 and 1/2 out of 5
Freddy Krueger: You have nothing to worry about. This wont hurt one, little, bit.
A pretty bad horror movie. Not in terms of it being a remake, just in terms of it being a bad movie. An overuse of cheap scares, style over substance, and nonsensical characters; all within a film that has a premise that could be put to such better use.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Check Your Wall, I “Liked” The Social Network

The Social Network:  5 out of 5 Stars
Mark Zuckerberg: If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you'd have invented Facebook.
An important thing to note right off the bat about this film is that it is not "Facebook: The Movie." This is a film, based on a novel that recounts the creation of Facebook through multiple perspectives and the legal action that followed. I believe this film could have just as easily been about the creation of some other type of defining invention and still be able to tell the same sort of story. However, as this film is about the creation of Facebook, it certainly has the task of showing the value of social networking and giving a portrayal of what it means to be growing up in this generation as far as some are concerned. With all that being said, this film combines the talents of a great director, a great screenwriter, and a very good cast to achieve what is one of the best films of 2010.

Do Not Send This Chain Letter

Chain Letter:  1 out of 5 Stars
Jesse: "Break the chain, lose a life." That's a little intense.
Oh man, this was a movie alright.  I need to hurry up and type this one out quickly, because I might literally forget what happened in it in the next few minutes.  This was a horror film made as if plenty of others hadn't done anything like this ever before, and it proceeds without any sense of irony or satire.  There is no joke to be in on here, instead you have a film trying way too hard and characters shouting things like "he's watching us!" and "I don't wanna die!"  And then you of course have the required amount of gore.  I'm still recalling things about this movie, so brace yourself for more...

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