The Movie Asylum

May 05

Movies I watched, April 2013 (Part III):

While technically it’s May—well fuck it.

  1. Ghost Town" 7.5/10 [Better than I expected. Nobody can do a "what a sodding idiot…" face better than Ricky Gervais. Story is sentimental and shit, but overall it’s quite enjoyable and funny.]
  2. Movie 43" 5.75/10 [I kind of wish they’d make a sequel to this, and then get some higher-brow humored authors second time around. Still had a good laugh, and the tying narrative was amusing.]
  3. The Vow" 6.75/10 [I liked the film, but the narrative just pissed me off: it’s a frustrating premise. It had heart, though. And I love Rachel McAdams. I’d have stuck around for her too, lol.]
  4. Brave" 7.5/10 [Much more enjoyable than I anticipated. It’s less feminist, and more focused on destiny and fate. Also, one of the best Disney witches in years. And the three brothers were quite predictably amusing.]
  5. Wreck-It Ralph" 8.75/10 [AWESOME. I loved it, from the scattered knowing visual parodies to the world-building to the characterizations (and what a twist!), this movie was a great time. Best Disney film in a minute. Vanelope Von Schweetz was baller.]
  6. Premium Rush" 6.75/10 [A little too formulaic for my tastes (I think the writer did it to try to simplify his premise for the audience), but it’s a fun time. The biking is pretty damn cool, and the cast is excellent. Michael Shannon was a fun Elmer Fudd type.]
  7. Next" 4.5/10 [So generic, despite its premise, which is really only used to interesting or exciting effect a handful of times the entire movie. Otherwise, it has no substance to speak of. Nic is stiff. Jessica Biel though, is mighty goddamn fine in this one. Steamy.]
  8. **”Iron Man 3" 7/10 [Overall, I felt like it was a solid third entry (something rare to be said for any franchise). However, this is my understanding of this experience: Marvel thought they were clever fucks and tricked everyone with their marketing, purposely leading us to think we were going in for one experience (tonally and narratively), so much so that we have been taken aback with some initial disillusionment, forcing us to later have to reevaluate it. My take: I think we get a solid take on the villain, to start. I think certain actors are underutilized, as well as some characters. I think the finale is either just right or too short for my tastes. I think there are obvious plot holes and the seriousness of the events in the film aren’t taken seriously enough, in my opinion, which slows the drive of the entire film. No urgency. Love Gwyneth Paltrow though. Seriously. She fine. Shame Rebecca Hall’s role is slim.]
  9. Gods and Monsters" 7/10 [Nice showcase of acting, and character piece, but a little formulaic in structure (despite the true story unique inspiration) and a little distracted with trying to be profound, controversial Oscar bait.]
  10. The Exorcist III" 4.5/10 [So terribly self-indulged, drawn-out, and boring. Worse than the first sequel. I actually kind of liked that one. This one focuses on the continuing lives of two supporting characters from the original "Exorcist." A serial killer has possessed a third character from the original as well. Whoopy.]
  11. Evan Almighty" 5.75/10 [It’s kind of cool. When the flood actually occurs, that CGI spectacle is grand. I’m incredibly surprised this film wasn’t chased by the conservative Christian community. I see shadows of Shadyac’s prior comedic work here (Carrel channels Jim Carrey a couple of times), but for a straight-up comedy it runs a little slapsticky, cheesy, eye-rolly or generic. Everyone gives it a shot though, and it’s amusing at least once, despite fears it may get too preachy (it doesn’t really, too much).]
  12. Repo Men" 5.5/10 [Twist at the end was nice. Some of this was pretty much run-of-the-mill fugitive/futuristic/actioner shit. The actors helped steer the boat on this one. I’m surprised by how much of a different direction they took the premise than the direction "Repo! The Genetic Opera" took with the same one.]

Apr 24

Movies I watched, April 2013 (Part II):

There will be a part III later, but I needed to split this next segment of reviews up because I don’t want to start forgetting which is which…you can kind of see why with the various horror sequels I’ve delved into.

  1. The Amityville Horror (1979)" 6.75/10 [I’ve always heard "the original is better!" for most horror franchises. With "Friday the 13th," I know that’s not true. With the "Saw" sequels, it depends on who you ask. I’ve seen the "Amityville" remake, so I thought I’d give this a try. It’s good, to start. I love the theme song. I appreciated the different shots of the house with different color filters. I liked James Brolin and Margot Kidder. The part that always gets me about these “Amityville” movies is the possession part. I guess Brolin pulled it off here, but overall it’s better played off here than in the remake. This is quite atmospheric as well.]
  2. The Mexican" 5.75/10 [I’ve been waiting for this one awhile. I finally have seen it, and I genuinely enjoyed Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt’s chemistry here. However, the mob stuff, and James Gandolfini’s own romance, just drug it out into melodrama blah blah after a while.]
  3. Lady in the Water" 5.5/10 [M. Night Shyamalan is always a man with ideas. He pulled a Robert Rodriguez and made a movie based off a bedtime story for kids. He tried to conceptualize and idealize why we need stories, and how the roles in them have a purpose. Unfortunately, he cannot do it. This man cannot tell a story properly enough for his meaning to come across. In the climax of the film, it kind of all falls apart. I was genuinely worried the protagonist was crazy. He was too crazy for all these people to follow him. Are people that desperate to matter to the world? To mean something?]
  4. Vile" 2.75/10 [A movie about causing yourself mutilating pain until your device lets you go is a little…obscure. So I thought I’d play along. It may not be original, but it’s unique. Unfortunately, the uninteresting characters and poor acting and the shoddy production (not to mention insensible script unraveling before your very eyes) all make it quite the undertaking. Avoid it.]
  5. The Legend of Hell House" 6.75/10 [It’s certainly dense, interesting, and though it may not be so original these days, it was quite the little horror gem in the day. The ghosts here are never seen, which I thought was a good trick. It gets brutal too.]
  6. Smiley Face" 7/10 [Anna Faris may act like she’s not giving a shit this entire film, but that’s how dedicated she is to the role, man. That’s a stoner joke. She plays a stoner here. Laugh. Anyways, the film is actually well-executed. It knows the inner workings of a high person. The story executes itself in this manner, as though following the trail of a genuinely stoned person. Not bad. Good performances all around.]
  7. Child’s Play 2" 5/10 [Oh, Charles Lee Ray. Coming back to take Andy, huh? Here’s the running irritation with the sequels: why didn’t they focus on other children? They’d have been easier. Also, more houses and families opens stories up for better possibilities. Anyways, this is a mostly rehashed story, maintaining a lot of the elements of the first film, much like how "A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge" did.]
  8. Child’s Play 3" 5.5/10 [Interesting bringing Chucky to a military school. Also underutilized. Now Chucky just wants revenge on Andy, given that he’s grown up, but focuses on another kid, whom Andy must now save. It’s still a "run from Chucky, oh my!" for the most part here. Despite Chucky’s easy access to a lot of guns, he sticks with the knife. Still, an improvement over the second film. This is Andy’s last film, and also the last before Tiffany joins the series, which lends the series its black comedy vibe later, and removes the focus from Andy.]
  9. Bride of Chucky" 5.75/10 [I actually like the character of Tiffany quite a bit. The scraping serial killer lover dolls is a hilarious idea. I also loved Jennifer Tilly in this role (probably has to do with the fact she was lookin’ fine in the ’90s!). Speaking of the ’90s, this was a very ’90s horror film. Very self referential (and references A Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13thHalloweenHellraiser, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises), Rob Zombie wrote the opening song, Graeme Revell did the score, it features goth bastards, trailer park kids and a “fooling the dad” anti-authority attitude. John Ritter’s in this. I do also like how Chucky and Tiff framed the innocent love-struck teens (a young Katherine Heigl!), versus finding a house to accept such ugly dolls for their kids.]
  10. The Exorcist" 8/10 (Re-Review) [I’ll admit, it’s pretty good. I like it. By today’s standards, despite its sense of intrigue built around the Exorcist, and its dense story, it is pretty cut-and-dry, and therefore seems a little slow today. Linda Blair packs a punch, though. And Max Von Sydow in elder age make-up intrigued me, a practice I’d only seen in "Return of the Jedi" with the emperor: no prologue/flashback scenes featuring a younger him, the character is just cast as a younger actor in old man make-up. Even without franchise prospects, like in "Prometheus"! I knew I recognized him.]
  11. Seed of Chucky" 5.75/10 [I think it’s my personal favorite of the series. I think this is where it truly embraced its own voice that it found in "Bride of Chucky"…through their kid, played interestingly by post-LOTR Billy Boyd. Because they’re now a family, their dysfunctional, psychopathic tendencies must be explained in innocent, shy, cowardly Glen (or Glenda, hint-hint Ed Wood fans). It’s very self-referential towards Chucky and what he represents to the eye of an innocent bystander. Also, Glen is the ugliest thing ever. They kept the teeth from the end of "Bride of Chucky." They’re like little shark teeth. I disagree with going meta, as it’s generally a cheap gimmick, it suspends belief, and the joke rarely lasts long. Kudos to Jennifer Tilly for what was probably a bad idea after all.]
  12. Exorcist II: The Heretic" 5.5/10 [Linda Blair be lookin’ fine…anyways, it’s a joy to see Blair and Max Von Sydow return for this sequel four years later. I also notice they genuinely attempted to move forward with respect towards its source and its predecessor. But again, while it built up its backstory about Father Merrin, it took away some of its drive. I appreciated the heretic arc, though its impression of Regan as a "healer" was a bit "bullshitting," if you will, by the writers. While I appreciated Regan’s maturity with psychoanalysis and treatment, as well as the concept of "synching," I disagree with healers who are coming to help battle evil on a great scale, like some holy conspiracy that Regan is a chosen vessel for. Eh.]
  13. Amityville II: The Possession" 5.5/10 [It tried. The structure was just a little off. Unlike the first film in the series, the climax is not the possession and then the murders in the house. The real ending to the story is what happens after. But can it maintain its momentum after that to reach that ending? If they’d trimmed maybe 15 or so minutes in-between, they maybe could’ve. It could’ve been a solid 6 or more with just that difference. The incest relationship, the son being the possessed, the Indian Burial Ground excuse for the house’s overall curse, and the priest’s sacrifice…it’s all a unique and interesting direction for a franchise I figured I had pegged, and adds depth to the franchise as well (despite some continuity errors with the original).

Apr 19

Movies I watched, April 2013 (Part I):

It’s April the 19th so…I’m totally off-schedule with this one.

  1. Lakeview Terrace" 7.25/10 [I remembered seeing this one advertised while I worked at the movie theater. I just never got a chance to see it until just this month. It surprises me in that it’s not so generic as the trailers suggested. It’s very mature, in fact, in its cinematography and characterizations, as well as atmosphere. You’ll never see a movie quite like it again, and that’s points with me.]
  2. The Last House on the Left (2009)" 7.5/10 [I finally made my way through this film, and it’s not bad. Sure, it’s gruesome, and arguably a torture porn shockfest. That’s debatable. But ultimately it’s the parents’ revenge that sells the entire film. It’s the twist on the narrative. Here, it’s executed competently, but lets out the steam somewhere along the line. Finely acted, I might add. Solid remake. In a post-Rob Zombie world, what’s shocking anymore?]
  3. Get Smart" 7.5/10 (Re-Review) [I misjudged this film when I first saw it, as I misinterpreted Anne Hathaway’s more mature performance, which therefore meant I misinterpreted the context of her and Maxwell Smart’s relationship here. It’s a delightful film, a unique romance, and once you’ve forgotten all those main gags from the trailers, revisit this gem. Wish it’d gotten a sequel.]
  4. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" 5.75/10 [This is also a delightful film, but strains under its own premise. They didn’t have enough material to write an entire film. If you can argue they did, then they didn’t fill it with the stuff they should’ve. Carell plays Wonderstone in a way I didn’t predict from the trailers, and Carrey is perfection here. The supporting characters make up a great team as well.]
  5. **”Evil Dead (2013)" 7.5/10 [It’s not so original in plotline, but viscerally this is a whole new beast. It’s not the nightmare, it’s what the nightmare is populated with. That’s the key to their new Evil Dead series, which is an official sequel, and will lead to at least three more Evil Dead films. To them, I say bring it on. I do love the revamped look of the Deadites. I’ll be giving it a second look soon. Creators, make it scarier, not gorier next time. You can’t outdo blood raining from the sky.]
  6. The Spirit" 6.5/10 (Re-Review) [Oh, this film. I went back and rewatched it…if you love femme fatales, if you love ethereal sequences like daydreams, and if you love a little cheese with your crime-fighting, you may enjoy this movie after all. I think it’s a hidden gem, especially in a stoner context.]
  7. Grandma’s Boy" 5.75/10 [I finally got to rewatch this one, because I couldn’t remember it the first time. Almost couldn’t remember it the second time either. It’s unique, it’s silly, the girl (Linda Cardellini (OMG!)) is fiiiiine, and it’s been defined as a cult hit/stoner classic. But it’s one you watch in snippets on TV. It’s not worth taking seriously. Maybe that’s its secret?]
  8. House of Wax (2005)” 5/10 [Fun throwback premise, a little dull and cheaply made. Watch if you want. If not just once.]
  9. Bully" 8.25/10 [I don’t like it when documentaries are left displaying no resolution to their subjects, but of course that’s merely a reflection of the world we live in. This is another documentary in the latest batch on important issues, and it’s just as affecting as it should be. Let your teens watch it.]
  10. I Am" 7.75/10 [Hard film to find, but I so badly wanted to see it. Tom Shadyac is one of my favorite directors of all time, so to see him make a personal documentary about subjects I hold as important (legacy, improving life, morality) was of course a match made in heaven. I urge you to find a copy for yourself.]
  11. White Noise" 5.5/10 [I found it interesting. Technically this movie is not very good. But I enjoyed it. I found it a decently creepy atmosphere, they utilize EVPs to nice payoff, and it had a semi-twist. I’m not quite sure what Keaton’s doing, but eh. Leave him to it. This film is just a fun one for TV.
  12. Finding Neverland" 8/10 (Re-Review) [Oh yes, what a joy. If Johnny had mastered his Scottish accent here, why was he going in-and-out of it in "Alice in Wonderland?" Either way, this film is a joy. The inspirations for Peter Pan are as marvelous as the story itself. Of course, real life was a darker story, but the screenwriter chose not to bog down the film with it.]
  13. Dark Skies" 6/10 [If they had more story to tell, they should’ve attempted it the first time around. This one needed a little more, and if the director was set on making another one, he’ll have to look at those box office receipts and try to justify a sequel to the studio paying the bill on the first one! Anyways, they get away with a couple jump scares, and surprisingly creepy things, while sticking to a somewhat "Insidious"-inspired structure. I like the alien modernization. Critics say the ending was deliberately attempting to set up a sequel…I think it was borderline. It was only slightly forced.]
  14. House of 1000 Corpses" 6/10 [It’s unique, I’ll give it that. I don’t know if I should say it’s well-acted (sorta half-‘n-half, here), but it instantly makes a horror icon with Captain Spaulding, and Sheri Moon Zombie is a sexy-ass nut. Of course their sadist family commits horrifying acts, but Zombie’s stylization (almost drug-trippy) makes it a ride. Not quite assured behind the camera yet, but we see the makings here.]
  15. Idiocracy" 9/10 [It’s great. It’s hilarious. Sure, the overall premise is disagreeable, but the way Mike Judge plays out the premise is hilarious. It’s the best take I’ll probably ever see on it. Btw Maya Rudolph once had sex appeal??]
  16. The Blob (1988)" 7.5/10 [Thanks again, Barron, for finding an obscure horror and turning me into a convert fan once again. The R-Rated remake of "The Blob" is awesome. It’s gruesome. It’s twisted. It catches you off-guard and even breaks a horror genre convention along the way. And Shawnee Smith looking hella fine circa ‘88! And Jeffrey DeMunn playing the Sheriff, I almost didn’t recognize him!]
  17. The Devil’s Rejects" 7.5/10 [This is the sickest movie I’ve ever seen. In the last two years, you guys have seen how many horror movies I’ve seen. This is the worst of them. Twisted as fuck. Zombie never lets up here. How did this get an R-Rating? I had to pause it to take a breather, it never lets up. My favorite characters, Spaulding, Sheri Moon Zombie, and her brother last to the end. Which means the optimum amount of carnage was produced in the duration of this film. Great conclusion to the story, though. They go out in glory.]
  18. Event Horizon" 6.5/10 [Finally watched it. Yes, other dimensions shouldn’t be touched. Nice finale, especially for a Paul W.S. Anderson film. A tad smarter than the usual film by him, too.]
  19. A Haunted House" 4/10 [Worse than I expected. Yeesh. The charm of Marlon Wayans and that one chick hold the movie pretty well through its miscellaneous, aimless gags. But even still, there’s not enough material. The finale was them just grabbing the camera and running around the house making jokes in character. Yet they’re making a sequel.]
  20. Hannibal" 7.75/10 (Re-Review) [I didn’t quite enjoy this sequel when I first watched it. I was probably 16 or so. Watching it now, I appreciate seeing where Hannibal is at, his murderous side in reserve, and the dynamic between Hannibal and Starling is fun. Julianne Moore is actually really good as Clarice, despite fans’ initial disapproval at the recasting of Jodie Foster. It’s quite good fun, altogether.]
  21. The Cell" 7.75/10 [Also finally got around to watching this one, also recommended to me. They were certainly right. It’s right up my psychological thriller alley, and plays to my surreal tastes. It’s also quite twisted, but between this, "Hannibal Rising," "Hannibal," and "Red Dragon," I’m beginning to think I know a little much about the inside of serial killers’ heads. Either way, J. Lo does alright, Vince Vaughn isn’t bad, and Vincent D’Onfrio is as bizzare as ever. Tarsem Singh’s touch is all over this film.]
  22. Wonder Woman (2011)" 6.75/10 [Unaired TV pilot for NBC, it all comes down to the costume. If the costume was properly modernized, then it all could’ve worked. I liked the story, I liked the premise. If the superhero aspect truly came out in her wardrobe, it could’ve aired and been a moderate success. They could’ve had cool looking posters.]
  23. Hannibal Rising" 5.5/10 [It’s just boring. It is. I "get it," I just don’t "like it." If they cut the running time down by 1/3, it could’ve been a bit better. Also, they miscast the lead dude. No traces of the Hannibal I know in there at all. Only a couple of cool scenes, or psychologically intriguing scenes. The rest is blatantly sketchy prequel work.]
  24. Red Dragon" 6.75/10 [I liked seeing Hannibal mature a little in "Hannibal," but then they went back to pre-"Silence of the Lambs," 10-years-prior to "Hannibal" prequel focused on Will Graham and the Red Dragon. I feel like Hopkins played that up a little while incarcerated. Almost over-the-top. Either way, the cast is great, especially Ralph Fiennes, but the film overall is a little hard to take seriously for some reason. I don’t know exactly where Ratner fucked up this time.]

Apr 03

Movies I watched, March 2013 (Part III):

A couple of days late, so what.

I’ve been on vacation.

I finished “American Horror Story: Asylum,” which was an improvement on the first season. Also, been working on “Walking Dead,” but after a while I got jaded on it. Gotta jump back into that soon.

  1. Blade Runner" 7.25/10 [Eh. I had the same issue with "Scarface": broody neon lights, steam, and grunge don’t instantly make a classic. And just because you display a little Phillip K. Dick sci-fi philosophy doesn’t mean your movie is automatically profound. Really, people expected more out of Ridley Scott for "Prometheus" because of this movie? “Prometheus” had more in it than this movie, for sure. It was also more damn fun.]
  2. Take Shelter" 7.5/10 [Yeah, I can dig. Michael Shannon did a terrific job. Jessica Chastain? Perfection de ultimita, as per usual. The film really holds on the unfantastical in order to build its story. As long as you’re seeking a well-performed family drama with potential mental illness as a main subject, this will do just fine.]
  3. Bridget Jones’s Diary" 7/10 [Eh. It’s pretty much what I expected it to be, this being the first official time I’ve ever seen this movie. Zellweger is lovable, Grant is a tool, and Firth is a nice guy. For happy ending’s sake, she ends up with the nice guy. …and? Well, along the way she builds up her character from nothing. And it’s occasionally funny or frank, relationship-wise.]
  4. The Queen" 7.75/10 [Helen Mirren did fantastic, sure. But this film got a lot of unnecessary Oscar buzz resulting from that, including a Best Picture nom (personally, I’d have given the Oscar to Kate Winslet that year for "Little Children," but I’m partial to that gem). Ultimately, Michael Sheen is the standout as Tony Blair, but Helen must upstage him so her authority clearly stands high. She generally succeeds, and it’s a wonderfully British sight.]
  5. **”Gambit (2012)" 5.75/10 [As much as I love Alan Rickman, and as much as I like Cameron Diaz and Colin Firth, and as much as I like the Coen Brothers (wrote the screenplay here), this is mediocre work. Maybe a little more focus on definitive, original characters could’ve saved the day. But it was still cheeky fun.]
  6. The Expendables 2" 7.25/10 [If I didn’t like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger so much, then this might’ve ditched a good .5 point. Still, there is some cool action scenes here. BTW Chuck Norris here is a disappointment, even compared to his same-gen counterparts. This film was more fun than the first, so it’s an improvement, though the story is still a little messy.]
  7. Dredd" 7.75/10 [If it weren’t for that last damn voiceover monologue, this would’ve probably gotten an 8. Just a little too dumbed-down for my tastes. I got the concept the first time around. Anyways, this is a lot more fun, interesting, and exciting than you’d expect. Just see it to believe it. I want more "DREDD!"]
  8. Land of the Lost (2009)" 7.5/10 [Loved it. Critically, a 7.5, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a perfect stoner movie for one, and it’s like a hidden Will Ferrell/Danny McBride gem, and sure it’s silly, but it’s charming, clever, and updated.]
  9. Zero Dark Thirty" 8/10 [Yes, I watched it, get off my back, geez. Only reason I bothered to watch this one was because of Jessica Chastain. Because I can watch her for 157 minutes. But an Osama Bin Laden movie? Let’s just say I paused this movie sporadically and 157 mins turned into 350 mins. It was interesting, especially if you don’t know the entire story from the media. Chastain could’ve won the Oscar, but she’ll earn hers soon at this rate. Overall, this film is definitely solid.]
  10. The Passion of the Christ" 7.75/10 (Re-Review) [I haven’t seen this movie since it was in theaters, back in 2004. 8 years later, does it hold up? Surprisingly, yes. More so surprisingly because I’m not even Christian. If you don’t think about it in religious terms, but just listen and focus on the human story, then it’s a beautifully told, emotional tribute to humanity’s greatest potential.]
  11. Catwoman" 4.75/10 (Re-Review) [This isn’t a total turkey. By that, I mean it’s no "Garbage Pail Kids Movie," or "Star Wars Holiday Special," or "Fantastic Four (1994)." It’s got enough in the screenplay and in the characterization (and Berry’s performance), as well as its own mythology, and just enough action beats. The problem is that the bare-minimum is never enough when releasing yourself as a summer superhero tentpole. I’m surprised this didn’t affect the box office release of “Batman Begins” just a year later, in fact. The direction may be off. Sharon Stone and a cosmetics cover-up plot (as well as an accompanying amnesia subplot) may have been completely wrong/insulting to feminists everywhere. But it is also a nice stoner piece. This film is a genuine anomaly, one “Elektra (2005)” doesn’t even compare to, and contemplating these questions alone makes it worth it at least just once.]
  12. Batman & Robin" 4/10 [Yeah, it’s pretty awful. I love watching Uma Thurman get hot ‘n steamy. I love watching Schwarzenegger say shitty one-liners maniacally. Clooney may have been a decent Bruce Wayne, but he was no Batman. Alicia Silverstone looks good in the Batgirl suit, but she’s a horrible actress and could never seem as smart as Barbara Gordon, just like Denise Richards could never convince me she were a nuclear physicist ("The World is Not Enough"). Robin is a self-absorbed, whiny tool, all semblance of respect and "coolness" he had in "Batman Forever" has fled with those nipples on his suit. The plot is "meh," even Alfred’s potential death doesn’t shake any sense into this movie. At least a half hour of fuckin’ around is put on display here, with silly bells and whistles that don’t make a sound. This movie could’ve been a swift, kid-focused 90 minute runtime. Oh well.]
  13. Frankenstein Conquers The World" 7/10 [My buddy Barron started recommending monster movies to me for research for my new horror screenplay. This was his first choice. Frankenstein is played to perfection, while twisting his mythology upside down to enter him into the kaiju genre. A fun throwback.]
  14. Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke" 7.25/10 [I gotta admit, I hadn’t laughed this hard while toking since "Super Troopers," or "Office Space." They’re absolutely right about this film. However, is it a classic? Nah. Tommy Chong is one of my idols, and Cheech is like a ’70s Aziz Ansari. It’s a fun buddy comedy, kind of loses its narrative focus, then gets right back on track for a great finale.]
  15. Syriana" 7/10 [Why did Clooney win for this one? Because he got fat? Either way, the “Traffic” approach to the oil industry is still a movie about the oil industry. Its realism is an attempt to convince people, yet we assumed this all happened. This is why we didn’t like Bush. Duh. They wring what intrigue, suspense, and tension they can, and they have a emotional story (a kid dies), almost as if it were written to be a persuasive essay.]
  16. The Star Wars Holiday Special" 2/10 [OH YES I DID. The infamous "Star Wars" TV special, 1978, came across my desk last week, and I had to watch it with Barron, so I waited as long as I could before playing it. Keep in mind, this special never aired twice, and was never officially released from Lucasfilm on either VHS, DVD, or Blu-Ray. It is a rarity to find. So when I finally watched it…well…it was pretty much as awful as they say it is. It’s a genuine nostalgic joy to see Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, all in ‘78, play their roles once more. Yet despite how pleasing a proposition that sounds, it is not enough to even balance itself against the visual and auditory assault that takes place in that 1.5 hrs. The plot is a point A to point B structure, of everyone trying to come together for Wookie Life Day, with only the Imperials standing in their way. And also the distraction of some terribly disjointed variety acts from ’70s celebrities. The worst part are the Wookies: Lumpy, Itchy, and Malla, who are like annoying WALL-Es here, not saying a single word, but making high-pitched Wookie noises for sometimes ten minutes straight, doing nothing more than nonsensical, mundane Wookie chores around the house that in no way drive the plot forward. The sole highlights are the first images of Kashyyk, the first appearance of Boba Fett (as well as his first confrontation with the gang), a Bea Arthur cantina gag, and just seeing everyone together again. A few pleasant geek surprises in a Bantha Poodoo haystack.]
  17. The Wolf Man (1941)" 7/10 [Sometimes it is hard to separate your perception of what a movie will be, and then what it ends up being. Like, it took me a while to get used to what the first "Ghost Rider" movie is, instead of what I wanted it to be. But then I had to get used to the fact that it was a steamy pile of shit. “The Wolf Man” had some misperceptions I had placed on it over time, thinking it more Gothic, or even more dipped in folklore and legend. In fact, it was quite modern at the time. Also, it’s forgivable because of its runtime that the creature only shows up twice after taking Talbot under its curse.]
  18. The A-Team (2010)" 7.5/10 (Re-Review) [There has to be a whole series of films that weren’t overtly exceptional, so they were ignored amidst competing films that were exceptional. “Land of the Lost (2009),” for example, is entertaining in its own right, but failed to produce a franchise, much less its own box office glory. “The A-Team” came out in a summer alongside “Toy Story 3,” “Iron Man 2” and “Inception.” The A-Team was competing to start its own franchise too (clearly, with its big-name cast and its big-ass budget), but got snuffed out. “The Karate Kid” took the money instead in a famous ’80s remake box office face-off, but still hasn’t produced a sequel itself. I think “The A-Team” was the more promising of the two. First off, the cast was perfectly handpicked (though I debate about Liam Neeson for Hannibal, most others wouldn’t). Second, it was riotous fun, even if it gets a little less plausible than preferred. Third, they put more thought into the screenplay than you’d expect. Give this one a second chance.]
  19. Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (1998)" 4/10 [It’s hard to take seriously. But at least it wasn’t as drawn-out, noisy, or in-your-face as some other recently rated turkeys. And David Hasselhoff wasn’t a bad consideration (at the time) for Fury. It was a straight forward, comic-booky time, featuring some pre-Marvel Studios mythology, like LMDs or the Helicarrier, all on a nice, low budget.]


Mar 20

Movies I watched, March 2013 (Part II):

Second third of my March reviews. Not many of them this time.

  1. The Man With The Iron Fists" 5.75/10 [A writer RZA is not. But enough of this film is fun enough to keep it from all falling apart into mediocrity. Russell Crowe gets a shoutout for Jack Knife. The action gets a shoutout for its implausible inventiveness.]
  2. Hostel: Part II" 7.25/10 [I’ve now seen all of the "Hostel" films. I think they’re all pretty good in their own right. This one focuses on a female cast, as well as the original Bloodhound factory, tying in a heavy mythology pretty successfully while fleshing out more of said premise. Hard to believe this wasn’t as successful as the first film.]
  3. Superstar" 5.25/10 [What is so popular about "Superstar?" Mary Katherine Gallagher. That’s it. Like most SNL films, they come up with a great creation, then try to make the joke last over a shortened runtime, to dwindling effect. The rest of the film (minus a rockin’ Will Ferrell Jesus) is pretty much average and unfunny.]
  4. Minority Report" 9/10 (Re-Review) [I think this is one of the most underrated sci-fi films of the past couple decades. It’s purely intellectual, it’s action packed, it’s wisely structured and scripted, it’s a great Tom Cruise showcase, and the premise is flawless.]

Mar 10

Movies I watched, March 2013 (Part I):

I decided to break this month’s reviews into thirds. The last few times I decided to write, it took over an hour each time. Avoiding that like the plague.

Now updated with “Flight,” which I just watched on the same night of this post.

  1. The Fantastic Four (1994)" 2/10 [Oh yes, I got ahold of the infamous, never-theatrically-released, low-budget attempt at a big-screen FF adventure. Minus some oddly hokey minions Doctor Doom has, this plays a lot like the 2005 version story-wise. Treads a lot of the same familiar territory. But, you know, with a shoestring budget and horrible acting. And no Jessica Alba in tighty tightness.]
  2. 101 Dalmatians (1996)" 5.5/10 (Re-Review) [I wasn’t totally paying attention to this…but Jeff Daniels plays it straight, and Joely Richardson is always a welcome sight, even if she does too. Glenn Close is great, because with so many straight arrows, she’s the crazy one that brings some energy to the show. Also, Mr. Weasley (Mark Williams) and Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) make a great couple of dog nappers. Either way, as far as story and film is concerned…it’s all generic, and adapting this film to live-action means the animals acting like plotting clever people plays off as a tad too cheesy to me.]
  3. The Royal Tenenbaums" 7.75/10 [I finally got to see Wes Anderson’s touchstone pic. I loved the cast. Some members of the cast never acted better (imo). For an ensemble of this size, the screenplay’s balancing act comes off as effortless.]
  4. Creepshow III" 3/10 [For as average as the first "Creepshow" was, I don’t have any idea how they reached a third installment (jk; it was straight-to-DVD, and was solely created to bank off the name of the original ’80s flicks). Pretty much created with zero creative intent whatsoever. There’s a semi-twist here and there that keeps it from being a total waste of 1.5 hrs.]
  5. The Descendants" 8/10 [I want to know what George Clooney does to play different leading man roles. Matt King is definitely different from Ryan Bingham, yet I could not begin to tell you how Clooney pulled that off. This type of film simply tends to depress me (due to subject matter), and just because it says Alexander Payne as director doesn’t mean it’s going to be as funny as "Sideways." It’s still a very solid film, Shailene Woodley is fine-as-hell, and it’s an uplifting ending.]
  6. **”21 and Over" 6/10 [No self-respecting writers would repeat their own writing, given certain allowable exceptions (sequels, inside jokes, homages, etc). These guys? They repeated some of their own jokes from "The Hangover," "A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas," and "American Reunion," down to the beer pong competition, violent douchebags, and Asian stereotypes. Still, it’s an OK time.]
  7. For a Good Time, Call…" 4/10 [As much as I love Ari Graynor (she so fiiiine), I didn’t like this movie. Maybe it’s because I semi-blacked out drunk that night, but I just didn’t laugh really. The story was kind of average. Anne Hathaway’s role in “Valentine’s Day” as a phone sex operator was more intriguing (and more dramatic) than anything here, and that was just a small portion of that movie. And I don’t think phone sex is sexy, for whatever reason (sue me, I like feeling something). So yeah. Not that good of a time.]
  8. Pitch Perfect" 7/10 [Pretty much one of the simplest, most streamlined plots I’ve seen in a studio film for years…at least, one that is just as effective as its slightly more complex counterpart. Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson steal their scenes easy-peezay. Anna hooked me on her "alternative" character immediately (I’ve crushed on her since "Up in the Air"), and Rebel Wilson never falls flat in any role she picks. Brittany Snow, no matter what role, could not convince me to care for her. Anna Camp was probably one of the more dynamic roles here as that goody-two-shoes who lightens up. This film is fun and funny, and light overall.]
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower" 7.75/10 [Simply beautiful, elegant, deep, enlightened and tempered. Every frame of this film feels whole, meticulously planned yet natural. All actors are flawless here. The emotions don’t ever lift. And Logan Lerman, for the first time, has genuinely impressed me. Emma Watson has never been more beautiful (I heard that accent slip through a couple times though; careful Emma). Seriously though, because the protagonist’s perspective on his friends and life, she became a mesmerizing, sacred beauty…hmm. Fascinating. Maybe if respect, heart, and affection were better displayed onscreen, beauty wouldn’t have to rely on hiring supermodels for every female role. It relies in the story, something Stephen Chbosky clearly knew. It feels closer to high school than most movies based in high school. Feels real, alive. Moving.]
  10. Madea’s Family Reunion" 6/10 [I’m ever-so-slowly making my way through the Tyler Perry films. Thankfully, this was a remarkably noticeable improvement over "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," which was so dissonant at times, it felt like two movies at once. This one has a more streamlined plot (thank god), and may be a little kitschy, hell even cheesy-as-fuuuu at times, but it felt more worthwhile. Up until the reunion itself, which is the setpiece of the film but ends up being worth little-to-nothing to the film’s plot. Could’ve cut ten or fifteen minutes out there, in-between the Madea jokes and the reunion of the quarreling Lisa and Carlos. After that, it stumbles (but barely makes it) to the finish line. Hope the next Perry film is even better. If he follows the "Resident Evil" rule and makes each one slightly better than the last, I might end up being a fan by the time I’m done catching up.]
  11. **”Oz the Great and Powerful" 6.75/10 [Sam Raimi was the right man for the job, imo. This is basically the family friendly version of "Army of Darkness." A "deadite" even shows up at the end (jk, but it pretty much looked like Mrs. Ganoosh from "Drag Me to Hell"). I caught Bruce Campbell’s cameo, as well. And just like the "Spider-Man" films, it has a Wicked transformation scene (his Venom transformation is still my favorite, though I’m sure the Doc Ock hospital scene is still the popular fave). The wildly imaginative director knows how to handle blockbuster pictures, yet somehow leaves the emotion out somewhere. To be compared to "The Wizard of Oz" would be a disservice to both films. Just take it as an adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s works. Now…James Franco is average here, carrying weight in emotional scenes and never elsewhere. Rachel Weisz surprises with villainy twists. Mila Kunis is, unfortunately, not as good as I’d have liked in her role…her twist only half-serves her character’s arc. Still, she carries her weight far enough. Michelle Williams is the standout, being perfectly cast as Glinda. She’s enchanting, earned my adoration with a single look, and carries the purest elegance and morale. I like how some of the plot unfolds (in a way, homaging "The Wizard of Oz"), some of the parallels between Oz’s life in the real world and in Oz (really affecting: Joey King’s China Doll), and Raimi’s scattered wit, but overall I couldn’t help but feel something missing.]
  12. Seven Psychopaths" 8/10 [Best film out of this bunch imo…it’s either this or "Perks of Being a Wallflower." You should debate that for yourself. Either way, I’m familiar with Martin McDonagh’s prior work, so I knew pretty much what to expect, tone-wise. But this film was as surprising as "In Bruges." The plot was surprisingly mature, thorough, and wise. Tom Waits, Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson…they all deserve kudos for going so off-the-wall. Colin was the straight role, but this is definitely one of his best. The structure is unique, maybe not quite innovative, but the screenplay is a breath of fresh air. The story is intriguing, a thinker, and it’s surprisingly heartfelt.]
  13. Flight" 8.5/10 [It may not race you to the finish line (clocks in at 138 mins), but every last minute is worth its time onscreen. Robert Zemeckis, after being away from live-action to pursue the empty promises of ImageMovers mo-cap projects, has a welcome return to the big screen, pulling solid work from everyone involved. Denzel deserved his Oscar nom, John Goodman and Don Cheadle are totally boss, and Bruce Greenwood deserved his large supporting role after taking on remarkable smaller supporting roles for years. Whoever wrote this film…you blew my mind after the hotel, on. Also, there’s a lot more of Nadine Velazquez ("My Name Is Earl") in this film, one of the very few big screen roles she’s taken on, than I thought I’d ever see in my life. That’s a nudity joke. And James Badge Dale has a one-scene role, but it’s very memorable and charismatic. I think it’s evident now to everyone that he has some talent in him! Great, moving picture.]

Feb 28

Movies I watched, February 2013:

Is it the end of February already? Hmm. I planned to have my screenplay finished by now…wonder where that February Resolution ran off to?

  1. Panic Room" 6.25/10 [As a David Fincher (and Kristen Stewart) fan, I was bound to watch this movie some day. It’s not as great as I hoped, but does offer some fun suspense.]
  2. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare" 6.5/10 [Just like "Friday the 13th," when it came to close out a chapter, the finality brought to the events makes for a better film. The mythology in this series fleshed out nicely to the end.]
  3. The Forgotten" 5.5/10 [Also another film I always intended to watch. Meh. The payoff isn’t really worth it.]
  4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare" 6/10 (Re-Review) [Sure, the meta writing is kind of fun, but a new excuse for more of the same creepiness doesn’t praise Wes Craven’s return.]
  5. Freddy vs. Jason" 7/10 (Re-Review) [It was an improved, perfectly meshed combination of both franchises. A critic would ask for more, but for fans it has enough to satisfy. Well done.]
  6. Friday the 13th (2009)” 7/10 (Re-Review) [When Jason ran, it was terrifying. This is pretty much how I would’ve done a reboot: more of everything Jason and his series represents.]
  7. The Reaping" 7/10 [Ends up better than reviews said. The story (and Hilary Swank lookin’ sexy as a blonde) is solid. It’s intriguing. It has solid faith-based arguments as well.]
  8. Thir13teen Ghosts" 5.5/10 [The ghosts aren’t effective because they are simply made-up people. They put very little effort into it.]
  9. Shutter" 4.5/10 [Barely memorable. Apparently spirit photography is better served in small doses…in many other horror films of similar persuasion/focus.]
  10. Lords of Dogtown" 7.5/10 (Re-Review) [This movie surprises me a little each time I watch it. Heath Ledger is genius. Each lead subconsciously nails their parts. Fun.]
  11. Sinister" 6.5/10 [Some of the "snuff" imagery isn’t pleasant (a plus for the genre), but the overall tension and scares don’t ramp up to a satisfyingly tense ending. The ending is well-written, but somewhat deflated by then.]
  12. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" 9.75/10 (Re-Review) [Near perfect film. I got Kaufman fever after this movie; I need to look into some of his other works soon ("Synecdoche, New York," here I come). Either way, Jim and Kate are great, and the story takes you places you never thought you’d go. How sweet of a film it is!]
  13. The Descent" 8/10 [Either ending, this movie is fun. It’s simple, not that that hard to figure out, yet eloquently executed to build the suspense proper.]
  14. The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia" 5.5/10 [Had to watch it just for that title alone, right? It should’ve just been called "Ghosts of Georgia," because it has no story ties to the prior installment of this "American Horror Story" film series wannabe. It has a notably rich ghost story backbone, but cannot convey nor uphold its feature film aspirations. It’s simply average.]
  15. Hitchcock" 6.75/10 [I should love this movie, and in a way I do, but it cannot achieve what "My Week With Marilyn" did because of its more fleshed out characters, and what they presented to the story. Ironically, they didn’t have the balls to dig deeper into the gossip and scandal of Hitchcock’s life. Only Hitchcock could be ballsy enough to make a proper film on his properly twisty-turny life…for now, it would seem.]
  16. The Descent: Part II" 7/10 [It’s a little straight-to-DVD feeling, but it tries its hardest to maintain the quality of the original. It mostly succeeds, with some twists and shocks in store.]
  17. It’s Complicated" 6/10 [I call these "Romantic Dramedies," and I don’t quite enjoy them. They try to equal-handedly convey both the harsh realities of human relationships, and they try to be mirthful enough about those proceedings to be still entertaining without dipping into black comedy, which would be a more appropriate avenue for effectively telling such a story. Either way, the cast and crew all do OK, but it’s all just lukewarm.]
  18. Deja Vu" 8/10 [It’s really good. I was impressed, but I’m a geek for time travel stories. It’s one of the best Tony Scott film prior to "Unstoppable."]
  19. Seeking A Friend For The End of The World" 8.5/10 [One of my new favorites. Surprising in its bitter sweet real world approach.]
  20. Pulse" 3/10 [Boring. That cool CGI sequence at the end isn’t worth the admission price though. You see it on the poster.]
  21. Creepshow" 6/10 [This is the classic horror anthology film, mostly due to the talent behind the scenes, but overall it doesn’t hold up today.]
  22. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" 3.5/10 [It’s a clever ploy to continue on the name…it was one of the first horror franchises to approach its sequels by film-within-a-film structure ("Last Exorcism: Part II" and "Human Centipede II" both followed this). The twist ending was quite entertaining. Nonetheless, the low-budget production values are off-putting, and its Z-rate cast isn’t worth a shrug. Still, its premise is surprisingly intriguing.]
  23. The Uninvited" 5.75/10 [The twist was fun! Only a handful of films have attempted that protagonist-focused twist. Bravo. The rest of the film, however, is thin, but not persay slow-going. Also, all the women in this film are pretty damn hot.]
  24. Creepshow 2" 5.25/10 [The mysterious blob story catches me like a "Twilight Zone" episode, and hooks you in with its intrigue "mystery box" technique. The other two are C-grade King imitations.]
  25. **”Beautiful Creatures" 5.75/10 [I love the lead actress. I love Emmy Rossum going badass sexy. I like Jeremy Irons being dry and snarky, and fighting his inner darkness. I like some of the mythology. Viola Davis is also worth noting. However, the rest of the film? Not so much. Nice ending though.]
  26. **”Silver Linings Playbook" 9.25/10 [Fuck yeah. Awesome movie. I think it coulda/woulda/shoulda won Best Picture. The cast all give Oscar-worthy performances. The story is unpredictable and impressive, and walks a fine-line between too bitter and too light.]
  27. **”A Good Day To Die Hard" 6/10 [Not as bad as the critics are saying. McClane is as McClane as ever. Jai Courtney holds his own as the newly cast son. The twist I did not see coming. I just don’t agree with the way some of the action was staged (that first car chase is a doozy), and the story seemed to be missing a scene or two prior to the climax of the film. Still, worthwhile for “Die Hard” fans.]
  28. The Exorcism of Emily Rose" 8/10 (Re-Review) [Smarter than I remembered, and has a wonderfully devoted performance by Jennifer Carpenter. All the best horror films have performances that are all-in to sell the premise; without Carpenter, this film wouldn’t have succeeded. Also, that final verdict from the jury: tearjerker for real.]
  29. **”Identity Thief" 5.5/10 [Seth Gordon had better be careful not to fall into mediocrity too quickly after the success of "Horrible Bosses." He needs better scripts than this, a derivative of "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "Due Date."]
  30. **”Life of Pi" 8.25/10 [The ending drags out a bit, and thus loses some of its momentum built up in its beautifully imaginative, moving execution. Still, beautiful moral to the story in this fable.]
  31. Man-Thing" 3/10 [Easily the worst Marvel film I have ever seen. And I’ve seen "Howard the Duck." It isn’t until the very end, when you get to see Man-Thing in all his horror film glory, that something remotely cool happens onscreen. That’s the scene this entire film was built around.]
  32. Hope Springs" 6/10 [Just like "It’s Complicated," this Romantic Dramedy just isn’t my cup of tea. Tommy Lee Jones creates an incredibly believable character, but Meryl Streep is a tad over the top and gooey.]
  33. Argo" 8/10 [Ah yes, the Best Picture winner. Over "Life of Pi," and over "Silver Linings Playbook." Hmm…I think this is this year’s "Crash." Meaning to say it’s a solid piece of work, but better than all the others? Guess that’s for you to decide.]

Feb 07

Movies I watched, Dec. 2012-Jan. 2013

I upped my movie-watching for screenplay research. The byproduct is that I have far too many movie reviews to write. They will be brief, but at least you will have the rating for each and every one of them.

By the way, McConaughey. The hardest celebrity name to spell. The name is douchey; it has too many vowels in the middle of it there.

  1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part II" 6/10 [The battle was all it had going for it. I don’t think the author understood that her plot was riddled with holes, and petty personal problems. Battle was pretty sweet though. Especially that "GOTCHA" moment. Classic.]
  2. Monty Python’s Life of Brian" 8/10 [Between "The Holy Grail" and "Life of Brian," I’d say "Life of Brian" is the smarter of the two.]
  3. The Holiday" 7/10 [Yes, it’s about time I watched this film. What is there to say about it, except that it’s a very lovely (and joyous) time.]
  4. The Ladykillers (1955)" 8/10 [It’s a classic, no doubt. Genius portrayal by Sir Alec Guinness. Leaves you with a smile.]
  5. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps" 5.5/10 [I’ve just got to say: the premise was genius. For a "Jekyll and Hyde" theme, to separate the two entities into two separate people was very smart. Problem is, Buddy Love is the butt of jokes for a lot of the film, rather than a character focus. Oh well.]
  6. The Ladykillers (2004)" 7/10 [Tom Hanks does very very well in Guinness’s shoes as the villainous Professor. The script’s structure has been extended and refocused, but it serves very well in making the film its own, as well as updating it for modern audiences.]
  7. Cedar Rapids" 7.5/10 [It was those old, bright yellow internet ads that drove me to eventually watching this film after all, despite its zero-to-no marketing buzz. Well worth the trip. Very sweet pic.]
  8. Scooby-Doo (2002)" 4.75/10 (Re-Review) [The clever aspect of this film is that it separates the Mystery Gang so that their individual attributes stick out and become an origin story focus. Very smart. But Raja Gosnell’s sweet schtick won’t solve a lot of the other directorial problems he brings along with him. Another curious aspect is their fine line between "magic" and "science" which the series tread so lightly on (always leaving it in favor of science to conclude the mystery without loose ends)…clearly just a flaw. It mostly plays out as a TV movie special.]
  9. Bedazzled (2000)" 6/10 [Initially, the film is genius. Eventually, its multiple-wishes structure wears thin, but the payoff is still sweet (and unexpected). It’s slightly cliché what they did with their ending, without giving into its Faustian roots too heavily. Left it with a more solid late ’90s comedy tone.]
  10. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past" 6.75/10 [I remember this film played opposite "Spider-Man 3" when it came out in theaters, and I wasn’t dating anyone that would’ve wanted to see it at the time: but now I have, alone, and it’s fun. Surprisingly funny and surprisingly interesting to see McConaughey play the same role he’s played before multiple times…just not quite like this.]
  11. A Guy Thing" 5.5/10 [Predictable? Yes. Clichéd? Perhaps. But Jason Lee (and that fine-ass Selma Blair) make the most of it. I’m always up for a Jason Lee movie (even "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Stealing Harvard" on occasion. No judgey).]
  12. Skyfall" 8/10 [I don’t know about Oscars Best Picture material…but it’s certainly the best Bond film since "Casino Royale." Though this film ends in a way that will please every last Bond film on the planet, and Javier Bardem’s Sylva is perfect villain, I think "Casino Royale" was comparatively Bond’s day.]
  13. Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed" 5/10 [I must say: what a clever fucking title. These marketing guys get it! Anyways, it’s better than the first one by a margin. They have more fun with Scooby, and focus on the slackers of the group for heart. Also, going back to old villains and reusing their images was a nice touch. Still, it’s more of the same.]
  14. Star Wars: The Clone Wars" 3.5/10 [Don’t get me wrong: I actually like the animated Cartoon Network series. I watch it often. But this movie was just not up to movie standards. At all. The dialogue got ran through a cliché one-liner blender and the animation was cruder than I’d have liked (or anyone up to DreamWorks Animation standards). Also, the Hutt subplot was a tad uninteresting.]
  15. Mr. & Mrs. Smith" 8/10 (Re-Review) [The Unrated DVD version is what I last watched, and it solved every flaw I had with the initial version. Just awesome. The relationship dynamic between these two characters is flawless.]
  16. Dinner For Schmucks" 8/10 (Re-Review) [Sure, it makes me really sad, like getting punched in the gut. The way they treat Steve Carell is just a bummer, because he’s Kenneth-level nice. But the jokes and hijinks are flawlessly executed by the modern comedic genius Jay Roach. That end dinner scene? YES.]
  17. LiTTLEMAN" 4.5/10 [It’s a Wayans picture. You know exactly what to expect. It’s low-brow, obvious, but any movie with a gag about Brittany Daniel’s breasts (circa 2006) finds itself on my chuckle radar. Critically, it’s bad, but I laughed.]
  18. The Haunted Mansion" 5.5/10 [Eddie Murphy just didn’t try to find a character here. He got stood up by Terence Stamp (no surprise). An often overlooked piece of Disney pie, it’s cooky! It’s spooky! It’s sweet! It just needed more here to play with.]
  19. Looper" 8.5/10 [It’s as good as they say it is. There’s something about it…maybe speeding up the pace, maybe taking out one unnecessary scene somewhere…but it just barely scrapes under a 9/10. It’s still one of the smartest sci-fi films in recent years. Better than "Source Code."]
  20. Jack Reacher" 7.5/10 [Very good. Smarter than expected. Sure, it’s just an action vehicle for Tom Cruise. But he does it well, and the mystery is very smart. Exciting action. Currently awaiting word on a sequel.]
  21. Resident Evil: Retribution" 6.5/10 [A little obvious in its video game level structuring, but it has some of the best action the series has yet to offer. Keeping up with its "each one is a bit better than the last" creed, this one just beats "Afterlife." Here’s hoping installment 6 is the best of them, and a solid finale.]
  22. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" 7.5/10 [It’s not the "Lord of the Rings" film we all wanted. But it fulfilled its duties. In a prequel format, the story deals with not-as-intense scenarios so as to not top its sequels, "The Lord of the Rings," which deals with the battle for all of Middle-Earth. This is a quaint, simple story of Bilbo and his journey with dwarves to save Erebor. In that, and building up to one of the greatest cinematic stories of all time, it works. Martin Freeman is flawless as Bilbo, McKellan has been missed as Gandalf the Grey, and Gollum is a standout (as usual). It’s worth the ticket.]
  23. This is 40" 6.5/10 [As much as I generally love Apatow’s work ("Funny People" aside), this film just doesn’t generally seem to have a thesis. It takes us sitcom-style through the lives of two people, without much of a central conflict to drive the story forward. It attempts to capture this state-of-being 40-years-old, but seems a bit distracted with all the different subplots.]
  24. Liberal Arts" 7/10 [As a fan of Josh Radnor, I needed to check out his directorial debut. Solid acting ensemble. Zac Efron needs a mention for his against-typecast role as a omniscient stoner.]
  25. The Guilt Trip" 5/10 [It’s Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand in a PG-13 mother-son comedy. It is what it is.]
  26. **”Django Unchained" 8.75/10 [It’s very good. I think it’s better than “Inglorious Basterds,” and almost just as good as “Kill Bill, Vol. 1.” Hilarious, gory, and clever. The characters are all solid.]
  27. Superman III" 6.75/10 [I don’t know if I’m wrong in this rating, but I think "Superman III" is good enough as is. Richard Pryor deserved better, but I think his character was still interesting. Mixing tar into kryptonite was smart, and Lana Lang being a part of the plot made this "Smallville" fan happy (a much younger Annette O’Toole even played the part). Also, having a new, more plausible villain than Lex Luthor made the plot drive better.]
  28. The Five-Year Engagement" 7.5/10 [I love Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller, so it was a given I’d see this one eventually. However, if the conclusion of the film were simply that "people have problems but it shouldn’t matter in light of marriage," they could’ve found a breezier way to say that (running time: 132 min extended cut).]
  29. Mac & Devin Go To High School" 3.5/10 [Snoop Dogg. Wiz Khalifa. Andy Milanokis. Mike Epps. That is what the movie is. Sit back and load a bowl to it, and you may have more fun with it. I just thought there were a few good comedy moments, mixed in with some "oh well" acting by Khalifa. At least it’s a short film.]
  30. **”Mama" 6.75/10 [Good. The creature and scare effects are all well-done (Del Toro’s hand is evident in the darker designs). Jessica Chastain is EVEN HOTTER (as if it were possible). A lot of people have issue with the ending, but I thought it was alright. Overall, what sticks out most is the semi-tragic story at its core.]
  31. Evil Dead II" 8.25/10 [The ending was a twist in its time, but I saw it coming. The ending is what generally sells the entire film. Also, Bruce Campbell returning as Ash made the series what it is. Without him and his uncanny natural talent for slapstick, it wouldn’t have been as fun. Also, the surreal quality to the scare gags give it a unique atmosphere. Kudos, Raimi and Co.]
  32. Army of Darkness" 6.75/10 [I genuinely wished they could give it its proper title (no thanks to copyright): "Evil Dead III: The Medieval Dead." Either way, it’s not a horror film like the last two. It’s a sword-and-sandals picture with skeletons in it. Sure, it has some clever tortures (the clone Ash sequence) that keep it a solid transition between Dead II and Army. Overall though, for "Evil Dead" fans, this is a letdown, but it’s fun in its own right.]
  33. House At The End Of The Street" 7.5/10 [Oh yes. That was one clever-as-fuck little horror story. Almost as though Stephen King wrote it himself. The title makes it seem generic, but it’s far from. It establishes its characters as more than just death-fodder (looking at you, "Friday the 13th"). The multiple twists I did NOT see coming. Why was this film not promoted more under a better title? It deserved it.]
  34. Ghost Adventures (2004)" 7.5/10 [The initial documentary, establishing the "Ghost Adventures" TV crew and exploring the places they went to that first confirmed paranormal forces to them. It’s more personal, more tightly focused, with multiple locations, but it’s the "flying brick" sequence that sells it all.]
  35. The Possession" 5.75/10 [For script research, I made it a point to watch all of the Sam Raimi-produced horror films under his Ghost House Pictures* banner. This was the latest one, which gets points for focusing on a more original religious/cultural sect than usual. Also, for Jeffrey Dean Morgan turning in his best performance in a while. The demon at the end (Abizu) was well-designed, and the mythos surrounding the dibbuk was intriguing. Unfortunately, especially given the production company behind it, the scares aren’t quite all there.] *Ghost House Pictures includes: “The Possession,” “The Messengers 1&2,” “The Grudge 1-3,” “Drag Me To Hell,” “30 Days of Night,” and “Boogeyman 1-3.”
  36. Paranormal Activity 4" 6.5/10 [I liked it, and had almost as much dread as the other installments. It just ran a little thin. Also, as far as plotholes are concerned…every prior installment, the filming people would watch the footage from the night before, and the compelling evidence fueled the plot. Not so in this film; they only look at the footage once or twice…and as it turns out, the evidence is more compelling than ever.]
  37. Silent Hill" 8/10 [I CANNOT BELIEVE it took me this long to watch this film! I loved it! I think it’s an amazing film! The scope, the structure, the setpieces, all perfect for this story. Shame the director didn’t return for the sequel, "Silent Hill: Revelation."]
  38. 10 Years" 7.75/10 [The cast: amazing. The story: a touch generic, sure, but the characters pull it in all-new directions. The laughs? The cries? The moments? Yep, it surprises you.]
  39. My Week With Marilyn" 7.75/10 [I’m so happy this movie exists. It strips away the glamour, the glitz, and leaves the humanity behind making a film between two opposing forces in the Hollywood world: the artist, and the star. The movie getting made was surely the focus, the drive, but "My Week With Marilyn" needed to follow its protagonist’s story, which is not belittled in any way here. Eddie Redmayne makes it work.]
  40. Silent Hill: Revelation" 5.5/10 [We all wanted a sequel to "Silent Hill." But 6 years later, we got a mini-budget version. Is it all we wanted? No. It checks off the requisite boxes on the checklist, but it wasn’t much more than that. Mostly I feel its budget squandered it in some places. The mannequin spider was great.]
  41. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan" 3.75/10 [It was Jason on a boat to Manhattan. That’s really what happened here. It was the same exact plot, except the boat went to Manhattan. He didn’t reek havoc in the city, is my point. So the premise isn’t flawed: at the script stage, when they stuck a boat in 3/4s of the film, that’s when it was flawed.]
  42. The Apparition" 5.5/10 [The premise was intriguing. The actors were good enough. Ashley Greene is hot as fuuuu. Its brisk pacing saves the film…if it had a different editor, it would have a worse rating.]
  43. Poltergeist" 8/10 [Is it scary? Eh. But the story is great. One of the best of the genre, in my opinion…especially for that ending.]
  44. The Grudge 2" 6/10 [It spends the better part of the film slacking on Amber Tamblyn’s part of the story. But as fans know, the "Grudge" series jumps back and forth through time, and once they focus on the other two subplots, it builds to one of the greatest finales ever. Very satisfying ending. Tayako and Toshio’s ghosts will be forever engrained in my memory.]
  45. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" 5.75/10 [It’s better than a lot of the others, mostly due to its sense of finality. Each film in the series didn’t try to progress, it simply imitated. This one finally progressed the series. Also, the body-swapping plot was new-ish. The blade from "Evil Dead" and the glove from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" both cameo, to my personal satisfaction.]
  46. Poltergeist II: The Other Side" 7/10 [Sometimes I wonder about the flack that sequels get…this sequel not only build a twisty-turny mythology behind the poltergeists, but this one pushed the limits of the first one. Sure, overall it’s not quite as effective (special effects for ’80s horror rarely hold up well), but it still should not be ignored as a solid installment in this franchise.]
  47. Se7en" 8.5/10 [Never would’ve thought that a film about the seven deadly sins would’ve proved to be so timely…nor how much it would be imitated over the next couple of decades. Quite the murder mystery, this gem. Brad seems a slight miscast until the end…that ending for his character is one of the great scenes of cinematic history. Even considering Andrew Kevin Walker wrote it.]
  48. Dark Water (2005)" 5.75/10 [Watched this awhile back, but never reviewed it. It’s much like many other of the Asian horror subgenre. Not much new about this one, except that the gross water is somehow supposed to genuinely scare me.]
  49. The Messengers" 5.5/10 [Kristen Stewart, I could watch make paint dry with her curled bottom lip. Sexy sexy. But this film is still pretty thin. Crows are as scary as dark water.]
  50. A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" 6.75/10 [It has a better story, and more atmosphere than some of the other sequels (2, 4 come to mind). Still, Patricia Arquette in anything drops the rating down a tad. She’s just flat and bland. Thankfully replaced in the subsequent sequels featuring Alice.]
  51. Jason X" 3.5/10 [This film was once described as "porn production standards." Very accurate. This film is pretty awful…until Uber-Jason emerges. That was sorta worth the wait.]
  52. The Grudge 3" 5/10 [More of the same, though progressing slightly from the sequels. However, the creepy atmosphere that made the first two so successful is somehow vacant in this film. Kayako and Toshio become caricatures by the end, in taking away their elusive scariness.]
  53. Poltergeist III" 4.5/10 [For some reason, the Freeley’s are gone. Heather O’Rourke’s been adopted into a family in an apartment, offering new settings to the same scares. Whatever yuppie apartment the production ended up with, apparently it wasn’t fresh enough. They also do not progress the mythos at all.]
  54. The Skeleton Key" 4.5/10 [The semi-interesting twist and the hoodoo practices involved aren’t enough to support the languid first half. But Kate Hudson has never looked finer. Sexy sexy in the horror genre where not so sexy sexy in rom-coms. Hmm.]
  55. Our Idiot Brother" 7.5/10 [Love the premise. A guy is genuinely nice and sweet and innocent, and when all hell breaks loose, it’s not his fault…but he’s blamed for it. Lovely film. Paul Rudd has never had a better acting showcase. It displays all the qualities we love about Paul Rudd, and then some.]
  56. A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master" 4.5/10 [Except for being a bridge between parts 3 and 5, this film kind of twitches around finding something to do…but it doesn’t hold up.]
  57. A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Child" 6/10 [A noticeable step-up from Part 4. Delving into the fascinating myth of Amanda Krueger and the horrid conception of the demon child, this installment is a considerable departure from the "same-old" feel that has plagued the series. Better, fresh plot (also: babies sleep 70% percent of the day in the womb…genius). Judging by this film, it’s no coincidence that Freddy’s Dead in Part 6.]

Dec 31

Ok so I lied. I’ll have to post those movie reviews in the new year. I’ve been far too busy, and now prepping for New Year’s Eve festivities has commandeered all my spare time.

See you in the new year!

Happy 2013!