Saturday, July 30, 2011

Love Object-review

I'm gonna grab a glass a water.  You want some Duracells or something?
            This movie reminded me a lot of “Autopsy: A love story”.  That being said it is really not a great movie.  For a movie in the horror section the build up is slow and it’s obvious right off the bat the main character, Kenneth, is unstable.  Kenneth is played by Desmond Harrington, which many will recognize as Detective Quinn from “Dexter”.

            He does a fine job playing the awkward copywriter at a technical writing firm.  He is shy so one day he orders a $10,000 sex doll.  He becomes obsessed with this doll named Nikki that he believes her to be a real person.  He eventually sparks a romance with the girl that he based Nikki’s looks on and begins to believe that Nikki is getting violently jealous.

Heidi Montag finds love.
            I won’t go much further to save the rather decent twist ending.  It’s not that great a movie.  Rip Torn, and Udo Kier are the only other big names I recognized in this movie.  There are oodles of plot holes and tons of avenues the director went down just for the sake of being an “artist”.  That can be either a good thing or a bad thing in a movie.  I will consider it filler where a man waltzes with a mannequin in a snow white room when moments before he is in sweaty coitus with the inanimate object. Yeah, that is really the pinnacle of human artistic cinematic achievement. 

Cowboys and Aliens-review

Pip boy 3000?  What the hell?
            Reviews of this movie so far have been pretty poor.  I am not sure why.  It’s a movie called “Cowboys and Aliens”.  I’m pretty damn sure the folks making it knew it was B-movie material.  Still if you go into it with the right mindset.  I think you will enjoy yourself.  It’s a ridiculous escape from reality popcorn movie. 

First off the cast is nothing short of awesome.  Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, and Sam Rockwell grace us with their performance.  All of them take it very seriously considering the material. Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, man with no memory of where he comes from.  He wakes up with a gut wound and what appears to be a pip boy from the Fallout game on his wrist. 

Don't worry friend. This ain't the set of "Jonah Hex".
            He wanders into the town of Absolution (SYMBOLISM!).  He gets his wound stitched up from the Kurgan from Highlander then wanders into a bar. He learns he is a wanted criminal.  Suddenly Aliens attack and they start lassoing the townsfolk into their ships.  It’s up to Jake and a ragtag band of misfits to get together with Harrison Ford’s character, the cattle baron Colonel Dolarhyde to stop this menace.  There are some predictable parts and some parts that are straight up laughable plot wise but seriously…the movie is called “Cowboys and Aliens.” 

Welcome to Earth!
            With a title like that it’s just very hard for me to take it all that seriously.  Like Indiana Jones movies they seem tongue in cheek like they are something bigger than life.  I think that is what they are going for here too.  If you can go with that mindset you will enjoy yourself.  If you really want a serious movie that makes you think about life and the universe and whatnot then this is clearly not for you. At least you won't have to expect the inevitable sequel "Gangsters and Robots."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger-review

You'd never guess, but that guy is American.
            I was never a huge Captain America comics fan.  I always thought he was just a U.S. propaganda tool that got popular and overstayed his welcome.  There have been several attempts to put him on the silver screen and all were huge failures.  This also had another thing that worried me, Chris Evans.  The man was Johnny “The Human Torch” in both abominations of films of “The Fantastic Four”.  Despite all these factors, the movie turns out pretty damn good.

            First off, the make up and CGI to make Chris Evans appear as scrawny Steve Rogers is done extremely well.  It’s very believable and as a whole he plays it with a lot of heart.  That is what I liked most about his performance.  He played a little man who is very brave, extremely well.  I was very impressed by him and he made this a very rewarding movie since he normally plays such brash heroes.

Don't be stupid be a smarty, come und join ze Nazi Party
            The villain was the Red Skull, played by Hugo Weaving, who is good at what he does- though the character itself is fairly over-the-top.  His motives are incredibly vague despite being a central character.  He also is followed by masked goons that he kills for no reason other than that he is an evil Nazi.

            I liked the rest of the cast a lot.  Stanley Tucci is always great.  Tommy Lee Jones brings a decent performance and Haley Atwell does a stellar job as the love interest.  All the people are folks you generally care about at least but there are a few flaws that that I would like to nitpick about.  For one, I was not a fan of the abrupt ending.  There was no real closure to things with the villain or with many of the supporting cast.  This left me with a hollow feeling despite it being an otherwise good movie.

I can't wait until someone invents the internet.
Another thing that bugged me was how incredibly PC they made his squadron.  They toss in a black guy and an asian guy to make the ensemble complete.  Now this wouldn’t be a problem in modern times but they are trying to keep it authentic to the 1940s. In all reality black guys wouldn’t be fighting with white guys. As for the asian guy, he would not even be in the army.  He would be likely be interned in a camp in California.  I am not saying that I approve of these awful acts, but whitewashing history doesn’t make it better either.  It would be like making a Civil War picture and just to be fair having Native Americans, African Americans and white guys all together in the same Southern regiment as equals.

Red Skull you magnificent bastard! I read your book!
That all aside, it’s still a good movie.  It has strong characters in it and a worthwhile story despite the few flaws I mentioned. I would definitely count this on the summer list of movies to see.  It’s going to lead up to the movie “The Avengers” so if you are at all curious be sure to stay after the credits. Until then- happy watching.    

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl-review with spoilers.

Ventriloquism has gotten so brutal in Japan.
Well I found another Yoshihiro Nishimura movie to watch.  I did a write up on him a while back as the Tom Savini of Japan.  He makes incredibly gory and over-the-top movies.  I usually enjoy his work though especially, “The Machine Girl” or “Tokyo Gore Police” and “Samurai Princess”.   This movie is wild though.  Where “The Machine Girl” was funny at parts and ultra violent this one is almost a cartoon. But despite how borderline offensive it is at times it can be funny some times and wretched at others.

Tim Burton's dream girl.
“In Japan it is traditional for girls to give boys chocolates in order to confess their LOVE.”   That text crawl is what opens this movie. Aww isn’t that cute.  We see a girl and a boy walking together.  Three Frankenstein girls start to kick the boy’s ass until the vampire girl he is with saves his butt as J-pop starts blasting like a Dance Dance Revolution machine.

The same thing happened to me when I left my contacts in too long.
We journey some time ago to a class room on Valentine’s Day where a teacher confiscates the girl student’s chocolates.  Apparently, they are not allowed personal belongings.  Three of the girls, who dress like Lolita porn stars, are really into the boy Mizushima; he becomes the reluctant boyfriend of the leader of the pack Keiko.

  This high school is VERY over-the-top complete with people in blackface.  There is also a group of girls who meet just to cut their wrist, because girls cutting on themselves is funny…right?  The answer is no.  I am pretty sure in all cultures that is pretty tasteless.   

Oh yeah.  They went there.
Monami also falls for Mizushima.  It’s kind of out of the blue. However, she is a teenage vampire. A love triangle ensues.  Keiko’s father is apparently a mad scientist who dons kabuki outfits while he experiments.  He discovers that Monami’s blood is the key to reanimating dead body parts. Mizushima eats some chocolate with her blood and becomes a half vampire. When Keiko discovers this she attacks Monami but accidentally falls off the school roof.

Keiko’s Father then uses Monami’s blood to make a Frankenstein style monster out of her.  They then battle it out for Mizushima’s affections.  Now there are parts that are pretty funny.  Watching Monami dance in a fountain of the blood of a victim is a moment to enjoy.  It’s amusing moments like that and the parts that are gore fest without CGI that are very cool.  Then you come across the cutter club and the black face group and if you are like me you find that distasteful. 

Can you see the girl with the spear?  Offended yet?
            In all fairness, since it is a foreign film I may have lost something in the translation.  For all I know the use of the kabuki makeup on the mad scientist means the director knew how over-the-top this movie was. Nishimura movies are insane and are usually a lot more fun than this.  Maybe I just found one that wasn’t for me.  Is it worth seeing?  Unless you are a fan of bizarre violent foreign films and if so the three at the top of this review are vastly superior to this movie.

Monday, July 18, 2011

[REC] 2-review

Bang Bang Maxwell's Silver Hammer came down upon his head.

          I am a huge fan of the Spanish horror movie “[REC]”. I think it’s acted well and for a POV film it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t make you nauseated to watch the camera as you are chased up the stairs by what are, in essence, rage zombies.  I thought the American remake “Quarantine” was unnecessary.  Now there is a sequel to “[REC]” and oddly enough “Quarantine” has come out with a direct-to-video sequel that has nothing to do with it.  
            The sequel starts off right where the last movie ended with Angela being dragged into the darkness.  A SWAT team is allowed into the quarantined building.  They also bring a priest this time since the virus seems to be a viral demonic possession which is sort of a neat concept.  They show some of the original building members as zombies as they attack them. That is also pretty cool.

Good luck Padre. I'm Jewish.
            The movie does a really decent job at explaining more of the disease in the building.  There is better lighting and more points of view from people who end up in the building with the SWAT team.  Where the movie loses me a bit is that certain parts of the building and the main evil creature cannot be seen in light, only through night vision in the dark.  That is really goofy. 

Yuck! Anyone have a wet nap?
            That aside, it is not a bad movie.  There are decent twists and scares here and there.  I read online there are supposed to be a couple more sequels in the works where the infection has spread away from the building.  That could be okay since they have worked to build up a pretty decent story.  This was a lot better than what “Quarantine 2” looked to be where it seemed to be the exact same movie as the first except in an airplane terminal. 

Horrible Bosses-review

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me for me for me!
I’ve been hearing a lot about how great this movie is.  It is supposed to be super funny and the best comedy of the summer.  I think “Bridesmaids” still has this one beaten. “Horrible Bosses” is a funny movie but it’s was not the side splitting movie I was hoping for. 

The main characters are played by Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis.  Charlie is, for all intents and purposes, playing his Charlie character from “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” except he has graduated from “Charlie work” at Paddy’s Pub to being a dental assistant. Bateman and Sudeikis take turns as the most milquetoast characters that should be for the part.  Considering that there are three characters it would be nice if you at least made two of them interesting in different ways, instead of two shades of bland.

Mmmm waxy!
The bosses are very fun to watch.  I think Spacey is too often cast as a “know-it- all schmuck.  Since so many people think so much of him as a great actor I’d be impressed to see him play something other than diabolical dickhead or sarcastic sleaze for a change. The two that really were fun to watch were Jennifer Aniston as a sexy dentist that Charlie works for that won’t stop trying to get in his pants.  It’s actually a lot of fun to see her play this sort of role.  Then we have Colin Farrell as the cokehead boss who is a grade a douche.  He was hilarious and it bummed me out that there wasn’t more of him in this movie.

If I didn't have to work for a living I wouldn't sell you my snot.
Throughout the movie you get the feeling that there are gags that they wanted to do or develop more with the interesting bosses but instead they decided to focus mainly on Kevin Spacey. This would have been fine if his plot hadn’t been ludicrous.  In fact if the three main characters had one ounce of spine between them regarding their bosses none of this story would be plausible. 

To sum up though, “Horrible Bosses” is a funny movie.  It’s certainly not the best thing I’ve seen this summer but it did a decent job with what it had.  I had higher expectations for it though considering the cast and that is a bad choice.  If you go into this with a better mindset you are less likely to be as disappointed as I was. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Winnie the Pooh-review

Is this what you would call a Kangaroo court?
Well it’s good a see that Disney is taking things back to its roots.  “Winnie the Pooh” is a cute bit of nostalgia that is worth seeing to remember the times when we loved the characters of A.A Milne. I was impressed that they continued the stories of Milne in order to create a fresh movie that is actually very likeable and cute. 

First off I want to give the short at the beginning of the movie the attention it deserves.  It was a great short called “The Ballad of Nessie.” This short actually has a lesson in the form of showing a Loch Ness monster having a hard time with her life that it IS okay to cry in life.  I think that is a good lesson for kids.

I am Roger Rabbiting the hell out of this performance.
As for the main feature “Winnie the Pooh” brings a lot of the same charm we’ve come to expect from the original movie.  There are some things that have changed of course.  Many of the voices are different.  Christopher Robin has an almost cockney English accent which is outright obnoxious.  Rabbit is super over the top to the top now.  He almost seems to be channeling the spirit of Roger Rabbit for his performance.

It has some odd choices too in terms of script as well.  They break the fourth wall a lot in talking with the narrator, played by John Cleese.  Eeyore has taken his depression to new heights when he tells his friends, “We’re all gonna die.”   That’s pretty dark for a stuffed donkey.
One weekend a month my ass.
Finally, and I think this a big change.  I always found the friendship between Pooh and Piglet a lot more enduring in the original movie.  In this one Pooh is sort of a dick to Piglet.  Especially if it means he can score some honey.  Bottom line is that this a cute movie that is fun to watch and is probably a lot better for little kids than people with nostalgia goggles.  The original is still more heartwarming and more a testament to youth than this one which seems to just want to ride on the other's coattails. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2- review

Boo yah!
Okay, for starters I guess if you’ve seen the other 7 films no matter what I write you are GOING to see this one.  If you’ve read the books you KNOW what’s going to happen.  It’s not a colossal shock to any fan of the series.  All in all it’s an okay movie.  Nitpicking aside, it’s an ending worth watching for any fan of the series.  There are lots of good points to match the flaws.

For starters Harry Potter turns in a decent performance.  As do the rest of the adult actors.  Especially Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, who seems to be having a lot of fun in the roll as the dark lord.  John Hurt and Kelly MacDonald give us decent scenes for such small roles as well.  There are colorful effects (when you can see them) and there are a lot of battle scenes.  It does a fine job illustrating the story in the time given without coming off too long. 

I know it was you Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.
Now, on the other hand there are a few things that made me disappointed.  For starters, they shot a lot of this film in dark areas so the effects on some of the supernatural characters are hard to see.  There was a really odd bit of lame editing when Harry was standing next to Hagrid and it’s noticeable that neither one is actually there.  They are using different sized people for scale and not showing their faces.  This is a cheap effect that I would think we are beyond at this point in CGI.

The forced romance is still a bother to me.  Ginny kisses Harry with about the passion she would give a cousin. At least it is at a slightly appropriate time.  Hermione and Ron toss out a make out scene after a magical disaster…just because.  The deaths which were supposed to be sort of a heavy deal in the book are glossed over like they are nothing important.  It really shows just how trivial these characters were when you can look at them and not care that they are dead.

Finally, there is the ending which I think was the biggest shock of all.  As many of you know the ending takes place 19 years after the events of the battle.  So why is it that the director would choose to use the same damn cast as they are now with a bit of CGI aging, well to the men at least? The women look like they should be still in high school.  The men look like they are playing dress up. 

Don't cross the streams.
Why wouldn’t they just cast adults as the aged characters?  Did they think we wouldn’t recognize them?  I remember going to my 10 year high school reunion.  EVERYONE looks different after 10 years let alone 19. I will not linger too long on this because it really isn’t a long scene but it was distracting to say the least.

All in all the series is a good one and well worth watching. This one movie is okay.  It wasn’t my favorite of the series but it has its place and it works well for the series as a whole.  If you can give them a watch I recommend it, but read the books first.  It’s worth the time and it adds to story when you watch it and know who everyone is.  Happy watching.     

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Wanna ride in my van little boy?
     Oh my god. I do normally enjoy watching Nicholas Cage movies because he takes overacting to a unique extreme.  I thought it didn’t get much more over the top than “Bad Lieutenant” or “The Wicker Man” but then I saw “Deadfall”.  Good lord.  It’s in a class of its own.   In all fairness at least “Bad Lieutenant” had a decent director and it was put together in decent fashion.  “The Wicker Man” is seen more for comedic value now and at least has its own solid concept to stand on since it’s based off a classic horror movie.

     Deadfall was made in 1993 and directed by Christopher Coppola.  So that means that the director is Nicholas Cage’s brother.  Michael Biehn plays the main character; a big time con man that gets in good with his Uncle’s criminal family.  His Uncle, played by James Coburn has a lackey named Eddie, played by Nicholas Cage who is a loud and obnoxious jerk that loves to make a scene. 
Come on! I ooze class!

     The movie is not made well at all.  It gives a lot of narration, which makes the movie less about showing and more about telling. This seems really pointless in a movie.  It’s all a fairly predictable formula of betrayal that has been done before and done better in many other crime movies.  I get the feeling that it wanted to make itself feel like a noir style movie.  The main character is not really established enough to become someone you grow attached to.   I didn’t really care.  The ending was a bit of a F-U twist. 

Way to screw Corporal Hicks movie
      James Coburn is good in this movie.  I’ll give him that.  But otherwise you should not bother unless you want to watch Cage make a fool of himself.  Even the poster makes no sense.  Nicholas Cage is front and center looking as he does normally.  Not only is he not the main character, but he spends in the movie with a moustache and bad toupee.  Way to shaft Biehn there.    Come on he fought the Terminators and the Aliens.  Give him a little respect.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Everything Must Go-review

This is a country song that writes itself.
Will Ferrell can do drama.  In “Stranger than Fiction” he really stretches these muscles and I think it’s one of this best roles.  In “Everything Must Go” he shows that he has raised the bar.  He plays an alcoholic who has just lost his job and wife has left him.  He finds all his stuff out on the front of his lawn, so after a few (hundred) beers he starts to sell all his crap. 
            The acting is great and the relationships between Will Ferrell, as Nick and Samantha, his neighbor and his friend, an overweight grade schooler named Jordan.  You can tell he is depressed, vulnerable and has hit rock bottom and it’s not funny in ways like his normal movies.  This movie is far more subtle.  There is a scene that is funny just in the way he looks at this neighbor and his wife, nothing is said. However, the looks say it all.

Nice day, but I can still use more cowbell.
            There is a lot of catharsis to a movie like this and I think that it says a lot that it didn’t find a large audience in theaters.  I can only hope that folks give it a chance when it comes to DVD. It’s dark but it works for it.  I did overhear a guy in the parking lot bitching about it saying he expected it to be a side splitting funny movie.  That has to suck for the actors trying to break free from their usual genre. 

Even the kid from "Notorious" knows a deal when he sees one.
            There is a lot of suffering to behold in a movie like this.  I am just glad that the movie shows a side of life that is realistic and dark.  Life can indeed be a cruel joke and putting one step in front of the other can take a lot out of you.  It tells its story and is quirky sometime.  The characters are all likable and it makes for a very well developed movie well worth the money and time.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Gate- review with spoilers

Will I ever be in anything better than "Blade"?

I think many folks will remember this rare gem from 1987. It’s considered a horror movie, but even by the 80s standards it’s pretty tame.  It’s rated PG-13 so there are no swear words or gore to speak of.  In fact it almost feels like it was aimed at the teen demographic anyway.  It does have oodles of spooky imagery and it’s at times but it’s also goofy as hell to watch as an adult.

It stars a young Stephen Dorff, in first staring role as Glen, a young lad that has a bad dream about a tree near his house getting hit by lightening.  When he wakes up he sees that the tree was in fact hit by lightening and workmen are removing it from the yard.  As they yank out the stump a geode falls free.  Glen’s friend Terry convinces him to go digging for more.

There is no Dana. Only ZUUL!
They find a large geode and where the tree used to be as well as what appears to be a hell mouth.  Glen gets a splinter and leaves some blood behind in the hell mouth.  Oopsie daisy.  Glen’s parents leave town for three days leaving Glen’s older Sister Alexandra “Al” in charge.  Like a smart 15 year old she throws a party.  They play “light as a feather stiff as a board” with Glen and manage to actually levitate him.  That night Terry sees an apparition of his dead mother only to have it turn into the now dead dog, Angus.

Nobody seems that broken up about the dog. Terry goes home and is listening to some heavy metal album that stops mid song to start talking like a Moody Blues song.  He starts to piece the puzzle together that the lyrics are based on something called “The Dark Book” (ooh clever title).   He then tries to convince Glen that the hole in his backyard is a gateway for demonic forces.  He figures that the only thing left is a sacrifice to be left in the whole.  He didn’t count on the lazy dipshit that Al pawned Angus on to dump the body in the hell mouth.

Oh yeah, this asshole is given the body of their pet to take to animal control to be disposed.  I guess they are under the delusion that Angus is going to get a great ceremonial burial from them. However, because it is closed, the asshole drives Angus back to their home and just throws it in the nearest hole.  Problem solved on his end.

They're eating her and then they're going to eat me.
Now that the sacrifice is complete a pair of demonic arms start grabbing at Al under the bed (tell me this movie wasn’t made for kids).   Terry and Glen save her and bump into Glen’s folks who are demons in disguise.  They are then attacked by swarms of small demons.  Now to be absolutely fair these things are really cool.  I have NOTHING but respect for a movie that uses stop motion and they do it really well.  So they get mad respect for cool looking demons and the amount of work that went into them.

Glen and Terry try to stop them reading the Bible until Terry falls into the hell mouth.  He is attacked by demons. Glen throws the Bible down into the hole and it explodes like a holy hand grenade.  After that the hole appears sealed.  That night Terry and Glen watch TV when a wall breaks open revealing a dead body. The body wakes up, grabs Terry and drags him into the wall, which seals behind him.

The zombie/demon then attacks Al.  After a struggle he gets her and vanishes with her as well.  Glen realizes that they were two sacrifices needed to summon the great old one (Cthulhu?).  He realized that a rocket that Al intended to give him as a gift is supposed to be a symbol of light, purity and love and should be able to stop the beast.  So he attempts to get it to launch it but the matches keep going out.

I'd make an eye joke, but that seems too cornea.
A huge demonic entity has risen out of the floor.  It grabs Glen and touches his hand.  Then it leaves. Glen sees that his hand has grown an eye in the palm.  So he stabs at it with a piece of broken glass.  The demon returns and Glen fires the rocket into the demon causing him to explode with a fireworks display. 

Al, Terry and Angus return from the closet completely fine and unhurt.  They just need to worry about how to explain the damage of the house to their returning parents.  Like I said, it’s not a bad movie.  However, I don’t’ think it’s for adults.  The 80s gave us tons of the iconic horror movies we love to this day.  It’s hard not to appreciate the Lovecraft themes in it and smile at the cool stop motion monsters that you would never see in modern movies.  Sill, this one feels like it is really for the kids to watch and get nightmare fuel.

My DVD/Blu ray Collection