Sunday, September 30, 2012


“Looper” is the latest sci-fi action that takes a gritty look at time travel.  Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play the same character respectively with an astounding makeup job on Gordon-Levitt to make him look like a younger Willis. It’s a clever movie with a lot going for it.

Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a hit man in the year 2044.  In the future, the mafia makes arrangements to get people and send them into the past to be killed.  One day he gets the assignment to kill his older self, played by Bruce Willis.  When his older self escapes he goes out to kill his future self.

The action is good.  The acting is really decent.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt does and amazing job impersonating Bruce Willis.  The characters are really well developed. Everyone shows a lot of motivation for all of their actions, which is really a cool draw to this movie.   Emily Blunt plays a very decent mother character as well.

The story is a wee complex as many sci-fi movies are.  It’s still very interesting and shows a lot of care and is very character driven.  There are a few slow parts that are very dialogue heavy but are not out of place for the mood of the film.  It’s a really good movie. 

It’s a really fun concept.  “Looper” has a vision of the future that is oddly believable and interesting.  If you are a sci-fi fan it’s a must see.  It’s a movie that takes chances and gives you some a very bold new story.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

House at the End of the Street-review

The new 2012 horror movie “House at the End of the Street” is a mixed bag.  On one hand the first half of it is fairly trite and feels like it gave up the goods in the previews.  On the other hand, the second half of the movie gives a different twist that allows for some decent tension.  It still fails on some basic levels.

Sarah, played by Elizabeth Shue, and her daughter Elissa, played by Jennifer Lawrence, move into a big new house.  Their next-door neighbor is the home where a girl killed her parents in their bed.  The boy that lives there begins a relationship with Elissa. As they get closer they find themselves drawn more and more into the mystery of what happened in the house.

Looking at the good aspects of the movie Jennifer Lawrence brings a good performance.  She is a fantastic actress. The writing is not the best for her character but she pulls it off.  The other actor that impressed me was Gil Bellows as the Sheriff. He brings a very likable character to the screen. 

The twist at the end is rather good.  It would have been nice to have more interesting build up to it.  At face value it comes off fairly dull at first.  The film also has a lot of moments where it goes out of focus for no apparent reason.  It’s a very strange choice.

Elizabeth Shue is painfully dull.  The character of the boy next-door Ryan, played by Max Thieriot fills his screen time with far-off stares and dialogue that is a bizarre mix of mopey and dreamy.  It takes you out of the mood considering the situation.  Their lame attempts at acting can only be carried so far by the better actors.

As a whole this movie is pretty so-so.  The first half is fairly crappy and the second half makes up for it with some good tension scenes.  The problem is that there is a not much to make this whole movie a must see.  It’s worth a rental at least.  It’s got some creepy scenes but there are tons of plots holes and lumps of bad acting that weaken it. So if you are dying to see a thriller, than go and see it as a matinee.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An updated Halloween movie list.

Back in 2010 I made a list of movies to watch for every day leading up to Halloween. Since then I have seen some things that have become worth noting. So here is the 2012 version that includes some totally new movies to the list.
1.       Nosferatu- A silent classic of German expressionism and nightmarish imagery.
2.       The Phantom of the Opera- This silent film features Lon Chaney displaying some amazing talent.
3.       Frankenstein-The movie that spawned a thousand clichés. It’s got great acting and featured Boris Karloff who has become a cemented horror icon.
4.       White Zombie- This horror film staring Bela Lugosi as a Voodoo master in Haiti is both creepy and memorable.
5.       Godzilla- The terrors of nuclear war are told to us by the Japanese.  This monster movie is a tale of devastation and a warning of the power of nuclear arms.
6.       The Tingler- A William Castle movie starring Vincent Price as a coroner who discovers that human beings have creatures that live in our spines and feed off our fear.  The only way to stop them from getting too large and killing us is to scream.
7.       The Birds- Thousands of birds swarm a small California coastal town.  They kill many and cause much devastation for reasons unknown.
8.       House of Wax- Vincent Price plays a brilliant wax sculptor who loses his ability to sculpt in a fire.  He devises a new plan of using real dead bodies and posing them as his wax sculptures. 
9.       Horror of Dracula- A Hammer Horror movie starring Christopher Lee. This re-vamped Dracula themed movies to have more blood and more violence. 
10.   Rosemary’s Baby- A brilliant psychological thriller about a woman who believes her pregnancy is part of a massive satanic conspiracy.
11.   The Raven- A Roger Corman movie starring Vincent Price as a sorcerer that must face off against another sorcerer played by an aging Boris Karloff.
12.   Countess Dracula- A Hammer film where an aging countess finds she can become young again by bathing in the blood of young maidens. 
13.   Tomb of the Blind Dead- A Spanish horror about the Knights Templar killing all that disturb them. The ending is what makes this really thrilling.
14.   Something Wicked this Way Comes- A Disney film based on a Ray Bradbury novel.  A creepy carnival comes to a small town.  The carnival offers to grant wishes for people of the town, but they find it comes with a price.
15.   The Evil Dead- A fun and gory tale of a group of friends in a run-down cabin. The gang finds an evil book and spends the movie surviving the demonic spirits it summons..
16.   The Howling- A clan of werewolves are running a retreat; murder and hijinks ensue.
17.   Sleepy Hollow- A Tim Burton film that takes a detour from the original story, but is still very fun to watch.
18.   Day of the Dead-A bleak tale of humanity where a small group of humans live in a military bunker while trying to avoid hordes of undead.
19.   Halloween 3: Season of the Witch- A story of a corrupt corporation that has a massive agenda to kill kids on Halloween night.
20.   Dead Alive- By far one of the goriest movies around. This film is about a monkey biting people and spreading a zombie plague.
21.   Ginger Snaps-A story about werewolves being used as a metaphor for girls experiencing puberty.
22.   Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer-One of the more eerily scary portrayals of a serial killer on screen.  Henry is somewhat likable but also insane and without remorse for what he does.
23.   Candyman- An urban legend comes alive and starts a string of murders; spooky and very well made.
24.   The Devil’s Rejects- Three violent criminals are on the run from the law who, it turns out, are just as violent as they are.
25.   Slither- Alien slugs cause a strange monster and zombie to take over a redneck town.
26.   Thirst- An Asian horror movie about a priest that gets a blood transfusion and becomes a vampire which causes all sorts of problems.
27.   Trick ‘r Treat- A series of stories about the horrors that can happen on Halloween night.
28.   [REC]- A Spanish movie about an apartment complex that gets quarantined when zombies start attacking folks inside.
29.   House of the Devil- A broke college student looking for work finds herself in a house that is not exactly on the up and up.
30.   Insidious- A ghost story about a family trying to save their son who has astral projected and fallen into the ghost lands.
31.   The Cabin in the Woods-A hilarious movie with a Lovecraft feeling that honors and enjoys many of the clichés that scary movies give us.
I hope you all enjoy the updated list and use it to see some good new movies this Halloween holiday. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution-review

As a fan of the “Resident Evil” video game and someone that on occasional will watch the other “Resident Evil” movies as a guilty pleasure, it really is depressing to see the severe drop in quality of these movies.  The latest of these movies, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is easily the worst of the lot. The acting and effects are horrible. The story lacks continuity, credibility, or a cause for the characters to do any of their actions.   It even goes so far as to steal ideas from other movies when not throwing in Resident Evil fan service for absolutely no reason. 

Alice, played my Milla Jovovich, is being chased by Umbrella soldiers onboard a boat.  Suddenly she wakes up and the friends she was with are gone (we never see them again) and she is being tortured by the agents of the Red Queen.  She needs to be rescued by a team sent by Albert Wesker, who is apparently alive again. Now she must escape the new facility she is trapped inside before it is blown up and is sunk below the sea.

Let’s start with the fact that these movies have stopped being relevant after the second one.  They never really had anything to do with the video game so it’s annoying as it is to see characters established in that world brought to the screen only to be secondary throw away characters to Alice, who is not in the games and is only there because she is the director’s wife.  Character’s that are established in the video game story die and some just vanish without a trace as if the actors read the script and gave up on this crap before it ruined their career.

The CGI is really lame.  There are stunts done in cars that go into CGI that you might as well be watching during the cut scene of a video game.  Considering the budget and considering the technology I expect a lot more.  The acting of characters like Albert Wesker, played by Shawn Roberts was so laughably bad and smug that he should have grown a villainous moustache to twiddle so he could laugh maniacally as he said his campy dialogue.

For the most part the movie is a simple story where the characters need to get form point A to point B. There is no major antagonist, which weakens this story greatly.  It also blatantly rips off better movies.  For example, the remake of “Dawn of the Dead” where the character steps out onto the driveway in the suburbs and we get a 360 shot of what is happening around her.  We also have a scene from “Aliens” where the lead befriends a little girl who gets captured and cocooned by a hideous monster.

Characters will sometimes pose like their character did in the video game or uses a particular weapon like they did in the game.  It was as if the writer was saying “Look! I’ve played the games! I’m cool!”   It was blatant fan service.  If that wasn’t obvious enough, the billions of frames of product placement during this movie are. It has scenes in Tokyo and New York so everywhere they went had ads for crap as obvious as Game Stop to Rockstar energy drink. 

The bottom line- this movie is almost unwatchable. For some reason it has the idea of leaving on a cliff hanger.  What this series needs is a reboot. It needs to stop focusing on a character that nobody cares about otherwise this franchise needs to end and move on to other things.  The video game is sort of on its last legs too and really it’s time they figured out if “Resident Evil” is worth bringing to life again and again, or if this series has run it’s course.   Do yourself a favor and give this movie a miss.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Possession-review

It is hard to talk about “The Possession” without comparing it to “The Exorcist.”  While a decent movie in it’s own right, it borrows much of the same premise and has some of the same plot devises. Even as a comparison it is still fairly interesting and a good movie in it’s own rights.  The acting is decent; the creepy factor is alright, just try to not focus on the plot holes and the similarities to “The Exorcist.”

Clyde, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is going through a rough divorce and is trying hard to make due with his two daughters at his new house.  They go to a yard sale and come across a Dybbuk box, which enchants the youngest daughter.  Soon the evil spirit has possessed the young Em, played by Natasha Calis.  The evil spirit requires a Hasidic ritual to exorcise the demon.  Can they be rid of the demonic entity before it takes over Em completely?

The acting is very decent.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan always brings a good performance and this time is no exception.  The other impressive performance comes from Natasha Calis who does a damn fine job playing the possessed child, Em.  She shows a lot of potential.  There is a lot of good humanity in the characters and it’s portrayed well on screen. 

The creepy factor is done really well.  The build-up is slow but it works since there are lots of odd things that are centered on the Dybbuk box.  There are swarms of moths that come out of nowhere.  Then of course there is the girl herself that becomes more animalistic and vicious in her actions.  There is also a strange effect with an MRI that is eerie. 

In terms of plot structure it’s a lot like “The Exorcist;” you have a little girl possessed by a demon. There is a couple of divorced parents that are at the end of their rope and have nowhere else to turn except an exorcism.  You have a demon that moves from the child to the adult. Finally, you have an exorcist character that meets an untimely demise.  If you overlook those certain things it’s still a good movie.

There are a few disappointing effects but for the most part it’s a good movie.  It’s a good take on exorcism with a Jewish spin.  On it’s own merits it’s a good movie. It’s worth seeing as a matinee or at the very least renting, just don’t be disappointed when you see this new demon named Abizo who looks more like Gollum from the “Lord of the Rings,” instead of Pazuzu.