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Friday, August 31, 2012

Predator 2 Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Veteran detectives fighting a growing drug war must also contend with a new predator lurking in Los Angeles.

Review: While this is a pretty good movie that does its best to equal the first entry, you do realize why Arnold turned down the chance to reprise his role from part one. There's just something unbelievable about the predator running around the city trying to kill people like it did in the jungle. At the same time I think you would still notice an alien running around invisible or not. The motivations of this predator feels off as well; he is killing the drug gangs but what makes them worthy prey? Just because they have guns? The predator takes a liking to the lead, Harrigan (played by Danny Glover), because he demonstrates his abilities early in the film as a worthy adversary, but nobody else really seems like it would be worth a predator's time. While Harrigan and his crew are investigating the predator's killings, the "government" is covertly tracking the predator because they idiotically believe they can capture him. While I did think it would make sense that the government may be onto the predator, I thought it was so dumb that they believed they'd stand a chance against an alien lifeform so advanced it comes to earth to kill people for fun! Even though this predator kills like ten times the people the first did, it still loses far too easily; the predator is often shown being shot at point blank range but not taking damage...say what? I don't know if it was the writer's intention, but this predator is a lot dumber than the first making many mistakes. There's actually quite a few questionable moments that have you rolling your eyes. On the other hand, this is still a solid sci-fi/action film. With two drug gangs, the cops, and the government all at the mercy of the predator, an entertaining dynamic is created. The same great music returns with a few nice touches added, whether intentional or not. For example, we see a shot of the girl that survived part one on a TV monitor, an "alien" skull, and I love having Bill Paxton here since he was also in "Aliens;" still kind of playing Hudson too! While nowhere near living up to the expectations the first created, it is still worth a watch and a little better than critics would have you believe.

Notable Moment: After Harrigan has defeated the predator aboard its ship, many more predators emerge to "clean up."

Final Rating: 7/10

Predator Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A commando team is sent on a rescue mission in South America only to discover an invisible alien is hunting them.

Review: Ah, classic sci-fi and Arnold at its finest. Like many Schwarzenegger films, there is a lot more depth and creativity going on than at first glance. First off, this is one of those movies that shifts genre about halfway as it begins as a straight military action flick. I will say this though, the first half could have easily made for an awesome "Commando" sequel or something along those lines. But once Arnold, who plays Dutch, and his squad have laid waste to all the guerrilla forces they think killed the men they're trying to rescue, the focus turns to the alien that lurks in the jungle. I really love the originality to the predator because he/it is not like anything we've really seen before. It has a lot of technology, but chooses to fight primitively as we assume is a part of the sport; from what little we gather from the film, the predator likes to test his skill against worthy opponents and does not fight those who do not or cannot fight back. The look is cool too as he's reptillian-ish, with tribal-like attire, and mandibles for a mouth. As for his affinity for invisibility, the effect does look dated, but I like the approach. Not to be outdone, the commando team is full of interesting characters; each has their own kind of attitude and weaponry that makes it easier to tell them apart. Unfortunately, not all get a chance to shine as many die far too easily against the predator. Toward the end, we have a climactic battle between Dutch and the predator which does not disappoint. The action is top-notch, the music is also memorable and fitting, the creature effects are solid, the characters are fun, and the story is very entertaining. On the downside, the effects have become a bit weak, we don't get a lot of explanation with the predator, and the team was disposed of too easily considering how amazingly they wipe out the guerrillas. Check out this timeless sci-fi classic.

Notable Moment: When Dutch and the predator fight fist to fist, and we first see what the predator looks like unmasked.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Death Star is being rebuilt under the guidance of the Emperor himself as the rebels prepare for one final fight against the Empire.

Review: As with the last two SW films, Jedi has all the same perks: excellent music, impressive special effects, fun action and setpieces, and our legendary characters come to their final conclusions as well as the introduction of new characters like the first view of Jabba the Hut (I do not count that ANH add-on). But there is just a slight dip in the quality of storytelling here that makes things feel amiss. I don't know if it's because the expectations were so high or because it's so hard to bring closure to everything in a way that will please all fans. Obviously the Ewoks annoyed the hell out of a lot of fans, but I must stress, contrary to popular belief, they did NOT beat the Empire. They merely helped the rebels win ONE battle. Other than the Ewoks, just about everything else is on a grander scale than the previous films. The dogfights are bigger with so many tie fighters and rebel fighters flying about. I did think it was dumb how easy the super star destroyer was killed though! The resolution to our characters come full circle as Yoda dies telling Luke he will be the last jedi if he can defeat Vader. Han and Leia finally get together, and we find out Luke and Leia are siblings. And after an epic lightsaber duel, Luke defeats Vader, Vader redeems himself by killing the Emperor, and the Death Star is destroyed by Lando. We even have Leia in the infamous, sexy slave bikini! What more could you ask for? All of this results in a fitting end to one of the most cherished movie franchises in history. Honestly, everyone should have watched these movies by now as the original trilogy is mandatory film viewing in my opinion. I even watched the trilogy a few times over the years in basic schooling so I don't know how anyone alive has not seen these films!

Notable Moment: The final duel between Luke and Vader. The music playing when Luke goes berserk is probably the best in the franchise.

Final Rating: 10/10

Howling: New Moon Rising (aka part VII) Review


Check out my updated review! http://thevagrantrises.blogspot.com/2015/03/updated-review-7-howling-vii-new-moon.html

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A stranger investigates weird deaths in a small town full of idiots and bad special effects.

Review: I figured, what better way to compliment reviewing my favorite franchise and my favorite movies than with my most hated movie I've ever watched. While the werewolf-themed "Howling" franchise is "okay," its crowing jewel is none other than part VII or New Moon Rising...eh, does it even matter? I don't even know where to begin with this complete mess of a film; I'm not sure if it even deserves to be called a film because this movie fails in virtually every regard to film making! The very first scene is laughably bad with terrible dialogue, pathetic "acting," and shoddy film quality. Trust me, it only gets worse from there...much worse! After all these years, I'm still baffled by the choices they made when creating this piece of shit. The main problem is that the town they picked to film is where they decided to get all the actors for this movie. Now this might not be too bad if they didn't pick the most ridiculous, stupid town that must exist in the USA: Pioneer Town (I still question if this is even real). Even worse, the "actors" are merely playing themselves and 90% of the dialogue are inside jokes that the audience has absolutely no clue in regard to what they are talking about. Enhancing the painfully, cringe worthy dialogue is that these "jokes" are constantly being laughed at by the "characters" as if it's the funniest shit they've ever heard...ugh it makes me want to kill someone! Oh wait, it gets worse: the vast majority of the "plot" are these stupid jokes and pointless, throwaway scenes; you begin to wonder what does a werewolf have to do with anything?! There are a few so-called actors reappearing from the previous installments, but their acting is nearly as horrendous. Believe it or not, it gets even worse; when we finally see the "werewolf" the transformation is done using hysterically bad effects and the final form is just a halloween mask and gloves! The werewolf even dies off screen as does every other death in this sad excuse for a horror film. Speaking of which, when the "werewolf" is killing someone, they just make the lens color red and then show someone screaming. It's just all so embarrassing. Little kids with a phone camera could seriously make a better film. The music is stock, the acting is on par with an elementary school play, the characters are stupid and annoying, the plot is nonexistant, there is no horror to be found, nothing works, and even the film quality itself is so bad you'd think the movie is 10-15 years older than it is. It did manage to keep the camera steady for the most part, so this film has that going for it. I fucking hate this movie! "Howling VII" needs to be experienced so that people fully appreciate the effort that goes into REAL film making. There are probably a few, rare movies worse than this so that's why I rated it just barely above a 1/10. I need to reserve that bottom spot for the absolute worst film known to mankind.

Notable Moment: When Ted says, "You're fucking done!" It is supposed to be tough, but I died of laughter. I've been saying this line ever since.

Final Rating: 1/10

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Empire has regrouped after the destruction of the Death Star and seeks to destroy the rebels while Luke Skywalker undergoes jedi training.

Review: As with the original SW, this film has everything going for it plus a little extra that may make it the actual best film of all time. I already went over how great the characters are, the amazing and groundbreaking effects, iconic music, and the beloved story; Empire has all these things but also a jaw-dropping twist accompanied by a cliffhanger-esque ending. I know many who don't know the true identity of Darth Vader are quite shocked, and this revelation might give Empire the edge over ANH. As far as the ending, while I love it, I do prefer that ANH is a complete tale while Empire is not entirely complete. On the other hand, I feel the action has toned down compared to ANH, but Empire does improve on the story and takes the archetypal characters to a higher level.  The story has become darker with our heroes being hurt and the stakes feel higher than in the original. We also have the introduction of one of my favorite fictional characters: Yoda! The dialogue and quotable lines I think have even increased with this film with a big chunk coming from Yoda. While speaking of Yoda I must address just how great the jedi training is; we get a better understanding of the force, darkside, and what it means to actually be a jedi knight. The main lightsaber duel is much more fast-paced this time around as the effects were improved. My only real fault with this film is that it's a little slow to get going which is a minor complaint. Honestly, trying to compare Empire and ANH is so hard because they are virtually perfect. If for some reason you haven't watched this movie, what are you waiting for?!

Notable Moment: When Darth Vader reveals he is actually Luke's father of course!

Final Rating: 10/10

Highlander Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Immortals that have battled for centuries gather for a final showdown in which one will gain absolute power.

Review: This movie actually bombed badly upon release which is sad because not only has it risen to cult-classic status over the years, but it's an incredible film. Obviously the audiences didn't know what to make of it at the time, but Highlander's increasing popularity led to four sequels, an animated movie, two TV shows, and even a children's cartoon. The plot is completely original and quite imaginative: immortals are supernaturally drawn to one another with a desire to kill each other (they can only be killed through decapitation preferably with a sword) so that "there can be only one" to claim a mysterious "prize." I can only imagine how hard that was to pitch to the studio. The thing that makes everything work so well here is that 80s magic you will always hear me talking about. You have Queen turning out an astounding soundtrack, a memorable lead character with Connor Macleod (of clan Macleod!), smooth pacing, effective use of flashbacks, and some sweet swordplay. I must also mention Sean Connery turns out a great performance as Connor's mentor, Ramirez. I'm not going to lie though, this film is not for everyone. There are many cheesy moments, the romance is lame and feels forced at times, and you don't get a lot of answers to why everything is happening. But to the film's credit, it successfully pulls you into the world so that you don't really care about why things are happening. The ending is satisfying and I really (REALLY) wish the closure this film had would have remained. The first TV show was decent, but everything else Highlander related blows.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone especially if they saw one of the awful sequels without watching the original first.

Notable Moment: The final battle between Connor and the Kurgan followed by Connor gaining the prize. There can be only one!

Final Rating: 8.5/10

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Young Luke Skywalker embarks on a journey to save a princess from the galactic Empire.

Review: It's tough to say what is my absolute favorite film of all time, but I do know it's one of the original Star Wars movies. I LOVE this movie! I still remember watching this film as a child and my mind being blown. Your life just isn't the same after you watch these films. I always would involve SW in how I would play with my toys or play with the actual movie toys. I have so many fond childhood memories around this franchise; I'm still creating fond memories to this day! SW affects your very way of thinking! Don't tell me I'm the only one who imagines a flashlight is a lightsaber every time you pick it up? I know everyone out there wants to use the force and/or be a jedi too! I mean, what is there to even say? Everyone knows the plot and everyone knows the beloved characters even if you hate the franchise. I love everyone: Vader, Luke, Obi-wan, Leia, Han, Chewie, R2, Threepio, I even like Porkins! The original SW is arguably the most influential movie in film history. Every single aspect of film making works here. The effects were/are groundbreaking, incredible music, great dialogue, memorable acting and characters, amazing story even in its simplicity, inventive visuals and aliens, perfect pacing, and immensely fun and satisfying. Other than the occassional shoddy effect and few questionable plot points, this is as close to a perfect film as you can get. The only true rival to SW is in fact the other SW movies: Empire or Jedi. From the iconic opening, to the impressive first scenes, to the immersive adventure, all the way to the dramatic climax, everything about this film works on every level. Watch this movie if you haven't by now! This is what film is all about, people!

Notable Moment: The final trench run on the Death Star. The music is so epic, and you are on the edge of your seat as Vader closes in on Luke!

Final Rating: 10/10

The Doll Master Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Five people are invited by a doll maker to have their likenesses added to the collection.

Review: Uh, this film is such a mess. It starts off with a decent enough premise and some rising tension; however, it doesn't take long for things to go down hill. I think the biggest problem was that this film wants to have two different stories in which neither makes any sense. Half the plot involves a man who owned a doll modeled after his wife about 50 years ago. The wife is killed mysteriously and the man is killed by a mob which enrages the doll. Eventually the doll is discovered by a couple in which the doll possesses that wife. Through this wife, the doll tries to exact revenge on the descendants of the mob. Eh, it really makes little sense even though I explained it as best as I could. The other plot point involves the main girl once having a doll she abandoned as a child. Somehow this doll has come to life and is conveniently being controlled by the possessed wife. In exchange for killing off the descendants of the mob, the possessed wife promises dollgirl that she won't kill the main lead. There is a lot of lame drama about their alleged friendship and whatever, but, again, it makes no sense. There are also many contrivances that seem as though they will add to the plot only to add up to nothing. I also was annoyed that the possessed wife has locked up her husband and employed her brother to do her bidding; this really would have felt more normal the other way around, but okay! The effects are shoddy, the scares are virtually nonexistent, nothing makes sense, most plot points go nowhere, the acting and dialogue seemed questionable, and overall this is just boring which is the most unforgivable aspect. I have no idea how someone told me this was the best Asian horror movie they had watched, but this is an easy pass.

Notable Moment: When we see someone actually get killed while taking a dump! I mean this film is totally ridiculous.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Monday, August 27, 2012

Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Amidst the Clone War, Anakin Skywalker seeks to save his wife and unborn children only to turn to the darkside and give rise to the galactic Empire.

Review: This is definitely the best of the prequel trilogy, but while I love many moments from this film, there are many I hate. The good: the action is amped up and fastpaced. There are so many great lightsaber duels it's fantastic; I also love me some clone on battledroid action! The visuals and music are great as usual with this franchise. There are some touching moments like when the jedi are being executed or when we see some beloved characters die. And while the story is still inferior to the original trilogy, it is a vast improvement over the last two installments. With that said, I must address the biggest weakness in both this film and the prequels: Anakin's transition to the darkside. I would have rated this film so much higher had his turn been better planned and more evil. While I understand the approach that Lucas wanted him to be tragic...in a hope to save Padme he ended up killing her, but it just doesn't cut it. Why would he believe some lame story by Palpatine, especially knowing that, behind the scenes, he was who they've been fighting all these years? In fact, Padme has been put in danger by Palpatine technically so come on Anny! And even if we are led to believe he would turn against the jedi just for the "hope" of helping Padme, would he really start to kill the younglings? I wanted an Anakin so arrogant with his powers he felt he could destroy the jedi single handedly. Have him corrupted, not even caring about Padme, make him Vader! Instead we get an emo bitch boy screaming "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Other than this huge annoyance, most of the lame dialogue and cheesy scenes can be forgiven. I did also lower points for Jar Jar not being killed; that's just not forgivable Lucas. At the end of the day, this movie is the high point of the prequel trilogy and showed some good ideas. I wish they would have done things more refined, but it was nice to have closure to the series after waiting nearly 30 years.

Notable Moment: The lightsaber duel between Yoda and Palpatine in the senate chamber is both epic and one of the highlights of the entire franchise.

Final Rating: 7/10

Insidious Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After moving into a new home, a family discovers their son is being haunted and a demon seeks to control his body.

Review: Now this is how you pull off an effective scary movie with virtually no budget; honestly, from looking at it, I have no idea how they made this film with such high quality but with so little money. While the approach to the story is nothing new, the way in which they make use of the setting is quite original. Even the title card was really cool and instilled a sense of classic horror films. Instead of just typical haunted house fare, this movie invents its own form of an afterlife called "the further" which humans can accidently get lost in through astral projection. When the family's son becomes lost in this weird realm, all manner of spirits seek to inhabit his body including a demon (yes, he looks like Darth Maul). Most of the best scary parts involve the family seeing one of these ghosts or the demon creeping about the home. Toward the end, as the father enters "the further," there is a certain drop of quality which does weaken this film a bit, but it is nowhere near as significant as some critics have made it. I expected this afterlife to look more frightening, but it's just darkness with mostly unscary ghosts running about; I can look past this because this is unfortunately where the budget constraints probably came into play. The ending is sort of predictable, but it is entertaining nonetheless, and I liked the look of the ghost woman as the scariest anyway. While it didn't leave a truly lasting impression on me as far as scary moments go, I know this film scared a lot of my friends and family, and it did leave an impression of how creative and original everything felt. The acting is great, the pacing is good, the music sets the atmosphere effectively, there are some unique scares and ideas, and besides being a solid horror film, it has some easter eggs to other horror films if you notice them. This film has taken heat from being overhyped, but it is quite excellent and worthy of the hype in my opinion. Definitely watch this one with an open mind and you should be quite surprised.

Notable Moment: The first time we see the demon lurking behind the dad as they eat breakfast.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Anakin Skywalker is now a young Jedi knight and must uncover a plot to overthrow the galactic republic

Review: This is without a doubt the worst of the six major films. I still remember the first time I read about the title to Episode II and thinking it was a joke; I'm still wishing it was. Now that doesn't mean it is absolutely horrible, but the only mistake it fixed from Episode I was making Jar Jar's role significantly smaller. In its place, action has been toned down until maybe the last half hour when things finally pick up. The vast majority of the movie is lame dialogue and a contrived romance between Anakin and Padme; seriously, some of the lines are so painful to listen to I cringe. On the other hand, the visuals are even more beautiful and impressive than the last film; the music is of course as good as always. The few action scenes are really awesome and the highlight of the movie. Although I'm not a fan of Yoda actually fighting someone with a lightsaber, you've got to love the final fight. Who da man? Yoda man! The lame political drama continues on with a sketchy plot about systems leaving the galactic republic and a clone army, but I suppose it is an improvement over the last part. I really wish they would have handled Anakin's transition to the darkside better. From what we were told in Episode IV, that Anakin is nothing like this whiny version; this is probably the weakest point to this film. As with Episode I, I really wanted to like this film when it came out, but, for me, it's much worse than Episode I. I probably should rate this one even lower, but I have a soft spot for all things Star Wars.

Notable Moment: When the Jedi show up to fight within the battle arena against an army of battledroids.

Final Rating: 6/10

From Dusk Till Dawn Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Two outlaw brothers take a family hostage to flee to Mexico where they inadvertently end up at a bar full of vampires.

Review: I think this is one of those movies where you either love it or hate it. For one, it does a genre switch about halfway through which may turn some viewers off; it begins as a fugitive theme and then transitions into a horror/action film. The thing I love so much about this movie is the dialogue and how witty and clever it is. There are so many great quotes that you really get a feel for the characters. You definitely sense that Tarantino vibe to everything regarding the characters in what they say and their mannerisms in saying the lines; it's not easy to explain, but when you see enough of his films you'll understand. Speaking of which, Tarantino himself does a great job acting as does George Clooney as the main characters, the Gecko brothers, but unfortunately I can't say the same for the rest of the cast. I also enjoyed all the subtle little nuances such as Cheech Marin playing three different characters, the fact that the bar is revealed to be built on some ancient pyramid, random things like "Sex Machine's" dick gun, and so many tiny details you notice in repeat viewings. The approach to the vampires themselves was unique in a way as this film invents its own lure which I applaud. Although the vampires are vulnerable to their typical weaknesses, they are more like pack hunters as they are easily disposed of, and the look of the vampires mirrors different interpretations over the years. The weapons the characters end up using to fight the vampires is also really entertaining to see such as a holy water gun. As much as I have fun watching this film, it's not perfect by any means: there are a lot of shoddy effects, many cheesy lines and scenarios, quite a few over the top moments, and the ending feels a little empty with little resolution. There was a lot of room left to continue where this film left off, but the sequels are pitiful followups and only worth a laugh at best. Definitely give this one a view if you like Tarantino's style, vampires, or just a solid B movie. Or just watch it to see Salma Hayek at her peak!

Notable Moment: Without a doubt, the snake dance by the sultry Salma Hayek. This could quite possibly be the sexiest scene in film history!

Final Rating: 8/10

My, my, my...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The first prequel addition to the Star Wars franchise that explores the life of the young Anakin Skywalker and a war on the planet Naboo.

Review: With the Batman franchise out of the way, it's finally time to take on my favorite franchise: Star Wars! Unlike the other five films, this is the one that my opinion of frequently changes. There are a lot of moments that are cool like the lightsaber fights, I do enjoy battledroids, the jedi temple and just lots of jedi running around, and it was so much fun to see our beloved characters for the first time since Episode VI. The effects are nice, the sound and music is phenomenal, and the action rarely has you bored. Unfortunately, this film suffers from so many flaws! Two words: Jar Jar! The writing is terrible with bad dialogue accompanied by equally (if not worse from some actors) crappy acting. The focus of the film is a mess with the ridiculous "trade route dispute" at the center. Who cares?! Give us something to actually care about. Darth Maul is wasted which for me hurts the film a lot since he's one of the best-looking villains in film history. With all these flaws, and many more, this film's biggest problem is probably the fact it was overly hyped with too much pressure to be good with too high of expectations from fans. Had this movie just been some other sci-fi adventure on its own, I think more people would appreciate it, but as a Star Wars movie, it just doesn't cut it. I do like this film, thus the higher rating, but the direction of the plot and the writing could have been so much more. Good Star Wars material can be written as evidence by some of the video games and adaptations. But hey, it could have been worse...it could have been the infamous Christmas special! Stick to watching the films in the order they were released!

Notable Moment: The final battle against Darth Maul of course.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

The Haunted House Project Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A documentary crew and a group of amateur ghost hunters explore an allegedly haunted cookie factory.

Review: Alright I must admit I am a sucker for these "found footage" films because I watched another one! This movie was such an utter disappointment for me though. This was a Korean horror film, and compared to other films from that country this was lacking severly in every aspect of what makes a horror film scary. First, it took way too long for anything to happen; I really don't know why they went in the direction of not even attempting to have small background scares to keep the audience interested or to build tension. The first "scary" thing we are supposed to see is a static camera effect I'm assuming to imply the presence of a spirit. Get used to this shoddy effect because it happens the whole second half of the film! From here on out, the film completely relies on jump scares until the final scene which I found so pathetic. Also, the jump scares are done so nonsensically; you have the setting as a haunted cookie factory and they never once make effective use of this choice. The film had completely lost me once the first ghost sighting came in the form of the ghost "trying" to be scary in an overlapped film effect. Why would they go that direction?! Just make the ghosts be in the room or wherever, but an overlapped film effect would imply the previous tape had captured the ghost...it just doesn't fit the context! And finally, the ending sucked and the most hyped moment, which you knew would come, is nothing more than a hand rather than a proper ghost effect! The acting did feel believable, the atmosphere was okay for a while, and I did like the premise, but virtually everything about this film is a failure or just mediocre. It's worth a view because it is kind of interesting, but seriously lower your expectations or you will be as disappointed as I was.

Notable Moment: A quick shot of the second floor of the haunted house reveals glowing eyes from within the shadows in which we're left guessing whether it belonged to an animal or something else.

Final Rating: 5/10

Friday, August 24, 2012

POV: A Cursed Film Review


Check out my updated review! http://thevagrantrises.blogspot.com/2014/02/updated-review-1-pov-cursed-film.html

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A TV show's crew view a strange "ghost video" and decide to investigate the location first hand.

Review: We have yet another "found-footage" style film here, although this film is mostly observed through the lens of the TV crew's cameramen. I must really love these movies because I keep finding myself watching them! I was actually surprised how much I liked this movie. It had some impressive effects and shots for a low-budget, Japanese horror movie. The story is also unique in that the crew is trying to film a simple show but decide to add "ghost videos" as a segment to said show. The two leads, Haruna Kawaguchi and Mirai Shida, are cute and do a commendable job making the audience care about their well being. When watching one of the videos, it keeps changing each time they rewind it which I found to be a nice touch. While there are some cheap, jump scares, for the most part, this film sticks to some genuine scares that, I must say, are original for once; the scares do play off some known cliches, but there was a great deal of creativity in the execution. The atmosphere works well here, the pacing is decent enough, and the ending was interesting and, once again, quite original. Also, make sure you stay to the very last second as you might actually miss out on a few things. As for the downside: some of the effects are shoddy, the acting is weak at some parts, there was a highly predictable plot twist in the middle, a lot is left unexplained, and certain plot elements were not fleshed out properly, but none of this is to a degree that it hurts the film significantly. In fact, these are more minor grievances that I wish could have been rectified to bring this film to its maximum potential. I honestly believe this movie has the potential of being one of the greats due to its originality and tight pacing of scares, but I wish certain things could be changed or improved on to launch it into legendary status alongside films like "The Grudge" and "Ringu." It's so hard to come up with original and successful scares that I have to recommend this film for those facts alone even if this isn't necessarily as scary as it could be. Much like "White: The Melody of the Curse," this film is severely overlooked when it deserves some serious attention. Definitely give this one a chance, and it's on youtube for free!

Notable Moment: When the main girls are watching their footage at the movie theater and all the accompanying scenes up until the final shot.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Horrible Bosses Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Three friends simultaneously reach a breaking point with their jobs and plot to kill each other's bosses.

Review: At first I really imagined this being pretty stupid, but surprisingly a lot of the jokes and setups are funny. The three "horrible bosses" are especially annoying and thrive on making the lives of our main guys, Nick, Dale, and Kurt's a living hell. I did like the direction of how the bosses were: one on a power trip, one that keeps sexually harrassing, and the selfish son of the company's owner. The build up, and the way in which the main guys want to kill the bosses, is outlandish but in a comedic way. For the most part, the film is able to get you laughing and effectively entertain you with the ensuing antics. The ending is satisfying with everything conveniently working out for our heroes.There are parts, like in most comedies, where the jokes start to fall flat or get stupid. There was some wasted potential as well with certain characters like "Mother Fucker" Jones. Although I enjoyed the film, there are certain aspects I just wish were done better or they made better use of the gag and setup; for example, the best character is probably Julia (played by the increasingly sexy Jennifer Aniston) and her whole sexual harrassement plotline resolves too weakly. The last thing is the odd, semi-change to the tone of film once Nick's boss, Harken, murders Kurt's boss. Other than these issues I had, this is a solid R-rated comedy with an intersting plotline. If you're a fan of the actors involved or the ridiculous premise sounds promising to you, then you should probably check this one out. Even if you aren't a big comedy fan, which I'm not, this one may surprise you.

Notable Moment: When the guys are being chased by Harken and Dale must have phone sex with Julia.

Final Rating: 7/10

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Batman is back in the second installment of the Nolan trilogy, and is fighting the mob, the Joker, and Two Face.

Review: Finally, I complete my review of the Batman franchise with the best saved for last. There is a lot going on in this film that is for sure; I can almost imagine the script originally may have been two movies. The film is close to two and half hours, but the pacing is so great you don't feel it. I love the direction they took the Joker character in. At first I did not think Nicholson's performance would be outdone and that Heath Ledger was a bad choice, but I was severly mistaken. Ledger's performance really was as brilliant and award worthy as it was hyped to be. Complimenting this was the tortured addition of Two Face, and the way the action was balanced between Batman/Bruce, the villains, Gordon, and all the secondary characters. As I've said before, everything just works here; the only complaints I have are there are a few contrivances, and I can't stand Maggie Gyllenhaal which is the only reason I don't rate this as a ten. As with Nolan's other films, he properly uses a magnificant soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. The story is solid, the action and pacing are well balanced, all the characters have time to shine, nothing is too over the top, the dialogue is fun and clever, the acting is great, and it's just a phenomenal film overall. I honestly can't imagine there ever being a better and more powerful Batman film. If you watch any single Batman film, make this the one!

Notable Moment: The opening heist by the Joker because it immediately pulls you into the film with a cool twist.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

The Phantom of the Opera (2004) Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A disfigured man haunts an opera house and will stop at nothing to win the love of a young, aspiring singer.

Review: Once again, we have the rare musical that I actually enjoy. This film is hardly a faithful adaptation of the book or even anything remotely like the many other film incarnations, but it is a solid story in its own right; it is actually just the film version of a play. Obviously the most important part of this film is the music which it accomplishes with great success. I love the soundtrack and almost every song is a winner. There is this '80s vibe to most of the songs which I think is all the more reason why it resonated with me, but I can that being a turnoff for some. I give a lot of credit to the main actors, Gerard Butler (as the Phantom) and the beautiful Emmy Rossum (who plays Christine), because they turn in excellent performances and performed their own singing. There are many great setpieces where the combination of music and scenery blend quite well as the opera house does look impressive or the graveyard scene for example. The story is also touching as we glimpse into the madness of the Phantom as he pursues the love of Christine. Even though it all ends in defeat, you can't help but root for the Phantom to win! I suppose it is no wonder that many fans have written their own makeshift sequels, and there is an actual sequel to the play out there, but it is beyond stupid. This film does have some flaws though such as many contrivances, some illogical choices from multiple characters (they seriously never bothered to get the police to investigate the opera house?), and the fact that they did not kill off the most annoying character, Carlotta. This music is great, the action is surpringly well paced, the ending is satisfying, and the story is engaging enough to make you care about the outcome of the characters. If you like romance movies, musicals, or just a solid story, check this one out!

Notable Moment: The final scene in which we see a single red rose at Christine's grave implying the Phantom is still out there watching over her.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Goonies Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of misfit kids called the Goonies find and follow a treasure map belonging to the pirate, One Eyed Willy.

Review: This is the quintessential family adventure film that works that '80s magic I often talk about. We have a variety of dorky characters called the Goonies who are all likeable in their own way, and we identify with on some level; I always liked Data! Early on, we get the personalities established, and from there we are taken on an adventure that keeps building as the film goes along. The balance of lightheartedness, comedy, and action works so perfectly that often films in this sub-genre screw up. Each setpiece that the characters encounter while following the treasure map stands out and is memorable like the organ made of bones. This film successfully pulls you into the journey, and you experience the ride that the kids are going through; this is a rare feat that few family films can accomplish and with as much heart as this film has. There are so many great moments such as the introduction of Sloth and his friendship with Chunk..."Hey you guys!" Even subtle little moments are hilarious like at the end when Mikey's dad has to sign his house over to the bank, and Mouth grabs the pen and rubs it onto the douchebag's coat! There are some cheesy moments even by '80s standards, but for the most part this is one of, if not, the best family adventure film out there. I just love virtually every aspect of this film and it was even more of an awesome experience growing up watching it and wishing I could also go on this kind of adventure with my friends! Everyone should have watched this film by now, but if I learned anything from my years in school it's that people have had empty childhoods! Go out and watch this film even if you're a younger person, and if you're over the age of 25, I really have to wonder what is wrong with you.

Notable Moment: When the kids are aboard the pirate ship and trying to get as much treasure as possible as well as the accompanying scenes.

Final Rating: 9/10

Supernatural Activity Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A cheap, wannabe parody of recent horror films from the last five years or so.

Review: First, don't confuse this with "Paranormal Activity." Then, if you thought the "Scary Movie" franchise was dumb, this is even worse. There is virtually nothing funny here, and it is annoying because you can tell the writers thought this was comedic genius. You can easily tell the budget for this shit was paper thin, so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it was still too stupid. Even though the focus was on recent horror films, there were so many odd refences to things like "Blade Runner" for example. I mean, seriously, what casual viewer of recent horror movies will understand a random "Blade Runner" reference? Only dorks like me will pick up on that shit, and there are plenty like that. When the majority of the audience won't understand half the references, why are you bothering to include them?! Most of the time, even I was trying to figure out what the hell they were even making fun of; there was some ongoing gag with a wife beating her stupid husband...I really couldn't figure that one out. If anybody can catch or make sense of all the alleged parodies, be sure to write them up for me! Movies like this, I often wonder why they even exist, because a bad movie can be amazing if made unintentionally, but a bad movie trying to be that way on purpose just never works out. The gags fall flat, the comedy is nonexistent, everything has been done before and better, the acting sucks, the plot is retarded, and it is so boring. Don't even waste your time with this one. If by some cruel twist of fate you paid for this shit, demand somebody, somewhere, refund your money!

Notable Moment: There was only one kind of funny/clever moment when some religious dude says he wanted praying as an olympic event and the medals would be gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I'll admit, that brought a smirk to my face.

Final Rating: 3/10

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Expendables 2 Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The elite mercenaries are back, and this time they must stop a crimelord from getting ahold of weaponized plutonium.

Review: While continuing in the same style as the first film, this sequel tries to up the anty. We have more famous stars (hooray, Chuck Norris!), more action, higher stakes, and a little more depth to the plot. While on the surface it may seem like they greatly improved over the first, the overall experience is only slightly improved as there are some new annoyances. There are more plot contrivances this time around which could be better or worse depending on your outlook; I know there are some that are more entertained when the plot is more asinine than it should be. There is the odd addition of a woman to the team and she serves to pretty much replace Jet Li (grr!). I wouldn't have a problem with this had it been an established action star like Michelle Yeoh, or someone along those lines, but who the hell is Nan Yu?! Also, the main villain started off cool, but then just faded into the background until the final battle which was a waste. Although, it was hilarious to see Jean Claude Van Damme in the role of a bad guy for once, and he seemed to relish it. I especially enjoyed the banter between the actors because they began to reference each other's film roles and real life incidents. This addition felt like the writers were having more fun with the audience than in the first which was greatly appreciated and added more heart to the movie. I will say this film's increase in scale and writing opened up the possibilities for more famous stars and more refinement to the homaging. Here's to hoping that if there's a part 3 down the line, we get a film bigger and badder while possibly having a decent plotline. Like the first, go into this with the expectation of this movie as a tribute to older action films. This was a more solid action film than the first, but I still feel like there's a lot of room to improve. Definitely worth a watch if you enjoyed the first movie, but I'd recommend casual viewers to give this one a go compared to the first since there isn't much continuity between the movies anyway.

Notable Moment: When Trench and Church are fighting side by side at the airport and stealing each other's infamous catchphrases.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

The Expendables Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of elite mercenaries are hired to stop a rising dictator on a small island.

Review: This film would have been phenomenal had it actually been made in the '80s, or even early '90s, rather than merely paying tribute. There's just a kind of magic that existed back then because it was all so natural, but here it felt more forced and empty. While I do respect them for homaging the style of those films, it just doesn't hold up. Most things obviously don't make a lot of sense as it was meant to be a purely brainless action flick; the plot is paper thin. There was something about some wannabe dictator, his daughter, some American badguys...eh whatever. Also, we get almost no background information about the Expendables team which sucked. The choice of actors was impressive to start things off which is a big plus with the likes of Stallone, Arnold, Jet Li, etc. However, I can't stand Statham, and I thought Terry Crews had been doing comedies? While the overall cast was awesome, the film would have benefitted from having the older stars as leads and some of the existing main characters should have been the cameos. Nevertheless, it was entertaining to see a lot of these guys doing a role like this again too since most have been out of the game for a while like Dolph Lundgren. It is worth noting that all the characters had at least one chance to shine and show us a little of their classic styles even with the badguys like Steve Austin. Obviously Stallone knew how to bring the action in the vein we would be accustomed to in the past; the CGI blood was annoying though. There are explosions left and right and enough people being blown away to appease even the most diehard (oh, the puns!) fans. But at the end of the day, they just don't make 'em like they used to. This film is good for a watch, especially if you liked these kind of movies back then, but other than that there isn't much going for it. If you're into nostalgia or mindless action films, give this one a go, but this is definitely not date night material.

Notable Moment: When the team is fighting in the tunnels and face off against the main henchmen.

Final Rating: 6/10

Monday, August 20, 2012

Green Lantern: First Flight Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A test pilot is given a powerful ring from a dying alien that transforms him into a superhero soldier apart of an intergalactic military corps. 

Review: Now this is how you do Green Lantern right! Instead of wasting time on earth where zany antics can ensue, Hal spends all of his time training on Oa and actually patrolling the galaxy like he's supposed to. You'd think they would borrow the script from this film for the live action version or at least get the same writers! Everything is better here; Hal is as he should be, he is fighting his most iconic villain, we see the GLs on duty, we see the full capabilities of the ring, there are surprising plot twists, way more action, no real annoying characters, no pointless comedy, and thankfully no screaming big-headed bitch! The movie also plays out very simply as we see the famous origin story of Abin Sur dying and giving his ring to Hal because he is the best humanity has to offer (get a clue live action version!). From here we see Hal being trained as a GL and nobody really likes or trusts him but Sinestro who takes Hal under his wing. Then we get some cool plot twists as they are seeking out an alien crime boss trying to get a weapon that can kill GLs. Big shock, Sinestro is evil, betrays Hal, was the one who actullay killed Abin Sur, and is trying to gain the power of the yellow lantern! Suffice to say, the climax is awesome as the GLs unite to fight Sinestro. This is a highly satisfying version of GL, and I wish this had made it to theaters rather than the live action mediocrity. If you like the GL character you'll love this, and if you can watch this before the live action version I would seriously recommend that. This is how Green Lantern is supposed to be and this is a fantastic film.

Notable Moment: When Hal is fully powered by the green battery and has a final showdown against Sinestro and his yellow battery.

Final Rating: 8/10

Green Lantern Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A test pilot is given a powerful ring from a dying alien that transforms him into a superhero soldier apart of an intergalactic military corps.

Review: While this film does deserve a lot of the criticism it receives, it isn't super bad by any means; it is mostly just mediocre and teeters on boring. From the get go, this movie ruins the character of Hal Jordan otherwise known as the most famous incarnation of the Green Lantern superhero. He's played by Ryan Reynolds, but I don't necessarily blame Reynolds for this one. I've seen Reynolds do serious characters in other roles so I think the studio is the one that decided they wanted to go with a more comedic Hal. Also, Hal has a lot fear?! Give me a break...his courage is one of his main attributes in the comics. Other than GL himself, we must contend with the bland Blake Lively; while I do think she is good looking, she is a terrible addition to the film and her character is utterly useless. The main villain, Hector Hammond, is so stupid and keeps screaming like a little girl. Few words can describe how annoyed I was with his incessant screaming, and he's such a cliched loser that I'm embarrassed for the writers. He's supposed to be a part of the stronger Parallax villain, but it just feels so stupid. Parallax is wasted as well since he's pretty much just this big blob of energy with no real discernible motive as to why he's so evil except some bull about being consumed by the yellow lantern's energy. Oa, planet of the GL corps. is wasted too, like everything in this film, as we only see glimpses of scenery while all of the drama there is useless (and what's up with the GLs just sitting around on their asses?). They introduce a background plot involving Sinestro, who is GL's most famous villain, almost as if for the sake of merely having a scene at the end of the credits to be cool. What would have made this film a million times better is if they simply focused on Hal becoming a GL and fighting actual intergalactic villains not some big baby with a giant head screaming like a frightened old woman. Or, hey, here's an idea: how about GL fighting his most iconic villain to lure in the casual viewers who might have a faint knowledge of him? There are some mildly entertaining moments and the action is okay. It would seem all the good ideas were being saved for a sequel...too bad that is probably not happening. This is a film with no real audience since it will annoy fans of GL and is too bland for a casual viewer. Eh, I guess if you like popcorn films give this one a whirl but keep in mind it's not nearly as bad as some critics would have you believe. I'll be sticking to the animated films for now.

Notable Moment: When Hal arrives on Oa and sees all the different alien lanterns.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Azumi Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A band of orphans are raised from childhood to become assassins to stop warlords seeking to create more death in feudal Japan.

Review: While this film is pretty over the top concerning the violence, there's actually a solid story under all the fighting. Early on we see just how serious the assassins are meant to take their duty whereby we start off with 12 assassins, but they must kill the one they are closest to thus narrowing it down to six. Among the six remaining is Azumi (played by the unbelievably beautiful Aya Ueto) who is said to be the greatest assassin because she is so fast. By far, the highlight of this film is seeing Ms. Ueto excellently act out the title character as she brings an added layer of depth to Azumi. For those who may not know, Ms. Ueto has a strong fanbase in Japan due to her easygoing attitude and great acting, singing, and looks; she's definitely worth keeping an eye out for in future films and TV shows! Anyway, throughout the film we see the master of the assassins lead them on a perilous journey in which each loss to their team is meant to be acceptable. As the bodies start to pile up and her comrades die, Azumi begins to question the meaning behind the killing and whether there is even merit to their mission; Azumi has only known the life of training and now sees others living normal lives. By the end of the film, Azumi has stepped up her game and avenges everyone in the most bloody way possible! I remember in the "making of" segment for the film, the writers explained that the plot was written around the final battle as well as the main pitch for the movie. Needless to say, this final battle definitely had a major payoff and is a treat to see as Azumi, with slight help, annihilates an entire army of hired goons! This is a fun movie with excellent action despite some shoddy effects here and there. It is a little too long, I'll admit, but there is an edited version out there I know. Seeing Azumi fight is great, and a lot the bad guys' deaths feel so satisfying. The ending leaves you wanting more, but unfortunately the sequel dropped the ball big time. Definitely give this one a chance since it has a great story, awesome action, some superb acting, and, of course, the stunning Aya Ueto!

Notable Moment: When Azumi single-handedly storms Kato's stronghold and kills all of his men followed by the showdown against Bijomaru.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

Azumi ready for battle:

Inception Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of dream-technology experts are hired to perform "inception:" the act of planting an idea in someone's mind.

Review: This is definitely one of my favorite movies despite the awkward opening. On the surface this is essentially a heist film, but there is so much more going on in this plot it is hard to tackle it all. There is the sci-fi aspect that goes over advanced technology to bring multiple people into the dreaming mind of an individual; the film successfully creates a believable world where these things would occur. We have a lot of psychological issues brought up regarding reality, what is a dream, depression, love and loss, and much more. The plot can be complicated at times, but it is much more straightforward as long as you're paying attention. At the same time, there are so many deep moments of great philosophical debate as well that I feel many casual viewers will misunderstand. The visuals are beautiful as we see the characters manipulate physics within the dreams and refine their ability to control their perception within said dreams. I absolutely love the soundtrack as Hans Zimmer nailed that fantasy/hypnotic tone; this is probably in my top ten list of soundtracks since there really isn't a bad piece in the entire lot. The acting is excellent from all the characters to which there are a lot of A-list actors here; special credit, of course, goes to Leonardo Dicaprio for his excellent portrayal of the tormented Cobb. There are a few elements I wish they would have delved more deepily into, such as the how do you know you're not dreaming aspect, but I suppose those will be brought up in more detail in sequels; these are minor nitpicks as well and hardly detract from the film's awesome premise and perfect execution of ideas. The action, pacing, tone, and dialogue all have a great flow as everything comes together in an incredibly methodical way. There was definitely an impressive attention to detail in the outlining of the story and how it would progress. I highly recommend watching this film even with so many critics knocking the film due to its growing popularity. It really is one of the most original films I've watched in awhile especially considering all the remakes, prequels, sequels, ripoffs, adaptations, etc. that are flooding the market! This was, by far, the best film of 2010 so don't miss out.

Notable Moment: In limbo, when Mal and Cobb discuss whether Cobb was always dreaming the whole movie. I really wish they played up this angle more!

Final Rating: 10/10

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chronicle Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Three teens stumble upon a strange object underground that gives them telekinetic powers with dangerous consequences.

Review: Once more we have a found-footage style film although this isn't necessarily done in the same manner; the rules of this film are that any camera in the setting is used as a point of view which can include the likes of street cameras. I must say, one of the best things is that there are lot of great special effects in this film as we see the kids get more powerful and even begin to fly. It is pretty straightforward how this film was meant to progress: bullied kid gets powers, becomes evil, rampages against those who wronged him. That degree of predictability did hurt the film for me as I knew what would happen. To its credit though, it did have me caring about the characters and really not wanting the one kid, Andrew, to turn evil or the other kids to die. Think of this film as the origin story for how supervillains are made rather than a typical superhero movie. The final fight, and a lot of the film's action if you will, has obvious influences from movies like "Akira" or TV shows like "Heroes" and "Dragon Ball Z." This was the kind of movie I had been waiting to see realized for a long time with super powerful people just running around a city blowing stuff up. I wish they would have taken this film so much further and played up the action, but it is a nice balance and a fun ride. It was also somewhat disappointing that we never learned anything about how they received their powers, but there is an implication that it could have happened before or it is known; when a film like this leaves you wondering, I often feel writers should put in at least one throwaway line to at least acknowledge that they considered some of their own mystery, but it so rarely happens. However, the positives here outweigh any negatives: believable acting, compelling and interesting story, creative spin on the found-footage sub-genre, and good pacing with impressive effects and action set pieces.  If you're getting burned out on found-footage I would still recommend trying to give this one a view as a final shot, but if you love superhero movies or great action flicks, like I do, then definitely give this one a view. I had high hopes when this one came out and it lived up to my expectations; now I'm just waiting for a sequel!

Notable Moment: When Andrew and Matt are fighting their way all over the city and wreaking havoc.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Loaded Weapon 1 Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A parody of the action and police movies from the '80s and early '90s.

Review: Think of this as a forerunner for what would become films like "Scary Movie" or "Not Another Teen Movie." Surprisingly, "Last Action Hero" and this film were made the same year and parody a lot of the same movies like the "Lethal Weapon" franchise and the "Die Hard" franchise to name a few; they even star the same guy as the chief of police. I like LAH much better though because even though the parodies were similar they felt slightly more adult. While there are some quality jokes, decent cameos, and a ridiculous plot, it just feels as though something is missing. The vibe of the film is too lighthearted and so many gags fall flat; this direction never made any sense to me because many of these movies they're mocking, like "The Silence of the Lambs," are extremely adult films. It even borderlines slapstick a lot of the time and comes off as pathetic more than not. I really enjoyed this movie as a kid, but it does not hold up out of the era it was made in; I can't even imagine the younger generations getting a single joke unless they are familiar with 25-30 year old action movies. In fact, realizing that this entertained me as a kid, who was allowed to watch the movies being parodied, it should be of note that most kids my age would not have watched those movies. So who exactly was the target audience for this film if the jokes were so childish, but the material being covered was for adults? While worth a view if you're a movie buff and want to spot all the cameos and movies being parodied, it is a definite pass if you haven't watched the famous movies from that era. Also understand that this isn't exactly comedy gold here so it's not as though the jokes alone will carry the film for a casual viewer.

Notable Moment: When we first see inside Colt's "trailer" and it looks like a mansion; the accompanying scenes are also some of the funnier moments.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Friday, August 17, 2012

Batman & Robin Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Batman and Robin are back with Batgirl while trying to stop the likes of Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Bane in the most ridiculous manner yet.

Review: I still remember seeing this shit in theaters thinking I might walk out. This movie is an abomination to all that is film making! But over the years I've gained a newfound appreciation for the film, because I was looking at it like it was an action film which it clearly is not; I now realize it is a comedy! Every aspect of this film from beginning to end is pure garbage if taken seriously, but it somehow transcends being one of the worst films in history into so bad it's good territory. The cheesy one-liners, the overacting, the implausible scenarios, the idiotic throwaway love interest, the terrible music, and the absolute shitting all over the Batman franchise, it all comes together somehow. There's so many moments I love like "I'll kill you later" as opposed to now?! Or Bruce's retarded girlfriend, "Ivy...who's Ivy?" said in the most monotone voice imaginable. "This is why superman works alone" and "The batcard, don't leave the cave without it!" oh dear lord! I can only imagine the level of incompetence it took to screw this one up so badly. What were they thinking?! If i could sum up my thoughts on this film in a single word it would be "why?" Seriously, why would anyone think this was the right direction to go? It killed the franchise back then and scarred so many careers. I feel like the Joker...I see the joke now! Only watch this bad boy if you are expecting the greatest comedy of the '90s (greatest comedy of all time?!)! Even the campy '60s Batman TV show was more serious than this shit and that's saying something. Lastly, if for some reason you should actually like this movie and not think it's bad, I think you need to check yourself into the nearest mental institute ASAP because something is wrong with you.

Notable Moment: The entire opening sequence has me in tears from laughing so hard...too many ice-related jokes...too stupid!

Final Rating: 2.5/10 (10/10 for comedic gold)

The Hunger Games Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: In a dystopian future, 24 kids fight to the death in a TV show-style game meant to control the public.

Review: I will say from the start I have read the book which is one of the main reasons I found this movie slightly better than I should. There is just some kind of emptiness to the film where certain gaps are left open in which the mind of the reader fills in. To me, this is a huge penalty because a lot viewers have not read the books. From what I have observed, people who rave over this film have read the books, and those who haven't don't understand the hype. It's because this film was written in such a way that you are meant to already know the story and it remains confusing to those who have not. Other than those plot issues, it is a faithful adaptation and does a lot of things right. The tone seems more serious than the book which I liked, the acting is good especially from the lead, Katniss (played by the cute Jennifer Lawrence), and the overall approach works better in film because the book is about how viewers are watching the game; showing the perspective of the audience was a nice touch since that was severely lacking in the book for obvious reasons. It's not perfect as we see characters added, characters dropped, certain elements downplayed, certain elements played up, and a much weaker ending than the book; a lot of "shaky-cam" moments were also annoying me when there wasn't even an action scene. Although I feel the book itself is overrated, I would recommend checking out that first so that you can better understand and enjoy a viewing of the film version since it was a decent enough adaptation. Or, as many others have contested for years now, watch "Battle Royale" to see this plot better demonstrated with the serious violence it should have...none of this lighthearted murder. I don't even understand how a movie can brutally kill people but downplay the consequences to make it family-friendly?!

Notable Moment: When Katniss volunteers as the tribute despite it being better in the book and making more sense.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Five college kids stay at a cabin where a slew of monsters are held as a means to perform an ancient ritual.

Review: It isn't hard to see why this film was so difficult to market as it incorporates so many aspects of the horror genre. It's clever how they manage to pay tribute to most horror cliches while still being faithful to the genre; this aspect of the film is the most creative and it was presented so perfectly. Essentially, evil gods demand sacrifices to maintain a balance of peace within the world; these sacrifices are your stereotypical teen-slasher fodder. At the same time, the means in which the people are dispatched can be any matter of being we've seen over the decades from horror films. I will give some major credit to the writers for really knowing their horror lure and throwing in many hidden monsters and easter eggs to impress any horror aficionado. You can almost infer that we are led to believe most horror movies we've watched are apart of this ritual process. Often times this movie crosses into parody territory as certain chemicals are used to create cliches like the "horny teen" or the bad decisions such as the "let's split up" phenomenon. For some reason, many audience members did not know what to make of these parody elements, but I felt it showed that the writers wanted to acknowledge much of the shenanigans we see going on like the hero always tripping while on the run from a killer. The way everything is presented is entertaining with a business approach by an unnamed government-esque operation to ensure the ritual goes according to plan. It is a little slow starting and certain parts just felt like they could have been done better, but, for the most part, this is a solid look at the current state of horror while trying to do something new. Forget any whining about this not being a "true" horror movie, because if there were any movie that demonstrated how well writers know the genre, this film would be it. On the other hand, this may hurt the film because casual viewers won't appreciate all the work, imagination, and knowledge that went into trying to cover virtually every horror cliche, monster, scenario, and plot element over the past thirty or more years. If you're a horror buff, especially from the '80s onward, you should love this film. As for the general audience, know ahead of time that this is not your typical slasher or however it was marketed.

Notable Moment: When all the monsters are unleashed from their containers with a convenient big, red button.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Demon City Shinjuku Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: It has been ten years since a gateway to hell was opened in Shinjuku, Japan and now only one man can stop the completetion of the ritual.

Review: As far as anime goes, this is a much more tame romp into action/horror. Basically, the world is going to be destroyed in three days unless the main character, Kyoya, can kill some sorcerer called Rebi Ra. Kyoya has been trained in a kind supernatural form of fighting known as "nempo" by his father (who looks a lot like wolverine with those sideburns) who fought Rebi Ra those ten years ago. At the same time, the world has become super peaceful thanks to some diplomat which Rebi Ra is poisoning slowly; they claim that this death will activate a ritual that will unleash all the demons from hell. The daughter of this diplomat, Sayaka, tries to get Kyoya to stop being a little bitch and fight his way through Shinjuku and save the world...of course he does! There was, once again, a lot of wasted opportunities here. The demons Kyoya fights are uninspired and too few and far between. There are pointless character thrown in to even things out which one had to be, of course, the "cool Japanese guy" cliche. I really hate this style of character: tough for no reason, always calm and collect when borderline dying, hands in his pockets, supposed to be a pretty boy...ugh it goes on! It didn't even make any sense because if this guy, named Mephisto, is so powerful, why isn't he trying to save the world? And how the fuck is he so powerful?! Most everything else is just decent or slightly above average. Overall, this film does it's job as a mildly entertaining, but could have been a classic with more intense action. It's also of note that many of these '80s animes took a lot of risks back then, but this one played it too safe which is probably the main reason it feels so inferior when put next to its peers like "Akira" or even an over the top comedy/action like "Project A-ko." It's worth a view and has a satisfying ending to make it all feel worth it.

Notable Moment: Toward the end when Kyoya finds his father's nempo sword and their powers combine to defeat Rebi Ra.

Final Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Innkeepers Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Two dorks work the final days before permanently closing an allegedly haunted inn.

Review: This film may very well be the epitome of wasted potential. The atmosphere, setting, and tone wants it to be a genuine horror movie, however, the script seemed to forget to add any scares! A big chunk of this film is just talking between the two main characters, Claire and Luke; I'd almost be fine with that, but they have nothing interesting to say. The leads believe the inn is haunted and spend each night trying to find something paranormal. Each time a scene came along that seemed to be setting up the possibility of something frightening, it was either a lame jump-scare or nothing at all. For some reason, the movie is padded with pointless background characters that break up the attempts at scary moments. I kept thinking surely these characters would serve some later purpose like some psychic conveniently staying there (I mean come on!), but nope. We finally come to learn that Luke made up all the stories about the inn being haunted as a way to flirt with Claire (there is zero shock to this) only for another contrivance to occur in which some guy dies that night. Some how, along the way, Claire has convinced herself so much the inn is haunted that she ends up seeing a ghost and dying of fright...or does she? The movie never really explains much and considering how lame it is, we should have had some damn answers! The only reason I even rated this film as average was because of one truly frightening moment that made you think this movie would be awesome, but alas it never maintained even a tenth of that intensity. In fact, if you took that scene away, I would say this film drops to the 4/10 realm because it really is THAT boring. Save yourself the trouble as this is beyond an easy pass, and you can get what few scary scenes there were from the trailer. I can't believe they went this route with the film, but it definitely sucked.

Notable Moment: The only scary part which is when Claire wakes up with the ghost in her bed.

Final Rating: 5/10

Wicked City Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Two special agents are sent to protect a diplomat that is renewing a peace treaty between our world and a supernatural realm.

Review: I suppose this film is supposed to be an erotic, fantasy, thriller anime of some sort, but it never really decides what it wants to be as the primary genre. There is never too much sex or nudity (although it is often implied) which made it feel like one of those cheap made for HBO movies in the '80s and early '90s. The fantasy elements are never explored properly as we never get an understanding of what this "dark world" is actually like or why each being from it has all these powers. Also, how do they take human form since they say that's not how they really look? The action is also severly lacking as the main guy, Taki, is constantly being overpowered and surprisingly it is the girl, Makie (from the other realm), constantly saving his bitch ass. Each fight feels repeditive too: bad guys pop up, transforms into weird monsters, kicks Taki's ass, then Makie saves the day. The diplomat they are protecting makes no sense as he's human but has a lot of powers and is immortal or something; he's also super annoying and won't shut up! Apparently the twist to the film is that the bad guys don't care about the treaty, they just don't want Taki and Makie to get together because they can create offspring that are hybrids of both humans and the beings from the other world. At the end, the two leads fall in love and Makie is already pregnant...this is all in one night! While it has a lot of dumb moments and the genre is all over the place, it is a mostly entertaining foray into anime of the '80s. This film could have benefitted so much more from a better lead who isn't constantly being trounced or they should have made Makie the lead or maybe not present Taki as if he's super tough. Give it a view if your into this kind of anime, but I would definitely not recommend it to anyone other than that.

Notable Moment: Toward the end when Makie is fully powered from being pregnant and just obliterates the last bad guy.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Thing (2011) Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of various international scientists gather at a Norwegian research base in Antarctica to investigate an alien craft and body found in the ice.

Review: This is actually a prequel to the 1982 "The Thing" in which we see the events that occurred at the Norwegian base visited in the original. I really don't understand why they decided to keep the exact same title as I'm sure it left many people believing this was a remake. Once again, we have a mixed bag of things (yes, things...funny!) that are good and some pretty stupid moments. Unfortunately, while trying so hard to pay attention to detail, so as not to mess with the original (which I respect), they created many plot holes! For example, we see in the '82 version that the Norwegians blew the alien ship out of the ice, but here it gets out of the ice by the "thing" starting it up. There are a few others, but this one is the most glaring of mistakes. Another problem is the "personality," if you will, of the "thing;" in the first one we see that it plays safe and stealthy creating that glorious atmosphere while in this film it is rampaging around the base going batshit crazy! The last thing that bothered me was the ease and speed that it could absorb someone; it literally only needed to touch someone, and it is absorbing them. The original established that it had to try and "eat" someone so to speak or at least get a part of itself within an organism...not just touch. I mean if it were that easy, why not just start a friendly game of tag before anyone knows what's up?! On the other hand, it is still an entertaining flick with some decent surprises and edge-of-your-seat moments. Although it pains me to see CGI effects rather than practical, this was apparently a coverup of real effects that the studio felt weren't real-looking enough; shows what they know. The ending is lame too (the scenes during the credit were a nice touch though), but the action was fun and added some more speculation as to how the "thing" ended up in the ice. It's worth a view, but watch the original instead and you will be much more pleased.

Notable Moment: When the Edvard character "falls to pieces" and the next you know you have "thing" pieces coming at you from everywhere.

Final Rating: 6/10

The Thing (1982) Review



Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: At a research base in Antarctica, a group of men encounter a shape-shifting alien that can assume anyone's form.

Review: This film is based on the famous story "Who Goes There" by John W Campbell and is essentially a remake of the original "The Thing From Another World" in which both took liberties with the orginal story. Although this movie was a financial and critical disappointment at its premier, it has garnered respect and love over the years and rightfully so. This film is beyond excellent and probably one of, if not the, best sci-fi horror movie out there. A lot of people criticized this as a gross-out film, but it has some of the best practical effects I've ever seen used for the many monster transformations (which there are many). It's truly depressing seeing how incredible the effects were back then and now seeing shitty CGI all over the place ruining what could have been a perfectly good shot. The "thing" itself is awesome, and its appearances are always surprising and inspire a sense of dread. It's fun to re-watch the film and try and pinpoint the moments when a character is converted into the "thing." You will be guessing the whole film long, and even at the end we are still not entirely sure who could still be a "thing." This mystery aspect enhances the overall atmosphere of the film making it feel amazing; you really feel the paranoia and confusion of the characters as they try to figure who is the "thing" and who's human. Definitely the two strongest points for this film are the special effects and atmosphere because they are done so superbly. The acting is great especially from Kurt Russell, as MacReady, and Keith David as Childs, but the large cast does not disappoint. Even the somber music score fits the overall tone of the film perfectly and enhances the paranoid vibe. John Carpenter, who directed, pays respect to the 50s version while giving a truly improved remake in every aspect. Other than some shoddy effects toward the end, there is not much negative to say except that this is one of the best sci-fi movies there are! Any fan of this genre should have watched this one, and any horror fan should also give this a view. This could easily be one of the most underrated films out there; let it continue to gain cult status because it deserves to be recognized.

Notable Moment: When MacReady is testing the blood samples and one of them "springs" to life.

Final Rating: 9.5/10