Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Kid Movies

As a parent I have the pleasure of watching a lot of movies aimed at kids. Sometimes it’s the same movie repeatedly. I don’t mind, most of the time, and I understand. There are movies that to this day I can repeat verbatim because I watched them so much as a kid. The problem I’m finding is that my wife and I like to discuss the movies.  We try to rationalize the world they are set in and fill in the holes. It can be fun. There is one movie though that annoys the hell out of me.

Bolt.

For those who don’t know, it’s a movie about a dog who doesn’t know it’s an actor. It thinks that it really is a superpowered dog who has to protect his person. Things go wacky when Bolt escapes to find his person.

Sounds fun right?

Considering the people who made it know how movies work, it isn’t. Ignoring the multiple animal cruelty laws they would break every time the camera rolls and the fact that Bolt somehow survives being locked in a box filled with packing peanuts & shipped from Hollywood to NYC, it is completely it still has plenty of problems. The movie opens with an action scene that spans a city. It’s quickly revealed that it was a set and all the cars were props. Everything about it was setup, even the backdrop is fake. The punchline of the joke is that the shot is ruined by a boom-mic poking into the scene.

My daughter has rediscovered her love of this movie & it’s back in rotation. I’m tempted to steal a page from my parents book & just have it disappear.

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The Last Witch Hunter – Movie Review

The Last Witch Hunter, in theaters now, is the latest Vin Diesel flick. If you haven’t seen the trailers, it’s an action fantasy set in modern New York City. Kaulder is an 800 year old Witch Hunter who has been cursed with immortality.

I will do my best to keep spoilers to a minimum.

The movie starts out in with OG Kaulder and some of his fellow Vikings hunting down The Witch Queen. The opening sequence rang true to 13th Warrior, which I enjoy, and had some really cool parts in it. Kaulder gets cursed with immortality and it cuts to modern day.

There are so many parts of this movie that could have gone wrong. They could have made Kaulder too serious and pout over everything. They could have made him tech-phobic, or just someone who slaughters witches without a thought. They didn’t and I was so incredibly happy.

Vin Diesel plays Kaulder cool. He’s lived for years, he’s seen the world change, and he’s changed with it. He mourns those he’s lost, but that doesn’t define his character. So many times a character that’s long lived is put in scenes where they just mope around.

This is a fun movie. I’d suggest seeing it in the theater. It’s kind of like Constantine, but I liked this movie better. The Witch Bar was really cool. I’d like to see a sequel, or two, to expand the world they touched on.

There could have been a few little things that pushed the movie from a fun movie to a truly great one. The witch world could have been explored more. Elijah Wood and Michael Caine could have done with a bit more screen time, their stories were kind of rushed. Rose Leslie really shines -speaking of, she’d make a great Rachel Morgan if they ever do a Dead Witch Walking movie. Honestly, this movie could have done with another twenty minutes on run-time.

Verdict: See it. I look forward to owning it.

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Dark Was The Night – Movie Review

Dark Was The Night – Released 2014
Starring: Kevin Durand and Lukas Haas

An evil is unleashed in a small town when a logging company sets up shop in the neighboring woods.

Review:

This is an atmospheric movie with a slow burn. The run time clocks in around an hour and a half. Kevin Durand plays a small town sheriff whose family has suffered the lose of a child. His wife has moved out to deal with the stress. If you’re looking for a quick monster flick with cheap jump scares and nudity then don’t pick this up. There are a lot of scenes with quiet reflection. Luckily, the actors carry those scenes quite well.

While the characters build around the small town there are signs stacking up that don’t look good. The opening scene shows something attacking loggers. Then a horse goes missing. Footprints show up all over town. A little later we find out that the pets in the area are gone. After that there’s a mass migration of birds headed in the wrong direction.

There are a few parts of clunky exposition. How the story of the lose plays out is delivered at an odd time and honestly cutting it out wouldn’t have hurt the story. Sure, it would have left questions, but the audience can fill in the holes on their own. Something happened, the child is gone, and it’s eating away at their marriage. The diner scene later on fits better than the forced conversation. Kevin Durand is a big guy. Seeing him hunched over in a booth was inadvertently funny. Not enough to kill the mood, it might have just been me.

The tension throughout the film is spot on. These are people you know, not just faceless fodder to fill up a body count. There are a couple of jump scares, but I wouldn’t call them cheap. A few scenes ring close to a few other movies. Some interior scenes have an almost Jurassic Park feel to them. The forest scenes almost have a Predator feel. Only instead of a highly trained team of Special Forces, it’s some hunters.

I really like this movie. The characters in it feel like real people. Instead of the usual horror movie where they split up and decide to get drunk instead of call for help, they think about things. They try to rationalize it. They try to figure out what’s going on and when the information starts pointing to something they don’t understand, they are understandably freaked out. For f***s sake, one of the hunters has a deer cam! It’s almost like the screenwriter took actual people into account. I looked up the writer: Tyler Hisel. He’s done three movies, one is a short film, and the other is a found footage set in Africa.

My only real critique about the movie is that all the daytime scenes are washed in blue. I get that it helps subtly translate the sheriffs outlook, but the scenes at night don’t have the same treatment which makes it a little inconsistent.

Final Verdict:
Watch It. There are plenty of worse movies that waste an hour and a half.

Link to the trailer:

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Strange Magic LucasArts – Movie Review

IMDB: Stange Magic

Strange_Magic_poster

Img Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9b/Strange_Magic_poster.jpg

First things first, the animation is beautiful. Everything is smooth, the world looks like it belongs, and I don’t think I’ve seen an animated movie this well done. The voice acting is nicely done and the singing isn’t half-bad.

That being said, what is wrong with this movie?
“Let’s a make a musical, but instead of writing new songs, let’s just get licensed stuff and get it to fit into the plot.”

This looks like Epic, remember that movie? No, I’ve seen it and I barely do. This looks a lot like Epic, fairies, pixies, and a ‘dark forest’. The good thing being that it doesn’t have that horrible snail & slug comic relief. I feel like someone should strip the audio & edit this to be something else. It’s great to watch, the visuals are stunning, but it is a mess.

Three different screenplay writers with the story coming from George Lucas. It says he supervised the choice of the songs. From the other movies that the three other writers have worked on it looks like a mish-mash that wouldn’t make for a kids movie. Lion King (1, 2, 1 1/2) Brave, Saving Private Ryan, and a few others that just don’t add up.

It’s not horrible. Compared to Epic, it actually has a story that makes sense and the voice acting is levels above. This feels like those B-Movie rip-offs of Blockbusters, but this was done from a mediocre movie and with a bigger budget. The movie really isn’t that bad, but it didn’t need the music, or half as much ‘comedic relief’, it’s just trying too hard.

The main problem being that pacing it off, and the middle of the movie drags. I don’t see the target audience. There’s not enough happening to keep kids invested, but there’s not enough depth to keep older viewers engaged. Watching this just makes me want to get some editing software and cut about ten minutes from the run time.

EDIT:
Put it on for my kids. They love it.

EDIT the 2nd:
Kids have now watched this movie at least 4 times today. It’s actually pretty good after the second time through.

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My Guilty Pleasure Movies

Here is a little list I thought I would compile. It’s a set of movies that I’ve enjoyed that don’t get a lot of love.

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1. Battle: Los Angeles
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217613/
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman (who is directing the new Ninja Turtle Movie) and filled with a strong cast. The story follows a squad of USMC soldiers as they face an alien invasion. Aaron Eckhart plays a great haunted soldier and the supporting cast is well done. These guys aren’t some super-soldier GI Joe crap, they’re just soldiers, and it works. It’s like Black Hawk Down meets War of the Worlds. Are there some hokey parts? Yeah, the civilians they meet up with are a little tacked on, but I enjoyed the film.

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2. Ghosts of Mars
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0228333/?ref_=nv_sr_2
This one is truly a guilty pleasure for me, I know it’s bad, but I can’t help watching it if I can. It’s a B-Movie and I love it, but I can’t go into watching it thinking it’s good. Does that make sense? It’s like if I go in remembering that I enjoy the film then it’s a disappointment, but if I go in with the idea that it’s a hokey 70s action movie in space, then I’m okay with it. Plus Jason Statham as a horn-dog is pretty funny.

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3. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0446029/
How is this movie not loved by all? Great soundtrack, awesome fight scenes, and it’s funny. I watch this movie once a month or more. Chris Evans and Brandon Routh steal the scenes they’re in, but Michael Cera plays a good lost soul.

behindthemask

4. Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0437857/
This is how ‘found footage’ movie should be. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil the plot, but it mixes mocumentary style with traditional filming. Watch it, love it. If you liked Cabin in the Woods, you’ll like this one.

 

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Afternoon Triple Play Review

I’m a little sluggish on the creative writing side today so here are a few movies I’ve watched recently.

Jonah Hex- 2010

From IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1075747/
The U.S. military makes a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head an offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth.

Review:
I have a soft spot for Westerns. That being said, this movie sucked. It was clunky, it lacked direction, and it felt like everyone just showed up for the check. It could have been good. The only good part of the movie is Josh Brolin. It appears that no one told him that that it was a phone-in.
John Malkovich is my Nic Cage. I love him as the crazy dude in Red, but in this he’s just kind of there. It’s the same deal with Megan Fox. I feel like with the right director she could knock it out, but this just wasn’t it.

Verdict: Save your $1.20 for another Redbox.

The Lone Ranger – 2013
From IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1210819/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_5
Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Review:
I went in expecting Captain Jack playing Tonto, but I was pleasantly wrong. Armie Hammer proves he’s got some chops to him and the entire cast was really good. It felt like Johnny Depp was kind of just the nugget to draw in crowds. Tonto is a big part of the movie, and he does have some good parts, but once The Lone Ranger gets his mask it’s Armie Hammer who’s driving the movie. That isn’t a bad thing. The action is madcap slapstick, but I can see why audiences were a little put off. It runs a bit long, and the first third is the origin story.

Verdict: If you want a Johnny Depp movie then get one of the Pirates movies. It’s worth the $1.20 if you’re looking for something a bit different.

R.I.P.D. – 2013
From IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790736/?ref_=nv_sr_1
A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.

Review:
Oh, Ryan Reynolds, when will your bad luck streak end? Was this movie good? No, not really. Was it fun? Yes. Have I watched it more than once? Yes, about three.
Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges, and Ryan Reynolds are the three main players in the plot and they all do a good job. The FX are a little lacking in a couple spots, but It was a fun movie. It was said to be MIB with the undead. That’s about half-way accurate, there is a lot unsaid about the world around the story, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel or TV show to flesh it out.

Verdict: Good to slay a bucket of popcorn. Redbox it.

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White House Down – Movie Review

I watched the link below and decided to check out White House Down.

http://www.cracked.com/video_18650_4-things-die-hard-movies-need-more-than-bruce-willis.html

IMDB Review:
While on a tour of the White House with his young daughter, a Capitol policeman springs into action to save his child and protect the president from a heavily armed group of paramilitary invaders.

Starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx this is the spiritual sequel to the Die Hard franchise. If you want a good action movie watch it. There is a healthy dose of ‘Merica in the plot as well. I swear this movie could have easily come out during the golden era of Stallone and Schwarzenegger. It was a big fun mess. After watching Pacific Rim the plot holes and logical fallacies in the movie are nonexistent. It’s a big, dumb, fun ride with lots of explosions, gunfights, and some jokes too.

Verdict: Redbox it with a bucket of popcorn. Buy it if the Die Hard franchise is a fond memory.

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