Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Crimson Peak 2015 6 out of 10

Crimson Peak 2015  6 out of 10

My interest in watching Crimson Peak was because Guillermo del Toro has for years been wanting to do a new Haunted Mansion movie for Disney.  He has confirmed as recently as April of 2016 that he is still writing a Haunted Mansion movie.   
You can read about that below at Inside the Magic.

In the meantime he has been busy making non-Disney horror movies giving us a glimpse of what might be seeing if he ever makes that Disney film. 
I the past couple of years he wrote Don't be Afraid of the Dark and wrote and directed Crimson Peak.   

Crimson Peak is a throwback to Horror movies from the past by Hammer Studios or old Vincent Price films, instead of the gross out slasher type flicks that have been popular in recent decades it is a Gothic love/ghost story. 

The Look of the Film     A+
The art direction in Crimson Peak is incredible.  Guillermo del Toro has mastered the look of a big screen haunted house.  Part of the story includes the mining of red clay and this plot point gives the director an amazing color palate to play with.  The red clay in the snow looks like blood and adds to the ominous tone of the film. Visually the film is stunning.  In this way Guillermo's films are much like those of Tim Burton.   Even if you don't like a Tim Burton movie they  tend to look amazing.  The same is true for Guillermo del Toro's films.  He has a unique look and style to his films and Crimson Peak is no different. 

The Cast    B
Crimson Peak has a great cast including Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), Tom Hiddleston (Loki from the Avengers), and Jessica Chastain (Mad Men).  I think they all did a decent job with the material they were given

The Story    D
The problem I have with Crimson Peak is the story. 
As I mentioned  before it was a throwback to older films -- but so much so that it was extremely predictable.  It didn't feel original. 
It was the old marry some rich person for their money and then have them killed off storyline that I have seen way too many times before.   I was hoping for and expecting some twist -- but that twist never really happened.   The movies setting was so perfect for a Haunted House story --but the ghosts were merely just there to warn the main character played by Mia Wasikowska about the dangers of the place and the ghosts themselves were strange bloody skeletons.   If Guillermo del Toro does ever make a Haunted Mansion film for Disney ----I'm convinced that it will look absolutely amazing......but I worry about his script writing skills.

Here are my thoughts on his story Don't Be Afraid of the Dark

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Problem with Ice Sharks 2016 4 out of 10

Ice Sharks  2016  4 out of 10

The shark movie genre has become outrageous and over the top. 
The genre is ruled by Sharknados , Ghost Sharks, Sharktopuses and Robot Sharks.  I recently watched the silliness that was Snow Sharks and figured Ice Sharks would be more of the same.  

The problem with Ice Sharks is that it tried to take itself too seriously.    You can’t have a movie that starts with Sharks carving through the ice with their fins like a cartoon in order to send a research station adrift and expect people to then take it seriously.   The didn’t take the tone that the silliness of the Ice Sharks called for.  Instead we get a low budget serious story about survival that just wasn’t exciting enough.   Instead of silly Ice Shark carnage we get scenes of the characters trying to figure out how to get rescued after their facility sinks to the bottom of the ocean and they are running out of air.   The acting isn’t good enough for this to be a serious survival movie.  If you are going to make a movie called Ice Sharks –you need to embrace the type of movie you are making and go for the laughs. 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trailer Talk: Step in up Dreamworks—These 2 animated movies look terrible

For some people they are just annoying….but I actually look forward to movie trailers in the theaters.

I don’t pay attention to critic reviews in determining whether to see a movie.  The trailer is what either gets me to see a movie or not.   I love sitting next to a friend as the trailer plays and as it ends you look to them to see what they think.  Is it a must see----or a NOT SO MUCH.    Well lately I’ve seen a lot of NOT SO MUCH Trailers.  

Dreamworks Animation is very hit and miss and as far as I’m concerned.  They just served up 2 movie trailers that I have absolutely zero interest in seeing.

First up  SING…….  

It should be called WHY?     I can’t think of any reason why anyone would go to the movie theaters to watch American Idol with animals.     Disney released Zootopia earlier this year which was an amazing movie that created a cool and interesting world and had great message.   And Dreamworks answers with this turkey.   You couldn’t get me to see SING if you gave me free movie tickets.

And then Dreamworks is offering up TROLLS..   A movie based on those ugly toys with the crazy hair. 

Has anyone ever said out loud “ I wish they would make a movie about those TROLL dolls”   I think not.  The trailer looks boring…..Hey Dreamworks –who is greenlighting this crap?  

With very few exceptions you can count of Disney and Pixar movies being at a certain level of excellence.  Pixar in particular has succeeded in great high concept movie making.  Dreamworks too often goes for a quick laugh with fart joke humor and with these 2 films it looks like they have run out of ideas.

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Suicide Squad : A Mixed Bag. 2016 7 out of 10

Suicide Squad 2016  7 out of 10

I'll start this review by saying that I'm not a DC comic book fan -
so I've never read Suicide Squad and I'm not really familiar with main characters so I have no preconcieved notions.  I personally hated Batman Vs Superman and thought it was one of the worst big budget movies of the year so far.  I wasn't dying to see Suicide Squad --but rather just went because some friends were going to see it...and I thought why not.   That being said I thought Suicide Squad was a mixed bag of both good and bad. It wasn't a great film --but was still fun at the same time. 

The Plot
The plot wasn't that impressive.  The movie starts off by spending time trying to introduce you to some of he villains.  It feels like a Batman's best arrests scene.  Almost like the first part of the movie was an advertisement for the movie instead of the movie itself (as one of my friends pointed out).   After the lengthy intros the best way to describe Suicide Squad is that it is Escape From New York meets Ghostbusters.   The entire storyline is Escape From New York.   The only difference is that instead of one criminal implanted with a kill device sent into a dangerous character to save someone important -they send in a team.   The team battles through the war zone and make the rescue only to bump into Gozer from the original Ghostbusters at the end of the film twerking in a scantily clad outfit. I was expecting the MarshMellow Man to show up at any moment.  If he had Diablo could have taken him out in spectacular fashion.

The Characters
The best thing about Suicide Squad is Harley Quinn played by Margot Robbie.  Every second that Harley Qunn is on the screen she owns the movie.  You can't take your eyes off of her.   Her character is visually stunning.  Harley Quinn is  super sexy and crazy as a loon.  Margot Robbie absolutely knocked it out of the park with her baseball hat and bubble gum chewing awesomeness.   Will Smith as Deadshot shows that he still has it.  Will Smith brings the swagger that he once had in films like Independence Day and Men in Black.  He was the villain that you could relate with the most.  His connection with his daughter was the key that made him seem more like a hero than a villain.   Like I mentioned I don't really know the characters so I don't know if this is accurate to the comic book character.   The rest of the crew is mainly unimpressive.  Boomerang and Killer Croc are just lame.   The character Diablo's storyline was laughable at times --in places you probably weren't supposed to laugh.  I was most disappointed with Jared Leto as the Joker.  First of all the character had a minor role in the film.  This is the one character I'm the most familiar with from the Batman Tv show, Movies and Cartoons.  Jared Leto's Joker felt bland.  He just seemed like a punk rock looking gangster and didn't have the screen presence of Jack or Heath.   I wasn't impressed with the Joker as a character at all in this film.  In fact I'd rather see 1960's TV Show Joker over this protrayal.

Other thoughts:  I know it is an interesting concept to gather a bunch of villains together as an Expendables type crew to get some dangerous job done, but the stakes were too high.  When what is at risk is the end of the world --- you may want to call Batman or some of the Justice League characters to get involved.  Is the Bat Signal broken?   If it is this big connected DC universe --the big guns would be called in when the Gozer and the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man are threatening the entire planet.  You can't have Batman and the Flash capturing these villains at the start of the film and then being no where to be found when the planet is at risk at the climax of the film.  If you are going to sideline those major characters -you need to at least explain it or give the Suicide Squad a less world ending mission.

Final Thoughts
I'd say see it for Harley Quinn alone....It is fun as a summer popcorn flick if you don't put too much thought into it.

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Divergent 2014 7 out of 10

Divergent 2014  7 out of 10

With the success of  The Hunger Games a bunch of book series with the potential of being successful cropped up.   The Divergent book series has a similar Dystopian future with a female protagonist so the Hollywood suits were hoping to cash in on the success of The Hunger Games.  Divergent was the first of this franchise which will apparently not get a concluding movie due to declining box office for each of its sequels. 

The Plot:
A future society in a post apocalyptic world has been split into different factions.  At a certain age teens are giving a test to see which faction they will live in as a part of that society. They can however choose not to follow the test and try and be apart of a different group.  Shailene Woodley's character takes the test and her results come up strange.  Apparently she doesn't fit into an particular group which would mark her as dangerous to the society.  She grew up in the factor that helps to governor the society, but chooses to be a part of the warrior class.  The main plot of the movie is her going through brutal training to be in this group and hiding the fact that she is a Divergent.  

The Cast:
The cast is solid  Shailene Woodley plays Tris Prior the main character of the film.  Theo James plays one of her instructors that figures out that she is special and helps her hide the fact while trying to uncover a dangerous coup that threatens the society, 

I actually liked this movie better than The Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games thread on familiar ground of other Sci-Fi movies  like The Running Man and Battle Royale which were better films.
Divergent was similar in many aspects to The Hunger Games , but I enjoyed the characters and the situations more.  I especially liked how she used her Divergent skills to defeat some of the simulated tests that they put the trainees through.   Another smart thing that the movie did was to have a conclusion that in case it didn't do well at the box office it could stand alone. The movie does leave questions open that make you interested in future films --but unlike some stories based on book series it has its own beginning and ending.

The first Hunger Games was okay --but I was done with that series after the lackluster and boring 2nd film.  Hopefully this series will continue to entertain me despite the fact that it may conclude as a TV Movie.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Europa Report 2013 7 out of 10

Europa Report  2013  7 out of 10

Europa Report focuses on a manned mission to the Moon Europa which orbits Jupiter in search of life.  I personally enjoyed the style of the film.  It was presented as a report pieced together from footage downloaded from the crews mission.  A found footage film to a certain extent. This style made the film more interesting than it would have been otherwise. At times we see a screen that shows 4 sections of the craft at the same time.  The story itself isn’t anything super exciting, but the sound and visuals give the real a realistic feel to it.  The cast was solid. The crew discovers some mysterious glowing life form under the ice of Europa. They try to complete their mission, but encounter the typical spaceship movie problems like ship malfunctions that characters have to make sacrifices in order to fix.  This is a low budget film so we never get a good look at the mysterious creature.   The film itself wasn’t as thrilling as I hoped it would be...but I do give the film some credit for their unique approach to filming it.

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Snow Sharks (AKA Avalanche Sharks) 2014 4 out of 10

Snow Sharks (AKA Avalanche Sharks)

2014  4 out of 10

This bad shark movie was so bad that even the Syfy Channel wouldn't show it.  Snow Sharks has a great poster and looks funny according to the trailer, but it is just bad.  Sure you could say that it is the best movie made about Snow Sharks---but unfortunately it is also the worst. The Best thing about this movie is the poster. The second best thing about this movie is that it was filmed in Mammoth Lakes CA.  I recognized so many parts of the mountain while watching this worthless silly Snow Shark 

The Plot:It is spring break and the resort is full of people ready to party.  The only problem is a couple of skiers that are out of bounds have disturbed an ancient Indian legend.  Snow Sharks begin to swim through the snow attacking the skiers. Of course the sheriff wants to close the resort down--but the infamous Jaws Scenario is evoked by the Mayor and resort owner that don't believe in the Snow Sharks.  Of course the carnage continues as a bunch of bad CGI shark fins make their way through the snow gobbling about skiers and bikini clad girls in a ski resort hot tub.    The main characters eventually survive as a random skier fixes the Totems that unleash the sharks.  The plot is very thin and weak, the acting is pretty bad and the movie is only mildly entertaining.

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Identicals (AKA Brand New U) 2015 3 out of 10

Identicals 2015  3 out of 10

Identicals was probably the most disappointing of the recent Sci-Fi movies I’ve seen.  I was hoping for a cool sci-fi movie after watching the trailer,  instead Identicals was basically a dull love story set in a confusing sci-fi backdrop.

The story features a company called Brand New-U which helps people find people’s closest matches that are living better lives and upgrading them into those lives. The main character’s girlfriend is abducted by Brand New U.   He is left a phone message to come to the company to be an Identical himself as he searches for her.  
The story just wasn’t that clear.  The main character basically kept searching for the version of his girlfriend that he lost.  You would almost need a director’s commentary to really know what is happening –but the film was so dull that I wouldn’t bother.  It just wasn’t the movie I thought it was going to be from the trailers.  It felt like one boring artsy love stories you would expect to find at a film festival.

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

VICE 2015 5 out of 10

VICE 2015  5 out of 10

VICE is a poor man’s Westworld.  I was searching Netflix for some Sci-Fi movies that I may have overlooked and came across VICE starring Bruce Willis and the trailer looked interesting so I put it to the top of my Netflix queue.  It looked like a more extreme version of a Westworld type story where people pay to visit the VICE resort (owned by Bruce Willis’s character) to basically live out Fantasy Island style dreams of Murder and Sex with no consequences.   The Artificials that live in this resort basically live the same day over and over again.  They get killed by the guests and are just reprogrammed to the previous morning with no memory of what happened.  Then one Artificial (played by Ambyr Childers)  glitches and recalls being murdered the day before.   She escapes the resort into the real world and is chased down by the goons from the Resort.    Thomas Jane  (from The Expanse)  plays a cop looking to bring down the resort that is also chasing down the Artificial.    The movie sounds better than it is.  I’ve seen much better movies dealing with Humanoid Robots coming to terms with the fact they aren’t human.  Blade Runner of course comes to mind as does Ex Machina or the BattleStar Gallactica reboot.  Even Josh Whedon’s the Dollhouse basically treaded on this material (even though it was with programmed humans).   These movie teases interesting stuff –but basically gives you a standard characters running away from bullets from the people that are trying to hunt them down storyline.  It doesn’t get into any of the really interesting stuff I was hoping to see.   The Artifical comes to terms with being a robot almost immediately.  A waster of the most interesting element in the story.  Bruce Willis was basically wasted in the role of the owner of VICE.  Anyone could have been in that role and it wouldn’t have changed the movie.     Basically it was a disappointment…. I hope the Westworld  Mini-Series does a much better job than this cheap rip-off did.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dam Sharks 2016 5 out of 10

Dam Sharks!   2016  5 out of 10

Dam Sharks is just one of a slew of bad shark movies that premiered on Syfy this past weekend as a part of their Sharknado block of movies.    The fact that the sharks are in a river is briefly explained at the start of the movie.  A storm is shown washing over a model that looks like a 6th grade tidal display.   The fact that the sharks are building a dam out of human body parts isn’t explained what so ever.  The only reason for this behavior is that it gave the producers the excuse to call the movie Dam Sharks.

The plot:

A company retreat is going on along a river.  The CEO is trying to cheer up some employees to distract from the fact that he is about to fire over 70 employees.   The river is full of sharks so this company retreat is going to be a bloodbath.   We get scenes of people zip lining into sharks and getting attacked during team building raft race.  The movie is thin on plot and has the standard CGI Shark footage.  The logic of the characters in the film is as stupid as you would expect. They are so dumb that they all deserve to die.

Dumb Movie Characters moment of the film

After several characters have made it safely to shore after sharks attacked their raft  they decide to walk down a trail to get to the ranger station.    Of course they reach a point where the ranger station is on the other side of the river.  So it is decision time.  They can stay on the land on the road they are walking on or try and cross the log that goes across the Shark filled river.    Of course they choose to walk across the log.  Crossing a log over a river filled with sharks is the logical decision.   I won’t tell you what happens –but it doesn’t take the Scooby Doo Gang to figure out how this mystery turns out.  

In summary:   
It isn’t a good  bad shark movie. 
 It fails to be a SO BAD It IS GOOD shark movie….  But If you like me you need to see every single cheesy shark movie that comes out....then you may enjoy it.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Sharknado 4 2016 7 out of 10

Sharknado 4: The 4th Awakens 2016 7 out of 10

Throw out the all logic and any sense of a coherent story and you get Sharknado 4.   It feels like the writers and director sat around a campfire telling "Can you top this"  scenes and then pulled them out of a hat and pinned them to a chalkboard.   The story is an absolute mess—just like Las Vegas after the Sharknado hit.          But somehow it doesn’t matter.   If you are tuning in to watch Sharknado 4 you should be well aware that you are not getting a quality plot.   You are tuning in to see ridiculousness.  You are tuning in to see Gilbert Godfried as a storm chaser yelling at the camera about a Cownado.  The Franchise is a parody of itself at this point.  It contains references to other films while throwing in random cameos of C list actors.

The Plot  (LOL)  (Or thin attempt at one)
Finn Shepard played by Ian Ziering is basically the Angela Landsbury of Sharknados.   Everywhere he goes a Sharknado shows up.  It is almost like they are following him (like the Shark in Jaws 4).     The movie starts 5 years after the previous film with Finn attending the opening of a Shark themed Hotel that was built by some Tech company that has figured out how to keep the Sharknados from happening.    Of course what would a Sharknado movie be without a Sharknado???   A Tornado/Dust Devil starts up exactly when Finn’s older son is jumping out of an airplane with a girl he just married.  What follows is one of the most ridiculous scenes in movie history.   

In Sharknado there is no logic or sense of reality at all and again it doesn't seem to matter.  Sharknado is a lesson in absurdity.   The concept of this movie series defies the rules of film making.   The first movie was one of the best SO BAD IT IS GOOD movies –that just happen sometimes.   Somehow it has turned into a franchise that the Syfy Channel programs an entire weekend of Bad Shark movie programming around.   When you tune into Sharknado weekend ---not only do you get Sharknado 1 -4 –you also get a batch of new absurd Shark films.    Atomic Shark.  Dam Sharks, Ice Sharks and several more.   (Stay Tuned I’ll be blogging about those soon as well).   
So my suggestion is watch Sharnado 4 if you enjoyed the first 3.  
If you didn’t enjoy the others ---you aren’t going to magically start liking them now.   It is a completely silly, over the top, nonsensical carnival ride....Total Cheese.....yet still enjoyable.

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