Sunday, December 27, 2015

Cowboys vs Dinosaurs (AKA Jurassic Hunters) 2015 5 out of 10

Cowboys vs Dinosaurs 2015 5 out of 10

The Plot:  An explosion at a mine releases some Dinosaurs that have been apparently living underground.  The people of the small town must fight to survive.    Well that pretty much sums it up.  Throw in an unimportant sub-story about a bull rider that was tossed by a bull which lead to him leaving town years ago returning and you have Cowboys vs Dinosaurs.   I guess the stupid back story was there just to foreshadow the cheesy scene at the end where he has to ride a Triceratops in a battle against a T -Rex (I guess those rodeo skills came in handy).   Of course the movie featured the greedy businessman that owned owns the mind trying to hide the fact that Dinosaurs are killing people... After all he needs the mine up and running again.

The Acting:   The acting was pretty much what you would expect from a cheesy film like this.  Eric Roberts is in this film just so that it can have a name you have heard of.  All his character does is throw up and act drunk in a jail cell.  The main Cowboy that came back to town was totally dull.  His ex girlfriend and her friend are just on screen to look cute in cut off jeans while firing machine guns at  CGI raptors.     Of course the movie has the typical girls in bikinis getting attacked by the creatures (even though this movie takes place in the mountains and the lake must be freezing).

The Effects:   The raptors looked like something out of a video game.  Most of the kill scenes with the raptors were just covered in nacho cheese.There were a few decent shots of a T-Rex running though the town.  Watch the trailer and you will know exactly what to expect.

In the final analysis:  You pretty much know what you are getting into with this film the second you see poster or the trailer.  If you enjoy low budget cheesy horror--it could be up your alley.  I was looking for so bad it is good and it unfortunately just dull....and I felt like I've seen the same exact movie half a dozen times before with different creatures.   It was decent cheesiness.

The trailer makes this movie look a lot more exciting than it actually was.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road 2015 8 out of 10 (A really mixed bag)

Mad Max: Road Fury  2015  8 out of 10

After watching Mad Max Fury Road  I had really mixed feeling about the film.   I wrote up my thoughts in the following quick little review and then looked up several reviews on IMDB and saw that the film was literally getting ripped to shreds on that site...... Which seemed weird because I heard that on Rotten Tomatoes that it was certified 97% Fresh (an insanely high rating).   I really liked the movie --but I think my original thoughts about it sum up exactly how it could get such a good rating and such terrible reviews on another site.

The Plot was a 4 out of 10 at best.

It lacks anything resembling a story in the traditional sense. 
The story is boils down to  women escaping  from a crazy ruler with his five prized breeders.  The ruler chasing them across the desert as they search for a McGuffin or safe area.  The chase goes on for about 3/4 of the movie and then they find out the Mcguffin no longer exists and turn around and are chased back again.   At times the movie is downright silly.   The chase vehicles look like something out of a deranged heavy metal Dr. Seuss cartoon.  Specifically the truck with the drums.

One of the chase vehicles has a guy on the front of a truck playing an electric guitar in front of giant speakers…..It is just ridiculous.  The characters lack anything resembling character development.   Mad Max may as well be Mad Joe or Mad Bob.     Mel Gibson had a screen presence as the character that I didn’t get from this Mad Max. In fact the character of Mad Max could have been left out of the movie entirely and you wouldn't have even noticed.

So if the plot or lack there of was only a 4 out of 10 how on earth did it get an 8 out of 10 then?

The visuals:   The look and visual style of the film was stunning. 
I guess some movies don’t need a story. 

Like I mentioned before the film is basically just one long chase scene and it is a great action sequence.  The silly cartoonish violence was fun and enjoyable to watch.  It was like a Willie Coyote cartoon with monster trucks.  It reminded by of those Hanna Barbera cartoons where the characters raced cars…Wacky Races I think it was called taken to an Apocalyptic extreme.

The Opening camera shot was super stylish.  George Miller was able to make a desert landscape interesting.  This movie was just a popcorn flick –that if you put no thought into it you can definitely enjoy.    Who cares that is makes no sense that water would come pouring out of this random rock in the middle of the desert…..Just enjoy the car chase and the silly and wild ride

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies 2014 7+ out of 10

 The Hobbit : The Battle of the Five Armies 2014 7+ out of 10

I can’t explain why it took me so long to see the final Hobbit….
I was a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy… I saw every single one the first week movies in the theaters.    I spent hours watching extras and behind the scenes of the trilogy as soon as they came out on DVD.  I was excited when the Hobbit was eventually announced---although I couldn’t imagine how they were going to turn this small more kid friendly book into something as epic as the Rings Trilogy.    When they announced it would be 3 movies…..I was kind of shocked.   The Lord of the Rings trilogy was three movies –but each movie covered one book and those books were much longer than the Hobbit.  Obviously the Hobbit movies were going to have to have a lot of new stuff and filler to make this much shorter book into a trilogy.     Of course Peter Jackson was going to be involved so that made me feel much better.

The first Hobbit although it had a different tone  (set by the silly sequences of meeting the Dwarfs)…still felt like Middle Earth.  
It felt like the beginning of a journey –but had an interesting story and a satisfying conclusion.   I also liked the second film 
(Links of the my reviews to those films are below)

It took me almost a year to get around to finally watching the conclusion……So maybe that in itself  shows that I liked the Rings trilogy better.  I had to see Return of the King the weekend it came out.   I missed Battle of Five Armies in the theaters…….Bought it the week it came out on DVD---but didn’t watch it right away.     The only explanation I can give is that maybe I felt like the story was pretty much already done after 2 films.     This wasn’t a conscious thought really….I didn’t think about it ---there was just no urgency.

Well now I know why……. And don’t get me wrong I still enjoyed Battle of the Five Armies from a visual point of view----but story wise----There really wasn’t anything left of the story to tell.    The Battle of the Five Armies was literally probably 2 chapters in the book……This battle was turned into an entire movie. 

So the story of the final film was basically just the surviving Dwarfs have the mountain now and all the Armies go to war for it.    Of course the movie long battle was a visual delight----but the lack of a story - just made it feel like less of a film to me. 
 I just didn’t feel the same connection to it like I did with Lord of the Rings .    I think the Hobbit would have been better served as 2 movies instead of 3.  A lot could have been cut out of this trilogy and it probably would have been a better film.   I know the Studios turned it into 3 movies for financial reasons---but I feel the final Hobbit films suffered as a result.  The Battle of Five Armies was my least favorite of the 6 films.   (Again I still enjoyed it) --but it wasn't as memorable as the previous films due to a lack of story.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kingsman The Secret Service 2014 7+ out of 10

Kingsman The Secret Service   2014   7+ out of 10

Kingsman The Secret Service has one of the most crazy violent scenes I've ever seen in a movie that takes place in a church.  The violence is in a silly over the top style that reminded me of an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon and therefore didn't seem as violent as it really was.   The film about a super secret spy organization and is based on a comic book called The Secret Service. It definitely had the look and feel of a comic book with its wild action sequences that felt like panels ripped straight out of a comic book.  

Colin Firth the Bad ass:
 Colin Firth gets to play a bad ass for once and comes off like a total James Bond especially in an action scene early in the film.  This fight scene is a big departure from the classic not so manly fight he had with Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones Diary.  Colin Firth is one of my favorite (non Python) British actors and it was refreshing to see him in this kind of role.    

The movie Itself:
I was surprised by the level of over the top violence in the film. The movie reminded me a lot of Shoot Em Up with Clive Owen in it's visual style .   I was expecting a spy movie that felt more like the X-Men First Class movie which its creators were involved in--but instead it felt more like a mix between Snatch and the original 1960's Casino Royale to me.  The story basically follows the recruitment of a young troublemaker to be a replacement for a fallen spy into the secret organization.  I felt the film got bogged down in this training phase a little as the main character competes with other recruits for the only spot in the organization.   I would have rather seen more of actual spy missions and this was probably the main reason I didn't rank the film higher.   The action was fun if you except the over the top cartoonish violence. Samuel L Jackson plays the main villain of the film and  Jack Davenport (Captain Norrington from Pirates) also stars in a brief role as an agent at the start of the film. 

I'd say if you liked Shoot Em Up you will probably like this as well.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ginger Clown 2013 3 out of 10

Ginger Clown 2013   3 out of 10

The title of this strange horror film caused me to stop while I was flipping by on the TV . The description made me record it for later  It was described as teens in an abandoned Theme Park realize it is over run by monsters---(which being a Scooby Doo fan got my attention).   I was expecting a film that was along the lines of  Thrill Ride or the 1980’s horror flick Funhouse, unfortunately I got something else.  

The movie starts out with some jock  named Biff (Back to the Future anyone)  that is parked at make out point that decides to bully a nerd from his school that is riding by on a bicycle.  
 It set a mood that felt like something out of Toxic Avenger ---but after this initial scene the movie goes downhill into bizarroland.    The nerd is challenged to spend 3 hours in an old abandoned Theme Park….his girlfriend that is upset at the Bully decides to accompany the nerd.    The concept for the movie held a lot of potential ---but the strange story and weird darkness of all the shots made for a messy and strange film.   It was listed as a Horror Comedy ---I guess they forgot the comedy part.  
 The movie featured a bunch of terrible looking Paper Mache looking Monsters.  The budget must have been small for this flick…despite the fact that it featured several knows Hollywood actors like Tim Curry voicing the strange pointless creatures.   The main villain of these strange creatures was a giant Puppet looking Clown called the Ginger Clown. Other creatures included a talking foul mouthed tea pot and a spider creature.     Nothing in this weird film was ever really explained –and it definitely wasn’t scary.   
I’d say that Ginger Clown is definitely a forgettable horror movie. 
I wish Scooby Doo and the gang would have showed up to uncover what was beneath the absurd looking monsters.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

RIPD 2013 6 out of 10

R.I.P.D  2013   6 out of 10

R.I.P.D. turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be.
This movie was basically just a Men in Black wannabe.  It was based on a comic book called Rest In Peace Department from 2001 which I've never read so I'm not sure how closely it follows the comic.   The movie is basically just a rip off of MIB and the short live,  awesome low budget TV Show Good vs Evil which aired 2 years before the comic book came out.

So many elements of these two better franchises were reused in this movie that there wasn't anything original about it.   Just replace the Men in Black fighting Aliens with deceased cops fighting "Deados"  (Dead people that haven't moved on posing as humans).   It is basically the same premise with a less interesting dynamic between the old cop Jeff Bridges as the Tommy Lee character  and the just dead cop Ryan Reynolds as the cocky rookie.  The story is the same as well--they must save the world from complete destruction.   That being said I the movie itself was okay --it just wasn't on the level of the film and show it was blatantly copying from.  

 The main gag of the film was that the characters don't appear to those on earth as themselves.   Instead people see Ryan Reynolds character as an old Asian man and Jeff Bridges  1800's wild west sheriff appears as a hot chick.   This joke was funny in the trailer -but falls kinda of flat in the film and was yet another thing borrowed from G vs E.   In fact the Ryan Reynold's entire character seemed to ripped straight out of G Vs E as he wants to reconnect with his ex and make the dirty cop that killed him pay for what he did.    Again the film was a decent rip off of a much better versions of the same story.   I'd personally recommend getting your hands on G vs E instead though.  It made me miss that show.

Here is the trailer

Here is the opening for G vs E for comparision

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jason X and other Horror Movies (Jumping the Space Shark)

When your Horror movie franchise runs out of ideas and you take it into space it is time to throw in the towel.

I was at home sick the other day and finally got around to seeing Jason X….a question I’m now questioning.    Jason X or Jason in outer space was a barely watchable film.   Taking Jason the killer from Crystal Lake into space is basically an attempt to drain the last bit of blood out of an already dead franchise.    I guess people finally got the idea to no longer go camping at that Lake after like the 7th movie.    By the 8th movie  Jason discovered  that there was a river leading out of the lake that could take him to Manhatten.  Then he went to Hell in the 9th film.  
So what was left for a guy that went from being a killer in a mask at a campground to some sort of immortal black ooze from an X-Files episode.  Space of course!   Why not send him to outer space?    A reimagined Jason in Jason X.

Jason X  2001   2 out of 10

The movie starts out with the Crystal Lake facility deciding that since they can’t kill Jason that at least they can freeze him.   Some idiot in the government thinks he is too important to freeze and wants to research him.   This of course goes wrong and he kills a bunch of people.  Then a brave scientist is able to freeze him while getting stuck freezing herself in the process.    Flash forward to the year 2455  - when a space crew of students finds the frozen bodies and brings them aboard their ship.   They unfreeze the girl and treat her wounds with healing nanbots.   Jason defrosts and goes on a predictable killing spree aboard the ship.  

The music in the film was terrible –it added nothing to the film.  The acting was forgettable –the story dull and boring.   The film is basically a parody of its own franchise that forgot to be funny.  
It was just a pointless and cliche.  At one point a female android kicks Jason’s butt and literally shots off his leg, arm and head.   I felt like I was watching King Arthur in the Holy Grail fighting the Black Knight –without the laughs.    After they defeat him they wait for another space ship to rescue them---and the ships nanobots decide to resurrect him as a new space version of Jason. The movie was just dull.  This movie was just incredibly cheesy and not scary at all.   At least in the old movies at the camp ground at the lake you could expect a few startles.  With the whole trapped on a ship scenario all the deaths were just inevitable and with the crappy soundtrack Jason lost whatever was left of his scariness.

Outer Space is where Terrestial Horror Movies go to Die.  Jumping the Space Shark.....(Hey I'm surprised Syfy channel hasn't made that movie yet).  

 Hellraiser: Bloodlines 1996 was one of the first to go to space......
I didn't even see that one and was shocked to see that there have been 5 movies since the first one.  I guess I lost track of Pinhead after the third film which I thought was terrible and only gave a 2 out of 10.

   I did suffer through  Leprechaun 4 : Leprechaun in Space
(I guess I was more of a completionist with this bad horror series)  
  Let's be honest all the Leprechaun movies were  pretty bad and surprisingly after Space he actually had his most successful movies in the Hood of all places.     A Leprechaun in Space --why not?  
This movie franchise makes up a whole new mythology for the character with every single film.   So sending him to Outer Space makes as much sense as anything else in the series.

 Leprechaun 4   1996   4 out of 10
Here is the trailer of Jason X....

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Monday, October 26, 2015

The Internship 2013 7+ out of 10

The Internship 2013 7+ out of 10

When the trailers for this movie  starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson came out I kind of dismissed it as a possible rental and then quickly forget about it.   The plot seemed silly at first glance.  Two old  sales guys lose their jobs and decide to become Google Interns?   I didn’t sound like a must see movie.

Well Sunday morning it happened to be on TV and was only about 5 minutes in so me and my wife started watching it and actually ended up really liking it.   Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are dong there same old routine in this movie,  it is almost like they are just playing themselves.   Sometime it works and sometimes it doesn’t –this movie it worked.  Vince Vaughn wrote the movie and he crafted it to take advantage of his and Owen’s talents.   What seemed like an uninspired premise –turned into a funny version of a rag tag group of nerds  (Revenge of the Nerds Style) overcoming huge odds.  Sure it was far-fetched –but it was just funny.  Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn work well together in this flick like a well-oiled comedy machine—like a Stan and Ollie or Abbott and Bud.  You can tell that they enjoy working together.  Their comedy chemistry just works so well in this movie.

One of my favorite little scenes is the scene where Vince Vaughn goes to pay for his food at the Google offices and is told it is free.  He goes into a long silly Vince Vaughn still rambling and ends up taking a whole bunch of more food –just because it was free.

If you like either of these actors and dismissed this movie at first –because it just didn’t sound interesting enough –give it a try.  If you aren’t a Vince Vaughn fan you probably won’t like it.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Minority Report: A Movie and TV Show review

I watched the first episode of the new FOX sci-fi show Minority Report the other day and really enjoyed it.    I heard the ratings were not that good and this saddened me---because I believe the show has a lot of potential and fear it getting cancelled too early.  
2 Episodes in I decided to revisit the movie as well which is basically a springboard for the show.   Here are my thoughts on both the movie and the show.

Minority Report :  The Movie  9 out of 10  2002

I loved this movie.  It is probably my favorite movies that Tom Cruise has been in.   A big factor in my loving the movie is that it was directed by my favorite director Steven Spielberg who as far as I'm concerned can do no wrong.  Another factor is that it was based on a Phillip K Dick story.   Some of the best sci-fi movies have been based on Phillip K Dick stories such as Blade Runner and Total Recall…..This movie belongs in that great class of films.

The plot is kind of like the plot for Logan’s Run  --in that the main character is a cop that ends up on the run himself.   In Logan’s Run the main character is a cop that has to hunt down anyone that runs once their lifespan has been scheduled to expire.  In Minority Report the main character played by Tom Cruise is a cop that arrests criminals before they commit crimes based on a program called Pre-Crime.  Pre-Crime relies on three precognitive telepaths that are able to see murders before they happen.   The problem is all of a sudden his name shows up as a murderer and he runs knowing that he doesn’t plan to murder anyone.   The movie follows him as he tries to prove that he is innocent and uncovers some things about the program that throw the whole program into doubt.

The movie has a fun and exciting plot with some solid action sequences.   The look at the future is visually appealing and some of the concepts from this  2001 film feel like they are starting to happen already.   Speilberg is one of the best there is and as usual delivers a good film with  a satisfying ending…. If you like Sci-Fi and Spielberg this film is a must see.

Here is the trailer for the film

The TV Show:

The TV show is off to a great start with a story that jumps off from the film years later as Pre-Crime has been abolished.   The Precogs  that were sent to live a normal life at the end of the film are now the center of this TV show.   The story follows one of the Precogs (played by Stark Sands)  that has taken upon himself to try and stop the murders.  He secretly teams up with a cop (played by Megan Good)  and together they try to solve crimes together.  Megan Good is excellent as the cop and Stark Sands (interesting name) plays socially awkward well as Dash.  This is a typical fish out of water cop team up story like Castle or Sleepy Hollow with he interesting twist  being the Precogs themselves.   There is an interesting background story involving the 3 Precogs that I hope the show gets around to revealing.   The show feels like a natural extension of the movie incorporating many familiar elements. 
This isn’t a reboot –but instead a cool sequel that makes use of the cool elements from the film.  Check the show out while you still can

Here is the trailer for the TV show

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials 2015 8+ out of 10

The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials 2015  8+ out of 10

This movie covers the second book of James Dashner's 3 book series that was adapted for the big screen.

The first movie was basically a Lord of the Flies meets The Cube. (An interesting mix).
Here were my thoughts on the first one.

The first movie had a cool and unexpected nature to it and the ending –just left questions that you want to know more about.  
The sequel picks up where the first movie ended with the Gladers being rescued and taken to a facility to supposedly have a better life.  Of course things aren’t exactly what they seem and Thomas the man protagonist –doesn’t just accept things at face value.  With the help of a mysterious teen that has escaped from a different maze, Thomas makes a discovery that causes him and his friends to break out of the facility and make a run for it –through a wild area called the Scorch.

At this point the movie takes a dark and exciting departure from the previous film.  The area called the Scorch which includes the destroyed cities of Earth is inhabited by Zombie like creatures and what is left of society struggling to survive makes for a thrilling movie.  I was sitting in the theater watching this and thinking this is why I love movies.  I go to movies to be thrilled ……To see things I don’t see in the real world and this movie was a sequel that improved on the already good original.    

Zombies, dark tunnels, an escape through  exploding building and half fallen sky scrapers all lead to good fun.  The movie had some great scenes and went in some weird directions.    The only drawback to the movie was the ending which seemed to lack a level of epicness that it needed. It probably would have been a 9 out of 10 for me if the ending hadn't have seemed so small.   Being the middle section of a 3 part story the movie didn’t have a strong ending as the teens finally make it to their destination in the film and it is basically just a small group of rebels that look like extras from Red Dawn.  A twist occurs near the end that the movie telegraphs a little too much –so I wasn’t surprised when it happened.   The movie sets itself up for the final film (which I’m looking forward to)—but the story now stripped of some of the mystery from the first film needed a better end to its second chapter.

The cast was good.   My favorite character Minho played by actor  Ki Hong Li was great in both films.  The addition of Aidan Gillen from Game of Thrones fame was a welcome addition.  I can see him getting good roles for years to come. 

This film series was an obvious attempt to try and create a franchise along the lines of Hunger Games…..Every movie studio is trying to find the next Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games.  
As a result several good films like I am Number 6 (which was meant to be a series) have been made and not succeeded in making it into a series.  I’m glad The Maze Runner ---will apparently get a chance to end its story.  I personally like it better than the Hunger Games –which I grew bored of after its second film.

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