Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Alien Orc Nation
Given the talent involved, given the twist, it could have been really, really good.
Instead, it was "Orcs in the Hood, Elves Gone Wild, with Bad Cops all around." It was a Cuisinart confection which took a little from the aforementioned "AlienNation," tossed in a wee splash of "16 Blocks," simmered it with a nod to "48 hours" and then tossed in a healthy chunk of Tolkien.
The resulting mess was not very palatable, mostly because you watched it thinking "this should have been so much better." But instead we got David Ayers' trademark homies in the hood, a lot of badly staged gunfights, not very believable character motivation and some dramatically convenient stupidity.
On the plus side, Joel Egerton did a great job as the rather naive Orc/rookie cop, and there were some fine action sequences with some angry elves.
Overall...barely worth your time.
Cardinal Sin was making characters stupid
I just re-watched this leaden, disappointing movie, but decided to give the Ultimate Edition a chance.
The overall experience was better, and this time around I realized the real problem with the film was that to get the "big battle," they needed to make Bruce Wayne/Batman stupid and easily manipulated...and they needed to make Superman kind of thick, too. I liked Affleck's Batman, but hated that he was a moron, subject to a lot of Dramatically Convenient Stupidity(tm) which dragged the story toward the inevitable Superhero Showdown!
As such, the peripheral characters were a lot more interesting than the putative leads. Alfred (Jeremy Irons) sarcastic asides about Bruce Wayne's mental health and social life made him feel like a real character. Holly Hunter as a crusading Senator was equally compelling. And yeah, Gal Godot's Wonder Woman made the entire film, that's no lie.
Is it as awful as you heard? Probably not, but it's painful to see the missed opportunity for a good film. They were also handicapped by trying to "make the entryway film to the DCU!" by shoehorning in unnecessary cameos of heroes yet to come. The far more entertaining (critically and commercially successful) Wonder Woman seemed to have learned from B v. S's failures, and made a single movie that still managed to be open to other adventures and possibilities.
And, that being said "Justice League" was a huge improvement, and worth watching, as well.
The Night Watchmen (2017)
Decent idea ruined by lazy script
Had some good bits, and a lot of promise.
Didn't have much of a script. Some scenes are terrible padding to fill out the sketch.
Some funny characters, but again the lazy script went for cheap cheap laughs instead of stretching the tiniest bit to be original (see "joke, fart") that is done over and over.
Disappointing because it could have been something consistently enjoyable and reasonably original. As it is, it wasted a lot of the actors' time...and mine.
A lot more fun than I expected
And far better than it had any right to be. Helped a lot by Stephen Yuen, who damn well ought to be in a lot more movies. Samara Weaving (very good in Netflix' "The Baby-Sitter") adds a lot to the film as well.
Think of it as a grind-house Office Space, and you won't go wrong. Lots of blood, profanity, and (oddly enough) the slightest touches of profundity.
Don't expect anything more than over-the-top violence, weird laughs, and blistering payback and you'll have a good, if low-brow time.
Sweet, moving...even daring.
Why would I call a television series about a guy who might be nuts "daring?"
Well, for one thing, they talk about God as if He's real. They talk about Him respectfully. And they talk about living a life of service.
When's the last time you've seen that on a major network?
The pilot episode was all about love...with nary a bit of boinking to be seen.
Great stuff, funny without being smutty, nice physical humor, too.
Bravo to the folks who decided to make this story.
Give it a chance. It's really fine.
Better than it had a right to be
It's a decent enough Alien invasion movie. Made great use of an unusual location, and Lee Pace shows promise as heroic leading man material.
Clearly a small budget, and once more proves that not having unlimited power or bankbook isn't necessarily a bad thing creatively. Film-makers had to come up with imaginative sets and emotionally involving characters, not just throw CGI as the story.
Only a few really flawed moments and the writing could have been a little better. But, overall, worth the time.
Baby Driver (2017)
Bored to tears
Gotta be honest, I'm 40 minutes in so far, and I keep thinking "What the hell was any of the fuss about?"
The pretentiousness of the "soundtrack of my driving" is forced, lame, and drags us out of the story (oh, and it was done, albeit poorly, in a terrible Bruce Willis movie called "Hudson Hawk.")
Driver who doesn't talk much, falls in love with fairly nice young woman? Hey, didn't Ryan Gosling do that? (spoiler: masks were used, too)
And if I'm continuing to be honest, I'm not feeling the geek-love for Edgar Wright. Yeah, "Shaun of the Dead" was fun, and "Hot Fuzz" had moments, but the rest has been just...meh. I'm glad Peyton Reed directed "AntMan." He's a far more interesting and less mannered director.
Time to be brutally honest. I'm so un-engaged with how hard Edgar Wright is trying, I'm ready to switch over to the newest "Transformers." Sure, Micheal Bay directs like a hyperactive Chautauqua that just snarfed your meth stash, but he knows what he's doing. He's making a flipping "Transformers Movie." The man has no delusions he's gifting us with "Return to the French New Wave, 2017." Sadly Edgar Wright does seem to in the grip of that particular delusion.
Some Freaks (2016)
Good Actors/Characters: Clichéd Circumstances
It gets five stars for the lead actors (Mann, the young lady and her "nephew.")
But begs the question: can someone make an indie film without relying on the dependable clichés?
Clichés such as:
High school students are cruel jerks to those who are different. No one treats the different like human beings because...well...that would take too much time to write.
Those who are different are complete outcasts (as in: only the other freaks are nice to them, there isn't a single reasonably decent non- freak human being to be found).
Frat Boys are The Evilz. Always.
Heterosexual people will always turn violent toward homosexuals.
Jeez. There was a good idea here, but the writer/director's lack of imagination hamstrung his own efforts, and left his actors with not a hell of a lot to do.
Midnight, Texas (2017)
Interesting concept, very pedestrian execution
The idea seems to have a lot of promise, but the show is not living up to that. The first episode felt rushed, with some handy exposition to give us background on the characters. Apparently, the producers aren't familiar with the old screenwriter's adage "Show, don't tell."
The casting of some of the "normals" is pretty lame, bordering on clichéd. The Deputy with the ill-fitting hat is one of my whince- inducers...as is all too typical with Hollywood, they are giving us the "What a California person thinks Texans are like" vision of people from even a supernatural fly-over location.
A lot of the acting is amateurish (dead grandma, I'm looking at you), and a number of the lines are equally painful. One character utters the never-before heard words "We have to be smart about this." I only wish the producers had chosen to take that advice, as well.
One good thing about the series: It made me interested in reading the books...they have to be better than this swill.
Wanted to like it, swear I did. Great concept (Anne Hathaway? Goofy monster in Seoul? Cool, I'll check it out). I mean, IMDb called it SF and Comedy.
But, ah...no. It was as if the makers could never decide what this film was? Was it a parable about how drinking can ruin your life?
Nope. Okay, was it something about the monsters that live inside us?
No so much. Good, dependable actors, doing their best in service to a misbegotten idea. Who thought "Hey, we can make a comedy about a relationship that turns abusive...and we get to punch Ann Hathaway a couple of times!"
The tone shifts were jarring and poorly thought out...and just made it a waste of not only the viewer's time, but the actors', as well. Skip it.
Kong: Skull Island (2017)
Man, I was willing to like this movie. The most recent "Godzilla" was a big surprise merely by being competent, and went beyond that to actually interesting.
But now we have "Kong: Skull Island," which might become the poster child for "elevator pitches you should never greenlight." In this case, it had to have been "It's Apocalypse Now...with giant MONSTERS!"
And they say Hollywood is out of ideas.
All that being said, there are parts of the film that are excellent (Hiddleston, for all his pretty boyness was fairly convincing, as were Thomas Mann and Shea Willingham)...up until the moment when the creative barrenness in which this was conceived rises up to strangle logic or intelligence in the characters. The ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson shows in, in a part that is more of a mood than an actual character.
Might not be bad to have on the tube while you're cleaning the catbox. Other than that...not very impressive.
The To Do List (2013)
Tried too hard
And let the puns commence!
Seriously, this had the makings of a very funny film. Aubrey Plaza (so great in "Safety Not Guaranteed") and the rest? Girl power going for the crotch and all that.
It might have been a funnier script, but the director didn't trust the material. It seemed like every gag (so to speak) was forced, and every punch line was like being beaten over the head with a pig's bladder.
Some of the best comedy happens in the viewer's own imagination, but rather than allow for some subtlety and let us create the final image or reaction for ourselves, the director zoomed in on the mugging faces of the actors, just in case we didn't realize this was a FUNNY MOMENT.
Too bad. You want some great comedy that still has a lot of heart, check out "Safety Not Guaranteed." This one you can give a pass.
Love the characters but Season Four is limping along
First three seasons got 9 out of 10 stars from the wife and me. We didn't watch for the Whodunit, but for the interplay between the characters, particularly Morse and Thursday. The restrained Englishness of the tough (in many surprising ways) father figure of Roger Allum's Thursday as he mentored the younger Morse was compelling and emotionally honest. That, along with the battles by Morse to remain ethically principled and true to himself as he sought to bring order to the world were great, great stuff.
In the first two episodes of Season Four, the creative team seems to have forgotten where their real strengths lie. Both episodes focused very strongly on the mystery/problem, and gave us very, very little by way of the much more engaging personal interactions between the many characters. Hope they find their way back to what made the series great in the remaining episodes.
Captain Fantastic (2016)
"Father Knows Best" for the aging Hippie Generation
If you're in the mood for some hippie porn, this is the movie for you. (Unavoidable spoilers to follow.) Hunky Viggo Mortensen plays another superhero, this time the uber-sensitive dad raising his six kids (ages ranging from about 8 to 18 years old) out in the woods in a blissful natural state. Not only does he home school them into reading the classics (Dostoevsky), books on Quantum physics and string theory (even quizzing them), but they jam on guitars around the campfire. But wait, there's more! Superdad is also so awesome, he's a master of the wild, teaching the kids to camouflage themselves and move so quietly they can take down a full grown deer with just a knife, before they go home to discuss "Power to the people" and "Stick it to the man" (no exaggeration, a trite term used twice in the movie).
There is some alleged drama, when bipolar mom commits suicide and her strait-laced parents don't want Superdad at the funeral. Then there follows that most-beloved Indie-film trope, "the road trip" because Hippie Father Knows Best, the desires of other people be damned.
Of course, there's no explanation about how he learned to speak six languages, be the forest-master, and know about music and string theory? Nope, no need to explain it, because in Hippie Porn, just being against the Man and the System is enough. No logical story required and you certainly won't find one here.
Van Helsing (2016)
With a bad case of the stupids and the obvious.
This is a strangely schizophrenic series. On one hand, you have the actors, evenly divided into solid professionals (John Scarfe and Christopher Heyerdahl, about the only two) and then then adequate just up from community theater types (Vanessa Helsing, token black kid, interchangeable surviving chicks, among others).
It's hard to tell if the problem is simply bad writing (Vanessa Helsing varies from badass to whimpering weenie, depending on how much they need to pad the story), bad direction (well, have to keep this review short, but the lyrical songs that underline emotional moments are mainly risible), or bad acting (where to start?).
In some ways, it's too bad this is so shoddy in so many ways, because the Marine played by John Scarfe feels compelling, honest, and real, as does the good-natured, mute giant played by Heyerdahl. You could make a fairly interesting series out of those those. Unfortunately, they're stuck in this derivative, stumbling, and incredibly obvious piece of hackwork.
Jason Bourne (2016)
Like a 2 hour episode of "24," with less action
First Bourne was fine, and Matt Damon did a very respectable job.
But, man, every damn one of the films afterwards had the same story, which is this used by this one (with the addition of the Outrage du Jour about government wanting to spy on us via social media):
POLITICAL INTRIGUE FOR POWER
HURL O' CAM FIGHT SCENES.
I mean, for goodness' sakes. Is there no other governmental organization in the world other than the CIA that does, you know, yukky things? Per KGB archives ("The Sword and the Shield"), KGB had assassination squads, infiltrated journalists, peace groups, and even governments (FDR's admin was riddled with Reds). Is it somehow beyond the ken of Greenglass and Damon that somebody other than the US government could be participating in heinous, nay, murderous activities?
What a PC POS
Wow, this "comedy" was unwatchable almost from the start, but I gutted it out (as it were) for about 40 minutes before turning it off and begging the gods to send ravens to pluck out my eyes so that I'd never have to watch something so execrable again.
Yeah, I wasn't impressed.
Your almost guaranteed tip-off that a film is going to be creatively lazy and kool-kidz masturbatory media is when it has a "Christian" character is who is a complete caricature or, even more originally, a hypocrite (yuck, yuck, just like all the kool-kidz know they are). This particular piece of cut-and-paste mastery of the "everybody knows" tropes featured the Christian woman teacher as a gun-lovin', rape-fearin', foul-mouthed harridan. Wow, there's a character we've never seen before.
Then there were the other sparkling bits o' wit, like the obnoxious, abusive school kid named "Patriot" who was born on September 11 and when he turned 18 is going to become a Marine so he could kick some "towel-head ass."
Oh, Noel Coward just wishes he had the faintest hint of the skill of the screenwriter of this vomitous collection of left-wing goodthink clichés about the Un-Kool Kidz.
Do not waste your time, and don't even have pity for Elijah Wood, who somehow was convinced to appear in this festering cinematic abomination.
The Revenant (2015)
No Oscar for DiCaprio
After viewing this movie, one realizes this film will be remembered more for one harrowing scene (the well-known Grizzly Bear attack) and the way it was made, rather than for the quality of the story or filmic experience itself.
DiCaprio, as Hugh Glass, does an adequate job, although 2/3's of his acting involves emoting-through-wheezing. For that alone, almost any competent actor with a range greater than Adam Sandler could have done the part. We get brief glimpses of interesting characters (Domhnall Gleason's Army Lieutenant for one) and way too many scenes of a one- dimensional antagonist, Tom Hardy's Fitzgerald. And the film could have been 20 minutes shorter by eliminating long, meditative (or creatively masturbatory) shots of trees.
Already dining out on the "we shot in only natural light! Shot over nine months in the miserably cold outdoors," the film-makers seem unaware that a difficult production with good actors does not necessarily a great movie make. Just ask the folks who made (or un-made, depending on who you ask) "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Tough shoot...apparently a terrible movie.
"The Revenant" isn't terrible, but it's nowhere near great.
Close Range (2015)
Almost instantly forgettable
They had about 60 minutes worth of story, and padded it out with long shootouts.
And more long shootouts through what looked like drywall.
Which should have ended the "standoff" in about 3 minutes, with the folks on the other side of the drywall dead.
Then they padded some more, by (tiniest of SPOILER) giving us an interminable (and terribly acted) scene full of meaningful glares in a moving vehicle. Stretching the scene out, even more, with freeze frames and supplying us with the names of the disposable bad guys. Names that had no importance or meaning to the rest of the film. At all.
Which is too bad, really, as I have a suspicion that Scott Adkins might actually be able to pull off a good leading role if he had an actual script to work with. And perhaps an actual director who wasn't trying to channel Sergio Leone meets Shaw Brothers.
Had the potential to be a decent, gut-bucket B-movie, but the delusions of being better than it was defeated everyone involved.
Jessica Jones (2015)
A waste of time
The show felt incredibly padded and I feel incredibly ripped off. Most episodic shows need to extend their story lines by a series of forced misunderstandings, missed clues, etc. But, jeepers, I think they had story enough for maybe five hours here, not 13, which necessitates making characters endure a lot of moral/character conflict only for the purpose of prolonging the "drama." What it actually does, though, is make the characters appear frankly stupid when they act contrary to their nature.
SPOILER: When Special Ops dude is watching Killgrave from his car, knowing he's a menace, why doesn't Special Ops Dude take Killgrave out from a distance. Hell, even kneecapping him would have worked. But he doesn't. (Episode 7 of 13).
SPOILER: Jessica Jones, standing (of her own freewill) in front of Killgrave, not 18 inches away. She's supper strong. She's super fast. Why not a quick punch to his throat. End of problem, for the most part. But,again, as it is Ep7 of 13, that would end the show too quickly.
"Dramatically convenient stupidity." Avoid it in your own writing.
Last Shift (2014)
Competent and Creepy without being cheap
Clearly, a low budget film. Good film-makers, when confronted with a lack of funds, will compensate with a lot of creativity. "Last Shift" falls squarely into this category. The film makes good use of their locale, and builds an air of dread that slowly begins to pay off.
One nice touch is the use of quiet to build tension. In a few places, the music becomes intrusive, but a lot of the creepiness is in odd sounds (with nice use of the 5.1 surround mix). Only once or twice did they go for the "booga booga coming out at you out of a dark place" shtick.
I thought the lead actress was very believable through most of the film. If the film faltered anywhere, it was nearer the end, when the lead character began to respond in more typical "illogical victim," but one could almost understand that given the psychological state of that character.
SPOILER The only major way this film let me down as at the end.
They had to go for "the twist," and in this case...
...it was "evil wins," which I find is something I don't care to spend nearly two hours of my life watching. Otherwise, very solid effort, making an authentically spooky and fairly original film on very little money.
The Strain (2014)
I only stuck with this series through the first season for the actors, especially Corey Stoll (very fine actor, was great as "Hemingway" in "Midnight in Paris.") They did improve on the first book in the series (aka "CSI Transylvania"), but still kept it chock full of the same moments of "dramatically convenient stupidity" to prolong the story that made the first volume such an exercise in frustration.
Still some good actors in the batch, even if they are wickedly under-used, such as the criminally under-rated Kevin Durand and the afore-mentioned Stoll.
Alas, the "dramatically convenient stupidity" has been cranked up a notch in Ep1 of Season 2 (who goes hunting known vampire master in the dark without backup?) and the intellect of the characters seems to have been largely dialed back this season.
Life's too short. Watch something else.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Better than most, not as good as expected
The first 30 minutes are a struggle. Sure, a lot is happening, but mostly I noticed that George Miller, action director extraordinaire, was cheating. Almost every action beat (fight or crash or whatever) was speeding up the film, which is the lazy way to make it look fast, exciting, whatever. Mostly, it made it look like a cheap, direct to DVD foreign action flick.
Tom Hardy, for a lot of the film just grunted. Throw that in with the jerky and very obviously sped up film and it was painful.
Finally, about 45 minutes in, the story became more interesting and compelling, but the homages seemed to cry out "creatively" tired. I'm referring of course to the Jawas on Motorbikes, which seems like bad fan fiction, rather than an original creation. Other images seemed lifted from "The Dark Crystal," and were strange retreads of Miller's own work.
The few moments of real excitement and adrenaline only made the rest of the films flaws more pronounced and sad.
The Voices (2014)
Unsatisfying, Unsuccessful mess
First, this is no reflection on the main actors. Man, when is Ryan Reynolds going to be good in a good movie, instead of good in junk? He's pretty good in this, but it's an awkward genre (comedy with serial killing? Can't think of one that actually worked). Great work by Gemma Arterton (so good she takes you right out of the comedy to wrenching horror), with Anne Kendrick who is so personable and nice. All of them wasted in this misguided effort.
It would be hard to ID the blame for the mess this film is. There were some genuinely funny moments (Ryan Reynolds almost can't not be funny), but then there would be a jarring change of tone to slasher horror and well-acted scenes of people suffering their last moments. And then some none-bloody stuff that was cleverly done and authentically creepy. And then it would veer back to some slasher film, while the end credits, an almost Bollywood dance number with a little Christian mockery, feel like WTF filler.
I saw a comedian tell a joke once that went: "They captured this serial killer and he said the Voices made him kill all those people. I've always wondered, why don't the voices say 'Go Dancing?' "
That would have been a movie worth seeing. This, on the other hand, was a waste of my time, and sadly for the talented people on screen, a waste of their time, too.
Tedious, masturbatory failure
How can a movie with this much acting talent be a failure? There's an old play with a title something like "Five Characters in Search of a Play." This is the reboot: "Bitter Irish stereotypes that are great for actors to play without needing to come to a resolution or have much of a plot." My goodness, I want to avoid spoilers, but I want to make sure you Avoid Losing Two Precious Hours of Your Life to this misguided, yet professionally produced twaddle (that also throws in predictable cheap shots at the Catholic Church). Things happen. People reveal their inner ugliness or despair. Horrible things occur. Brendan Gleeson does a tremendous job of acting. Antagonist revealed. More horribleness. Film over. DON'T SEE THIS FILM.