A Simple Favor, American Animals & Slaughterhouse Rulez Movie Reviews

I’m determined to catch up on reviewing the films I’ve seen in the cinema this year. Here are three quick reviews I never got around to and I have three more quickies ready for tomorrow (Ralph Breaks The Internet, The Nutcracker And The Four Realms, and The Grinch. Merry Christmas! I know you desperately need to know my stupid opinion on movies…

A Simple Favor (2018)

Directed by Paul Feig

Based on A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Andrew Rannells

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A Simple Favor follows a small town vlogger who tries to solve the disappearance of her mysterious and rich best friend.

My Opinion:

I went to this one night with no expectations as I had a couple of hours to spare. I enjoyed the shit out of this! It’s a fun film. A “chick flick” with dark humor and a fucking filthy mouth from Blake Lively, who gives her husband’s Deadpool character a run for his money. To be fair, I wouldn’t call this a chick flick but any movie with two female leads tends to be labelled with that annoying title. As a girl who isn’t very girly, I appreciate a movie with female leads that isn’t all soppy romantic bullshit or Bridget Fucking Jones or Mamma Barf-O-Mia (no offense to anyone who likes those). 😉 But this is more my type of chick flick.

Anna Kendrick & Blake Lively are far from favorite actresses of mine but they couldn’t have been more perfect for these roles: Kendrick as a nerdy prude and Lively as a beautiful, sophisticated bitch. They both seemed to be having a lot of fun and were pretty damn hilarious. I feel that actresses are rarely given any credit for being funny. Sorry – here’s a quick rant that I’ve had before: Speaking of the director, Paul Feig, he also did Bridesmaids. I don’t like Bridesmaids – it’s not my type of humor. But I can’t deny that there are funny moments and the women in it were very good for that type of film. The Hangover has very similar humor but an all-male cast and a much higher rating on IMDb. Neither are my thing but Bridesmaids is the far superior “dumb comedy”. There seems to be a real backlash anytime women do comedy. It’s odd.

Rant over! Back to this movie. This film falls into several categories and I kind of loved that it’s hard to define. Dark comedy, crime, mystery, thriller… The story has twists and it keeps you guessing and it’s kind of stupid but it’s meant to be silly. It was a great “chill out” movie – you’re not meant to take the mystery too seriously. I don’t know if this will make some turn their noses up but it reminded me of the pulpy mystery thrillers that are guilty reading pleasures of mine sometimes (but with added black humor, making things much more fun). Plus, Lively’s hubby was a hottie so that was enjoyable too.

I won’t say much more as this is a movie where you’re better off not knowing too much about the plot beforehand. If you watch it with an open mind & don’t take the story too seriously you should have a good time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

American Animals (2018)

Directed by Bart Layton

Starring: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Udo Kier, Ann Dowd

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
American Animals is based on the true story of a library heist that happened at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.

My Opinion:

Okay – American Animals is a far more worthy film than A Simple Favor. However, it almost bored me to tears. Considering that the true story involving a bizarre library heist is really damn interesting, they somehow managed to make this film a bit of a snoozefest. Well, okay – the heist itself was exciting but it takes ages to get to that small part of the film. I think the biggest problem may be that it’s part-documentary, which didn’t really work. So it went back & forth between the actors acting it out & the real-life guys talking about it. This could’ve worked but it just didn’t. It gave the film a weird flow plus the main actor looking nothing whatsoever like the real guy was somewhat distracting.

Huh. I really have nothing more to say about this. It was disappointing. It actually would’ve made for a much better full-out documentary instead. At least they tried something a little different style-wise, I guess. Oh! I did like that they looked like the Beastie Boys in the Sabotage video when they put on their cheesy 70’s-looking disguises for the heist. Funny.

My Rating: 6/10

Slaughterhouse Rulez (2018)

Directed by Crispian Mills

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Finn Cole, Hermione Corfield, Michael Sheen, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, Margot Robbie

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site unleashing unspeakable horror.

My Opinion:

Wow. This was pretty dreadful. I was excited for this one before it came out as I think a lot of us saw “horror comedy” and the names Simon Pegg & Nick Frost and thought we’d have another Shaun Of The Dead on our hands. Ha! Not even close.

The idea was a good one: fracking causing creatures to come to the surface & attack a snobby boarding school. Plus, I wanted to see this as it was partly filmed at Chislehurst Caves in Kent. I’ve been there. I think I’ve been to most the tourist caves in England plus the catacombs in Paris. I have a weird fascination with creepy, underground places. Anyway – Chislehurst Caves is a cool place & I recommend checking it out if you’re a weirdo like me. Maybe I’ll help Kent tourism! Here’s their website: Chislehurt Caves. Here’s an image from the website:

Oh. Was I meant to be talking about Slaughterhouse Rulez? I honestly can’t be arsed. It was a wasted cinema trip but just about good enough to check out on Netflix if you want to zone out to something stupid. The main characters are fairly decent so it’s good that you want them to survive and the remaining over-the-top rich asshole students to die. Pegg & Frost are odd and there was really no point of having them in the film at all. Oh, and Margot Robbie is nothing more than a cameo on a screen so don’t get all excited thinking she’s in this. And I currently can’t even remember what the creatures looked like so that’s not saying much.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Frozen (2010), Dig Two Graves, Cargo & Jug Face Movie Reviews

Here are three reposts of short horror reviews I did and one new review of a truly dreadful film that I watched over the weekend.

Frozen (2010)

Directed & Written by Adam Green

Starring: Emma Bell, Shawn Ashmore, Kevin Zegers

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Three skiers stranded on a chairlift are forced to make life-or-death choices, which prove more perilous than staying put and freezing to death.

My Brief Opinion:

Not the Anna & Elsa Frozen! I didn’t mind this horror film even though it’s a bit ridiculous. Three annoying twenty-somethings are left stranded on a ski chairlift when the resort shuts down for a week (or however long). That’s it. That’s the story. Actually, it ended up being okay and we got to know and like these characters a little. Well, they ended up far less annoying than they were at first at least. They do stupid shit but, to be honest, I’m not sure what I’d do in the same situation. Probably freeze to death. My rating is maybe a little harsh but it did get a bit too silly (and gross) and slightly boring at times. At least it’s far better than that horror movie where three twat twenty-somethings are trapped in an ATM booth thingy by some psychotic killer (in the imaginatively-titled ATM).

My Rating: 5.5/10

Dig Two Graves (2014)

Directed by Hunter Adams

Starring: Ted Levine, Samantha Isler, Danny Goldring, Troy Ruptash

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After her brother’s tragic death a young girl meets three men who claim they can bring her brother back to life.

My Brief Opinion:

Why do I occasionally watch random movies on Netflix that I’ve never heard of?? Well, I luck out sometimes – I thought Circle was fantastic. But the random ones in the horror genre are always shit. I’ll say that the acting in this was decent, though. Far better than the story itself, which didn’t hold my interest. Overall, it was yet another modern horror that was a waste of my time but it’s probably not as “bad” as my rating suggests. It showed some promise. It wasn’t as dumb as most the horrors that get a full cinema release. It was just dull.

My Rating: 4.5/10

Cargo (2017)

Directed by Ben Howling & Yolanda Ramke

Starring: Martin Freeman, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)

After an epidemic spreads all over Australia, a father searches for someone willing to protect his daughter.

My Brief Opinion:

Loved this movie’s concept and thought the short film it’s based on was pretty great. Like Lights Out, however, I thought the longer format didn’t really work. Sometimes less is more! The movie is okay and it’s still a very good concept but I found it a little boring (and I fell asleep for a while in the middle of it – don’t tell hubby because I can’t be bothered to watch what I missed). It’s nice, though, that they’re still somehow finding ways to make zombie movies that feel original! Watch it if you want a decent zombie film that’s more about drama & family and less about blood & guts but PLEASE watch the short film first.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Jug Face (aka The Pit) (2013)

Directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle

Starring: Sean Bridgers, Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden, Sean Young, Daniel Manche, Michael G. Crandall

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The story follows a teen (Carter), who is pregnant with her brother’s child and tries to escape from a backwoods community, only to discover that she must sacrifice herself to a creature in a pit.

My Brief Opinion:

Wow. I have a new contender for “worst movie I’ve seen since starting this blog”. I remember a couple of bloggers reviewing this a few years ago & really liking it so I’ve been wanting to see it ever since. I liked the sound of the synopsis and that above poster made it look like it could be interesting. I’ve rated this movie an extra half point for originality since I always complain that nothing feels original anymore and the concept for this film felt fairly unique. Oh, and I liked the “jug faces” that got made – they were cheesy as fuck. In the story, one of these backwoods rednecks makes “jugs” while in a sort of fugue. They end up looking like the face of someone in the community and that person is then sacrificed to “the pit”, which the community believes has healing powers. I don’t know how the hell they knew who was meant to be sacrificed – the jugs never looked like anyone in this stupid movie.


The biggest problem with this movie is the thing that always annoys me the most: every single character is extremely hateful. Well, the guy who makes the jugs is almost okay but the main girl is fucking awful. And her mother! Oh my god! I knew I was probably in for trouble when the only name I recognized in the beginning credits was Sean Young. She plays the mother and she’s waaaaaay too interested in her daughter’s vagina. Yeah, you read that right. So was the brother, as he gets his sister pregnant. The brother was also a complete asshole. I wanted the entire community to be sacrificed to the pit. I thought, after having to endure these dreadful characters, maybe we’d at least get to see some creature in the pit or something. Nope. Nothing. There’s one cheesy looking ghost of a previous sacrifice but that’s it. Nothing scary, no tension, hateful characters, incest, and funny looking jugs. Just watch M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village if you want to watch a backwards community living in the woods. That’s an absolute masterpiece compared to this. Yes, I’ve decided that this is the worst movie I’ve seen in my six-year blog history.

My Rating: 1.5/10

Goodnight Mommy (2014) & Veronica (2017) Reviews

Two more reposts today of two very brief reviews of a couple of foreign horror films that I watched this year. They were just okay. Certainly not great but I’ve seen much worse (especially this year).

Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don’t recognize.

My Brief Opinion:

This Austrian horror film was another big disappointment after a lot of bloggers really seemed to like it. I wanted to like it and it did start out very strong. But the “twist” was obvious from the start. I assume it was meant to be, though. Right? It’s been done so often now. I just really hated how this movie ended. Too over-the-top. And I know we’re not necessarily meant to like everyone in a horror film but I still want to care about at least one of the characters. It was hard to sympathize with anyone in this, even though there was a very good reason to. But the ending took that away. Well, the film did have a great look to it and started out very promising. I’d probably still watch another film from the same directors since this had potential.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Veronica (2017)

Directed by Paco Plaza

Starring: Sandra Escacena, Bruna González, Claudia Placer, Iván Chavero, Ana Torrent, Consuelo Trujillo, Sonia Almarcha, Maru Valduvielso, Leticia Dolera, Ángela Fabián, Samuel Romero, Carla Campra

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Madrid, 1991. A teen girl finds herself besieged by an evil supernatural force after she played Ouija with two classmates.

My Brief Opinion:

To quote Wikipedia again, Veronica is a Spanish horror movie “Loosely based on true events from the 1991 Vallecas case where Estefanía Gutiérrez Lázaro died mysteriously after she used a ouija board“. It showed up on Netflix with a lot of people saying “scariest horror movie ever!” and shit like that. I guess it’s the only horror movie they’ve ever watched? It was a well-made film with decent acting but it’s not something we haven’t all seen before. However, I liked the characters which is always a plus as we don’t often get likeable characters in this genre. I felt for this poor 15-year-old girl and her sweet younger siblings she’s forced to take care of since their mother is always working. It made the film an okay watch as the story itself was a little bland (especially as, from what I’ve read, it’s only very loosely based on the “true” story).

My Rating: 6/10

A Ghost Story, Berlin Syndrome & The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane Movie Reviews

Three more quickie horror reviews. Well, none of them are actually “horror” films. Two thrillers & one pretentious bore…

A Ghost Story (2017)

Directed & Written by David Lowery

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Affleck plays a man who becomes a ghost and remains in the house he shares with his wife (Mara).

My Brief Opinion:

What a load of pretentious twaddle. I was all prepared to like this, too, since I like Rooney Mara for some reason (even though she displays zero emotion in everything I’ve ever seen her in). To be fair, I can appreciate what this story was trying to achieve (does life have meaning or will we all just die and fade away and be forgotten blah blah blah). It’s actually quite a depressing film but do we really need to be reminded that life sucks, especially with the current state of the world?? Here’s my Twitter “tweet review” of this movie: Well. That was tedious. #AGhostStory ✨🏠👫🎹🎧🚗 💢 💀👻🙍🏻‍♀️🥧👩‍👧‍👦👻🍽💢😱🏚🏗🏙👩🏼‍🌾👻💀💀💀🏠👫👻👻📜🕳✨

My Rating: 6/10

Berlin Syndrome (2017)

Directed by Cate Shortland

Based on Berlin Syndrome by Melanie Joosten

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Max Riemelt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells about a young photographer Clare, going to Germany, where she meets an attractive guy Andi. Waking up after a stormy night of passion, Clare realizes that Andi locked her in the apartment and is not going to let her go.

My Brief Opinion:

I actually thought this was a decent psychological thriller. Starring Teresa Palmer & Max Riemelt, this is the IMDb synopsis: A passionate holiday romance leads to an obsessive relationship, when an Australian photojournalist wakes one morning in a Berlin apartment and is unable to leave. I’m always interested to see how a character will behave in this sort of situation (Teresa Palmer is the one being kept locked up in the apartment belonging to a stranger she’s slept with while on holiday). It’s strange to see him go about his daily life as normal each day while keeping her imprisoned and to see the “relationship” develop between them (he sees her as his girlfriend, of sorts, in his messed up mind). And she of course depends on him for food, etc, to survive. It’s based on a book so I’d be interested to know more about the characters’ feelings & motivations as I think the movie doesn’t explore this well enough. Maybe I’ll read the novel sometime.

My Rating: 6.5/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (1976)

Directed by Nicolas Gessner

Based on The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane by Laird Koenig

Starring: Jodie Foster, Martin Sheen, Alexis Smith, Mort Shuman, Scott Jacoby

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot focuses on 13-year-old Rynn Jacobs (Foster), a child whose absent poet father and secretive behaviours prod the suspicions of her conservative small-town Maine neighbours.

My Brief Opinion:

I watched this odd 1976 Jodie Foster film partly because I was sick of seeing it in my Netflix Watchlist (it’s been on there for years). I think I was under the impression that it was a straightforward horror but it’s more of a drama that almost feels like a play. Actually, the story would work quite well as a play (maybe it was a play – I’m too lazy to look into it). It drags & I found it a bit underwhelming but the young Foster did a good job as the mysterious 13-year-old who seems to live in a house all on her own.

My Rating: 5.5/10

I far preferred the Jodie Foster film Bugsy Malone, which I watched for the first time last year but never got around to reviewing. Seems to be a bit of a cult classic in the U.K. but barely even known in the U.S.

The Nun (2018) Review

I’ve decided that I’ll try to post some horror movie reviews this October after all. As I gave very brief opinions of every horror film I’ve watched in 2018 so far in my monthly recap posts, I’ll re-post those mini-reviews each weekday until Halloween. They’re VERY brief. Which is better than when I blather on for ages about a movie anyway. Here’s what I thought of The Nun

The Nun (2018)

Directed by Corin Hardy

Story by James Wan & Gary Dauberman

Starring: Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A spin-off of 2016’s The Conjuring 2, and the fifth installment in The Conjuring Universe, the film stars Demián Bichir, Taissa Farmiga, and Jonas Bloquet. The plot follows a Roman Catholic priest and a nun in her novitiate as they uncover an unholy secret in 1952 Romania.

My Brief Opinion:

Meh. I don’t know. This was actually a bit better than the terrible reviews would suggest. I thought it was far better than those idiotic Annabelle movies but far worse than the first Conjuring film. I thought the characters were all fairly strong (as far as horrors go) and I really liked the setting of the secluded old convent or castle or whatever it was. It was fairly creepy & atmospheric and, hell, I think I’m talking myself into liking this one a little more than I thought. I do love a good bit of Satanic horror but there are far better films in that sub-genre.

Also, I didn’t say it in my original mini-review but I can’t really find a nun who looks like Marilyn Manson all that scary. To be honest, she’s barely in the film (which annoyed most fans). In my opinion, it was better that we didn’t get to see that much of her.

My Rating: 5.5/10

I’ve realized that I’ve watched all of the Conjuring Universe films so far despite not being a huge fan. Here are my reviews & ratings:

The Conjuring – 7.5/10
The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Case – 6/10
The Nun – 5.5/10
Annabelle – 5/10
Annabelle: Creation – 4.5/10

As far as Taissa Farmiga horror movies go, I had a lot more fun watching The Final Girls last year.

Cooties (2014) Review

Cooties (2014)

Directed by Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion

Starring: Elijah Wood, Alison Pill, Rainn Wilson, Jack McBrayer, Jorge Garcia

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.

My Opinion:

I know I’ve been reviewing horror movies for all of October but I didn’t actually watch any of them in October. I’ve finally watched my first horror movie this month! I watched Cooties on Thursday night. I have to say it was one hell of a disappointment, especially as it’s the only damn horror I’ve watched in quite a while.

I’ll keep this review short. I love a good horror comedy (Yes, I did a Top Ten HERE). I especially love a good zombie comedy (as you’ll see on that list, I chose several ZomComs). ZomCom! I love that term. And I love that there’s actually a ZomRomCom with Warm Bodies… By the way – I know this is “virus” movie and not strictly a “zombie” movie. Whatever. It’s still a zombie movie. And possibly the weakest of all the ZomComs that I’ve seen.

What can I say? Mainly that Cooties wasn’t very funny. I had a couple of very small giggles & that was it. For me, the comedy part of a horror comedy is far more important than the horror part, so… I expect more than a couple small giggles. This is no Shaun Of The Dead! As for the horror part, I wouldn’t say Cooties managed to get this right either. It’s mainly some “gross-out” low budget effects & there’s no real sense of fear for these teachers trapped in a school while the children go berserk. I’ll say that I hadn’t watched this sooner as, even though it’s a comedy, I still didn’t like the thought of them having to kill a bunch of kids. They did what I expected: They made the kids complete & utter assholes so you wouldn’t feel so bad! They did at least make two kids likable, who aren’t infected & end up with the teachers. I was glad about that. Just FYI for the childless or the child-haters watching this: Kids aren’t usually evil, people! If they’re bratty, it’s probably because their parents are c*^ts. Yeah, I used that word since it was used in this movie. 😉

Meh. Sorry. I know I don’t have a lot to say about this one. I was just kind of bored. Elijah Wood, Alison Pill & Rainn Wilson did a decent enough job with a weak script but I didn’t care about the rest of the characters. Oh, wait – I also kind of liked Jorge Garcia’s stoner character. I kept going “Hurley!” because I loved him in Lost. Remember those first couple of seasons when Lost was good?! The ZomCom I’d say this is most similar to is Life After Beth. That was also meh. But I think I ever so slightly preferred that one…

My Rating: 5.5/10

By the way, I thought of a positive comment to add so I don’t sound so negative. I do think this Cooties poster is pretty great and I liked how it appeared outside a cinema in the film, next to a poster of A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night:

**Edit to say that I watched another horror movie after writing this review. I watched the Netflix adaptation of Stephen King’s 1922. I’ll be reviewing that on Monday followed by a review on Tuesday of Gerald’s Game.

I’ll then do a few days of Mike Flanagan movie reviews before ending on the 30th & 31st with reviews of my two favorite horrors that I watched at home this year. Neither of those films are in English. You need to start making better horror movies, Hollywood!

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Cell (2016) Review

Welcome to my final day of Stephen King Week. King turned 70 yesterday so I posted something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews (including 2017’s It), and two Top Ten lists (My Top Ten Stephen King Movies & My Top Ten Stephen King Books). Today I’m reviewing the film adaptation of his novel Cell.

Cell (2016)

Directed by Tod Williams

Based on Cell by Stephen King

Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Owen Teague, Clark Sarullo, Anthony Reynolds, Erin Elizabeth Burns, Stacy Keach

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When a mysterious cell phone signal causes apocalyptic chaos, an artist is determined to reunite with his young son in New England.

My Opinion:

Okay, what I’d heard about Cell is true: the movie isn’t good. However, I don’t think it’s quite as bad as its rating on things like IMDb (4.3 out of 10. Yikes). I’ll say that I quite liked the Stephen King book (it just makes it into My Top Ten Stephen King Books list) although it certainly doesn’t seem to be a favorite for most people. And it’s likely to drop out of my Top Ten over time as it’s admittedly not one of his best pieces of work. I’ve just always had a thing for anything at all post-apocalyptic and this story of a “zombie-like” plague of sorts is so my type of thing that I’m probably more forgiving of its flaws than I should be. Story: Good. Execution: Not so good.

The movie starts out okay. As always, things were changed from what I remember of the novel now but the overall story stays close enough. The problem with both the film and book, however, is that the story falls apart at the end. I like King when he’s at his most bizarre & supernatural but not everyone is going to buy into that sort of thing and this novel’s ending was one that was never going to translate well to film. On the written page, it’s easier to suspend disbelief & King has a way of writing which makes you accept some weird ass shit. On screen, it rarely works well. And it unfortunately didn’t work well for this movie.

I spent a long time reviewing It (the 2017 version) the other day as I liked that one a lot & I get all excited and chatty when I see a movie that I truly enjoy. Boring, predictable, poorly made movies just kind of suck my will to live and forcing myself to “review” them is a struggle. I’m sad to say that’s the way I feel about Cell. I can’t be bothered. It was only about three weeks ago that I watched this and I can barely remember the damn thing. I believe I got bored & started f*^king around on my (cell!) phone, meaning I certainly wasn’t giving this my full attention. At least I didn’t turn into a cell phone “zombie”. But aren’t we all cell phone zombies already anyway?!?! Hmmmmmm. Is that the moral of this story? You’d like to think so! But what could’ve been a thoughtful social commentary is nothing more than yet another zombie story.

I like both John Cusack & Samuel L. Jackson but I can’t say they were trying to win any acting Oscars for this one. 1408 is a better movie if you’re specifically wanting a King movie starring Cusack & Jackson. I remember liking the girl & young boy in the book (I’m too lazy to look up their names) but the movie manages to make us not give the slightest shit about the fate of any of these characters. Heck, the most enjoyment I got from this was seeing Stacy Keach as it reminded me of the last thing I saw him in: Class Of 1999a movie probably even worse than Cell, in which he looked like THIS…

What’s up with the banana? I don’t know. And I’m not sure what exactly made this movie so bad. I suppose it’s mainly due to the lack of decent character development. As I said in my It review on Wednesday, it’s the characters that really made that film so enjoyable. Horror movies are the worst for giving us underdeveloped characters. It IS possible to have a good story and good characters within the horror genre. Why are there so few??

Meh. Cell isn’t the worst horror movie I’ve seen but it’s just another forgettable one to add to the huge pile of bland films in this genre. Both the book & film are guilty of missing the opportunity to really say something about our smartphones destroying society & all that. But, to be fair, the book is over ten years old now so it’s already starting to feel a bit dated. If I remember correctly, you have to actually be talking on a phone to get the virus in this movie. I mean, who the hell actually uses their smartphone as a phone?!?! I’ve typed this entire review on my phone but I can’t remember the last time I talked into it other than to say “Hey Siri, I see a little silhouetto of a man!“. People don’t talk to each other. Social media is the opposite of social. That’s the problem. Oh well – not every movie has to have deeper meaning, I guess. I found the book a fun read. It’s too bad the movie isn’t a bit better. Oh, and I still f*^king love my cell phone. I just wish they’d changed the title to Mobile in the UK because it’s such a horrible title that it would’ve been kind of amusing.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016) & Trolls (2016) Movie Reviews

Here are two reviews for the only two films I’ve seen in the cinema in the past two months. Help!!! I want to go to a grown-up movie again someday! 😦 Well, at least one of these was good…

Kubo And The Two Strings (2016)

Directed by Travis Knight

Starring: Charlize Theron, Art Parkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, George Takei, Matthew McConaughey

Production company: Laika

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, they must subdue the Sisters, Raiden the Moon King and his army of evil spirits.

My Opinion:

Yep – As you probably guessed, this is the good one of these two films. We went to this as a family and all really liked it but, of the three of us, my hubby is the one who loved it the most. He’s a big fan of stop-motion animation (probably thanks to growing up on Ray Harryhausen films) and seems fascinated by the behind-the-scenes stuff that Laika put in their end credits.

Of the Laika films so far, ParaNorman is still possibly my personal favorite but Kubo is a very close second and the one I’d actually say is their “best film” so far. I hated The Boxtrolls (can’t win them all!) but the animation was fantastic as always. I admit to falling asleep in the middle of Coraline years ago & never going back to it but that’s been due to lack of time more than lack of interest. I really should finish that one but will wait until I think the kid is old enough to watch it with me (what I saw was kind of creepy – what age would you guys recommend on that one?).

As with other Laika films, Kubo And The Two Strings is dark, serious, and slightly intense. It’s one you’re obviously not going to bring a three-year-old to or to watch for the simple, silly giggles like you get out of something like Trolls. Laika doesn’t need to make those sort of films, though – we already have studios such as DreamWorks for that. As a (admittedly sometimes too snobby) fan of film, I have a lot of respect for Laika (and Pixar) making true art for kids & grown-ups alike and for never dumbing things down for their younger audiences.

As a lover of Studio Ghibli & a lot of Japanese films, I loved the setting & vibe of Kubo (although, of course, it’s voiced mostly by American or British actors). That’s my only small complaint about the film – the voices of Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara & Matthew McConaughey don’t exactly give this film a genuine Japanese vibe. But, well… it was made in the West & we speak English, so…

Anyway – I don’t want to take away from the film as it’s a lovely work of art with an original & unique story. No, not all kids will love it and you might not want to let anyone too young watch it (mine is seven & she really liked it, though not as much as the Studio Ghibli films she’s seen. Yes! I love my kid). 😉 I’d say minimum age of six on this one but, as always, it depends on each individual kid. The evil Sisters & Moon King are quite frightening and Kubo’s eye is stolen for crying out loud (this isn’t shown)… Actually, yeah – this one is pretty scary come to think of it. But there are still light-hearted moments and my daughter seemed pretty taken with Kubo, Monkey & Beetle, who are strong main characters.

I want to give this movie a slightly higher score as I think it’s very good but there’s also something missing that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think I just have yet to fully connect with any of the characters in Laika’s films in the same way I have with so many Pixar characters. I don’t get the same sort of wave of emotion that I do while watching the best of Pixar or Ghibli but I think Laika is coming closer to someday achieving that same level of genius. I feel kind of the same about this film as I do Song Of The Sea, which I also watched recently. That was absolutely gorgeous to look at but I didn’t “care” as much as I’d hoped to while watching it. Still, Kubo is another step in the right direction & I look forward to future films from Laika.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Trolls (2016)

Directed by Mike Mitchell

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Russell Brand, James Corden, Gwen Stefani

Production company: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film revolves around two trolls on a quest to save their village from destruction by the Bergens, creatures who devour trolls.

My Opinion:

Kids’ films are hard to review, which is why at one point I tried to review Cinderella (2015) in a way where I gave my daughter’s opinion as well as my own (and hubby’s – he’s actually as big of a movie nut as I am). This was because I was accused of taking kids’ films too seriously in one of my reviews and I actually got quite upset because it was a time when I cared what people thought of me. Not anymore! 😉 Screw that. I’m a movie-blogging-asshole with strong opinions & feel that even “kids’ films” should maintain certain standards. Hell, they’re even more important since what they teach (and too often preach) is going to have an impact on impressionable young minds. Which brings me to Trolls…..

I have no idea how to review this because it seriously SUCKS but my daughter LOVED it! Hahaha! I’m so conflicted!!!! My snobby self wants to trash it but, in all honesty, it’s one of my favorite trips to the cinema in ages. She giggled like crazy through this entire glitter vomit nightmare and it made me so happy that I wanted to cry. What’s better than seeing your kid happy?! So, um… Hmm.

Trolls! Ugh. Well, this movie was pretty much what I expect from DreamWorks. DreamWorks has made loads of highly successful films and I respect that as it’s far more impressive than staring at spreadsheets all day like an un-artistic loser like me but I’ll never see their films as anything more than “movies for kids”. There’s nothing wrong with this and I’m glad they’ve made so many kids happy but I prefer family films that appeal to young & old alike. And so you don’t think I’m a grumpy old fart who can’t just shut up & enjoy a simple kids’ movie, I do like some DreamWorks (I should do one of my annoying top tens! The Kung Fu Pandas & Monsters Vs. Aliens are probably my favorites while my kid seems to like How To Train Your Dragon & that weird Puss In Boots).

Trolls! Is it obvious I don’t feel like reviewing this??? Let’s see… Poppy was very cute. My daughter loved young Poppy at the beginning of the movie and, while she went too annoyingly cute at times, the character mostly stayed on the right side of the sickeningly sweet line. The kid also loved that she’s voiced by Anna Kendrick since she knows her as the Cups song girl. She also likes Gwen Stefani, who was completely wasted in a tiny role in a movie so full of music.

Speaking of music, Trolls took a lot of GREAT songs and ruined them. Again, I’m conflicted as they had the good taste to pick songs by artists such as Gorillaz & Justice (!!!) but then ruined them by turning them into dumb songs about troll hair (!!!!!). Oops – I’m being bitchy again. But I thought the hubby was going to either cry or scream & run out of the cinema when the Trolls version of Donna Summer’s I Feel Love started up… Lol! (You think I’m a snob? He’s far worse than I am). To be fair, the movie’s Cyndi Lauper True Colors scene wasn’t bad. And, hey – I think the Justin Timberlake song, Can’t Stop The Feeling, is a genuinely good song and the one thing from this film that will stand the test of time. It got the biggest reaction from kids in the cinema (some even cheered). I said something positive! Yay me! Oh, I also kind of liked the cloud dude. He was weirdly funny. My daughter didn’t like him, though – she looked at me like I was a weirdo when I said he was my favorite character. He looked stoned:

Trolls! They look nothing like the classic Trolls we grew up with. That’s annoying. I want my kid to have a genuine ugly, naked troll doll – not these pink, sparkly cartoon versions! Dammit. At least the classic ones have a brief cameo, I guess. The bad guys in this, the Bergens, were stupid & got on my nerves but at least they made me like the Trolls more. Hey – there’s another positive. Yay me! I’ve said some good things about this movie! Justin Timberlake’s character wasn’t too bad, mostly since he had the right attitude (not an asshole Bergen but not annoyingly happy like the other Trolls).

This review is too long & I’m bored. I was going to write one paragraph & be done with it. Ha! I do ramble on when I’m being bitchy. Sorry about that. Trolls! It sucks but your young kid will probably love it and seeing your kid smile will melt your frozen heart (Anna/Elsa-style!). But those goddamn troll-hair songs will still make you cringe…

My Rating: 5.5/10

**Okay – I admit I was in a horrible mood when I wrote these reviews. Yesterday, however, I watched my first proper grown-up film in months and MAN was it a good one!!! So I’m slightly less grumpy now. 😉 I’ll try to review that film tomorrow…. (it was Arrival, FYI)

Deathgasm (2015) Review

Welcome to Day Three of horror comedies from New Zealand! It’s also the final day since I’ve only reviewed three! On Sunday I reblogged What We Do In The Shadows & yesterday I reviewed Housebound. Let’s finish things off with a bit of Deathgasm

Deathgasm (2015)

Directed & Written by Jason Lei Howden

Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Kimberley Crossman, Stephen Ure

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives.

My Opinion:

I kind of trashed Housebound yesterday. I did, however, think that What We Do In The Shadows was very funny. So, I don’t hate all “horror comedies from New Zealand”! Just Housebound. 😉 Then again, I’ve seen hardly any so I’m certainly no expert. Why is horror comedy such a popular genre there?

I suppose the King of this very specific genre would be Peter Jackson. I admit I’ve never seen Bad Taste & think I only saw part of Braindead (aka Dead Alive in the U.S.). I saw The Frighteners since I’m an American 80s kid so of course like Michael J. Fox but I barely remember it (think I liked it okay). Otherwise, I’ve only seen Jackson’s more mainstream stuff like his 1,528 Lord Of The Rings/Hobbit films. I’ve seen one other movie in this tiny genre: Black Sheep (2006). Meh. It was okay. Or is that “Bah. It was okay”? So let’s rank these! My worst to best:

– Housebound
– Black Sheep
– Deathgasm
– The Frighteners
– What We Do In The Shadows

Number one is first by far but, considering that I barely even remember my number two choice but stuck it at two anyway, I’ve clearly not been too impressed with this genre overall. Deathgasm looked like the type of movie I’d love so maybe I hyped it up too much but I was definitely disappointed.

From the little bit I’ve seen of Braindead, you should like this one if you like Jackson’s old stuff. This movie has a load of over-the-top fake gore. And lots of puking up blood, which I could’ve done without. I’m not really a fan of the whole “puking up blood” thing. This is a full-on splatterfest, if you like that sort of thing. It’s not something I love but will put up with if a movie is entertaining enough. Deathgasm was sort of just good enough to make me sit through the gore.

The most important thing, to me, was the “heavy metal” aspect & I’d say the movie did that well. I can’t say I actually knew any of the music (Should I? I’m not very hip – I stick to old school metal) but the look of the film & our two main metal dudes gave it a great heavy metal vibe. Plus, you know, there was lots of Satanic shit. You have to have Satanic shit in a heavy metal horror film! And a hot blonde.


Actually, why didn’t I like Deathgasm more?? It should be my type of thing as I love metal dudes in movies (Wayne & Garth!). I liked our two main guys okay & the girl was thankfully a little bit more than just the hot blonde for our nerdy metal loner. It fulfills the horror side of things nicely for those who love splatterporn and the comedy side of things as it did give me a few chuckles. It was far more funny than Housebound but unfortunately far less funny than What We Do In The Shadows or the majority of the many great horror comedies. I absolutely love this genre when a movie does it right (I did a list of My Top Ten Horror Comedies HERE) so maybe I’m overly picky but Deathgasm doesn’t come close to being added to that list. Too gross-out & not even laughs plus characters I can’t say I connected with as much as I was hoping. It was fun for a one-time watch, though, and worth a try for metalhead gorehounds.

My Rating: 5.5/10

I’d much rather hang out with Jack, Kyle & the best Satan ever than Brodie, Zakk & Satanic blood puking. Would be a lot more fun!

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974), San Andreas & Pixels Movie Reviews 

Three quickie reviews today & I mean it. I’m going to try to not ramble on in my reviews anymore. I mainly just like discussing movies with people in the comments so I’m only really here to say whether I liked a film or not & then to hear what others have to say about it.

It’s an odd assortment today but I can tell you that one was really good, one was really bad but fun, and one was just really bad with a great concept it somehow managed to shit all over. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three (1974)

Directed by Joseph Sargent

Based on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

Starring: Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In New York, armed men hijack a subway car and demand a ransom for the passengers. Even if it’s paid, how could they get away?

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this movie. I love movies from the 1970s and was happy when both this & Escape From Alcatraz became available on one of our movie services. Man it’s hard keeping track of which movies are available where, when & how – I know I’m old school but I still kind of prefer just being able to go to a video store. So, anyway – I made the hubby watch them both with me about the same time last year and they were great. Alcatraz was better and I highly recommend that one but Pelham was really good as well. No, I’ve not seen the remake with John Travolta and I don’t plan to.

If you’ve not seen this, imagine Speed set on a subway train in 1974 instead of a bus with attractive people in 1994. So, I guess Walter Matthau is kind of the Keanu Reeves in this. Gotta say I prefer Keanu (he was such a hottie in Speed). Actually, I found Matthau a bit distracting but he was probably the only thing I didn’t really like about this as he just seemed out of place. Robert Shaw was great as one of the hijackers, though! I think I’d only ever seen him in Jaws before this (which he’s AWESOME in). All the hijackers were great & I loved all the drama on the train. The only times the movie dragged a little were when we got away from that action and back to the cops & Matthau’s character dealing with the hostage takers’ ransom demands. Overall, though, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three is a great 70’s action thriller I’d definitely recommend to anyone who is a fan of this sort of genre.

My Rating: 7.5/10

San Andreas (2015)

Directed by Brad Peyton

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, Ioan Gruffudd, Archie Panjabi, Paul Giamatti

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey with his ex-wife across the state in order to rescue his daughter.

My Opinion:

Ha! This movie was so bad. But it was “fun bad”. It was exactly what I think we’ve all come to expect from these cheesy disaster movies so, therefore, I kind of enjoyed it. It’s utterly ridiculous. Some random people get saved at the last minute, which is supposed to make the audience all cheer while thousands of others are sucked into the Earth to their deaths. Never mind those people as long as a girl with big boobs & a dog get saved! Actually, San Andreas didn’t pull the “save the dog” trick. Damn – I always laugh out loud when the dogs get saved…

Alexandra Daddario wears a shirt over a tight tank top which, conveniently, has to he taken off & used as a bandage or something. I don’t remember. But this is just in time for the coming flood which will see her submerged in water while wearing the tight tank top, of course. She’s ended up with a somewhat dorky boy her age who can’t believe his luck at being in an earthquake with such a babe and his little brother who I realized was Rickon Stark. Then they had to run from the earthquake while Kylie Minogue shot arrows at them. Okay, not really but that would’ve been funny. But Kylie Monogue was seriously in this. WTF? Not for long, though – she falls out of a building. Sorry! That’s not really a spoiler since she’s a bitch & this film follows the disaster movie rules of “If you’re an asshole, you die”. Then Dwayne Johnson dies. HA! Just kidding! Of course he doesn’t. He’s not an asshole – he’s the hero! Can you believe that this is the only Dwayne Johnson movie I’ve ever seen??? Oh yeah – and I totally forgot that Paul Giamatti was in this in a completely pointless role. I guess we all gotta pay the bills, huh? And, let’s see… Dwayne Johnson & Carla Gugino (Alexandra “tight tank top” Daddario’s parents) are divorced because they have a tragic past that tore them apart but now they have to work together to save their daughter and THE END IS A COMPLETE SHOCK THAT I DIDN’T SEE COMING!!!! Lol. Just kidding. Predictable disaster movie bullshit every step of the way. GOOD! That’s exactly what I wanted & this movie delivered. Fun bad! But still very bad… 😉

My Rating: 5.5/10

Pixels (2015)

Directed by Chris Columbus

Based on Pixels by Patrick Jean

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad, Brian Cox

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

My Opinion:

When I found out they’d be making a full length movie of the fantastic Pixels short film, I was excited. It’s such an awesome concept & the short is great. What could possibly go wrong, right? Holy shit – how did they manage to mess this film up so completely?! You can watch the (far superior) short film HERE.

I actually don’t hate Adam Sandler like I know a lot of people do. He’s been in plenty of movies that are complete & utter shit but he’s also been in several that I liked okay. He’s from “my” era of SNL and, overall, I don’t really have anything against him. But I worried like hell when I heard that this would be an Adam Sandler film & thought “well, maybe it will have decent writers & he’ll just star in it”. Nope, this is an Adam Sandler movie. It’s not the worst of his worst: it’s one of the “mediocre” Adam Sandler movies. But that’s not what this should’ve been! There was so much potential here to make a decent movie out of that brilliant short and instead they decided to make The Waterboy version of Pixels. Pixels Gilmore! Pixels Madison! Pixels Nicky! You Don’t Mess With The Pixels! I Now Pronounce You Pixels & Larry! 8 (Bit) Crazy Pixels!

This movie was such a massive disappointment. Sandler is actually fine, I guess – he’s far less annoying than the other characters. Kevin James plays the most unbelievable President Of The United States in the history of film. Peter Dinklage is, sadly, just plain embarrassing. Not only did this movie piss all over the short film but it also managed to somewhat destroy one of the greatest Game Of Thrones characters for me! Rickon Stark was better in San Andreas. Oh, and that reminds me: Sean Bean has a small role in this too. How could I forget Ned Stark being in this as well?! Because the movie is forgettable, that’s why. Michelle Monaghan, unsurprisingly, plays Sandler’s usual paint-by-numbers love interest. Q*bert plays a character WHO TALKS. What the @!#?@! That really annoyed me. Wreck-It Ralph got Q*bert right! Wreck-It Ralph got a lot of things right. That movie has really gone up in my opinion over time & Pixels made me appreciate it even more. Watch the Pixels short & watch Wreck-It Ralph. Watch any of the movies in my list of My Top Ten Video Game Movies. Then watch The Wedding Singer if you want to watch an Adam Sandler movie because that one is good. Then, if you really MUST satisfy your curiosity, watch Pixels with extremely low expectations. After all my bitching, I should give this a lower score but I’ve seen movies that are worse and I have to admit that one cool thing came out of watching this: it got my daughter very interested in classic arcade games. That alone made the movie worthwhile but, dammit, I really wish it had been good.

My Rating: 5/10

**The soundtrack for Pixels predictably features songs that you just KNOW Sandler chose from his own collection of personal favorites. The main song featured was Cheap Trick’s Surrender:

The Legend Of Billie Jean, Less Than Zero & Private School Movie Reviews

Welcome to my 80’s Quickie Movie Review Special! I’m catching up on reviewing the things I’ve watched the past couple of years and, since these three were from the same decade (the BEST decade), I’ve decided to stick them together. One is a film I saw at the time & really liked but hadn’t re-watched in years, one is a throwaway film that was exactly what I expected for its sort of genre, and one is a film I’d badly wanted to see for years & found to be a big disappointment after finally seeing it for the first time now. Here we go!

The Legend Of Billie Jean (1985)

Directed by Matthew Robbins

Starring: Helen Slater, Keith Gordon, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Yeardley Smith

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A Texas teenager cuts her hair short and becomes an outlaw martyr with her brother and friends.

My Opinion:

I did watch this on TV several times in the 80s & I really liked it but it never became an all-time favorite like other movies from the era (even though Christian Slater, one of my big teen crushes, was in it). It was a lot of fun watching it again with the hubby several months ago, though, and it’s gone up in my estimation due partly to nostalgia and partly to being older & able to appreciate things such as the female empowerment going on (which will have gone straight over my head when I first saw this at the age of 13 or so). It reminds me a bit of the same sort of theme running through the little known 1982 Diane Lane film Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains and the two would make a great double feature. Any female bloggers want to come over to my place for a movie night? We’ll watch these two. Bring lots of popcorn! No pillow fights, though – we’re not going to feed any male fantasies. They can just go watch Private School (review below). 😉

I love Helen Slater (she’s a definite girl crush) and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Billie Jean. I like the City Slickers connection with both Slater & Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson) also being in that together (love that movie!). I also like that this movie has a period scene on my list of My Top Ten Period Scenes In Movies & that I get to link to that post again. Ha! There are great songs in this like Pat Benatar’s awesome Invincible (the movie’s theme song) & Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell. Oh, that plot synopsis above is pretty crap so here’s a bit more if you’re curious: Basically, Slater & Slater (no relation IRL!) are a poor brother & sister in small town Texas. C. Slater’s motorbike is trashed by local hoodlums & H. Slater demands that the (rich by small-town standards) father of the main hoodlum boy pay for the repairs. After the father instead attempts to rape H. Slater, C. Slater accidentally shoots the asshole in the shoulder. The siblings & their friends then go on the run & H. Slater’s Billie Jean ends up a media sensation & heroine outlaw to all those who believe in how she stands up for what’s right. Through it all, her only demand is that her brother’s motorbike repairs be paid for by the prick responsible. It’s actually a great, simple story & I can see why it has achieved a sort of cult status.

I do really like The Legend Of Billie Jean even though it’s not one that I watched 1,582 times as a teenager. It’s a must see if you love movies from this era but somehow missed out on it. I’m not sure how a younger generation might feel about it but it has aged slightly better than some other movies from its time so it may be worth checking out if you like the sound of it.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Less Than Zero (1987)

Directed by Marek Kanievska

Based on Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis

Starring: Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.

Music by Thomas Newman

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film stars Andrew McCarthy as Clay, a college freshman returning home for Christmas to spend time with his ex-girlfriend Blair (Jami Gertz) and his friend Julian (Robert Downey, Jr.), who is also a drug addict. The film presents a look at the culture of wealthy, decadent youth in Los Angeles.

My Opinion:

I didn’t see this movie at the time as I suppose I was a little too young for it but then I just never managed to catch it on TV or anything. Anyway, it’s a movie from 1987 starring big 80’s actors so I’ve of course been wanting to see it for almost 30 years now (yikes! I’m old). I also loved the big song from this movie (a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s Hazy Shade Of Winter by The Bangles) and I saw that video full of clips from the film so many times that it almost felt like I had seen the film. Was the movie worth the long wait? No, it wasn’t. Damn – what a disappointment. I was surprised to find it quite boring, especially as the novel is from such a controversial author. I think it was one that needed to be seen at the time as it’s not at all shocking nowadays.

The film is about rich California kids & Robert Downey Jr is a drug addict whose friends try to help him when his family give up on him. Downey Jr was fine as was McCarthy, I suppose (I never liked McCarthy – he’s so boring & bland. He’s like an American Hugh Grant). I’m a fan of Gertz mainly because of my love for The Lost Boys but she feels the most miscast of the three. None of them feel quite right in their roles, though, and the story isn’t very hard hitting for one about drug addiction. The story just kind of meanders & the sex scenes with McCarthy & Gertz felt awkward – talk about less than zero chemistry.

I’ve never read a Bret Easton Ellis book so can’t compare this movie to the novel but I don’t like the film American Psycho & what I’ve read of the book sickens me while I absolutely hated The Rules Of Attraction film & found it extremely offensive. I’m not normally easily offended (I’ll get into this a bit more with Private School) but, considering how much the author’s other adaptations have pissed me off, you’d think Less Than Zero would at least have some balls. This is probably the most tame “drug addiction” movie I’ve seen. Very disappointing. I watched this several months ago & barely even remember it now. Good soundtrack, though! I do remember appreciating that.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Private School (1983)

Directed by Noel Black

Starring: Phoebe Cates, Betsy Russell, Matthew Modine, Michael Zorek, Ray Walston, Sylvia Kristel, Kathleen Wilhoite

Music by Rick Springfield

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Private School is a 1983 teen oriented sex comedy film. It follows a teenage couple attempting to have sex for the first time.

My Opinion:

Being the age that I am, I saw plenty of teen sex comedies while growing up. It’s difficult to watch them nowadays without cringing. I suppose it was a very different experience to be a girl watching them in the 80s as opposed to a boy. It’ll seem strange to females nowadays but, in my day, we didn’t give teen sex comedies much thought. It’s amazing that we didn’t find them offensive & I’m happy that they’re, for the most part, a thing of the past. Private School certainly isn’t a “good” movie but, if you really love 80’s sex comedies, it’s worth a watch. It’s better than crap like Porky’s and the girls (whose boobs we see plenty, yes) are fairly decent characters instead of just feeling like victims for the horny male characters (like in movies such as Revenge Of The Nerds with its rape scene that would never be allowed in a movie nowadays. Yikes). I didn’t find Private School offensive & there’s certainly enough nudity in it for horny males everywhere so I think it gets the right sort of balance for both sexes to be able to watch it. But, of course, we get no male nudity. No surprise there!

***WARNING: SOME BOOB PICS BELOW****

Yes, we get a guy spying on the girls in the showers. But, nowadays, he’d take pictures & stick them online. 80’s sex comedies usually don’t feel sinister in the same sort of way that the few modern day films do. We also get the guys dressing up as girls & sneaking into the girls’ dorm. They’re so obviously boys, though, that the girls just have fun messing with them. Especially the below girl, who surprises everyone with a topless ride on a horse. I’m sure it was a very popular scene with young male viewers.

By the way – in looking for pics for this post, I discovered that the topless horse rider (Betsy Russell) is Jigsaw’s ex-wife in the Saw films. Speaking of movies that I find offensive, I find stuff like the Saw films far more offensive than 80’s sex comedies. Yet movies with excessive violence are more readily accepted by society while the briefest flash of a nipple starts riots (way to go, Janet Jackson!). It’s a fucked-up world. Private School is a pretty forgettable film (unless you’re a 13-year-old boy) and it sure as shit isn’t very good but at least the female characters are treated like human beings & have personalities. They’re actually stronger characters than the boys, who are quite dull.

Oh! And Kathleen Wilhoite (in the above photo with the lovely Phoebe Cates) is in this. She’s such a “hey, it’s that girl”. She’s also in Road House. God I love Road House! Road House is “good bad”. Private School is just kind of “meh bad”. I love that I got a Road House mention in here.

My Rating: 5/10

Love these songs!!! Soundtracks from the Eighties are the best. And you get clips from the movies as well. 🙂

Sleeping With Strangers (1994) & Factotum (2005) Reviews

Tomorrow would’ve been Adrienne Shelly’s 50th birthday so I’m going to be posting reviews of some of her movies. Yesterday I began with her Hal Hartley films The Unbelievable Truth & Trust (reviews HERE) and tomorrow I’ll review her own film Waitress, which she wrote & directed and in which she also starred.

I explained yesterday why I’m reviewing Shelly’s films so I’m going to copy that explanation again here. I’ll just add that her independent films are very hard to get a hold of so today’s movies are unfortunately not very good & I’m sure she’s been in better ones. However, Sleeping With Strangers was a bit of fun and worth the watch as she has a big role & I’m definitely now a fan but she disappointingly only has an extremely small role in Factotum. Here’s what I said yesterday:

First of all, I’ll say a little bit about why I’ve chosen to devote a few days to Adrienne Shelly’s films. I became interested in checking out more of her work after watching the fantastic film Waitress, which she wrote & directed and in which she also starred. I watched Waitress while pregnant just like its main character (played by Keri Russell) and the movie just “spoke” to me in that special sort of way that I know only fellow diehard film lovers might understand. I’d seen her in nothing before & sadly didn’t even know her name until news of her murder just before the film’s release.

Anyway – I won’t go into Waitress now as I’ll be reviewing that on Friday but I so loved the movie & its mix of quirky characters (including Shelly’s role) that I wanted to see the films she’d starred in previously. Wow – they’re hard to get hold of! The one I’m most interested in (Sudden Manhattan, which she also wrote & directed) isn’t available. Of what I could get, I have to say that I liked Waitress far more than the films she only starred in. It’s sad to think of the other fantastic movies she could have made had she not been so cruelly taken from her family, her friends, and the filmmaking world.

Sleeping With Strangers (1994)

Directed by William T Bolson

Written by Joan Carr-Wiggin

Starring: Adrienne Shelly, Alastair Duncan, Kim Huffman, Shawn Thompson, Scott McNeil

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A popular actress (Shelly) and a rock star (McNeil) come to a small Canadian town with two competing hotels next door to each other. The rock star is escorted into one of the hotels and the actress checks into the other. Daniel (Duncan), the owner of one of the two hotels, is trying to stay afloat. The other hotel owner, Mark (Thompson), is trying to steal away Daniel’s business and his fiancee (Huffman). The paparazzi arrives in town and makes everybody wonder, who is sleeping with whom?


*This is the only photo from this movie that I can find online

My Opinion:

I have to begin by saying: Who the HELL are those people on the movie poster??? You know you’re watching some low budget movie with no big names when they just stick some random people on the poster. That picture has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie – I’m assuming it was an “assignment” where they were given nothing more than the movie’s title & told to take a photo. Stupid. It’s not even the right number of people – the movie’s main characters are two women & three men. Even my DVD has a stupid cover – it’s a picture of two pairs of feet sticking out of a blanket. I prefer that, though, because at least you can almost pretend the feet belong to people who are ACTUALLY IN THE MOVIE.


*Why does Adrienne Shelly’s name have an extra E in some movie posters? I’m wondering if that’s an error or if she started out spelling it that way. Hmm… Yes, these are the little things that bother me in life.

Rant over! Okay – I just spent a paragraph bitching about the poster as I don’t have much to say about the actual movie. I guess it’s a romantic comedy, which is rarely my favorite type of film in the first place, but it’s not exactly the worst I’ve ever seen in this genre. I mean, at least Kate Hudson isn’t in it (or, you know – the 1994 annoying equivalent of Kate Hudson).


*As I said, this must officially be the most obscure movie I’ve reviewed as there are no photos from it online besides the one I used at the very start. So here’s the lovely Shelly on a DVD cover for The Unbelievable Truth…

I only watched this movie for Adrienne Shelly anyway & I’m glad I did as she has a very big role as a famous actress staying at an inn in a small village. Okay, maybe it’s because I’d say I’m a fan now but she’s the best thing about the movie. Her character isn’t really meant to be “liked” but you do warm to her & want nothing more than for her to hook up with the Scottish inn-owner (Alastair Duncan, who is clearly meant to be your favorite character & the one whose inn you want to stay in business). These two are good together & have a nice chemistry while the rest of the characters felt like a waste of time.


*There’s Alastair Duncan, apparently in a few episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Well, Kim Huffman was also good as Duncan’s cheating fiancé – she strikes me as a good actress who just hasn’t gone on to be in anything big. The other two male characters, though, were pointless. The other inn-owner had zero development (he was only there to add drama by being the competition & sleeping with the fiancée) and the rock star boyfriend of Shelly’s sctress was an embarrassment. He was all “Duuuude” and “Whoaaaa” – just a stereotypically sexist hard rocker with big hair. I mean, I love those dumb dudes sometimes (I adore Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure!) but it was just a bit too silly & the dumb comedy involving this character distracted from an otherwise simple story of some small town folks. There were some lesser characters, such as an old lady who lived at the inn & thought she was Queen, who could have been quite endearing if they’d been focused on a bit more. I often like quirky, small town dramedies (I’m thinking of things like Local Hero). If this movie had leaned more toward drama or actually had some good comedy, it would’ve been a much better film. Oh well. It wasn’t the worst movie ever & I’m glad Shelly had such a large role.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Factotum (2005)

Directed by Bent Hamer

Based on Factotum (1975) by Charles Bukowski

Starring: Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Adrienne Shelly, Fisher Stevens

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
This drama centers on Hank Chinaski, the fictional alter-ego of “Factotum” author Charles Bukowski, who wanders around Los Angeles, CA trying to live off jobs which don’t interfere with his primary interest, which is writing. Along the way, he fends off the distractions offered by women, drinking and gambling.

My Opinion:

This movie, unfortunately, was a huge waste of my time. Luckily, it was super cheap! Which is why I bought it since it had Shelly listed as an actress in it. Damn – I didn’t realize what an extremely small role it would be. But I also love Lili Taylor (Say Anything! Mystic Pizza!) so I figured “what the hell – it’s cheap & has two actresses I like”. Ugh. I can’t say I got any sort of enjoyment whatsoever out of this movie, which is quite rare. Even ones I absolutely HATE usually have a little something about them that I can appreciate. This was worse than those I hate – it was just a “So what?”.

This movie is based on the book Factotum by author Charles Bukowski & Matt Dillon plays Bukowski’s “fictional alter-ego”. I’ll readily admit that I’d never even heard of Bukowski before watching this movie then reading about it online. I’d say that this film was probably made solely for fans of his writing so, if you’re a fan, you might as well give this a go. If you aren’t, I honestly can’t recommend it. I found it utterly pointless & completely boring considering its main character is supposedly a somewhat controversial figure who doesn’t conform to social norms. Perhaps it would’ve been better in its original setting of the 1940s as in the book since his behavior doesn’t feel shocking in the movie’s 2005. It feels like there IS a story here but, for whatever reason, the movie fails to make it watchable. I’m assuming the book is more interesting as the author appears to have plenty of fans.

Everyone does a decent enough job with the material, however. The movie stars some big names and Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor & Marisa Tomei all give it their usual best. Dillon basically mopes around, writes a bit, jumps from job to job, and has loads of sex with Taylor. For a while, he has sex with Tomei instead. Tomei & a couple other women apparently hang out with a rich old dude just to have a place to stay & sometimes get rides on his yacht (and on him, you assume). Adrienne Shelly plays one of those women. I’m not sure if she even had a line…

I’m not against this sort of film, where you have an unsympathetic central character that most people won’t be able to relate to in any way. But there have been plenty of similar films which didn’t feel like such a huge waste. I don’t expect some Disney ending where everyone learns the error of their ways but I do expect to get a little something out of a film, whether it’s some sort of emotion or if it’s just plain entertainment. I’m thinking of things like Leaving Las Vegas or The Wolf Of Wall Street – both are excellent films with central characters who most people won’t be able to relate to but one film manages to be very emotionally draining while the other is sure as shit entertaining. I’m now curious to see the film Filth to compare – that one certainly looks more interesting than Factotum. I hate to end on a downer but, hey, it’s not like this is an Adrienne Shelly film & I’ll be finishing on a far more positive note when I review Waitress tomorrow. 🙂

My Rating: 4/10

Kung Fu Panda 3, The House Of Magic, Rio 2 & Muppets Most Wanted Movie Reviews

I have four quickie kids’ film reviews for you today! I promise they’ll be quick. Why? Because I barely remember three of them.

I’ve just seen Kung Fu Panda 3 so that review will be a little longer than the rest. You see, I get a little annoyed when I look at the pages on my blog & see that I still have some movies that I watched but never reviewed on the 2014 page & the 2015 page (never mind the 2016 page! I’m way behind). It’s especially annoying that the only movies that I actually went to the cinema to see but then didn’t review were these three 2014 kids’ movies. They were so “meh” that I guess I couldn’t be bothered.

So, here we go! I’ll finally say something about them two years later. I’m limiting myself to one paragraph each for the three older ones (plus my kid’s opinion on each). But let’s start with the longer review for the most current film (and by far the best of the four)…

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson & Alessandro Carloni

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, J. K. Simmons, James Hong, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, David Cross, Bryan Cranston, Kate Hudson

From: DreamWorks Animation

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.

My Opinion:

I actually thought this movie was really good. As far as DreamWorks movies go, at least. I’ve stated here before how I see DreamWorks movies as strictly kids’ films while I view Pixar & most Disney ones as just being great films overall for every age group. Like, I wouldn’t feel weird discussing both WALL-E & Citizen Kane in the same breath. Except, I’ve not seen Citizen Kane… Never mind.

What I liked about Kung Fu Panda 3 is that, while it has a message as does every kids’ movie, it didn’t let the message get in the way of the movie being fun and actually making kids laugh. The previous movie we went to as a family was Disney’s Zootropolis (aka Zootopia) & I did NOT expect to think a DreamWorks film was far better than a Disney one! But that’s the case this time.

Kung Fu Panda 3 hasn’t forgotten that, first & foremost, it’s meant to be aimed at kids. I felt that Zootropolis completely forgot this while trying to drive its message home with a convoluted plot and uninteresting characters. But Kung Fu Panda 3 isn’t dumbed down for kids, either, which is a big pet peeve of mine. Kids aren’t stupid & shouldn’t be treated that way. The jokes were all age-appropriate without being dumb but also not being too grown-up like things such as the Godfather references in Zootropolis.

I have to admit that Kung Fu Panda 3 was even enjoyable to me as an adult who probably wouldn’t watch many animated films not made by Disney or Pixar if I didn’t have a kid. I do love Jack Black (I don’t care about the haters!) and think he’s been perfect as Po in all these films. I think all the characters are strong & really like the setting and the look. In this one, the baby pandas are adorable & even had grumpy me going “aww”. The baddie in this one was also pretty cool, as were his storyline & all the chi stuff. Plus I’m a sucker for the color green. Here’s the baddie:

I’d even go so far as to say that I like the Kung Fu Panda movies the most out of all the ones made by DreamWorks. I find Shrek a little overrated and I’d say that the How To Train Your Dragon films are possibly their “best” work but they’ve never really clicked with me at all (or the kid). But all three of us have enjoyed each of the three Kung Fu Panda movies.

My Rating: 7/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She liked this movie a lot & giggled through the whole thing. She was far more enthusiastic about this one than she was after walking out of Zootropolis, which she called “not very good”. Her favorite part was Po doing his “chitty chitty chat chat” thing that she’s been annoying us with ever since (thanks a lot, Jack Black!). She also loved the baby pandas, especially when they ate everything in sight. She’s not watched the first two films since we went to see them but this one has renewed her interest (and mine!) in watching those again. I’d happily pick them up on DVD now – I think this is a very solid trilogy from DreamWorks.

The House Of Magic (2013) (US Title: Thunder And The House Of Magic)

Directed by Jeremy Degruson & Ben Stassen

Starring: Cinda Adams, George Babbit, Murray Blue, Kathleen Browers, Joey Camen, Grant George, Shanelle Gray, Nina Grillo, Kyle Hebert

From: nWave Pictures, StudioCanal

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The House of Magic is a 2013 3D Belgian-French computer-animated fantasy-comedy film. The film focuses on an abandoned young cat who seeks shelter in the home of an old, retired magician with his automatons and gizmos.

My Opinion:

I admit to not fully remembering the plot of this strange little Belgian/French film (which was in English but I assume originally in French?) two years later. But I clearly remember the kind old magician, the cat he adopts, and the man’s REALLY cool magical toys (automatons and gizmos) such as that adorable lightbulb dude in the photo at the very top of this post. I also remember some great songs being used quite prominently (The Lovecats by The Cure & the always catchy House Of Fun by Madness). It’s not some big Disney, DreamWorks, etc production and that does show but I still thought that the characters, the music, and especially those inventive toys were pretty damn good! I wonder if those who made this have gone on to do more animated films? I’d like to see this sort of thing with a bigger budget. It’s a very sweet & charming film from what I remember. I wouldn’t complain at being made to watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She doesn’t now remember much of this but does remember all those really cool toys that I mentioned above. She said she’d like to watch it again too (fine with me – I’ll pick up the DVD if I see it).

Rio 2 (2014)

Directed by Carlos Saldanha

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Andy García, Bruno Mars, Jemaine Clement, Kristin Chenoweth, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, will.i.am, Jamie Foxx

From: Blue Sky Studios

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
It’s a jungle out there for Blu, Jewel and their three kids after they’re hurtled from Rio de Janeiro to the wilds of the Amazon. As Blu tries to fit in, he goes beak-to-beak with the vengeful Nigel, and meets his father-in-law.

My Opinion:

Wow. I really remember very little of this except that I think it was about saving the rainforest, right? I don’t remember the first one either – I only know that these Rio movies are very bright & colorful and have some big musical numbers that are okay. This is from Blue Sky, whose movies are quite similar to DreamWorks in that I see them strictly as films aimed at kids and only truly enjoyed by kids. The only Blue Sky one I really liked was The Peanuts Movie but that’s because I’m obsessed with Peanuts & the movie stayed very true to its spirit. Don’t get me wrong – these Rio movies aren’t bad. They’re very pretty to look at & not the worst way to spend a couple of hours with your kid but I don’t think they’re very memorable. I’d have to say that the Ice Age films are a stronger series from this studio as the characters are better. Also, could they get a more annoying set of voice actors for Rio? Anne Hathaway, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann & Kristin Chenoweth(!!)?? Ugh. I think I remember Eisenberg’s bird kids in this being quite cute, though…

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She says she liked this although she couldn’t remember the specifics of it now. She said “I liked the pink frog!” (Ugh. Kristin Chenoweth.) I think it’s proof that the Rio films are pretty & enjoyable enough while being watched but are ultimately forgettable.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Directed by James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, The Muppets

From: Walt Disney Pictures

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

My Opinion:

I grew up with The Muppet Show so I of course love The Muppets. Who doesn’t?! The Muppets movie in 2011 (2012 here) was pretty good. It was fun and managed to kind of capture the spirit of the original show (plus I like Amy Adams). But I found Muppets Most Wanted really disappointing even though it was great, as always, to see these beloved characters. The problem was the messy, boring story and the fact that I really didn’t like the main real-life stars. Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell & Tina Fey? How do you go from Amy Adams to some TV stars? Never been a fan of any of them (in fact, who is Ty Burrell anyway? That prick in Dawn Of The Dead??). I just think they made a real mess of this movie – I’ll stick to watching my DVDs of the original show.

My Rating: 5.5/10

My Kid’s Opinion: She remembers this one more than I thought she would! She remembers the plot & the evil Kermit with the mole. She likes The Muppets & says she liked this movie. Maybe I should give it another try…

This is her favorite Muppet-related thing. I agree:

**I’d like to finally take this opportunity to draw attention to a favorite blogger of mine here who does fantastic paintings of The Muppets (and loads of other awesome artwork with a focus on pop culture – but I first started following him because of The Muppets). Please have a look at Scott’s site at Mojoswork.com. You can see all his Muppets artwork HERE.

Scott – I’m sorry it took me two years to finally get around to doing this review! Let me know if you want me to add any more info or if you want me to include a specific Muppets image you’ve done. 🙂 Oh! Scott does a lot of wrestling & sports stuff as well and I thought his History Of The WWF was absolutely amazing despite knowing nothing of that sort of thing myself (MIB – you should really check this out).

I figure I should end this with some Madness since I have House Of Fun in my head after talking about The House Of Magic. I miss this era of music!

Tank Girl, Bronies & Class Of 1999 Movie Reviews

Here are three quickies for three shitty movies. I wasted enough time watching them so I don’t want to spend much time writing about them. Here we go!

Tank Girl (1995)

Directed by Rachel Talalay

Based on Tank Girl comic by Alan Martin & Jamie Hewlett

Starring: Lori Petty, Ice-T, Naomi Watts, Malcolm McDowell, Iggy Pop, Scott Coffey, James Hong, Don Harvey, Jeff Kober, Reg E Cathey

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Tank Girl is set in a drought-ravaged Australia, years after a catastrophic impact event. It follows the antihero Tank Girl (Petty) as she, Jet Girl (Watts), and genetically modified supersoldiers called the Rippers fight “Water & Power”, an oppressive corporation led by Kesslee (McDowell).

My Opinion:

I recently read a collection of early Tank Girl comics (which I reviewed yesterday HERE) so figured I better finally watch the movie adaptation afterwards despite it being pretty widely trashed. While reading Tank Girl, I kept thinking “how could this actually work as a movie?”. The answer, of course, is that this movie doesn’t work. What a mess…

I’ll start with some positives: I didn’t mind Lori Petty as Tank Girl and thought she had the right look & attitude. I’ll try to ignore the fact that she’s not at all Australian! I didn’t love her as Tank Girl (I’m sure someone else might have been better although I’m not sure who) but I didn’t hate her. She seemed to have fun with the role, anyway. Tank Girl is an awesome character and I think that does come through in the movie even though they don’t quite capture her spirit. And, um… Another positive?? Let’s see… The soundtrack is pretty good! Although I would’ve liked much more punk plus they should’ve tried to use bands mentioned in the comic (but a “score by Ennio Morricone” actually wouldn’t have worked even if the comic liked to credit him with its score). 😉

In the comic, there wasn’t much of a storyline. Tank Girl was daft (and usually drunk) and the whole thing was crazy & all over the place. I liked that. I’ve only read the earliest of the Tank Girl comics so don’t know how many I missed or if there’s actually a similar story to the one in the movie at some point but I didn’t think it worked. The story & the script sucked. Malcolm McDowell was a pretty crap villain and… Naomi Watts was in this?! I didn’t know that beforehand – she must be embarrassed now.

I wondered how they’d deal with Tank Girl’s boyfriend being a kangaroo and, although the movie doesn’t really manage to pull it off, I’m not sure how you ever could portray that in a film without it looking cheesy as hell. I like this bit of trivia at IMDB:

“MGM insisted on cutting a scene of Tank Girl and her kangaroo boyfriend Booga reclining after sex, despite spending $5,000 on a prosthetic penis for Booga.”

I don’t know what else to say about this movie. It just didn’t work but, to be fair, I think it’s a very hard comic to adapt. I do wonder if it would work nowadays with the right director since comic book movies have gotten a lot better and “darker”. I’d like to see a violent, R-rated version. Like Dredd but with a sense of humor? I don’t know – it still probably wouldn’t work but I did read that this movie was very heavily cut & that the director, Rachel Talalay, had no control over that so I suppose that didn’t help. I’m giving it a higher rating than I think it deserves because I really like the character of Tank Girl and, at the very least, I don’t think the movie tainted the character. But I’d like to see that fake kangaroo penis.

My Rating: 5/10

Class Of 1999 (1989)

Directed by Mark L Lester

Starring: Bradley Gregg, Traci Lind, Malcolm McDowell, Stacy Keach, Patrick Kilpatrick, Pam Grier, John P Ryan, Darren E Burrows, Joshua John Miller, Sean Sullivan

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Robot teachers have been secretly placed in the schools where the students have run riot. The teachers do a good job of controlling the unruly youngsters, until they go too far and some students get suspicious.

My Opinion:

On paper (or on a screen since that’s how we read everything now), this movie sounds awesome. To me, at least. The synopsis (killer robot teachers in a high school!), the cool poster & the fact that it’s from the 1980s had me all excited to watch this movie that I’d somehow never even heard of. Well, damn – it’s not good. What a disappointment! I was hoping it would at least be a low budget sci-fi cult classic type of thing like Hardware or something (yes! I got yet another Hardware mention into a post!). I didn’t hate it but it’s not very good despite having so much potential to be something I’d like.


One thing I always love about watching movies from this time period is seeing familiar faces from my favorite era and Class Of 1999 has lots of these. Look – a Tank Girl connection with Malcolm McDowell! He plays the school’s principal in this – I think Hollywood had him on speed dial for these types of movies back then. The movie’s hero (Bradley Gregg – a teenage delinquent who’s actually a “good guy”) is in two of my favorite movies: he’s Eyeball Chambers in Stand By Me and also the character whose death topped My Top Ten Nightmare On Elm Street Deaths in Dream Warriors!!!

The robot teachers are played by Patrick Kilpatrick, John P Ryan & Pam Grier (with dodgy-looking fake robot boobs). Stacy Keach is the main baddie in charge of the robots and for some reason seductively eats a banana? I immediately recognized Sean Sullivan as the drunk one who Garth doesn’t want spewing in the Mirth Mobile in Wayne’s World. Finally, Bradley Gregg’s sweet little delinquent brother is played by Joshua John Miller(!), who (whom?) I know very well from lots of 80’s movies & TV shows including my favorite episode of Highway To Heaven. Haha! Highway To Heaven!! I was such a nerd. I just looked him up & he co-wrote the screenplay for The Final Girls. What?! I should really try to watch that…


To be honest, I’m not sure what actually made this movie so bad. Yes, the acting is pretty rubbish and the special effects look dodgy and the script isn’t the greatest but I still can’t help but look at these images and the overall plot & cast and think that this is exactly my type of movie. I think it didn’t help that, when it started and we saw the exaggerated “futuristic 1999 punk kids”, it reminded me of the teenagers in Class Of Nuke ‘Em High. I’m pretty damn sure that no movie ever wants to make you immediately think of a Troma film.


Also, I watched this and the Bronies documentary very late one night as they were both about to disappear from Netflix. I kept falling asleep through both of them so I may have not fully given this movie a chance. Okay – I think I’m now trying to talk myself into liking Class Of 1999 for some reason?? It’s an okay film but extremely dated and would only possibly be appreciated by someone my age who likes this sort of thing. I’m glad I watched it but I’m not too bothered that it has disappeared from Netflix. I’m sure I’d have appreciated it more if I’d seen it when I was 15 or so. Has anyone seen the director’s previous film, Class Of 1984, which sounds like the exact same movie minus the robots? It has a higher IMDB rating. Hmm… I’ll watch that too if it shows up on Netflix!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (2012)

Directed by Laurent Malaquais

Produced by Anglie Brown, Morgan Peterson, Michael Brockhoff, Tara Strong, Lauren Faust & John de Lancie

Starring: A bunch of bronies!

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony (formerly titled BronyCon: The Documentary) is a 2012 documentary film centering on bronies, the adult fans of the 2010 animated television series, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

My Opinion:

I said I didn’t want to waste much time talking about these movies but I did blather on a bit in my other two reviews. Well, this one will truly be short as there’s not much to say. I find the “Bronies” thing sort of fascinating as I still don’t understand why a bunch of grown men have supposedly latched onto My Little Pony but this documentary doesn’t really explore the “why” at all. It’s just not a very good or in-depth documentary and was quite boring considering its odd topic.

I actually don’t remember if the above guy was in the documentary but this is one of many photos that come up if you Google “Bronies” (I don’t think the guys I used in the photo at the very top were in it). You’d think I’d remember if he was but I can barely remember a thing about this now. That’s the problem – the documentary failed to make a bizarre topic at all interesting. I do, however, remember the below guy as I kept thinking he looked like Corey Feldman.

I’d say that you’d probably only want to watch this documentary if you’re a fan of My Little Pony. I actually found the bits with the voice actors (Tara Strong and, oh my god – Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation, John de Lancie!) & the creator of the Friendship Is Magic series (Lauren Faust) more interesting than the interviews with the fans of the show.

Not surprisingly, one of the Bronies talked a little bit of the bullying he’d had to endure thanks to being a fan of the show (if I remember correctly, he had a gun pulled on him? God bless America!). That kind of thing always pisses me off because, although it may seem strange to a lot of us, these guys aren’t exactly hurting anyone by liking My Little Pony. I guess it was a little disappointing that the psychological aspect of what exactly it is about this show that has apparently drawn some grown men to it wasn’t explored but, hey, this was someone’s project and they did a decent enough job gathering together fans & those involved with the show. I’m sure it didn’t have a huge budget… I’d be interested to know what My Little Pony fans thought of it but I must admit that I don’t personally know any adult fans (although I did love old school My Little Pony as a young girl!).


This is the one I had!!!

My Rating: 5/10

I figured I should end this post with something from the Tank Girl soundtrack, which had potential but could’ve been much better overall. This is one of my two favorites from the soundtrack (I’ll post the other for Music Video Friday this week): Richard Hell And The Voidoids – Blank Generation:

The Big Short (2015) Review

The Big Short (2015)

Directed by Adam McKay

Based on The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film based on the non-fiction 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–2008, which was triggered by the build-up of the housing market and the credit bubble.

My Opinion:

Seriously? The Big Snore is up for the Best Picture Oscar?? No. Just… No. It’s not a bad film but it is pretty damn… Hmm. I don’t know! Pretentious? Up its own arse? Kind of like the Academy, I suppose.

This was the movie I was talking about in my review of Spotlight when I said that the Academy is out of touch with the general public. This feels like the kind of movie that they nominate because they feel like they should. I’m not saying that stuff like Trainwreck or Jurassic World should be up for Oscars or anything like that. The general public likes a load of shit! But can a film not be “worthy” AND also be entertaining? Too many Oscar nominees in the last ten years are, quite frankly, just plain boring to watch. And what happened to movies that are just beautiful pieces of art? I’d say The Revenant fits that description – it’s absolutely beautiful. Where the HELL am I going with this argument?! I have no idea!!! 😉 I mean, Mad Max: Fury Road is up for Best Picture and that movie kicks m*%#erf*%#ing ass so it invalidates my argument. Back to The Big Short

It probably doesn’t help that I was really disappointed at having to go to this movie since The Hateful Eight was sold out. However, it’s an Oscar nominee so I figured I’d at least appreciate it after making myself sit through it. Dammit – I can’t say that’s what happened.

The Big Short is not all bad and the story itself, although too complicated for us everyday idiots (as the movie constantly points out to us morons) is pretty damn fascinating. But, yes, you’re SO right BigShort-makers – I clearly am an idiot because all the talk of loans and numbers and banking did indeed make my eyes glaze over. Yes, I fully admit that I couldn’t follow any of that but I found the celebrity-cameo-fourth-wall-breaking childish explanations to be completely obnoxious. And they still made no damn sense of it all.

All the condescending breaking of the fourth wall aside, I did really like following some of the individual stories. This movie feels a bit messy as it focuses on so many different characters but I suppose it also gave me something to look forward to during the parts I didn’t care about so much.

My favorite parts by far involved Brad Pitt and the two young men his character worked with during this housing market loan bubble thingymabob gobbledegook. I thought Pitt was really good. Remember his very very early days when his acting was pretty dodgy? No, you’re all too young. Trust me – he’s now a very good actor compared to how he started out and he’s one of a handful of actors that may make me actually watch a movie I otherwise might have avoided.

I can’t stand Christian Bale (no reason – just can’t) and his character was in danger of being an annoying caricature but, by the end, his story was the one I enjoyed the most after the Pitt trio. But anytime Steve Carell or especially Ryan Gosling were on screen, I lost interest. They just didn’t work for me, especially Gosling’s arrogant whatever-the-hell kind of rich, straight, white, male scam artist he was.

The Big Short takes what could potentially be a rather boring story involving financial matters that it knows most of us won’t understand and manages to make a movie that is not only rather boring but also obnoxious by infusing humor that doesn’t quite work and by constantly reminding us that it’s smarter than its audience. But, if I’m not being so cynical, I suppose that’s the point the whole film is trying to make so it’s actually quite brilliant.

Basically, loads of Americans were lied to and sold the “American Dream” thing by big banks who ultimately f*%ed them over the way big money always does and the little guys all lost their homes while rich bankers got even richer. The rich bankers are smarter than us and the rich filmmakers are smarter than us. Okay, The Big Short, I guess I get the point you’re trying to make. Too bad I was too bored to care.

I’d watch a movie about this topic again as I do think it’s one hell of a crazy & scandalous story but I think I’d prefer to see it from the viewpoint of us everyday schmucks who always get screwed over. Or maybe in a slightly different style, at least. Financial shit is boring as hell but, hey, The Wolf Of Wall Street was FAR from boring. Maybe this would’ve been a better film if it had been made by Scorsese. Bonus points for Brad Pitt’s & Christian Bale’s characters, though – those bits help liven up what is otherwise a movie not really worthy of a Best Picture nomination.

My Rating: 5.5/10

** I went to Spotlight & The Big Short two Sundays ago on my own and, in between the two movies, I texted my husband. I just thought I’d share this as the predictive text really cracked me up. I’m easily amused… 😉 My texts are in blue:

The Sacrament (2013) Review

The Sacrament (2013)

Directed & Written by Ti West

Starring: A. J. Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz, Kate Lyn Sheil, Gene Jones

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
A. J. Bowen and Joe Swanberg play journalists who document their co-worker’s (Kentucker Audley) attempt to locate his sister (Amy Seimetz) after she joins a reclusive religious commune. The film’s plot borrows heavily from the real life events of the Jonestown Massacre of 1978.

My Opinion:

For some reason, it seems that it’s become a sort of tradition for me to review a Ti West movie on this blog every October. I hope he keeps making them so I have one to watch next year as well! No, wait – I actually don’t care as I can’t say I’ve exactly loved any of them. And, of the three I’ve seen, The Sacrament was my least favorite by far.

As I say every year, Ti West’s films are not to everyone’s taste. They’re sooooo slllllooooooowwwwwwww. It’s more about the mood & atmosphere that he creates, which is something that I appreciate in a horror film, and I think he did a good job with this in The Innkeepers and especially in The House Of The Devil. I actually liked both of those movies just fine, especially as far as horror goes since it’s not a genre I love due to there being so many bad ones made in the past 20 years. They’ll never be favorite films of mine or ones I’ll ever watch again but they’ve actually both gone up in my estimation since seeing them (especially The House Of The Devil). So, if you’re at all curious about his work, I suggest you start with those and not with The Sacrament. The level of “boring” was just far too high this time & with no decent payoff at the end, which at least the other two sort of managed.

The concept behind The Sacrament, a story about a mysterious cult similar to that responsible for the Jonestown Massacre of 1978, is decent enough. I mean, that’s an absolutely fascinating story. I just think watching a real documentary of that actual event would be far more interesting than watching this fictional documentary version of what’s pretty much the exact same story as far as I can tell. Oh! Yeah, this a “found footage” film – had I not mentioned that yet? Some of you are probably running away screaming right now – Ti West AND found footage! Well, I’ll be honest & say that found footage films really don’t bother me that much & I’ve even quite liked a few where I thought that gimmick worked well (Cloverfield & Chronicle). I guess it does work pretty well in The Sacrament but the whole movie just feels a bit pointless and feels like Ti West has run out of ideas so he’s just borrowing a real-life “horror” story.

I’m making this movie sound a little worse than it is. I liked the three main characters (the two journalists & the friend who attempt to rescue the friend’s sister from the isolated commune). Ti West usually does an okay job making us like the main characters (I really liked the girl in The Innkeepers). At the very least, his characters are a little more developed than a lot of modern horror movie characters. I don’t understand horror movies with hateful characters – I want to like them & see them survive. I wanted these three to rescue the sister & escape (do they? maybe – I won’t say). Well, actually, the sister was a bit annoying… There were a lot of children so I found that upsetting as I didn’t want them to be harmed but, overall, I found this movie to be lacking in tension which is odd considering the suject matter. That just may be because it’s quite obvious how it’s all going to end.

The most unfortunate thing is that we don’t get a good look into those who are a part of the cult, though, and what would possess them to follow “Father”, the rather uncharismatic cult leader. That’s the more interesting story here and the one that I’m sure people find most puzzling about real-life cults. How are cult leaders able to convince a group of people to believe their crazy beliefs and to, well, take things so far? (I’m not automatically going to assume that everyone here knows about Jonestown). I was hoping for some sort of exploration of this subject but we really don’t get this at all. Oh, the sister joined as “Father” helped get her off drugs. Really? That’s it? That provides zero explanation for her actions in the movie. It’s just a shame as it’s one hell of a topic but it’s simply used just to make a horror movie & fill cinema seats. It could’ve been so much more but ended up rather shallow. I don’t know… It’s not a “bad” movie but feels a little odd as it actually IS a true story. And 1978 wasn’t really all that long ago, either, so the movie somewhat feels to be in slightly poor taste.

My Rating: 5.5/10

**The best thing about this movie was the use of the fantastic song Heartbeats by The Knife. Although its use felt out of place & was rather jarring… I think Ti West just really liked the song & decided he’d stick it into his next movie whether it fit or not! It’s a great song.

We Are The Best!, Blue Ruin & A Long Way Down Movie Reviews

Three more quickie reviews today! I know I often do “meh” movies or the occasional movie that I HATED in this way so I decided to throw a good one in this time as well. Okay, of the other two, one is “meh” and one I HATED. 🙂

Here we go!

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We Are The Best! (2013)

Directed by Lukas Moodysson

Starring: Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne

My Opinion:

I really enjoyed this Swedish film set in 1982 Stockholm in which three 13-year-old girls decide to start a punk band. In fact, I just watched the trailer again (which I’ve included at the end of this post) and it genuinely made me smile & realize just how much I liked the movie.

The movie starts with two friends who have very different personalities but share a love of punk music so are therefore not exactly “popular” at school because of their strange taste in music & their short hair. Bobo is shy & insecure while Klara is mouthy & confident. The girls one day decide to start a punk band after being picked on by some boys. Unfortunately, they’ve had no musical training. After seeing a Christian girl named Hedvig perform in a talent show at their school, the girls ask her to join their band.

What I really liked about this movie is that these girls seemed real. You never forget they’re only 13 and, even though I’m far, far, FAR away from that age now, I think every female alive remembers that age well as it’s a very tough time in life and all you want is to fit in. Klara, who has a better home life than Bobo, is pretty secure in herself but Bobo always worries that she’s not pretty enough and that boys will never like her. When they befriend Hedvig, who is very shy and has had a strict Christian upbringing that goes against Klara’s beliefs, they form such an odd trio with very different personalities that somehow end up working perfectly together. They literally bring out the Best(!) in each other.

We Are The Best! is a coming-of-age film but without all the melodrama that sometimes comes from movies in that genre, which can feel contrived at times. It just tells a believable, straightforward story of three very likeable misfits who love punk music. Or love, at least, the punk lifestyle as, other than Hedvig, they don’t have any musical talent. But, hey – that IS punk and, by the end, these girls prove that they’re more punk than the boys who originally made fun of them. It’s a great final scene & the whole movie was just fun. I also found it very interesting hearing a lot of punk music in Swedish (which sounded no different as, let’s face it, all punk sounds the same). And the song the girls write, Hate The Sport, is hilarious. That’s SO what a 13-year-old girl would write about! They write this while annoyed at having to run laps in gym class & the song talks about people dying all over the world while some people obsess over silly sports (I like the lyrics “The world is a morgue, but you’re watching Björn Borg.” lol!).

Seriously, this is a delightful film & I can’t remember the last time I liked all the main characters in a movie so much. It’s still a bit “indie” and the story may feel like it’s not going anywhere as it’s just that style of film but I love that – it makes it feel real. Oh! And the 1982 thing felt so genuine that you kind of forget that it was made in 2013. I don’t have a bad thing to say about this movie – it’s just great to watch a simple film that leaves you with a smile on your face.

My Rating: 8/10

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Blue Ruin (2013)

Directed by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Macon Blair, Devin Ratray, Eve Plumb

My Opinion:

I saw a lot of reviews for this movie pop up on WordPress in the last year or so. I could tell it probably wasn’t my type of thing but, when I saw it appear on Netflix, I hit ‘Play’ against my better judgment. I should’ve gone with my gut instinct – I HATED this movie.

I do like a good revenge film (like Kill Bill!). A good revenge film. For a revenge film to work, you need a sympathetic character. This is very important & Blue Ruin doesn’t manage this. Okay, I guess you do feel kind of sorry for the main character & see why he’d want revenge but his character is so poorly developed! We learn very little about him other than the past tragedy that occurred to make him want to seek revenge. You never warm to his character, which makes it hard to care what the outcome of the movie will be. And what a load of scumbags he goes up against! I just didn’t find that realistic – no one is that horrible, are they??

I struggled to make it through this one. I watched it in three sittings as I kept getting so bored that I turned it off. It’s soooo slow! I do have quite a bit of patience when it comes to movies but, god, it felt like this one would never end. It was also far too violent for me, which is something I’m not a big fan of (unless it’s Kill Bill, I guess! lol). Umm… I don’t know. I just didn’t care. By the end, when there’s a little “twist” of sorts, I was like “So what? NOW we finally get a bit of a story to this thing? Five minutes before it ends??”. I didn’t care. Just like I don’t care enough to discuss this movie any further. Boring. Pointless. I hated it. But Jan Brady was in it so that’s kind of cool, I guess. Not as cool as if it had been Peter Brady, though!

You’re welcome for that in-depth review. 😉

My Rating: 3/10

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A Long Way Down (2014)

Directed by Pascal Chaumeil

Based on A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul

My Opinion:

MEH! Sometimes I really wish they could make better British movies. They just make far too much of this sort of bland drama over here (sorry, British people. I do love 28 Days Later…!). This suffers from the same sort of problems that Starter For 10 had – I think it just tries too hard to be a some sort of “quirky” indie based-on-a-book drama.

First of all, I’m a fan of Nick Hornby’s books. I wouldn’t call him my favorite author (that’s Stephen King) but I’ve enjoyed all his books that I’ve read & High Fidelity was great. I did read A Long Way Down & it was okay but not one of his best so it was unlikely to be a really great movie. It was a long time ago that I read it so I can’t really compare it to the movie but it seemed a fairly faithful adaptation from what I remember.

The movie is about four people who meet on a London rooftop on New Year’s Eve. They’ve each come there planning to take their lives but, after meeting and forming an unusual sort of friendship, they make a pact to at least wait until Valentine’s Day to decide if they still wish to, well, kill themselves. Sounds morbid by my description. I suppose it is but instead of ending up some interesting sort of dark comedy, it’s a rather bland drama with only two likeable characters out of the four.

Toni Collette’s character is the most sympathetic by far. To avoid spoilers, I won’t go into their reasons for each wanting to commit suicide but Collette’s Maureen is the one you’ll feel for the most and she makes the other three appear shallow by comparison. Brosnan’s character is kind of the main one in the book from what I remember and, while he’s not totally unlikeable, his problem is the one that most people really won’t be able to sympathize with. I did like Aaron Paul’s character, who is the most withdrawn and seems genuinely sad. Imogen Poots, however… First of all, how much do you think she got made fun of for having the name Imogen Poots?? That name is hilarious. As for her character, she’s very hard to like. She’s rude to the others and comes across as completely selfish. She’s one of these “pretty, young, damaged girls” (okay – I’ll admit I’m probably just jealous as I’ve always wanted to be one of those). Granted, when you find out her true reason for being on that roof, you do start to care more about her but her treatment of the others, especially Aaron Paul, does get annoying at times. I think she’s a decent actress, though, with stunning eyes. I thought she was very good in 28 Weeks Later (which is a much better British movie than this one).

This movie isn’t bad, it’s just a bit “What’s the point?”. For a fairly controversial set-up, it goes a little too predictable-mainstream-Hollywood at the end. But, from what I remember of the book, that also didn’t delve too deeply into the dark subject matter. It’s worth a Sunday afternoon watch if it sounds like something you’d like, though.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Trailer for We Are The Best! – Check it out if you’re interested. I’m hoping I’ve talked some people into watching this film. 🙂

Non-Stop, The Spectacular Now & Used Cars Movie Reviews

Hope you all had a nice weekend! I have three more mini-reviews for you. This time we have a movie I was expecting to love but didnt, one I expected to like but hated, and one big ‘ol MEH movie. Let’s begin…

Non-Stop (2014)

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Scoot McNairy, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Jason Butler Harner, Anson Mount

My Opinion:

This is the big ‘ol pile of MEH. I always fall behind on reviewing movies I watch at home but tend to keep on top of the ones I actually go to see. Well, I went to this one in the cinema (theatER!) last year but couldn’t summon up enough enthusiasm to review it. Liam Neeson is doing his Taken role again. I don’t know how he ended up being so typecast but I’m not too bothered as he was never exactly a favorite of mine anyway. At least that annoying Maggie Grace isn’t in this.

The plot is… okay, I guess, but it’s not helped by some lame acting and some laughably predictable moments. I mean, this is the basic plot on Wikipedia: Neeson is a U.S. Air Marshal on a flight to London when he “receives text messages on his secure phone stating that someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes unless $150 million is transferred into a specific bank account.” That actually sounds quite exciting, doesnt it?! It does! That’s why I went to it even though I can live without most popcorn action movies. I remember I was in the mood for a braindead action movie when I went to this, though, so I had some fun with it despite it being pretty damn ridiculous.

I was reminded when getting that plot synopsis that Neeson plays an alcoholic Air Marshal. Because he’s TROUBLED & has ISSUES to overcome, people! This is why the passengers aren’t sure if they can trust him when he starts acting like a raving lunatic! lol. I kind of forgot just how silly this one was. I didn’t totally hate it or anything. If you want a simple action movie where you won’t have to think & you like Liam Neeson being all Liam Neeson-y, give this a watch in your comfy living room.

My Rating: 5.5/10

The Spectacular Now (2013)

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Based on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Starring: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler

My Opinion:

I was desperate to see this movie when I heard about it but then it never came out in the UK and, much to my annoyance, I wasn’t able to see it for ages. All I kept hearing was that it was this generation’s Say Anything. Naturally, being my age, I adore Say Anything so I was like “I must see this Spectacular Now movie!!!”.

Umm… I guess I can see the Say Anything comparisons. If Lloyd Dobler (the sweetest, most perfect boyfriend in the history of film) had instead been a selfish, alcoholic prick. Yeah… the only thing this movie has in common with Say Anything is a role-reversal of the one-sided love story (Diane Court clearly doesn’t love you, Lloyd. But every female my age does, at least!). 😉

I suppose my expectations were too high for this movie after the Say Anything comparisons. I’ve not read the (I’m assuming YA) book this is based on – maybe it does a better job with Miles Teller’s character? I guess calling him a “prick” wasn’t totally fair – his character is just aimless & he has issues that lead to him drinking too much but he’s not exactly outright horrible to Shailene Woodley’s character. Wait, no – he really is kind of a prick. He clearly likes her but she’s crazy about him and he’s too self-absorbed to care about any negative impact his actions may have on her. It felt like he was just using her so it was very hard to like him. I think I just expected to like & care about the characters a bit more. This may be partly down to Teller, who I just can’t make myself like (even after Whiplash).

Woodley was good – this is the type of role that suits her way more than the one in Divergent. But her character is such a pushover, which was a little disappointing. I liked seeing Brie Larson, who I really liked in 21 Jump Street & Short Term 12, in a small role plus Jennifer Jason Leigh (eXistenZ!). But, if this is the current generation’s definition of a love story, then young people need to lighten up & watch a proper romance film. The Spectacular Now was far too dramatic and, unlike Say Anything, had no fun moments despite the heartache. On its own, not being compared to other movies, it’s certainly not a bad film. Don’t let my disappointment keep you from watching it if you’re interested – I know I just hyped it up in my mind too much. Just remember that it’s very much a “drama” if you decide to watch it and that you may not like Teller’s character.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Used Cars (1980)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Kurt Russell, Jack Warden, Gerrit Graham, Deborah Harmon

This was on Netflix so I gave it a watch since I like Kurt Russell, Robert Zemeckis, and, of course, the Eighties. I figured it couldn’t go wrong with those three things and maybe I’d get a few little laughs out of it. I hated it! I know that movies from my beloved decade haven’t all aged well and some can contain jokes that are seen as un-PC today. That sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me as I grew up with it but this movie just went a little too far with the cruel humor and outdated sexism.

First of all, (this isn’t really a spoiler as it’s obvious this is what’s going to happen) the only character who doesn’t come across as a selfish jerk (Jack Warden) dies and it turns a bit into Weekend At Bernie’s with some of the antics with this poor guy’s dead body (never mind the fact that he was essentially MURDERED for his crappy little car dealership. by his twin brother, no less!). I know death can occasionally be humorous in certain black comedies (Heathers rules) but this one didn’t sit right with me in a silly 80’s comedy. Kurt Russell & Gerrit Graham, who work for this guy and his dealership, do show a little sorrow but their main goal is to save their own jobs at whatever cost. It’s hard to care about them at first as they’re very hard to like but the movie redeems itself a tiny bit when the only female character who isn’t there just to be a pair of tits shows up (more about her later) but they’re cruel & do use her at first (luckily, they instead work with her by the end – the second half of this movie is much better than the first).

As for the women in Used Cars, they were treated no better than Warden’s dead body. I’m not a girl who’s going to demand that women be in every movie ever (two of my favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me, don’t even have any women in them) but I expect female characters to be treated with the same respect as the male characters. Deborah Harmon is the only important female character and she’s fine but she’s also seen as quite helpless & needing Kurt Russell to come to the rescue since she can’t run a car dealership on her own (what do women know about cars?! actually, I admit that I know nothing about cars). I’m glad they work with her, though, (after cruelly lying to her about something important and of course sleeping with her) and as I said, the movie redeems itself a little in the second half. 

Hey – can I just go off topic & mention that I immediately recognized Deborah Harmon from the TV show Just The Ten Of Us? Am I the only one in the world who watched that short-lived Growing Pains spin-off?? I loved it! It had THREE Nightmare On Elm Street girls in it (THE Heather Langenkamp wanting to be a nun, the girl who turns into a bug, and “girl on bus” in Nightmare 2 – Yes, I discovered the “girl on bus” connection years later when the Internet came around). But back to this shitty Used Cars movie…

I know guys like boobs and there are loads of naked women in movies. I didn’t get that annoyed at the lead male characters in this sleeping around and using strippers to sell their cars. However, I found the very looooong scene where the male stars predictably expose a woman to a TV audience (without her approval) then actually zoom in on her breasts to be a step too far. And it went on for what felt like forever while she did nothing but scream like an idiot. Then, to top it all off, Graham’s character ends it by actually “honking” her boob. Seriously. He may have even made a honking sound effect (I’d check to verify but can’t be bothered). Umm. No. Unless you’re in a relationship with us, never ever “honk” our boobs. Plus Harmon’s character’s boobs get groped by a stranger for no apparent reason toward the end of the film. WTF? Gotta love the 1980s, I guess… I suppose I was more offended than I would have been watching something like Porky’s as you expect that sort of thing from that decade’s sex comedies and I didn’t realize beforehand that Used Cars would be like that.

Oops – this mini-review ended up being fairly long. I do go on a bit when I’m annoyed! Only watch this if you really love movies from the Eighties and you get excited by seeing people like Wendie Jo Sperber in a very small role. Yay! Wendie Jo Sperber! Luckily she went on to be in the much much much (much) better Zemeckis film Back To The Future. That movie is perfection – what the hell happened with Used Cars?! Ugh.

My Rating: 4.5/10 (it gets an extra half a point for Wendie Jo)

Starter For 10 (2006) Review

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Starter For 10 (2006)

Directed by Tom Vaughan

Produced by Tom Hanks, Pippa Harris & Sam Mendes

Written by David Nicholls

Starring:
James McAvoy
Alice Eve
Benedict Cumberbatch
Rebecca Hall
Dominic Cooper
Catherine Tate
James Corden

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Starter for 10 is a 2006 British comedy-drama film directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by David Nicholls, adapted from his own novel Starter for Ten. The film stars James McAvoy as a university student who wins a place on a University Challenge quiz team.

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My Opinion:

I decided to watch this the other day after reading a review from the lovely Emma on MovieRob’s blog (HERE). I’d known about it but hadn’t known that it was set in my beloved 1980s until I read her review so that was all I needed to convince me to watch it.

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Starter For Ten is a book by David Nicholls. I’ve not read it (but Emma has & says it’s of course better than the movie). I did read One Day by David Nicholls and, although it’s very flawed, I still liked the book & the movie (despite the fact that Anne Hathaway was in it – staring at Jim Sturgess & his big brown eyes helped a little). Plus, as I said, Starter For 10 is set in the EIGHTIES! Woohoo! Well, unfortunately, the movie is a bit bland. And as for the 1980s, this is one of those movies where it doesn’t actually look or feel all that much like that decade even though they throw in as much music as possible from that era. Don’t get me wrong – I love 80’s music. At one point I looked at the hubby & said “are they actually playing my playlist?” as it’s filled with things like New Order, The Smiths, Tears For Fears and LOADS of songs from The Cure. It’s nice hearing a bunch of my favorite songs but, at the same time, it also feels very lazy on the part of the filmmakers. It’s like “See? Our movie is set in the eighties because we’re playing The Cure! Ignore Alice Eve with her big boobs & her very un-eighties clothes & blonde highlights – just listen to Motörhead!”

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I will say this movie is only really worth a watch if you’re a fan of any of its stars or if you enjoy similar British films. There are some very big names in Starter For 10 so it was fun seeing them just before most of them made it really big in blockbusters like the X-Men, Star Trek & Iron Man series of films. The storyline was extremely predictable to the point of almost being annoying (I’m talking especially about the romance!) but, when the group finally appear on the game show they’ve been preparing for, the film does get a little more fun. The movie is very “British” and I couldn’t help but compare it to Nick Hornby’s books & movies. I have to say I far prefer Hornby & would recommend his stuff over this (especially the book High Fidelity). Overall, Starter For 10 just didn’t really work for me. It’s not a bad movie but the predictable plot and one-dimensional characters just left me feeling “Meh. So what?”. Watch it if you like the actors but first check out some Nick Hornby. And The Cure’s greatest hits!

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Life After Beth (2014) Review

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Life After Beth (2014)

Directed by Jeff Baena

Starring:
Aubrey Plaza
Dane DeHaan
Molly Shannon
Cheryl Hines
Paul Reiser
Matthew Gray Gubler
John C Reilly
Anna Kendrick

Running time: 89 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A young man’s recently deceased girlfriend mysteriously returns from the dead, but he slowly realizes she is not the way he remembered her.

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My Opinion:

I can’t figure out how I feel about Aubrey Plaza. I’ve never seen Parks And Recreation. I first saw her in Safety Not Guaranteed, which I didn’t exactly love but I didn’t mind her. Then I saw her in a couple interviews and thought she was kind of weirdly funny. Then I watched that awful The To Do List and she just got on my nerves. This is my “horror month”, however, so I figured I’d check this movie out as I love a decent zombie movie (even though there are too many of them now).

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This movie had potential even though it’s too much of the same old “been there done that” when it comes to zombie comedy. The title is perfect and it makes you wonder if they came up with the title first then tried to write a movie around it. Some of this movie works but most of it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the weakest thing about the film is its two main characters (played by Aubrey Plaza & Dane DeHaan). I didn’t really like Plaza in this one – she played the role fine, I guess, but it possibly could have been a bit better with a different actress. That funny-looking Dane DeHaan was fine (sorry, Zoe – I think he’s a little funny-looking). 😉 I liked him most in Chronicle but it feels like he plays that same sort of role too much and his role in this one is somewhat similar in that he’s again a “troubled youth with issues”. Oh well – the role suits him. His main issue in this one is that he seems perfectly happy to have sex with a girl who has just returned from the dead and is very likely a zombie. Ew. The ROT…

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I understand the point this movie is trying to make about relationships and how we can sometimes stay in unhealthy ones because we find it hard to let go. It doesn’t work that well in the film, though, as I really didn’t care at all about the two main characters (especially poor Beth, who we don’t get to know at all in “life” – we only see her as a thoroughly unlikable zombie-girl made to represent the stereotypical “crazy bitch” girlfriend, which was almost a little sexist & insulting). It may have been better if we’d seen her as she was before her death. Maybe. I don’t know.

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What DOES work fairly well in this movie are all the lesser characters that provide the comic relief. Both sets of parents (John C Reilly & Molly Shannon as Plaza’s and Cheryl Hines & Paul Reiser as DeHaan’s) were pretty funny and I liked DeHaan’s asshole brother (Matthew Gray Gubler), who was a little bit like Bill Paxton in Weird Science. I wish these characters had had more screen time and that we’d had more of the overall story explained & happening all along (there’s a bit more to it than just “girlfriend comes back from the dead”) but, unfortunately, they chose to pretty much focus ONLY on the relationship between Plaza & DeHaan. This may have worked if their characters had been at all developed so that the audience cared one way or another what would happen to them. Without knowing what their relationship was like before the death, it just seemed a bit pointless.

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Summary:

Pretty pointless zombie-romance-comedy when there are plenty of better ones out there in this day & age of zombie movie obsessiveness. Just watch Zombieland or Shaun Of The Dead if you want a zombie comedy (or the movie I’ll be reviewing tomorrow) or Warm Bodies if you want this weird new genre of zombie romance. Those are good – Life After Beth is not. A waste of a good movie title.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013) Review

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The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)

Directed by Peter Jackson

Based on The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien (duh. just read the book instead of watching this.)

Starring:
Ian McKellen
Martin Freeman
Richard Armitage
Benedict Cumberbatch
Evangeline Lilly
Lee Pace
Luke Evans
Ken Stott
James Nesbitt
Orlando Bloom

Running time: 11161 minutes. Oops – 161 minutes. Typo.

Plot Synopsis:
The second unnecessarily long movie of three unnecessarily long movies. Based on an awesome short book, The Desolation Of Smaug is not awesome and not short.

But this is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The Desolation of Smaug is set in Middle-earth sixty years before the events of The Lord of the Rings, and portions of the film are adapted from the appendices to Tolkien’s The Return of the King. The wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) investigates a growing evil at Dol Guldur, while Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues his quest with thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch).

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My Opinion:

What on (middle) Earth did I just watch? I’ve never looked at my watch so many times during a film. This was one of the most unpleasant movie-going experiences I’ve had in a long time. What I’m trying to say is this: I really didn’t enjoy The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (that’s the last time I’m typing that entire title).

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A brief history on my Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings knowledge: I loved the books. A lot. Then I loved The Lord Of The Rings movies. A lot. Then The Hobbit movies started and the first one was… Meh. A bit better than some of the critics were saying but it was certainly no Lord Of The Rings film (those were fantastic). Although I loved the books, I only read them all once & don’t obsess over them or have the greatest memory of every detail. I don’t get too bothered about adaptations being 100% faithful as long as they’re at least… Respectful? I don’t remember The Hobbit book well enough to go into discussing how faithful these two films have been so far. I don’t care anyway. I disliked this film not because of the story or the acting (that was all “good enough”). I HATED how it looked and how that look made it feel!

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I’m not going to spend too long on this review. I was just very disappointed. The things I care about when it comes to a movie are a good story & great characters. It’s great when a film looks good too but I’m not someone who cares too much about things like 3D and I hate dodgy looking CGI. I choose to watch films in 2D (the only film to get 3D right so far is Gravity). Unfortunately, I watched this one in 3D (it was the only time I could go to it). Awful! The blurriness I can’t stand with 3D when it comes to things in the background was worse than ever & all the layers in scenes like when Bilbo is in the leaves at the top of the trees were just distracting & weird. Although I don’t think it was just the 3D – I think it’s the way it was filmed overall and my 2D experience probably wouldn’t have been much better (my hubby spent ages trying to explain things like high frame rate to me when we spent almost this entire movie just discussing how awful it looked). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I know NOTHING about filmmaking. I just love watching movies. All I know is that this film didn’t look right to the point that I was SO distracted for at least the first half of the movie that I couldn’t concentrate on the things I care about (story and characters) and actually couldn’t wait for the film to finish.

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Now before everyone tells me that this film looks amazing I should explain what I mean by the film looking “awful” and I know that not everyone will agree. It’s also very hard to put into words. It looks too REAL. The daylight scenes were the worst – it felt like I was actually watching a play (with a very high budget) and that the actors were standing on a stage in front of me. It had the look & feel of a National Geographic documentary or a BBC drama (which are things that are fine if that’s the sort of thing you want to watch). The Hobbit is an epic fantasy – I don’t want it to feel REAL. I want to lose myself in this magical world – I go to movies as an escape from the real world, especially when it comes to an actual fantasy film. It took the fantasy element away by being filmed in this way. It wasn’t as bad during darker scenes – I found myself cringing every time there was another scene in bright daylight. Luckily, the last half of the film is dark and I finally started to get into the story a bit more when they go to Lake-town. But this is over halfway into the film – I was too annoyed by this point to really care.

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Summary:

I’ve spent no time discussing what should really matter in a movie – the story & the characters. The film picks up once they reach Lake-town and was a lot more enjoyable than the first half, I think Freeman is very good, I adore Ian McKellen but he’s very underused in this one, I liked Bard, I thought Smaug looked really good and liked the scene where he starts moving underneath all that gold. Hell, I even didn’t mind that romance they threw in there which most people probably hate. But, unfortunately, none of this really mattered as the look of the film was so distracting that it ruined the entire experience for me. So for the first time EVER, my rating is largely influenced by this instead of just being based on the story & characters. I’m very very disappointed and am considering skipping the last one in order to not end up having it lessen my love for The Lord Of The Rings films.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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** And to think I was waiting until I’d seen this to do my 2013 Top Ten Movies list. I’ll probably post that tomorrow. Spoiler: This movie doesn’t even come close to making it. 😉

Man On A Ledge (2012) Review

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Man On A Ledge (2012)

Directed by Asger Leth

Starring:
Sam Worthington
Elizabeth Banks
Jamie Bell
Anthony Mackie
Génesis Rodríguez
Ed Harris

Running time: 102 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Ex-con Nick (Sam Worthington) crawls onto the ledge of a tall building & threatens to jump. Police psychologist Lydia (Elizabeth Banks) tries to talk Nick down. But we soon learn that there’s much more to Nick’s story and blah blah blah there’s a diamond heist going on and this plot sounded quite promising but the movie is just BLAH.

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My Opinion:

This movie sounded like it would be a bit of popcorn munching, “turn off your brain for 102 minutes” fun. Well, the “turn off your brain” bit was certainly accurate. Don’t expect some deep & meaningful plot here. Not that every movie has to have that but there just wasn’t enough “fun” in this movie to really make up for the shallow plot.

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Sam Worthington. Meh. I still never recognize this guy whenever he’s in a movie. I’m always like “Who’s that guy again? Oh, Avatar dude”. And he has weird hair in this. Elizabeth Banks. Hmm. I kind of really like Elizabeth Banks as a person. I don’t know why. She kind of reminds me of me in some weird way so I’ve always been able to identify with her – she seems like a fun person (not that I’m a fun person. I’m boring as hell). She was fine in this but I just really don’t see her as a “police psychologist”. At all. Jamie Bell as Nick’s brother. Meh. Didn’t like his character. But hated the character of his girlfriend the most. Annoying as hell. Ed Harris as… Ed Harris, phoning in the “generic bad guy” role.

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Bloody hell – I’m currently looking through the cast on IMDB & people like Edward Burns, Kyra Sedgwick, The Man in Black from Lost, and other actors I’ve heard of were in this but I can’t for the life of me even remember them in this forgettable movie. Oh, and William Sadler – I do remember him in this. Love him. “Alexandre Dumbass!” “Best two out of three!” (I love anyone who knows what I’m on about with those quotes).

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Enough about the actors – Let’s move onto the plot. Er… You know what? Screw it. The plot is stupid. The idea was a good one but they could have done so much more with it. Just too silly & unbelievable with not enough fun or action to make up for it. Certainly not the worst movie ever but also not very good. These are the hardest movies to review. Just… Meh. Wasted opportunity.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Dog Soldiers (2002) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Dog Soldiers (2002)

Directed by Neil Marshall

Starring:
Kevin McKidd
Sean Pertwee
Emma Cleasby
Liam Cunningham
Darren Morfitt
Chris Robson
Leslie Simpson
Thomas Lockyer

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Werewolves.

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My Opinion:

This is another film I watched for my Halloween Horror Fest. See a great review of it from vinnieh HERE.

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The above review is much better than mine will be. It’s now Halloween and I have to crank out three reviews still. Oops! Dog Soldiers, Berberian Sound Studio, and Grabbers. I really liked Grabbers so will spend a bit more time on that one but I don’t have a clue what to say about the other two!

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As I watched The Descent for the first time for this horror fest and I liked it a lot, it was worth also checking out the same director’s (Neil Marshall) first effort with Dog Soldiers. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one very much.

I love a good werewolf movie but this is certainly no American Werewolf In London. I did think it started out pretty good and felt like a pretty standard werewolf flick. The characters were fairly believable and they were out in the lonely wilderness and all that. It did have a great feel. At first…

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Where it fell apart for me a bit was when they got to the house and the battle then started. Oh, and also when one of them had his intestines hanging out but was then able to run around and fight werewolves after he was bandaged up a bit. It was like that Prometheus abortion! And, okay – I have to admit that I fell asleep in the middle of all this. I’m guessing I missed between 15 to 30 minutes but I didn’t care enough to rewind (if you still call it that on a DVD). And, I’m sorry but the werewolves didn’t look that great.

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Oh well. You can’t love ’em all! I don’t think I exactly *hated* this movie. I’ve certainly seen worse and, like I said, it started out quite strong. And I liked that that Trainspotting guy was in it but I just kept thinking “Why did they have to cancel his Journeyman TV show just as it was getting really good?”. Anyway. To be honest, I can see how Neil Marshall went on to make the (far superior) The Descent. Dog Soldiers is definitely a strong debut film and I’ll just shut up now as it’s not like I’ve ever made a movie. Plus I now have to go write that Berberian Sound Studio review – trust me, that review will suck even more than this one because I have no clue what was going on in that film.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Pitch Black (2000) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Pitch Black (2000)

Directed by David Twohy

Starring:
Vin Diesel
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Keith David

Running time: 110 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
A bunch of hateful people crash land their spaceship on a planet filled with aliens who, luckily, attack them thanks to the fact that they’ve landed on this planet at the worst possible time.

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Halloween Horror Fest:

I’ve watched most of the films now for my Halloween Horror Fest and just have to finish writing up the rest of the reviews. I’ve loved a couple and hated a couple. I didn’t love Pitch Black… Here’s the list of films I’ve watched so far:

From Beyond (6/10)

The Descent (8/10)

ParaNorman (7.5/10)

Pitch Black

Insidious

Dog Soldiers

Grabbers

The Innkeepers

Nosferatu (1922)

Sisters (aka Blood Sisters)

Still to watch:

Berberian Sound Studio

High Tension (maybe…)

There was a lot of talk about Pitch Black as whatever number Riddick sequel thingy was out recently so I decided to finally check out Pitch Black after reading the following reviews for both of them: Pitch Black reviewed by MovieRob HERE and by Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews HERE plus a Riddick review from Gregory Moss at Mossfilm HERE.

I hold none of these people responsible for making me watch Pitch Black. It was entirely my decision to watch a Vin Diesel movie! 😉

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My Opinion on Pitch Black:

The most positive thing I can say about it is that it definitely had potential. It COULD have been a pretty good film. And some of it LOOKED pretty cool, at least. One of my all-time favorite movies is Aliens (and Alien). I’m not going to be able to help but compare Pitch Black to Aliens throughout this review as it’s basically Aliens but shit. Take out all the things about Aliens that make it such an awesome film and you get Pitch Black.

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Characters:

The characters in Pitch Black were, for me, the film’s biggest weakness. I didn’t care about them at ALL. I don’t know who the hell they even were or why they were on this ship. But I’ll come back to all that later…

Okay, the characters of Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) & Jack (Rhiana Griffith) weren’t TOO bad – they were the only ones I maybe (kind of sort of) wanted to survive. Jack is the only somewhat likeable character and Fry would be if it wasn’t for something that happens at the beginning of the film (But it’s pretty important when it comes to what happens at the end of the film so I didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, this little bit of story was the only thing that gave one of the characters a bit of depth whereas none of the others had any at all).

And RIDDICK? What a horrible movie character. And the sequels are all about him? Um, no thanks – I’ll be skipping those. You see, he’s a “prisoner”. I have no idea what the hell he did or why the hell he’s on this spaceship. I don’t know if he’s a bad guy who’s actually kind of a good guy. I don’t know what he says half the time because I can’t understand him. I don’t know anything about him at the start of the film and still don’t know anything at the end of the film. What’s the point? Are we meant to like him? Are we meant to hate him? Are we meant to identify with him in any sort of way? Are we meant to think he’s cool because he has muscles and mumbles a lot and has freaky eyes because he paid someone to give him eyes that could see in the dark since he was going to spend his life in a dark prison? (Did I get that right?). Oh how convenient that he was on this spaceship with those eyes! But I’ll come back to that later too…

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So here comes my main comparison to Aliens: You can argue that Aliens also has some pretty one-dimensional & cliché characters as well. A lot of sci-fi does, which is unfortunate as I’d have to say sci-fi is probably my favorite genre when it comes to movies if I was forced to choose just one. But Ripley is pretty complex and has a backstory and KICKS ASS so Radha Mitchell’s Fry has nothing on her. Say what you want about Newt but I loved the Ripley/Newt relationship. Pitch Black makes a small, pathetic attempt to give us a similar sort of relationship between Radha & Jack. Meh. Who Cares.

Riddick is a combination of several characters from Aliens, I suppose, but Hudson is the first one to come to mind. The prick. Hudson is SO cliché but, honestly, who doesn’t actually love that character?! I actually know more about all the lesser characters in Aliens who you KNOW from the start have been put into the film just to die than I do about Riddick or anyone else in Pitch Black. I can even name all the characters who are “just there to die” in Aliens but I had to look up everyone’s name in Pitch Black immediately after seeing it (other than Riddick’s and I mainly knew that thanks to the sequels being named after him)! My long winded point is this: The characters in Aliens, although pretty cliché, just WORK. They don’t in Pitch Black. Is it REALLY that hard to give a movie some decent characters?? It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

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The Story (SPOILERS!!!):

I know Hollywood scripts are full of things that are WAY too convenient sometimes but, holy hell, Pitch Black really takes the cake! I admit that I was confused throughout this movie (probably because I didn’t care). I’ve even read the whole plot online now, though, and nothing is explained so maybe it wasn’t just a case of me not paying attention. Here’s what I don’t get:

– Who the hell are these people and why are they on this spaceship and where the hell are they going? It’s such an odd assortment of people! And why oh why is a prisoner also onboard and all chained up? And why is there a young kid also there with no apparent family?

– So while on autopilot, the debris from a comet damages the ship and (um, luckily?) the second-in-command, Fry, is awakened (from, um, hypersleep?) after debris kills the sleeping captain (convenient). Okay. I can buy the comet causing the ship to crash. Shit happens. This is necessary for the movie.

– So Fry manages to land the ship on some strange planet. Okay. This planet has three suns or some such shit, meaning it’s ALWAYS daylight. Okay. Fine.

– This planet has creatures/aliens that can’t stand light and are actually hurt by any sort of light so they have to live underground in caves (how sucky for them to have to live on this three-sun planet, then). But… Wait!

– This planet has a year-long eclipse every 22 years, allowing the creatures to come out & play! And guess what? The ship just happened to crash land on this planet JUST as this eclipse is about to start! Convenient.

– Vin Diesel/Riddick/the mysterious prisoner reveals that he had some operation or whatever to give him eyes that can see in the dark. Oh! VERY convenient!

– These special eyes can not only see in the dark, they can also tell that the young boy who is so obviously being played by a girl is actually a girl AND she’s having her period, drawing the creatures to them all. Wow, those are some pretty amazing eyes! Convenient. And stupid!

– Blah blah. Most of them die. Except Riddick, obviously. And I had to Google his final line because I couldn’t even understand what he’d said.

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I’m sorry – this “review” is actually just me bitching. I was going to say a couple nice things but I’m sure everyone has stopped reading by now. 😉

I’ll just give you my rating, which isn’t as low as you’d think after all my bitching. Because the film DID have potential but that annoys me even more than when a movie is just 100% bad. I love sci-fi and the alien creatures in this aren’t too bad and the whole look of the film was interesting. Shame about the characters…

My Rating: 5.5/10

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