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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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013) Review

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Justin And The Knights Of Valour (2013)

Directed by Manuel Sicilia

Starring Voice Actors:
Freddie Highmore
Antonio Banderas
James Cosmo
Charles Dance
Tamsin Egerton
Rupert Everett
Barry Humphries
Alfred Molina
Mark Strong
David Walliams
Julie Walters
Olivia Williams
Saoirse Ronan

Running time: 96 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)

Justin (Freddie Highmore) lives in a kingdom where bureaucrats rule and knights have been ousted. His dream is to be become one of the Knights of Valour, like his grandfather was, but his father Reginald (Alfred Molina), the chief counsel to the Queen (Olivia Williams), wants his son to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer.

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My Opinion:

I’ll make this quick & simple: This isn’t exactly a great film but, hey, it’s for kids. It’s not actually THAT bad, though, considering it wasn’t made by Pixar or Disney or even the inferior (well, what I see as inferior) Dreamworks.

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I think kids will enjoy this one. I myself actually enjoyed it a bit more than this year’s Epic, which looked prettier but had a story that was somewhat too complex for the younger kids and had forgettable characters. Justin of course has lessons to teach the audience, just like most kids’ films: Work hard, stand up for what you believe in, and bitchy self-absorbed girls never get the knight in shining armor (well, it would be nice if that last bit were true in real life as well).

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Oh! And you must have a knight who looks like Sean Connery if you’re going to make a movie about knights.

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Boys will probably like this one more than girls (especially if they liked How To Train Your Dragon) because of all the knights and a little bit of fighting with some baddies and Justin going through training to become a knight (the training with the elder knights was by far the best bit of the film). But there’s also a good, feisty female character that girls (and their mothers) will approve of. (You don’t think she’ll actually hook up with Justin by any chance, do you?!) 😉

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So, anyway – Justin And The Knights Of Valour isn’t going to change the world but it’s not the worst movie you’ll ever have to sit through with your kid. It has a solid enough story and few strong characters and the usual “teaching of values” with a bit of silly comic relief. Whatever. It’s better than I was expecting, at least.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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I just wanted to get this quickie review out of the way so that I can focus on finishing my review for Rush in the next couple days. Because that film was fantastic!!! 🙂

Planes (2013) Review

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Planes (2013)

Directed by Klay Hall

Story by:
John Lasseter
Klay Hall
Jeffrey M. Howard

Starring Voice Actors:
Dane Cook
Stacy Keach
Priyanka Chopra
Brad Garrett
Cedric the Entertainer
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Roger Craig Smith
John Cleese
Carlos Alazraqui

Studio:
Walt Disney Pictures
DisneyToon Studios

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook) is a cropduster plane who dreams of being a racer in the upcoming Wings Across The World race. He qualifies for the race, surprising everyone. Can Dusty overcome the odds and win the race and, perhaps more importantly, the respect of his fellow racers?

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My Opinion:

Planes isn’t great but it isn’t BAD. It’s certainly no Pixar film but I’d say it’s at least better than Cars 2. This wasn’t made by Pixar but is set in the same world as Cars, which will probably make a lot of people assume it’s a Pixar film due to it having the same look as Cars. I’m still not sure why they’ve chosen to do a spin-off of Pixar’s weakest set of films? I suppose it’s down to all the money that has been made from the Cars toys & merchandising.

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I went in with very low expectations so I ended up enjoying it more than I assumed I would as I’m not a fan of the Cars films (although the first Cars is still a better film than Planes). Unlike the majority of Pixar films, which most adults love just as much as their children do, Planes is definitely for the kids. In this way, it feels more like the stuff we get from studios like Dreamworks – I see those as decent enough kids’ films but would never consider any of them to be actual all-time favorite films of MINE, like I do with things like WALL-E & Toy Story.

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Planes has the usual kind of feel good story with a moral that you always get from a Disney film (believe in yourself, be kind to others, yada yada). It’s simple & predictable but your kids will be kept entertained. They’ll root for Dusty and his two likeable friends that stick by him as he tries to compete in the famous race.

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The friends are a forklift/mechanic named Dottie (voiced by Teri Hatcher) and a fuel truck named Chug (voiced by Brad Garrett). And an old war plane named Skipper Riley (voiced by Stacy Keach) helps Dusty to train for the race (think “Gill” in Finding Nemo as it’s pretty much the exact same character but a plane instead of a fish). Then there’s a bit of a love interest and some double crossing from a nasty race rival – You know, all the usual stuff in a kids’ film… There’s nothing exactly groundbreaking here! Which isn’t what kids want from a movie anyway. I think us adults have just been spoiled by some excellent animated films in recent years so it’s hard to not expect a little more from them. But they can’t all be Monsters Inc, I guess.

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Summary:

Predictable feel good Disney film that will keep your kids entertained. This one really is for the kids, though, so don’t expect Pixar-levels of fun for the entire family. This isn’t made by Pixar nor is it even as good as their weakest offering, Cars (of which Planes is a spin-off). If your kids like Cars, give this one a go. I’m sure they’ll like it but you’ll probably be a little bored. It’s not bad – It just comes nowhere near some of the all-time classics we’ve had from Disney and Pixar in the past.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Vinyl (2012) Review

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Vinyl is based on the 2004 true story hoax of Mike Peters, frontman for Welsh band The Alarm, hiring a young new band to lip-sync an Alarm song as the music industry has no interest in musicians past a certain age. They scored a minor hit with it so I guess he sort of proved a point about the youth-obsessed music industry. I’ve made it sound like a much more deep and meaningful movie than it actually is…

This movie stars Phil Daniels (of Quadrophenia – I should watch that all the way through sometime), Keith Allen (you know – Lily’s dad), and young hottie Jamie Blackley (for the younger girls as I’m old enough to be his mother).

I thought this movie was fine. A harmless bit of fluff. It did feel a bit like a made for TV movie, though, and maybe should have just been that. It’s far from Oscar-worthy but that doesn’t always matter. I was slightly entertained for 85 minutes and that’s good enough sometimes (depending on my mood). It was a bit like School Of Rock. But set in Wales. And, um, not near as good (I love School Of Rock).

Really could have been much better as the true story sounds fairly interesting. May have worked better as a documentary exploring our youth-obsessed culture? Or not. I’ve lost interest in typing now. Check it out just for Jamie Blackley, really.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Jamie Blackley:

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