February 2018

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Hostiles [2017]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 72
Personal = 6.8

In 1892, a Captain (and veteran Indian killer) is ordered to escort a Indian Chief to Montana from New Mexico. As basically a member of the party, the viewer is privy to the very personal lives of everyone involved and, as a character study, there are very few films that manage this level of performance and authenticity. The photography is stunning. However, this is not an action movie. If the characters and performances were not as interesting to watch as they were, this movie would have been like watching paint dry.

Vanishing Point [1971]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 82
Personal = 9.3

Attracting the cops to his speeding, a car delivery specialist is pursued by law enforcement through 3 states while driving a souped-up 1970 Dodge Challenger. Arguably the best chase film ever made and not just because of the chase. This film also touches heavily on the '70s culture, intolerance, a police force's incessant need to stop him when all he's really guilty of is speeding, and some truly colorful characters. Add in the flashbacks of our protagonist's life and the vanishing point becomes clear.

First Knight (aka True Knight) [1995]

IMDb = 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes = 45 / 55
Personal = 6.7

Taking several chapters from King Arthur's legends and mish-mashing them together to create a story that's heavily focused on the romantic triangle of Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot amidst a war between Camelot and the conquests of Prince Malagant. If you're not looking for accuracy with the Arthurian history, legends, and literature and take this as it is, it's pretty good. Performances are heartfelt and emotional, fight scenes were well done, albeit not heavily choreographed, and I enjoyed it.

Jacob's Ladder (aka Dante's Inferno) [1990]

IMDb = 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 84
Personal = 4.0

After being subjected to an experimental drug while in the Vietnam War, a man's life begins to disintegrate as he sees hallucinations of demons. I remember when this came out I was told don't bother. But recently, I've been told it's a movie I should see. Well, I shouldn't have bothered as this film is hopeless. Although interesting, nothing is resolved as we jump around aimlessly wrapped up in his hallucinations. And the twist ending? I saw it coming and was hoping that wasn't it. It was ...how depressing. Acting was great!

Attack the Block [2011]

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 74
Personal = 7.8

Jet black yeti-looking aliens with fluorescent blue teeth invade the hood in South London. This movie was just plain fun. From the producers of Shaun of the Dead, the film never takes itself too seriously, has simple but superbly done creature effects, a good dose of gore, a larger dose of humor and some excellent performances. Awesome B-movie, popcorn film ...definitely psychotronic.

12 Strong (aka Horse Soldiers) [2018]

IMDb = 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 54 / 72
Personal = 8.1

Shortly after 9/11, a group of 12 men are sent to Northern Afghanistan to team up with a local warlord in an attempt to take out a Taliban stronghold. Great dramatization of a mission that, until recently, was kept classified, detailing the biggest Taliban defeat in Afghanistan. The culture clash between the Captain and the Warlord is full of philosophical tension and punctuated by great performances all around. Awesome war action. May be criticized for being too theatrical but isn't that why we go to the movies?

The Nightmare [aka Der Nachtmahr] (2015)

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 70
Personal = 3.3

A girl befriends an odd creature she finds in her house while everyone else thinks she's losing her mind. The definition of dull, this movie is basically a cross between E.T. and Basket Case (with none of the fun or scares) with everyone terrified of a creature that is obviously non-threatening. The film had me interested up until the creature made an appearance. After that, no one's actions were logical, I waited in ungodly amount of time for something to happen and, ultimately, the film made no sense. Liked the music.

Flypaper [2011]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 42
Personal = 7.3

Two separate crews attempt to rob the same bank at closing time. What they didn't count on was a Sherlock Holmes type hostage or that this may be far more than just a bank robbery. I didn't have much hope for this film early on as much of the humor fell flat and the characters were a little over the top. However, as the film wore on, the characters became far more likable, the film got funnier, more complex and entertaining and the twist ending was excellent. What I thought was going to bore me turned out to be a really fun ride.

Wrong Turn [2003]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 54
Personal = 6.8

A group of young people take the wrong turn in the hills of West Virginia and experience life with the locals. Similar to The Hills Have Eyes, this is simply another inbred mutant slasher movie. However, it's done very well ...as noted by 5 sequels. It gets started in a hurry and the victims are normal (including the one prone to hysteria). Their actions are logical and smart making for some very exciting scenarios where they're actually trying to save themselves. How refreshing! The mutants were entertaining, as well. Nice!

Cloverfield (aka Monstrous, 1-18-08) [2008]

IMDb = 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 77 / 68
Personal = 5.9

A group of friends try to survive when Manhattan is suddenly and inexplicably attacked by a massively huge monster of unknown origin. This movie should be an incredibly exciting thrill ride. However, unlike the films [REC], V/H/S/2, and As Above, So Below, which really knew how to use the hand-held camera most effectively, the camera in this film was just all over the place all the time. Rather than thrilled, I was frustrated the camera was never pointing at what I wanted to look at and just gave me a headache.

Happy Hunting [2017]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 44
Personal = 4.6

An alcoholic, on his way to Mexico, stops in a small border town and finds himself the prey in a hunt. This movie is so flat, there's few adjectives to describe it. It's not thrilling or suspenseful. No tension. No humor. No witty or quotable dialogue. Neither the film nor anyone in it has any personality. It's not terrible but there's really nothing about it that's worth mentioning. And, after all that, the ending was a huge let down.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (aka Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur, Arthur and Lancelot) [2017]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 69
Personal = 5.4

Yet another different version of the Excalibur / King Arthur legend. This was a strange one. Director Guy Ritchie is best known for British street gang movies (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) and, unfortunately, that experience sort of bleeds into this one. The vernacular is all wrong and no one really behaves like you would expect, the editing was odd and didn't feel natural, and, except for the opening sequence, the spec fx were forgettable. It was entertaining but far from feeling authentic.

10 Cloverfield Lane (aka The Cellar, Valencia) [2016]

IMDb = 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 79
Personal = 8.6

A woman in an auto accident, wakes up in a bunker lorded over by a well-meaning but totally psycho man who tells her going outside is lethal due to an invasion. The second film in the Cloverfield series is miles above the first in all respects. The performances of all three occupants of the bunker is great (especially John Goodman) and the tension never abates as it goes from suspicion to acceptance to total chaos. Somewhat slow but brilliant character study with a wholly satisfying ending.

Time Lapse [2014]

IMDb = 6.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 64
Personal = 7.4

An apartment manager and his two roommates investigate an apartment where it appears the occupant has disappeared. Inside they find a machine that takes photographs of their living room 24 hours into the future. I had trouble wrapping my head around this one in a logical sense but that's the point. Does the camera really show the future or is everyone planning their actions to insure they duplicate the photo? Excellent twisted ending leaving you wondering if they really could have changed things. Good stuff!

The Cloverfield Paradox (aka God Particle, Cloverfield Station) [2018]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 16 / 53
Personal = 5.1

With the nations of the earth on the brink of war, due to dwindling energy reserves, a space station tries to get the largest particle accelerator ever to produce unlimited free energy. This movie concerns overlapping parallel universes and the chaos that would develop. However, they focused far too much on each character's personal story (which wasn't that interesting) and far too little on how much chaos a situation like that would create. I was looking for an Event Horizon. Got a TV episode of Star Trek.

The Snowman [2017]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 7 / 19
Personal = 4.0

An alcoholic investigator and a newcomer to the department investigate a number of disappearances; all of which have a snowman on site. Once again, far too much time spent on the people in the story and far too little time spent on the actual crimes. Add the fact that the movie's plot is disjointed, wastes time on characters and subplots that make no difference to the story and I didn't understand anyone's motivation for the things they do. The ending was just silly. Too bad the movie isn't as good as the trailer.

John Wick [2014]

IMDb = 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 80
Personal = 8.5

This is what happens when you go to the home of a retired hitman, one of the best in the world, steal his '69 Mustang and kill his dog. Incredibly lethal, high-action thrill ride with an explosive body count. The story is good, the characters are just a bit over-the-top and very fun to watch, the action choreography is unlike anything I've seen before, and it never lets you take a breath. It's painfully obvious that the role of John Wick was made exclusively for Keanu Reeves. Looking forward to seeing Chapter 2.

The Wave (aka Bolgen) [2015]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 65
Personal = 7.5

A Norwegian disaster film based on what might happen if Akneset, an unstable mountain pass, were to fracture off sending an 80 meter high wall of water down the fjord. Us Americans tend to make our disaster movies filled with excitement, thrills, and loaded with spec fx. This film tended to be far more realistic and human. We got to know the characters intimately and really cared about them. They also managed to make the attempts to save each other thrilling and realistic without being outrageous. Nicely done!

Romeo Must Die [2000]

IMDb = 6.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 61
Personal = 5.6

A friendship develops between the son of a Chinese mob boss and the daughter of an African-American mob boss while the two sides are on the brink of a gang war. This is a pretty standard, average, run-of-the-mill mob movie without any particular frills or action scenes except for a few fights to show Jet Li's talents. Although, the fights were ok, some of the stunts felt more Jackie Chan than Jet Li and included a lot of those cool but physically impossible moves. Overall, good, entertaining film but nothing special.

John Wick: Chapter 2 [2017]

IMDb = 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 85
Personal = 8.7

After cleaning up his mess in the first film and retiring again, John is forced back into the business of killing people. Everything that made the first movie work so well is still here. On top of all the action and gun play is a story line that is increasingly hostile to John literally turning his world into a fight for survival no matter where he goes. Obviously set up for a sequel. Looking forward to it.

The Quiet Earth [1985]

IMDb = 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 69
Personal = 6.4

A man wakes up to find that everyone else has disappeared. This interesting, New Zealand film, follows this man's personal journey, as well as the few others he meets, making it a fairly good and enjoyable character study. It's also quite dated in the respect that we've seen so many variations on the story by now that are so much better, this is sort of bland. I can understand it's cult following and some are going to love this film. I found it good, it just wasn't particularly my cup of tea.

The Lure (aka Corki Dancingu) [2015]

IMDb = 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 71
Personal = 2.1

An incredibly bad, Polish horror?, comedy??, musical, about 2 mermaids who sing and dance at a nightclub. We have naked girls with no genitals. We have mermaids eating people. Tail amputation? Mermaid vaginas? Sea foam, what? Sea foam!! ...all done to some absolutely terrible music and dance. Since it got good ratings, I'm assuming this is a cultural thing but as for me? I would rather slit my wrists before sitting through this again. Geez, this was awful!

The Salton Sea [2002]

IMDb = 7.2
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 83
Personal = 9.3

Tom Van Allen / Danny Parker - tweeker, dealer, confidential informant, avenger, and trumpet player. Val Kilmer is spectacular as a man who's twisted journey takes one turn after another. Vincent D'Onofrio is awesome as the totally psycho drug dealer. The director, D.J. Caruso, gave everyone total freedom with their parts giving the characters a realism that's hard to find these days. A film noir that seamlessly moves between serious and humorous, a clever story that all starts with the tragedy at the Salton Sea. Brilliant!

Renaissance (aka Paris 2054) [2006]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 49 / 60
Personal = 5.3

A renegade cop searches for a lady whose been kidnapped due to her research into Progeria. I wasn't a big fan of the high-contrast black & white format of animation. Be that as it may, the animation (using motion capture) was impressively done and very smooth. The story, however, was somewhat hard to follow and not that engaging. The end was a big come down. Certainly not a favorite as far as animated films go.

Veteran (aka Beterang) [2015]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 75
Personal = 7.5

A veteran cop goes after a corrupt and sadistic corporate president - whose assault on a truck driver left him in a coma - even though he gets nothing but ridicule from everyone. Not so much a South Korean, action film but rather one driven mostly by the flamboyant personalities of the characters and some really good writing. Never really too serious but never really too campy, the movie does a great job of just being entertaining and fun. I really enjoyed it.

Peter Rabbit [2018]

IMDb = 6.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 58 / 59
Personal = 7.0

Peter Rabbit and his family and friends (the other animals) go to war with a new neighbor. Put aside all the crud we've been hearing about it not being like the book and some protest about an epipen (which I don't understand), this was a genuinely fun film. The creatures are realistically flawless, the situations were humorous and well thought out and there's plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. Anytime my wife and I start talking about scenes in the movie on the way home, and laugh all over again, that's a good thing.

Kong: Skull Island [2017]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 70
Personal = 7.1

Basically, a version of King Kong minus the trip to New York. A very exciting version with loads of quality action, some very impressive spec fx, and some great photography. The creatures, in addition to Kong, were quite cool and the characters were well defined. Just what a grand adventure should be.

I, Frankenstein [2014]

IMDb = 5.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 4 / 38
Personal = 5.0

200 years after Frankenstein created him, the creature is caught in the middle of an ancient war between good and evil. If I had walked into a room with this on, I probably would have asked if it was an Underworld movie. Same gothic lighting and color palette, gargoyles vs demons instead of vampires vs lycans, Michael, the half-breed, is now Adam, Frankenstein's creation and even Viktor is in it ...except he's now the head demon, Naberius. It was entertaining enough but absolutely nothing that stands out above all the rest.

The Ring Two (aka Samara) [2005]

IMDb = 5.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 19 / 38
Personal = 6.6

Rachel and son move to a new home in a new town in an attempt to leave the madness of Samara behind. Well... she's back! Pretty good follow up to The Ring. It has a few flaws and contrived bits but overall, it had some good creeps (although not as effective as the first film) and a nice extension to the story that was so much more than just watching video tapes.

Reviews Coming Soon

The 15:17 to Paris [2018]
The Expendables 3 [2014]
The Fear Chamber [2009]
Frequency [2000]
Ghost in the Shell [2017]
The Horde [2012]
House of 1000 Corpses [2003]
House of Fears [2007]
The Imposter [2012]
Lost Souls [1998]
Maze Runner: The Death Cure [2018]
Melancholia [2011]
Queen of Earth [2015]
Realive [2016]
Rememory [2017]
Scream of the Banshee [2011]
Universal Soldier [1992]
The Whole Nine Yards [2000]
Winchester [2018]

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