March 2018

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The Windmill [2016]

aka The Windmill Massacre

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 22
Personal = 5.1


A bus breaks down during a tour of Holland and the passengers begin experiencing hallucinations and amputations. This is a pretty typical slasher movie that has a somewhat original premise. Beside the entertaining kills being gory and a little over-the-top, there's really nothing new here. The ending was a bit silly. Entertaining but I'm glad a didn't spend extra money on it.


Winchester [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 41
Personal = 4.8


Story based on the premise that Sarah Winchester continued to build her home because she was haunted by the spirits of those killed by Winchesters. The story was OK - a mass shooting and the 1906 earthquake was thrown into the mix for good measure - but it came off rather flat. It seemed to rely too much on jump scares as I don't think the filmmakers really knew how to create the necessary atmosphere a movie like this needs. As a result, it's just a ghost story ...and not a very scary one.

The Man from Nowhere [2010]

aka Ajeossi

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 90
Personal = 8.9


A girl befriends the owner of a pawnshop, even though he doesn't seem to pay any attention to her. When the girl and her mother gets kidnapped, we find the pawnshop owner is far more resourceful than we thought and he's going to get the girl back. Remarkably well made Korean thriller, similar to Man on Fire, that is engrossing, exciting, and heart grabbing. Bin Won, as the pawnshop owner, and Sae-ron Kim, as the little girl, were fantastic pulling strong and genuine emotions out of their characters. Action was great!

Tiger House [2015]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 18
Personal = 5.0


A girl sneaks into her boyfriend's house on a night when the house is invaded by thieves. Now it's up to her to save the day. Pretty much what you'd think. Some of the scenarios dragged on a bit too long going from tense suspense to 'get on with it'. The girl's behavior was fickle ...first she's fighting, then she's acting like she's helpless. Far too many moments where she hides 'just in the nick of time'. That got old. And others did illogical things, as well. It was ok for what it was despite the occasional lack of logic.

The Devil's Rejects [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 53 / 78
Personal = 8.4


The police raid the house from the first film. Baby and Otis get away and team up with Captain Spaulding for a pathologically sadistic road trip with a cop in pursuit who is just as psychopathic as they are. This is an incredibly savage and violent film that is as visceral as it is relentless. The first film showed us the horrors at home. This one shows us that, even on the run, the horrors can be even worse. And yet the three rejects and the cop are really fun to watch ...if you can stand the bloodshed.

Death Wish [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 15 / 85
Personal = 8.7


Based on the 70's, Charles Bronson film, a man's wife is killed and his daughter placed in a coma during a home invasion. When the police appear to be helpless, he takes matters into his own hands. An incredibly well-paced, entertaining thriller which is exactly the type of movie that the public would love and Rotten Tomatoes would hate as they can't just watch a movie for fun without ripping it apart. It felt logical, nothing was forced, Bruce Willis was great, as usual, never took itself too seriously. It was great!

In the Mood for Love [2000]

aka Faa yeung nin wa

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 94
Personal = 6.3


In 1962 Hong Kong, neighbors begin an eccentric friendship when they discover their spouses are having an affair with each other. I'm not much of one to watch romance / friendship movies but something about this one grabbed my attention. The story of these two very likable people obviously falling for each other but refusing to be like their spouses was quite enjoyable. But it just dragged on for far too long with nothing changing and ultimately it just fizzled out. Very stylish photography and her dresses were beautiful.

Asura: The City of Madness [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 71
Personal = 5.3


A guy is hopelessly stuck playing both sides between an overly ambitious prosecutor and an ultra-corrupt, violent mayor. The filmmakers didn't really know how to edit themselves. Too long with far too much dialogue, the characterizations were unlikable and forced and the story didn't seem to be going anywhere until the end. Even the big shootout at the end had an almost lazy quality about it and sorta ended on a dud. Nothing really rang true. Certainly not the best Korean movie I've seen lately.

The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 33
Personal = 6.5


A man, who has the ability to jump back in time and change things, tries to alter the death of his girlfriend and creates a serial killer. The Butterfly Effect 2 was such a badly made example of the whole concept that I didn't expect to much from TBE3. I was quite surprised. They found that element that made TBE work so well. There were a few time shifts that were hard to follow and some of it got redundant, but they constructed a story that works well with a good twist ...although I sort of saw it coming.

Maze Runner 3: The Death Cure [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 67
Personal = 6.8


The rebels try to find a way into the walled city to rescue their friends while the folks in the city try to find a cure to the virus. This film is totally formulaic from start to finish with no surprises and there were more than a couple scenes that were implausibly convenient. But the actors did a great job, the action was tight, and the spec fx were well done. If you don't expect too much and you don't nit pick the film to death, it's a very fun and exciting ride.

Red Sparrow [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 48 / 57
Personal = 4.7


A prominent Russian ballet dancer has her career cut short by an accident on-stage. Fearing the loss of her home and support for her mother's medical needs, she agrees to become a spy. My wife and I came out of the theater simply feeling dirty after watching this film. Jennifer Lawrence did a wonderful job and I really wanted to like this movie - espionage thriller with a good, sophisticated story - but I just felt uncomfortable the entire time. It's mostly rape, sex, torture, and anguish without a payoff worthy of what we've sat through.

Pet [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 31
Personal = 7.4


Seth has an obsession with Holly and begins stalking her. I didn't think anything was going to change along that line of thought, even after he puts her in a cage. But then, the entire dynamics of their relationship changes and you realize that this familiar story is not anything like you thought it was. As the movie goes on, you start asking yourself who's really the captor and who's really the prey? The psychological warfare that insues could have been written better but I loved the film for its twisted originality.

Middle Man [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 60
Personal = 5.4


A guy, who isn't very funny, is traveling to Las Vegas to be a stand-up comedian. He runs into some trouble and the bodies start piling up. I was ready to shut off this dark comedy after about 30 mins but I stuck with it. It did get better but the humor is very, very dry. I would imagine it would suit the Better Call Saul crowd more than a general audience. I also thought the situations were becoming increasingly ridiculous ...albeit humorous. Overall, it was entertaining but I was hoping it was far funnier.

Desierto [2015]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 61 / 47
Personal = 7.1


A fellow, who has spent way too much time in the sun, and his dog take great glee in killing illegal immigrants coming into the US from Mexico. This was a pretty good cat and mouse game in the high desert. The guy has a high powered, scoped rifle and the smartest dog I've ever seen in a movie and the others have ...well, nothing. I really liked that they kept the movie very honest and real instead being stylish and action packed. This made the film all the more genuine in its intensity. Good stuff!

The Strangers 2: Prey at Night [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 38 / 63
Personal = 7.2


Doll face, Pin-up Girl and the Scarecrow are back to terrorize some more folks "because they are home". First, I'll say I really liked the movie but there's a lot I'm forgiving to get there. It didn't have the insidious tension of the first film, the "let's present and establish the dysfunctional family" setup was a bit too long, I didn't like the girl, and the last half of the film began to enter the realm of silly with an absolute final scene that I'd rather forget. Strangely, despite all that, I was thoroughly entertained.

I Spit on Your Grave [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 47
Personal = 7.5


Reboot of the '78 film featuring a woman who exacts her revenge in the most heinous ways on her attackers. Everyone was offended by the original when it came out with many places banning it. That original is quite tame compared to this one and it's certainly not for the faint of heart or easily offended. The assault and rape may go on for 40 mins before she is left for dead but she certainly makes them pay for every minute as her revenge is visceral, brutal and mercilessly unrelenting. This is some shockingly strong stuff.

The Stepfather [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 11 / 34
Personal = 5.0


A man dreams of the perfect family ...and kills the ones that don't work out. This re-boot from the original 1987 version wasn't really necessary. It's not a bad film in its own right but attempting to upstage Terry O'Quinn in the original is too tall an order to accomplish. That aside, this one had some good, tense moments but overall, it felt like a TV movie and there was far too attention paid to people not wanting to believe he may be a bad guy when someone suspects something. This stubbornness got ridiculous.

Cybergeddon [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 4.8


This was a web series, made by CSI's creator, Anthony E. Zuiker, that was compiled together into a full length film about cyber terrorism. I probably would have liked this if I knew what was going on. It was just one scene after another of people frantically working away at computers interrupted by various chases without any real explanation as to what they were doing ...somewhat like the trailer. Couldn't understand half the dialogue as it was delivered at breakneck speeds and, overall, it was just spastic chaos.

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel [2011]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 84
Personal = 8.4


Great documentary of Roger Corman's body of film work since the '50's with numerous, humorous interviews, film clips, personal stories, all culminating with him receiving the Academy Award for lifetime achievement and, although in his '80's, his current work for the Syfy channel making Dinoshark. With 56 director credits and 413 producer credits, few can claim such a vast library of work with nearly all of it made on a shoestring and he rarely lost a dime on anything. Excellent!

These Final Hours [2013]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 64
Personal = 8.0


A blast wave from a comet impact will reach Australia in 12 hours. Out of fear, a man decides to get totally wasted and head for an end-of-the-world party. Along the way, he saves a girl and everything changes. Unlike Melancholia (which was 1/2 boring and 1/2 pathetic) this movie wonderfully realistically portrayed the way people may act on the brink of the apocalypse. Very personal, and touching, it's a story of redemption, and figuring out what's important may not be what you think you want. Nicely done!

A Wrinkle in Time [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 35
Personal = 5.7


A girl, her little brother and a friend travel through the universe searching for her dad. First, let me say, this is NOT as bad as the ratings. There are plenty of better films with similar themes, especially from Disney, but this one was light-hearted, uplifting and quite visual. I think its main problem was the presentation seemed bland, unfinished, and sort of lifeless. Bad editing maybe? In fact, there's some great scenes in the trailer that aren't in the movie. The friend served absolutely no purpose beyond being along for the ride.

Blood Junkie [2010]

aka Rocky Trails

   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 50
Personal = 1.4


Two pairs of teens and a young boy go on a camping trip and start disappearing one by one. There's films that are so bad, they're good and entertaining. This isn't one of them. What they spent their $6k budget on didn't have anything to do with talent, creativity or imagination. I've seen people say that it's a great throwback to the shlock B-movies of the '70's and '80. As a big fan of those types of films, I can safely say, no ...it's just boring and awful.

Stalker [1979]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 93
Personal = 3.1


In this case, the term stalker refers to a tour guide, of sorts, that leads two men into an area known as the zone to take them to a room that is supposed to grant your innermost wishes. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? In a nutshell, it lasted 161 mins and NOTHING happened. The stalker kept preaching dangers. Are there any? Is he nuts? Who knows? Nothing happens. I don't even know if the wish room works. Camera work was awesome and it is very artistic but 2 1/2 hours with no pay off? That's just wrong!

Tomb Raider [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 49 / 70
Personal = 6.0


Laura goes to a remote island to find her dad and raid a tomb. A very well-made film of mediocrity. There's nothing in the dialogue that's engrossing, absolutely no humor, the action, although well done (if you don't mind the super shaky camera work) is cliche and quite often contrived with nothing original. Most of the best stunts are in the trailers. Story is very old with no surprises. Acting is competent but doesn't stand out. Overall, fun day at the movies if you go to the bargain matinee. Otherwise, you're paying too much.

Tag [2015]

aka Riaru onigokko

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 80 / 61
Personal = 5.6


A girl's life seems to change realities while everyone else around her gets slaughtered. At least, that's what I think it's about. Shocking, ponderous, gory, strange, surreal, aggravating, artistic, a whole lot of running and totally incomprehensible. Don't really know if I liked it or not.


Thoroughbreds [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 84 / 72
Personal = 7.9


Two upper-class teenage girls, rekindling their friendship, begin plotting to kill one girl's stepfather. Unlike the trailer, this is not really a comedy ...although the situations that develop are humorous in a morbid sort of way. Rather, this is an extremely dark character study where one girl - a self-professed sociopath - is providing advice to the other about how to commit murder. Watching this smoldering drama leaves one equally amused and appalled ...like watching a pretty train wreck. Sticks with you long after viewing.

The Gift [2015]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 75
Personal = 7.7


After moving back to California with his wife, a corporate security exec runs into an old school mate ...the last person he needed to see. Another slow burn drama that is insidiously unnerving ...but, as we find out, for all the wrong reasons. What appears as the old school mate stalking the couple turns into a psychologically dark contest of wills and a past that will not be appeased. With barely any violence, the mental destruction left behind is impressive. Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, Joel Edgerton, are all excellent!

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 23 / 58
Personal = 7.1


After there rampage against the mob bosses in the first film, the brothers hideout on a sheep ranch in Ireland. When someone kills a priest and tries to make it look like the Saints, they come back to clean things up. Besides the dialogue not being as crisp as the original - and the miscasting of Judd Nelson, imo - this is a very nice follow-up that I'm sure will be enjoyed by the cult following it's generated. Great action, ridiculous but believable situations and shootouts, colorful characters ...all the elements are there.

Closed Circuit [2013]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 31
Personal = 5.8


After a truck bomb goes off in London, an arrest is made. Is he innocent? guilty? or is there something completely different going on here? This is a rather tense legal thriller where a case may become far more fatal the closer you get to solving it. Although it is rather slow and complicated without any real action to speak of, it did keep me engrossed to the very end. If you like complex legal stories, this may be just what you're looking for.

The Dark Tower [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 16 / 46
Personal = 5.7


A dark tower holds the universe together and keeps out the demons. Two figures, the Gunslinger and the Man in Black, go to war to either destroy or save the tower ...and a young boy may be the key. Wow! What's the hurry? Films over about 110 mins, in many cases, could lose about 30 mins without damage. But this type of film (at only 95 mins) needs that extra time to fully develop a story and characters between the competent action and excitement. Sorry to 'rush' to judgment but this film felt like they were late for a plane.

Charles Beaumont: The Short Life of Twilight Zone's Magic Man [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.7


I've always been a big fan of Beaumont's work, especially his writing for the Twilight Zone. Unfortunately, this documentary was 99% interviews with a couple dozen people who were friends and colleges (very poor quality, I might add) and almost totally centered around his personal life with the last 20 minutes devoted to his sickness and death. They barely even brought up his volume of work. No one, including Beaumont, wants to know about a sick guy who died young. We want to see the genius of his work!

Secret Reunion [2010]

aka Ui-hyeong-je

   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 71
Personal = 5.1


A cop, who loses his job over a botched attempt to capture an assassin known as the Shadow, and an associate of the Shadow, gone into hiding from the Shadow, team up ...each knowing who the other is but believing the other doesn't know. Yes, they were that inept. Sounds more complicated than it is but, who cares. After a rather serious, violent, exciting and auspicious beginning, the film went into a huge ponderous stall that lasted until the unbelievable and overly sentimental ending. Had its moments but mostly I was bored.

Unsane [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 78 / 60
Personal = 7.3


A stalking victim seeks counseling and inadvertently commits herself into a mental institution. The more she tries to convince them she's sane, the worse it gets. Then she starts seeing her stalker. This film works really well at placing the viewer in this situation and filling them with a sense of dread and despair. That feeling of helplessness is palpable as the situation become more complicated and dire. Of course, that's what makes the ending all the more rewarding, doesn't it? Well made film.

Dagon [2001]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 56 / 56
Personal = 4.5


The survivors of a boat accident get to shore to find themselves in a town occupied by weird creatures who worship Dagon. It didn't take long for me to lose interest in this film. The creatures pursuing the lead went on until nearly the end making it one long tedious chase. The lead guy was miscast and didn't pull off the buffoon characterization well at all. Bad acting all around. As much as I enjoyed Stuart Gordon's early Lovecraft films (Re-Animator, From Beyond), he really missed the mark on this one. Monsters looked good.

Playback [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 76
Personal = 4.5


A family massacre that took place 15 years ago in a small town begins to reoccur when tapes of the original crime are viewed. The beginning was very intense and hooked me immediately. However, I then had to sit through nearly an hour of adolescent high school students being ...well ...adolescent high school students while they set up the next sequence of significant events. It got better after that but they never got the pacing right, the acting was pretty blase and it never lived up to its shocking opening. Pity.

Wolf Creek [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 53 / 49
Personal = 7.8


Three friends travel into the outback of Australia to visit the Wolf Creek meteor crater. What they find is their worst nightmare in the form of Mick Taylor. It takes about an hour for something remarkable to happen but the kids are likable and enjoyable to watch making what follows even more brutal. And when it does start happening, few screen psychos can match Mick's heartless cruelty or that mad cackle of his. Making the victims smarter would have probably added a point in my personal rating. Strong stuff, though!

Monsterz [2014]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 8
Personal = 4.3


A man, who can mentally control anyone his can see, meets his nemesis in a man who is immune to his control. This film started strong and had a great premise. Unfortunately, the longer the film ran, the worse it got. The filmmakers insisted on turning this into a philosophical dilemma wrapped in guilt and redemption to the point to where any momentum the film had was tossed by the wayside. The ending was an overly-extended exercise in sappy sentimentalism and I couldn't wait for it to get over with.

The Death of Stalin [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 81
Personal = 6.4


A satirical look at the events that take place directly after the death of Stalin. The film was interesting in that it's quite an accurate depiction of the events at that time presented in a humorous way that exemplifies the passions and lack of intelligence among most of the individuals involved. Is it good? I guess it depends on your sense of balance between historical realism and comic parody. I found it too dry with the funniest moments already in the trailer but that's just me. Steve Buscemi's performance was brilliant.

Tell Me How I Die [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 33
Personal = 4.2


Bunch of students volunteer for the testing of a new drug that improves memory. This premise is used quite a bit with the drug's side effects driving the story forward. I've never seen a really good one and this one was the worst. People who have taken the drug can see glimpses of the future. Sounds interesting but they spend too much time on things that are irrelevant (like the opening seminar speech), and the overall concept is poorly defined rendering the film silly and incoherent with the ending resolving nothing.

Pacific Rim 2: Uprising [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 45 / 54
Personal = 8.2


10 years after shutting down the initial invasion of the Precursors, and their creatures, the Kaiju, the human controlled robots, the Jaegers, are brought back into action to fight drone Jaegers and then a super Kaiju. This is a perfect example of writing, directing, editing and spec fx coming together in just the right way to present an explosively exciting roller coaster ride while still finding ways to interject good character development and tell a story. Great entertainment from start to finish.

Last Action Hero [1993]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 34 / 46
Personal = 6.5


By the use of a magic ticket, a boy is able to enter a film featuring his favorite action hero. This is one of those films that most everyone has seen but I never have. I didn't like the kid much, I hated Lt. Dekker, and the film was way too long. However, I liked that half the time was spent with the characters in the movie and the other half spent in the real world ...and the problems that developed. They even had the action as over-the-top in the movie world and somewhat more realistic in the real world. Overall, very entertaining.

Breakdown [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 11 / 31
Personal = 7.7


A professional hitman is having a mental breakdown and wants out. We all know how that goes. I'm surprised at the lousy ratings on this one. I thought Craig Fairbrass was excellent as a man on the brink being pushed a bit too far. The story was tight and personal, the action was good, the characters were quite intense. It had its flaws - in fact, they dragged out the end a bit - but deserved a much better showing than it's gotten. This was a good film.

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