April 2018

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Dread [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 45
Personal = 5.1


Three students get together to video document a thesis on fear and dread. One of those decides to take it to the next level as his sanity begins slipping away. This is one of those movies that, once it's over, makes you want to either hug a bunny or eat a bullet. This is some real sick and depressing stuff. But then again, it's based on a Clive Barker story so you know there's a chance of that going in. I found it rather long winded but interesting to a point. Then it just got sooo dark. Heady stuff.

Ready Player One [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 80
Personal = 8.5


In 2045, everyone spends most of their time in a virtual world known as the Oasis. And now you can control the world if you can find the creator's Easter Egg. We've seen this before on numerous occasions so there's nothing new as far as the story goes. But the journey is fantastic! Not only is the virtual world more immersive than any of film I've seen, the constant pop culture references - from The Shining, to disco, to Atari games, to Chucky - was sheer nostalgic joy for an older guy like me. What a trip!

Baraka [1992]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 96
Personal = 8.1


A film of sound and imagery bookended with religious and cultural symbolism and ritual mixed in with gorgeous visions of nature in action. In between, a lot of ground is covered including industry, poverty, ancient civilizations, war, and chickens. It's amazing how a film with no spoken words, actors or story can illicit so much emotion and food for thought ...as well as hypnotize. Fascinating!


Captain America: The First Avenger [2011]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 79 / 74
Personal = 7.9


The first Marvel Universe film within the MCU timeline (although not the first made), this covers the only real success of the use on the Super Soldier serum turning Steve Rogers into superhuman Captain America. Taking place mostly during WWII, the Cap and his Howling Commandos create some serious problems for the Nazi Science Division - HYDRA. Great film with lots of excitement, great characters, a lot of backstory to get the various timeline plots started and, of course, stunning action and spec fx.

Veronica [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 44
Personal = 7.6


Three girls play with a Ouija board in an attempt to contact a dead friend and a dead father. Turns out, it worked ...and they forgot to say goodbye. This Spanish film was an extremely effective little creepfest that has some really unique, scary and shocking moments. The movie begins with one of the best teasers in recent memory and then jumps back to 2 days. At this point, I'm hooked! I have to see what leads up to that moment. Characters were very natural and realistic, which added to the concern and dread.

Resident Evil [2002]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 34 / 67
Personal = 8.7


A virus breaks out in the research lab known as the Hive for the Umbrella Corp basically turning the underground center into a zombie convention. Unknown to the danger, a group of soldiers go in to shut down the main computer system ...which has a mind of its own. Critics have fun tearing down the Resident Evil franchise but I just love 'em. When you go into a movie where it's creators knew full well that what they're making is mindless, escapist entertainment, why should we expect anything more? This is great stuff!

The Tourist [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 42
Personal = 6.6


British Intelligence is following a woman who they think will lead them to an illusive international criminal. When she befriends a tourist on a train, everyone, including a gangster, believes it's him. Chaos ensues. This is a rather light thriller appropriate for even young teens ...as long as there's no objection to a couple naughty words. I think they spent far too much time on the budding romance and the serious parts didn't really strike me as serious enough to illicit much danger. It was fun, though, with a clever ending.

Fight Club [1999]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 79 / 96
Personal = 6.7


A man, with a rather skewed view of the world, teams up with another guy, who has an opposite but equally skewed view of the world, after his condo is destroyed by an explosion. What develops is ...interesting. Despite the fact that the film is waaaayyy toooo long, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are exceptional, the writing was top notch (I really like the constant philosophical and humorous banter being tossed around), and the film has a rather profound twist I didn't see coming. Not bad.

High Crimes [2002]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 31 / 50
Personal = 5.7


A man is arrested for war crimes he insists he did not commit. His wife chooses to defend him in military court and begins to unravel a conspiracy. This is a pretty standard legal thriller with a lot of unrealistic threatening of the lawyers to add suspense and tension. Had a pretty good twist and overall, quite enjoyable as long as it's taken with a grain of salt. Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Jim Caviezel all did exceptionally well.

Happy Birthday to Me [1981]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 27 / 42
Personal = 6.7


A group of college friends, known as the Top 10, are disappearing one by one. This film was a typical, and well above average, '80's psycho slasher movie that was quite enjoyable. The movie took a few twists and turns and just when you think you know what's going on, they twist it again. Although I found the end somewhat sad, and, despite it's obvious low budget and cheap gags, I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Brought back memories of the drive-in.

Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse [2004]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 21 / 60
Personal = 8.1


Alice, our hero from the first film, wakes up in a research lab to discover the virus has infected Racoon City and the city has been walled off and is now full of hungry folk. A high action continuation of the series that is just as much fun as the first. Some of the stunts were a bit outlandish and over-the-top but, like I said before, it's mindless, escapist entertainment so I'd expect nothing less. Plus, we get to add Jill ...another bad-ass female. Gotta love it.

A Quiet Place [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 97 / 87
Personal = 8.0


A deeply personal and excruciatingly tense story of a family struggling to survive in a farm house surrounded by savagely violent creatures who attack at the slightest sound. Even when the family is going about their highly practiced daily routine, the tension never goes away ...the childbirth scene is the most nerve wracking I've ever seen. I had a couple logic problems with it but, no matter. This is good stuff and I thought the ironic ending was quite unique.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai [1999]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 86
Personal = 4.6


Ghost Dog, a mafia hit man, unknowingly kills a target in front of the local mob boss' daughter. Now he's the target. Except for Ghost Dog, all the characters in this film are shallow, the acting and writing is lame,scenes go on for extended periods of time, many of which are unnecessary (there must have been at least 10 minutes of Ghost Dog just driving around and listening to bad music). If it weren't for Forrest Whitaker's performance, I would have walked out. And the ending? That's the way of the Samurai? No, Thank You!

Mine [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 15 / 42
Personal = 6.6


A sniper and his spotter are stuck in the desert after a failed mission and their GPS is broken. Heading to a village, they inadvertently step into a mine field that kills one and leaves the other standing on a mine ...for 52 hours. Basically an endurance film similar to Gerald's Game or Buried, this one is exceptionally tense, emotional, and frustrating. The real prize, however, was the local man who would come by to help, taunt, encourage, and wax philosophical about what it is to be a free man. This was good.

Bethany [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 46
Personal = 3.6


A woman inherits her childhood home from her deceased mother ...and her imaginary friend appears to still be living in the wall. This movie was one very long sequence of not-all-that-scary scenes, one right after another, without any progression to the story. Finally they progress into the ending which, weirdly enough, was sick, sad and silly all at the same time.


Zeitgeist [2007]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 86
Personal = 10.0


A documentary discussing aspects of religion, 9/11, financial institutions and political control. This is not a film I would simply suggest everyone seeing. This is a film that everyone absolutely MUST see! I've always been mistrustful of the system, the government, the media, although I've never really known why in particular. I've just always known something is wrong with it. This movie filled in a lot of those blanks with information - whether you buy it or not - that provides a huge feast for thought. You really must see this.

Saint [2010]

aka Sint

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 28
Personal = 5.8


If Dec. 5 falls on a full moon, St. Nick and his horde of dead elves will kill everyone in Amsterdam. I'm split on this one. The action and scare scenes were quite humorous and entertaining with some absolutely wonderful gags. The parts in between, however, were lacking humor and just sort of lifeless making you want to get to the next action sequence. Good for an evening's entertainment, though.

Primer [2004]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 79
Personal = 7.4


Two physics nerds, experimenting in their garage, are trying to come up with some sort of machine they could patent and start a business with. To their amazement, they make a bizarre time machine. Let the paradoxes begin. For a total budget of $7,000, these guys put out an amazing film. The dialogue is so technical, it would take several viewings to catch exactly what's going on ...maybe. But the point is, they've created something phenomenal and it's pretty clear that things are going very wrong. Excellent!

The Villainess [2017]

aka Ak-Nyeo

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 65
Personal = 7.5


After slaughtering an entire gang by herself, a girl is brought into an agency to be trained as an assassin. This is a rather convoluted story that is ofttimes hard to follow but that may be due to the cultural difference. Also, I didn't quite understand some of the choices the characters made. It is a good story, though, and the performances were quite engaging. The high point is the action. Although over-the-top and somewhat over choreographed, it was still super fun to watch. Overall, an extremely pleasant ride.

Truth or Dare [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 15 / 20
Personal = 7.2


A game of truth or dare, started in the ruins of an old mission in Mexico, takes on some very serious proportions. After watching the trailer, the movie turned out to be exactly what I expected. However, the story progressed in a logical, intelligent manner, people were acting as you would expect, and they did a great job of shocking the viewer without any blatant violence ...nary a drop of blood to be seen. I thought the ending was hokey but, bad ratings be damned, this is a well made film and I enjoyed it.

Little Evil [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 42
Personal = 6.4


A man begins to believe his new step-son is the Antichrist. Basically a parody of The Omen (they actually mention it in the film), this was somewhat entertaining with a few colorful character. Although there were a couple of laugh-out-load moments, most of the humor was a bit flat and I believe the dialogue could have been far wittier than it was. Still good fun, though.


Unlocked [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 25 / 40
Personal = 6.6


A former international interrogator is dragged back into the fold to interrogate a messenger in an attempt to stop a biological attack. This was a highly competent spy thriller with the usual misconceptions, double crosses, and surprises that come with said genre. In fact, I figured out a few of the twists before our primary spy did. What's that say about her as a spy? Regardless, it was well made and fun to watch. Noomi Rapace and Orlando Bloom were both excellent.

Resident Evil 3: Extinction [2007]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 23 / 58
Personal = 7.6


A few years have past since Apocalypse and the infection is now world wide. Small pockets of humanity have become wanderers to keep the undead from catching up. Meanwhile, the Umbrella Corp. continues to search for Alice and research their T-Virus and Alice has learned a few new tricks. This one wasn't as compelling as the first two entries but it's still incredible fun. Its also an excellent and logical continuation of the story line with the usual great reveal at the end.

The Blackcoat's Daughter [2015]

aka February

   
Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 48
Personal = 9.0


When the parents of two girls in a boarding school fail to show up for spring break, they must stay at the school along with 2 caretakers ...and things slowly fall apart. Usually, I get bored with slow movies but this one was like watching two trains heading towards each other at a snails pace knowing their collision would be catastrophic ...and it was. A supremely dark, eerily surrealistic journey into mayhem and madness that I will not soon forget. Kiernan Shipka was Oscar worthy in her performance of Kat.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 69
Personal = 8.2


In a house containing a slaughtered family, a nude female stranger half buried in the basement is discovered. Then things get really strange when the autopsy begins. A completely original atmospheric piece that totally creeped me out ...which isn't easy to do anymore. The slow but progressive series of unnerving events without any real explanation as to what's happening until practically the end was well done and left me wondering, "What could possibly happen next"? Good stuff!

Resident Evil 4: Afterlife [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 48
Personal = 7.8


Alice has her extra powers stripped away after raiding and destroying Umbrella's Tokyo facility. She goes on a search for a safe haven known as Arcadia. I particularly like this one, most likely for the giant with the axe/hammer. He's just cool! The action tends to be a bit forced and over-the-top (and way too much slo-mo, which I'm guessing is to show off the 3D) but I love it anyway. Good roller coaster ride that rarely let's up.

Rampage [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 50 / 81
Personal = 9.3


After a space station accident, a genetic pathogen crashes to earth turning an ape, a wolf and a crocodile into gigantic monstrosities. This film uses an extremely simple story as an excuse to give us a film of action, spec fx and Dwayne Johnson. So what! This film is absolutely awesome entertainment. I've never been a big fan of Godzilla-type movies as they always appeared cheesy and non-realistic. The effects in this were so real, I wanted get up and run! Don't pass up the big screen on this one. I've now seen it twice.

The Touch of Her Flesh [1967]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 67
Personal = 4.8


A B&W sexploitation film about a guy who, in a panic after seeing his wife with another man, gets hit by a car. Afterwards, he becomes deranged and kills strippers and hookers. This entire story makes up about 15 minutes of the film. The rest is various women stripping. It's so low budget that it was filmed without sound and the music/dialogue was dubbed in later. Regardless, it did have an surreal and crudely artistic look about it and I actually found it enjoyable to a certain degree. Certainly wasn't boring.

The Baytown Outlaws [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 22 / 54
Personal = 6.4


Three redneck brothers, who usually work for the local Sheriff cleaning out the other criminals in their own special way, decide to do a job on their own and end up getting chased by a variety of colorful characters. I'm sure their intention here was to make a cultish shoot 'em up like The Boondock Saints or From Dusk Till Dawn but they were only partly successful. It's a very entertaining film and the characters were great. It just didn't give us anything new along those lines to get too excited about.

True Story [2015]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 37
Personal = 7.8


Biopic about a man accused of killing his entire family and a disgraced reporter chronicling the trial for a book. This is an intense emotionally powerful journey into the minds of the accused and the accursed. Both James Franco's performance, going from the misunderstood innocent man to a pathologically narcissistic manipulator, and Jonah Hill, as the trusting reporter who is euphemistically taken for a ride, are fantastic. And the scene with Felicity Jones telling the murder off is priceless.

Resident Evil 5: Retribution [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 30 / 51
Personal = 7.3


This time, Alice is captured and placed in the last remaining Umbrella facility now run by the Red Queen. She now has to cooperate with the previous Umbrella Execs to escape. The facility makes generous use of clones so characters that we know from the past show up but different. That's an interesting gimmick but there's so much break neck action coming at you from start to finish, there's never any time to develop those characters. Quite a fun roller coaster ride, though.

Jumanji [1995]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 53 / 62
Personal = 6.6


Jumanji is a board game that creates chaos upon chaos until the game is finished. This was a rather entertaining light comedy thriller adventure utilizing some incredibly imaginative ideas. Lost in a jungle for 26 years, a lion in the bedroom, monkeys roaming around town ...along with a herd of wild beasts, spiders, and a relentless hunter are some of the characters making up this humorous troop of insanity. My wife and I enjoyed it quite a bit and it fits in well with the sequel released last year.

Conor McGregor: Notorious [2017]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 54 / 70
Personal = 5.1


Biodoc of Conor McGregor and his rise to winning 2 world championships in the UFC. This is the reason I rarely watch or like biographies. What we have is training, being with friends, bad mouthing the other guy, expressing opinions, showing how good a husband he is. Then we have less than 5 minutes of coverage of a fight. Repeat the process. I guess I expected a movie about an MMA fighter to be more about the fights and less about his personal life, which wasn't all that interesting after the first half hour.

Resident Evil 6: The Final Chapter [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 36 / 49
Personal = 7.3


Alice must go back to the Hive to find and release a cure to the T-Virus. This is the only one I had not seen previously and once again they filled it full of some very imaginative scenarios and totally gruesome creatures. My biggest complaint is they went for the super close-up, quick cut, blurry action sequences, which seems to be so popular, but just gives me a headache and I can't tell what's going on. Beyond that, it's pretty much a roller coaster ride like the others and (I know many will not agree) a fitting end to the series.

Nightcrawler [2014]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 85
Personal = 8.2


A highly manipulative, sociopathic hustler finds that he's very good and video taping various crimes and accidents and selling his tapes to the local news. Jake Gyllenhaal is brilliant and incredibly creepy as a man who simply has no morals or limits when it come to serving himself regardless of whether it's illegal or causes injuries or lives. Everything is about the shot and the money / recognition that goes with it. This is a dark, intense, disturbing and intriguing look at human tragedy an how others feed on it.

The Man in the Orange Jacket [2014]

aka M.O.Zh.

   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 33
Personal = 3.2


A delusional man invades a house. The first 10 minutes of this film is sudden, brutal and had me totally hooked. I then greeted the rest of the film with excitement, then anticipation, then interest, then mildly curious, then frustration and in the end, "What the hell was that all about?" The ending rendered the whole thing rather pointless. If you like artsy, slow-burn films that don't go anywhere, this may be right up your alley. Otherwise, even at only 70 minutes in length, it was way too long.

Better Watch Out [2016]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 67
Personal = 7.1


A babysitter and her charge appear to be under attack from an intruder during the Christmas Holidays. I thought this was going to be a typical 'survive the night' style film and kudos for taking us solidly down that path and then making a sudden turn into totally unfamiliar territory. Although presented somewhat light in tone (obviously shooting for the PG crowd, even though it got an R, probably for language more than anything else), this movie is still unnerving and funny on so many levels and quite entertaining.

The Book of Eli [2010]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 47 / 64
Personal = 8.2


A man with the last Bible is trying to make his way West across a post-apocalyptic U.S. landscape. I've never watched this movie as I've been told more than once the ending is lousy. Then I found out how it ended and decided to watch it. This is a good movie and, strangely enough, knowing the big twist at the end beforehand, I feel, actually benefited the viewing. Denzel Washington is great, as usual, and the pacing, characters, scenarios and action were all well executed and realistic. Nice job!

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