June 2018

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Guardians of the Galaxy [2014]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 92
Personal = 9.7


A mercenary, two bounty hunters, an assassin, and a total psycho team up to save the universe from a super villain with an infinity stone. My wife and I had a marvelously wonderful time watching this film. The action is ...well, it's Marvel at their best. The characters are wholly original, supremely colorful and funny as hell. Best fun I've had watching an MCU film since Ragnarok.


Upgrade [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 86
Personal = 9.5


In the near future, a man is given a computer chip to operate his body after he became a quadriplegic and his wife was killed. Time to make use of the new upgrade. Writer / Director, Leigh Whannell, has an impressive body of work but I haven't been overly excited about much of it since his writing of Saw. But this movie rocks!! The pacing is excellent, the character's constantly evolving relationship with a computer chip is realistically portrayed, the story is intricately well-written and the ending is perfect.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 88
Personal = 9.3


The guardians meet Ego, Star-Lord's dad, and they find out he's a planet. Then things get weird. It amazes me that they can continue to come up with original, exciting stories and back it up with an amazing amount of excitement, action, humor and charismatic characters that you can't hate no matter how bad they are. Baby Groot is a riot.


Jason Bourne [2016]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 54 / 56
Personal = 8.1


Nicky Parsons draws Bourne out of hiding after nearly 10 years when she finds information about his father ...not to mention a variety of new nefarious government projects. The chase begins once again. This is the only Bourne film that was not scripted by Tony Gilroy. As such, the story is simpler and it does seem to be a bit lacking in the depth of the characters and the finer details of the chase but it is most certainly a Bourne film making it quite exciting and fun to watch.

He Knows You're Alone [1980]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 25 / 30
Personal = 2.5


A psycho killer stacks a bride-to-be. Wow, this movie has everything ...a girl walking down sidewalks, a wedding dress sizing, surprise party, jogging, amusement park rides, long, contemplative scenes of exploration, Tom Hanks! Then they had to be rude and interrupt this excitement with an occasional killing and cops being morons. But seriously folks, this is a very lame clone of Halloween with a similar musical theme and a budget so low, they couldn't even afford to give our stalker a mask.

MindGamers (2015)


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 0
Personal = 3.5


A group of students experiment with connecting people together into a singular consciousness through quantum communication. Quite a lofty premise, indeed ...and I'm sure the filmmakers had a clear picture in their mind as to how the whole story works. Unfortunately, the film, albeit interesting and intriguing to watch, ended up being utterly and completely incomprehensible. I really would like to understand the scientific and philosophical ideas they tried to present but in the end, I'm just baffled.

Lake Bodom [2016]

aka Bodom

           
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 40
Personal = 3.6


Four teenagers, all with a different agenda (that aren't bright enough to figure out they're all lying to each other), go on a trip to Lake Bodom, a place where 4 teens were murdered in 1960. Revealing some of their lies fills up the first half hour. Then there's a good twist followed by a protracted half hour of dealing with car keys and more deceptions. Then the film discards all the previous events and becomes something else entirely digressing into a series of incredibly unlikely events right up to the preposterous ending. Phhhtt!

Haunt [2014]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 38 / 30
Personal = 3.5


One family moves into a house where another family was slaughtered. They throw in a talk-to-the-dead radio to try and make it more interesting but was ultimately unnecessary. Even the watchable growing relationship with the eldest son and the girl next door couldn't save this ponderously slow, frustrating story that had to throw in something spooky once in a while just to remind us it's a horror movie. And making the characters likable just made the ending that much more depressing. What a dud!

Hereditary [2018]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 62
Personal = 6.7


The family matriarch, who was heavily into the occult, passes away causing a subtle slow burn of destruction within the family. The performances were amazing all around and it's rare to see a film that reaches this level of psychological destruction through guilt and grief. Conjure something up that's best left alone and you've got a terrifying ride. Despite how well constructed and effective this film is, though, it is about a half hour too long and in the end, I didn't feel completely satisfied. Not sure why.

The Oxford Murders [2008]


               
Rotten Tomatoes = 9 / 33
Personal = 6.2


A series of deaths appear to be linked to some sort of mathematical sequence of symbols compelling a professor and student to obsessively unravel the mystery. This is a pretty good murder mystery with lots of twists and no final solution until the very end showing that every assumption you've made is wrong. John Hurt and Elijah Wood put in excellent performances. My only real issue is that there seemed to be a lot of unnecessary stuff in the film that had no impact on the story or resolution. Overall, light entertainment.

Cropsey [2009]


                   
Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 61
Personal = 6.7


A documentary discussing the disappearance of several mentally challenged children on Staten Island, near the abandoned Willowbrook asylum, in the '70's and '80's. It mostly centers around Andre Rand, the man convicted of two of those kidnappings mostly based on eyewitness reports without any real evidence to speak of. From a historical sense and informative sense, it's very good and I'm sure that was their intent. But if you want answers, there isn't any here. Everything is speculative and relatively unbiased.

John Dies at the End [2012]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 62 / 54
Personal = 8.3


A bunch of young people take a drug called Soy Sauce and the boundaries between realities become somewhat fuzzy. This was a truly entertaining roller coaster ride through an eccentric, and very elastic, imagination. Basically a comic Lovecraft gone out of control, don't try to make sense of it as that might make your head hurt. Sharp, witty dialogue and totally wacky without being ridiculous (even though the scenarios are ludicrous), it's a movie where you're cheering them on and you don't even know why. Cult worthy!

Death Tube: Broadcast Murder Show [2010]

aka Satsujin Douga Site

           
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 19
Personal = 3.4


The idea of a website that pops up rarely for about a week presenting live online videos of people being slaughtered if they don't successfully complete a game, is ripe for some great torture porn. Unfortunately, the film was made with an ultra-low budget by amateur filmmakers; facts that are blatant in every frame. There's no imagination, the games are dumb, the acting is over-exaggerated, the sets are unfinished rooms, and the bear suit villains could have been creepy if played right but they were just silly.

The X Files 2: I Want to Believe [2008]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 31 / 32
Personal = 6.1


Mulder is dragged out of seclusion to work with a psychic to help find an FBI agent who's been kidnapped. The only thing that makes this movie an X-File is Mulder and Scully. Could have replaced them with anybody and presented the same story without the X-File tag. But, since they're here, far too much time was spent showing their relationship (which has gone from professional to personal) in conflict to the point where it was becoming annoying. Good movie. Not great and certainly not worthy as an X-File.

The Factory [2012]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 41
Personal = 5.0


The daughter of an obsessed detective - who has been investigating a series of kidnappings for 3 years - just happens to be kidnapped by said kidnapper completely at random. The film has it's exciting moments and has a rather profound twist which I didn't see coming, although, in retrospect, the clues were there. However, you really have to accept that this film is firmly grounded in the cinematic universe as it is far to implausible and over-dramatic to exist in the real world. Events and decisions simply would not occur this way.

Ouija Board [2004]

aka Bunshinsaba / Witch Board

       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 50
Personal = 3.9


Three girls are using a form of Ouija to curse some bullying students and one of them becomes possessed. The editing in this film is terrible with some scenes way too long, some way too short, some cut to scenes that made no sense for quite some time. This frustrating pacing, along with an unoriginal story and equally unoriginal scares, made the whole experience feel flat and amateurish.


The Man from Earth 2: Holocene [2017]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 60
Personal = 7.2


As Prof. John Oldman (now John Young) is preparing to move on, his efforts are complicated by some of his students who begin to believe that John is indeed 14k years old. Unlike the first film, which is basically all conversation, this one mostly deals with the students trying to find out who John really is and how this eventually develops into a tragic collision of philosophies and faith. ...and John appears to be aging! Doesn't have nearly the impact of the first film but a worthy follow-up just the same.

Eden Lake [2008]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 81 / 66
Personal = 6.0


Straw Dogs meets Wolf Creek in this innocent-couple-on-vacation-meets-nasty-local-sociopathic-kids movie. The film is intense, quite visceral, rather relentless, and quite heartbreaking. However, the best films of this type are the ones where the victims finally decide they've had enough and fight back. The film's problem here is they rarely fought back making for a sadistic exercise in futility and brutality that does not end well. Although an excellent film of it's type, if didn't fully work for me.

The Time Machine [2002]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 37
Personal = 6.8


After the tragic death of his fiance, a man builds a time machine to go back and stop her death. When he fails to save her, he travels to the future to find out why but accidentally shoots forward over 800 millennia. Based on the novel by H.G. Wells and quite similar to the 1960 version, this one had a few twists to mix things up that I felt worked pretty well and, although the ending left me a bit mystified, it turned out to be rather good entertainment.

Forbidden Planet [1956]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 98 / 85
Personal = 8.8


A relief crew lands on Altair-4 only to discover that only one member of the original mission is left along with his daughter, now grown up. Then some invisible creature begins attacking them. A landmark production in Sci Fi with special effects and eye candy that's still exquisite to watch despite being dated. The social moors of the '50's are blatantly included but comes off more now as comedy relief than accepted behavior. The story is complex and scientific that both the average viewer and hardcore sci fi fan can appreciate.

Blood: The Last Vampire [2009]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 25 / 33
Personal = 5.3


A vampiress assassin hunts a major demon who killed her father. Simplistic action story with lots of swordplay and characters that were a bit deeper than you'd expect. The action was rather sloppy making the viewer confused as to exactly what they're looking at most of the time. The CGI is blatantly laughable and includes copious amounts of globular blood that just looks silly. Despite all that, I was entertained and at no point did I have the urge to turn it off. I guess that's a good thing.

Acts of Violence [2018]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 36
Personal = 7.4


A girl is kidnapped by traffickers / drug dealers from her bachelorette party in a club and starts a war. This is a good example of a film being far from perfect and yet still but quite good if you don't pick it apart. It's full of some really convenient plot points to move the story along - some of which were rather unrealistic - and the story is a very simple one we've seen before. But the characters were compelling and heartfelt, they maintained a great level of tension and the realistic action was exceptionally well constructed. I loved it.

The Stuff [1985]


                       
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 45
Personal = 3.0


A primordial ooze makes its way to the earth's surface and it's delicious! However, the new treat that's taking consumers by a storm is also controlling their minds. Any film with a very unique albeit goofy premise such as this should be an absolute riot. Unfortunately, they figured the premise alone would make up for boring characters, bland storytelling, humorless writing (nary a joke to be found in the entire film) and deplorable editing. What a total waste of a great idea.

The Quick and the Dead [1995]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 56 / 53
Personal = 5.5


$123,000 is up for grabs to the last person standing in a gunfighter contest in a small, lawless town. An entertaining western that I thought would be far more entertaining. Once the premise is set, the end of the contest is obvious and inevitable so it just becomes a matter of what happens in between. In this case, not a whole lot. It was fun watching all the big names that show up in this film back when they were much younger ...DiCaprio was 21. Overall, an excellent example of exactly what you'd expect and nothing more.

Ant-Man [2015]


           
Rotten Tomatoes = 82 / 86
Personal = 8.5


A master thief is recruited by a scientist to become Ant-Man in an attempt to stop a corrupt CEO from developing similar technology. The casting is brilliant. Everyone plays their parts to perfection ...especially Paul Rudd whose performance is funny and heartfelt in equal doses. Exciting action and complex story we've come to expect from any MCU film and several laugh-out-loud gags that are classic. Another MCU treasure.

The Veil [2016]


       
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 23
Personal = 7.0


Siblings (making a documentary) and a sole survivor return to the site of a cult mass suicide 25 years before looking for answers. They may not like what they find. This was an extremely well made film that maintained a heightened level of paranoia throughout, does well to keep one guessing, and throws in a few good jump scares for good measure. Story is far more complex than it may, at first, appear. One of the better horror films I've seen this year. Poor ratings, be damned ...this was a good flick!

Feast [2005]


   
Rotten Tomatoes = 56 / 59
Personal = 7.7


The late night patrons of a desert bar are under assault from some ultra-savage and ravenously hungry monsters with really big teeth. The first in a trilogy of films, this one is definitely the best of the bunch. Whereas the other two capitalized mostly on the savagery of the creatures (and several gags), this one was much tighter as far as story, humor, characters and imagination ...albeit just as gory, gross and outrageously over-the-top in gut wrenching violence. Great fun!

In Order of Disappearance [2014]

aka Kraftidioten

       
Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 74
Personal = 8.4


The son of a snow plow operator is killed by drug dealers and everyone believes it's a drug overdose except the father. He goes after his son's killers and leaves a trail of ever increasing bodies and destruction behind him that he never counted on. This is a fabulous film that focuses on the characters (which are a delight) and how utterly complicated things can get. It's not an action film but it moves at a wonderful pace that keeps you somewhat amused and on the edge of your seat at the same time. Excellent, must see!

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