December 2017

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Annabelle 2: Creation [2017]

IMDb = 6.6
Rotten Tomatoes = 69 / 68
Personal = 6.3

A dollmaker's daughter, Annabelle, is killed in a tragic accident and a doll he's made becomes a conduit between his dead daughter and a demon. 12 years later, he's opened his home up as an orphanage. Let's see what happens. This film is pretty mediocre in all respects ...slow paced but not too slow, sufficient number of creeps but not quite creepy enough, interesting characters but nobody really stands out, creative story but nothing special. I liked it ...there just isn't anything new or surprising going on here.

Certain Prey [2011]

IMDb = 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 83
Personal = 7.4

When Lucas Davenport investigates the assassination of a wealthy woman, he discovers that two women, a professional hit woman with over 27 kills to her credit, and a ruthless lawyer have teamed up and the body count is rising. I'm a huge fan of the Prey novel series and I never pictured Mark Harmon as Lucas Davenport. Also, it being a TV movie, I didn't expect much. Surprise! Mark did such a good job, I'll probably picture him as Lucas now and the adaption, although light on substance, was pretty good.

Baby Driver [2017]

IMDb = 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 87
Personal = 8.1

Suggested by a site visitor
A young man uses his exceptional driving talents to pay off a dept to a master criminal. Unfortunately, he begins to fall in love about the same time things get out of hand. Ansel Elgort did an exceptional job portraying the original and quirky Baby, the driver. The characters were complex, colorful and well fleshed-out, the story was excellent and the driving action was some of the best I've ever seen. Very fun movie.

Black Hawk Down [2001]

IMDb = 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 88
Personal = 8.8

When America attempts to extract some of the major players in Somalia's civil war, a pair of black hawk helicopters are shot down, turning a one hour mission into an 18+ hour fight for survival. One of the most intense war films made ...once the mission begins, the combat doesn't stop of 2 hours. Extremely personal and harrowing as we watch less than 100 soldiers hold off thousands of Somalis for survival. Incredible vision, photography, and realism, there's only a hand full of war films in the same league at this.

The Final [2010]

IMDb = 5.4
Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 33
Personal = 6.4

A group of students, who are constantly being harassed and bullied by the jocks and divas, invite everyone to a party to exact their revenge. This could have been a simple revenge film of which we've seen many. However, this one was done on a very personal and psychological level. People like me, who didn't have the size or ability to fend off the bullies when we were growing up, will probably identify easily with this film. It does get sort of lost in it's own dogma and it's painful to watch at times but overall, I liked it.

Games [1967]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 60 / 38
Personal = 8.4

An eccentric couple and a mysterious woman have a proclivity towards potentially dangerous games of which goes very wrong. I've been a huge fan of this film since I first saw it as a teenager. It seems quite tame up until an incredibly sudden and shocking event that turns the whole story on end. From that point on, the slow pace accentuates the tension, suspense and bewilderment of what is going on right up until the surprising and fatal twist ending. One of the most underappreciated films of the '60s.

Deadfall (aka Blackbird) [2012]

IMDb = 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 34 / 36
Personal = 4.5

The movie basically details all the events while two siblings (who robbed a casino and killed a cop) and a recently paroled convict (who attacked his former boss) are on the run from the law though full winter country. With that premise and the big names in the film, I didn't expect it to be so dull. After the exciting and promising opening, the film painfully studies characters that are uninteresting and, in most cases, unlikable and continues to drag us along to a climax that is just a peg or two above ho hum.

Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1974 [2009]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 76
Personal = 3.8

A rookie journalist investigating the disappearance of children stumbles into a expansive world of corruption. Not only is it excruciatingly slow to the point of despair, it appeared to have very little to do with missing children and everything to do with the journalist whose haphazard investigation just ticks people off and results in several injuries. He's not very smart about it but, hey least he gets laid every 15 minutes. What a waste of time.

Charade [1963]

IMDb = 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 92
Personal = 8.1

When a man is killed and the $250k he's supposed to have stolen is nowhere to be found, some rather nefarious characters begin threatening his wife believing that she has it. But she doesn't have a clue. This brilliant cat and mouse film - where it's hard to define who's the cat or the mouse - is brilliantly developed with superb writing, stellar performances, a little romance, and a good dose of comedy. There's few films that have as many turns and twists as this one'll have no idea who to believe or trust. Classic!

The Nightmare [2015]

IMDb = 5.8
Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 43
Personal = 6.0

Docudrama interviewing several people who suffer from sleep paralysis with several dramatizations. The experiences of these people were rather fascinating and they were very extensively presented. That's also the movie's problem ...that's all there is. I think the film would have really benefited by including some scientific and historical background. As it is, these experiences, although interesting, start to get pretty redundant after a while and the dramatizations come off like something out of a paranormal TV show.

Bedlam [2015]

IMDb = 4.0
Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 5.0

George checks himself into a psychiatric hospital as he believes he's experiencing the same mental problems as his mother and grandmother. He has no idea how bad things are about to get. I believe the filmmakers were shooting for an artful and/or stylized approach to this film but, unfortunately, it comes off as disjointed and unpleasant. It seems to have a beginning and a climax and the time in between is filled with one set of tortures after another. Had a similar feel as Salo ...without the overt obscenities.

Divergent [2014]

IMDb = 6.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 41 / 69
Personal = 8.3

In post-war Chicago, everyone belongs to a specific faction to keep the peace. Tris, however, is a divergent, one who doesn't fit into faction and therefore, a threat. The story is well developed and the action is very tight and not over-the-top. The performances of Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet were exceptional and overall, really good entertainment. Spec fx and the look of the city are awesome.

Brotherhood of the Wolf (aka Le pacte des loups) [2001]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 78
Personal = 7.5

The hunt is on for a huge beast that has been terrorizing a region in France for years in the mid 1760's. This is quite an epic film running 2 and a half hours and filling up every minute of it. Complex and elaborate story covering politics, secret societies, love triangles, class wars, and, of course, the hunt for the beast. Art direction, dialogue and acting are exceptional making this appear authentic and semi-surreal at the same time. Fight choreography was excellent. Quite a fun watch.

The Jacket [2005]

IMDb = 7.1
Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 73
Personal = 7.7

An ex-Gulf War vet is committed to an institution for the criminally insane when he's falsely convicted of killing a cop. When the doctor subjects him to illegal experiments, the vet can go places outside his current reality and it affects everyone. This was quite a surprising and intriguing little gem. The story was complex with many interlocking parts but presented in a smooth, easy to assemble manner. Characters reacted to strange things more like real people than the stereotypical, "You're delusional" manner. Personal and moving.

The Witching [2016]

IMDb = 3.9
Rotten Tomatoes = - / 38
Personal = 4.9

A bunch of friends podcast from a place in the woods where a witch was executed 67 years ago and they tell ghost stories making this an anthology movie. The first couple stories were quite lame being no more than a vehicle for a few jump scares and they didn't end so much as just stop. The other stories were ok ...especially the one where God calls a talk show and another about an hour glass. There's nothing special here but when you consider that this is obviously an amateur effort for everyone involved, it's not bad.

Insurgent (Divergent 2) [2015]

IMDb = 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes = 29 / 58
Personal = 8.1

A 200-year-old box, containing a message from the Founders, needs a divergent to open it and Tris is the most likely choice. The series continues in a very logical manner with a good story and the usual awesome spec fx and action. The actors continue to present impressive performances. The ending was predictable ...after all if a divergent is needed to open the box, then the message will probably be in favor of divergents which appears to be more of a surprise to the characters than the audience. Excellent stuff, though.

Allegiant (Divergent 3) [2016]

IMDb = 5.7
Rotten Tomatoes = 12 / 42
Personal = 8.0

New leaders aren't any better than the old ones so Tris and friends decide the go outside the box ...or wall, if you will. What they find is the Founders ...and more trouble. This film didn't get nearly the praise that it deserves. The only weaknesses I found is the constant changing of loyalties was getting old and one could spend time questioning several plot points but, if you just sit back and enjoy the ride, it's a perfectly proper extension of the story and I have no complaints. Spec fx are even better than the first two.

Reviews Coming Soon

Baskin [2015]
A Cure for Wellness [2016]
From Dusk Till Dawn [1996]
The Girl Next Door [2007]
Green Room [2015]
Harvey [1950]
Overdrive [2017]

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