December 2017

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Annabelle 2: Creation [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 70 / 67
Personal = 6.3

Updated Jan 15, 2020
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 next. 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]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 83
Personal = 7.4

Links Updated 8/27/19
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 from now on and the adaption, although light on substance, was pretty darn good.

Baby Driver [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 86
Personal = 8.1

Updated Jan 16, 2020
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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 88
Personal = 8.8

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 13 / 32
Personal = 6.4

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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 (he says with a sadistic smirk).

Games [1967]

Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 41
Personal = 8.4

Links Updated 8/19/19
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 [2012]

Rotten Tomatoes = 35 / 37
Personal = 4.5

Updated Oct 24, 2019
The movie basically details all the events concerning two siblings (who robbed a casino and killed a cop) and a recently paroled convict (who attacked his former boss) while on the run from the law through 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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 76
Personal = 3.8

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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 either but, hey least he gets laid every 15 minutes. What a senseless waste of time.

Charade [1963]

Rotten Tomatoes = 95 / 92
Personal = 8.1

Updated Jan 6, 2020
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 widow believing that she has it. But she doesn't even 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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 70 / 43
Personal = 6.0

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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 many of the dramatizations come off like something out of a paranormal TV show.

Bedlam [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 50
Personal = 5.0

Updated 6/3/19
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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 42 / 69
Personal = 8.3

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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 a 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 [2001]

aka Le pacte des loups

Rotten Tomatoes = 73 / 78
Personal = 7.5

Updated Nov 10, 2019
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]

Rotten Tomatoes = 44 / 73
Personal = 7.7

Updated Jan 21, 2020
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 would rather than the stereotypical, "It's all in your head" manner, which was refreshing. Personal and moving.

The Witching [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 38
Personal = 4.9

Updated Nov 12, 2019
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 that bad.

Divergent 2: Insurgent [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = 28 / 58
Personal = 8.1

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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 far more a surprise to the characters in the film than the audience watching it. Excellent stuff, though.

Divergent 3: Allegiant [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 11 / 41
Personal = 8.0

Updated Jan 2, 2020
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. Unfortunately, the last entry in the story will not be made.

Baskin [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = 78 / 45
Personal = 8.7

Links Updated 8/10/19
A 5-man police team receives a backup call and walks right into hell. This Turkish film really makes no sense to speak of and the filmmaker's overall concept is so loosely defined that there's really no reason to try to make sense of it. But the film is so visceral and so primal and so weird that I just loved it! Word of warning, though. There's some really ghoulish stuff going on here so, seriously ...make sure you're up for it. The music is broodingly dark and chilling, as well ...reminiscent of the Goblins.

The Shape of Water [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 73
Personal = 6.5

Updated Jan 2, 2020
In the '50's, a mute cleaning lady befriends an aqua creature in a secret government research lab. This movie could be categorized as a sci fi, fantasy, cold war thriller but mostly it's a romance and you do have to give credit to Guillermo del Toro for taking the farcical idea of a woman falling in love with an aquaman and making it credible and realistic. The romantics among us (except, perhaps, cat lovers) are going to love this film. It's not my cup of tea but it was a good story, well made, good characters, great aquaman.

Green Room [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = 90 / 75
Personal = 7.5

Updated Oct 16, 2019
A traveling punk band gets a gig at a white supremacist camp. After they witness a murder, they barricade themselves in the green room and the stand off begins. This is a pretty intense ride as things never stop escalating and culminating in a very satisfying climax. Exceptional performances all around ...especially Patrick Stewart who is brilliant, as the owner of the camp and unquestioned leader of the white supremacists, underplaying his role with a terrifying malevolence. Good, edge-of-your-seat thriller!

A Cure for Wellness [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 42 / 41
Personal = 7.8

Updated Jan 2, 2020
A young executive, who is sent to a private clinic to retrieve the CEO of a company, suddenly finds himself a patient of said clinic. Long and slow paced, this film is nonetheless totally engaging with the pace only adding to the sinister unease that it provokes. Playing with the idea, if you were a patient at an insane asylum, how would you convince anyone you weren't insane? Add to that some mystery, history, insidious experiments and a stylized vision and you got weirdness that just doesn't quit. Awesome!

From Dusk Till Dawn [1996]

Rotten Tomatoes = 63 / 76
Personal = 8.0

Updated Jan 2, 2020
With half of Texas after them, two bank robbing brothers force a family to get them into Mexico only to find themselves in a desert bar run by vampires. This comedy, horror classic has a phenomenal number of people involved that are huge now but practically unknown back then. Although some of the gags are a bit too campy and last a bit too long, this truly is a classic gore fest and that dance by Salma Hayek ...absolutely nothing like it.

Overdrive [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 23 / 26
Personal = 5.9

Updated Oct 24, 2019
Two brothers, who specialize in stealing multi-million dollar cars, steal from the wrong person and now must steal from another to stay alive. This came off as a sort of clone between The Fast and the Furious (with only about 25% of the stunts) and an episode of Leverage (without as much humor). It did have a very good twisted story line that went in a completely different direction than expected and overall, although there's nothing special here, I found it rather good entertainment.

The Girl Next Door [2007]

Rotten Tomatoes = 67 / 61
Personal = 6.7

Updated Jan 2, 2020
An extremely painful film about a mid-teen girl and her younger sister being forced to live with an evil Aunt and their equally evil cousins after the death of their parents. Well within the same league as Hard Candy, Misery, and Goodnight Mommy, this is one of those films that is certainly worth a watch but not on a date and certainly not more than once. There's some real evil going on here and I was near tears for these poor girls. Very good film but be ready for it. Brutal!

Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 43
Personal = 8.5

Updated Jan 2, 2020
Rey tries to bring back a severely reluctant Luke Skywalker to help in the war. Meanwhile, the First Order is attempting to destroy the last of the resistance. Well, it's a Star Wars movie so fans of Star Wars will probably find it a quite satisfying edition to the franchise and those who are not big fans will probably like it anyway. I've always followed the movies but I've never been a die hard fan. Yet, I found this film to be probably the best of the bunch. There's a lot going on here, it's exciting, and it's very well made.

New Terminal Hotel [2010]

aka Do Not Disturb

Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 5.0

Updated Feb 4, 2020
In an effort to get revenge on the man responsible for his girlfriend's death, a writer finds that torturing and killing people is pretty easy. This is a painfully obvious amateur effort but, by not making any allusions as to what the movie was or should be, I found it a rather surprisingly interesting character study as the main character starts out with revenge and finds his life now becoming increasingly insane day by day. Yeah, it's not a great movie but it's certainly different and I didn't hate it.

Outbreak [1995]

Rotten Tomatoes = 57 / 56
Personal = 7.3

Updated Thanksgiving, 2019
A monkey, smuggled into the US, is the host for an extremely deadly virus ...and it gets loose. Whereas Contagion was a dry and somewhat clinical look at a virus outbreak (making it all the more terrifying), this film is more on the action side of that 'what if' scenario. Regardless, it's still more terrifying than most so-called horror films. This one throws in a covert military bio-weapon slant, as well. Lots of pretty good action and extremely tense and suspenseful. Good movie!

Full Tilt Boogie [1997]

Rotten Tomatoes = 88 / 63
Personal = 6.1

Updated Dec 5, 2019

A production documentary on the making of From Dusk Till Dawn. An interesting look at the people that put the film together and some of the trials and tribulations that go with making films but overall, I didn't see anything that made me go, 'Gee, I'm glad I watched that.' Pretty run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes stuff.

King of the Ants [2003]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 15
Personal = 5.5

Updated Oct 24, 2019
A guy who takes odd jobs gets hired by a corrupt construction contractor to first follow a city hall accountant and then kill him. Things go downhill from there. A somewhat enjoyable film that I had two issues with. The first... why does everybody make such lousy decisions? The worst being why not just pay the hit man and all this could have been avoided. I guess we wouldn't have a story then, eh?. Second... there were a number of times in this film where I wish they would move it along, which got frustrating.

The Shawshank Redemption [1994]

Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 98
Personal = 8.6

Updated Jan 2, 2020
A highly intelligent banker, falsely accused of murdering his wife, spends 20 years in prison suffering one calamity after another but somehow manages to find hope and redemption. For 20 years, people have told me they're amazed I haven't seen this movie's just something that, for whatever, never drew my attention. So, I finally did ...and I'm very glad. Everything about this story is magnificent and the characters were amazing. Not the type of film I usually watch but I can easily see why it's regarded as a cinematic masterpiece.

Dig Two Graves [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = 76 / 39
Personal = 3.9

Updated Dec 26, 2019

A girl makes a pact with 3 strangers to kill a boy in exchange for the return of her dead brother. There were some interesting aspects to this story but the film was far too slow, the characters far too lifeless, and the ending far too cryptic for me to care.

Horror Planet [1981]

aka Inseminoid

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 15
Personal = 4.1

Updated Dec 30, 2019
A scientific mission to an alien planet, to determine what happened to the previous population, results in a woman being impregnated by an alien and becoming totally insane. If you go into this film knowing that it's ultra-low-budget, incredibly silly and ridiculous, with some of the most laughable fight scenes ever (they obviously couldn't afford experienced stunt doubles) complete with some totally moronic decision making, you'll probably find this to be somewhat amusing. I did.

Them! [1954]

Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 76
Personal = 8.7

Updated Oct 24, 2019
Nine years after the atomic tests, giant ants appear and if they're not destroyed, the queens could create colonies all over the world. Drive-ins were filled with films featuring radioactive mutated creatures in the '50's and '60's. This one, however, stands leagues above the rest. Although certainly dated by today's standards, the mechanical ants used in the film were really quite effective for it's time and the movie is quiet well-made. If you want to see an excellent and best example of the atomic age creature feature, this is it.

Rise of the Footsoldier [2007]

Rotten Tomatoes = 14 / 83
Personal = 5.6

Updated Jan 2, 2020
This is a biopic about career criminal Carlton Leach and the murder of his friends. I've seen a lot of gangster biopics and this one didn't strike me as particularly special ...although I will say the acting was very good. Both the camerawork and editing confused me at times. And what is their fascination with the C-word ...Geez, I got tired of listening to it. I'm sure there's many who would really like this film and I didn't think is was bad ...I just found it more annoying than entertaining.

Immortal [2004]

aka Immortel (ad vitam)

Rotten Tomatoes = 43 / 53
Personal = 7.2

Updated Oct 24, 2019
The God, Horus, inhabits the body of an escaped prisoner with the intention of impregnating an alien woman now on earth. This rather strange storyline matches the surreal nature of this mixed real action and computer animated film. Although I felt the dialogue really could have shown some improvement (but then, that may be a result of translating it from France), the film was quite fascinating with some awesome eye candy that had sort of an art deco / steampunk look to it. Very cool!

House of Wax [2005]

Rotten Tomatoes = 26 / 42
Personal = 8.3

Updated Jan 8, 2020
On a trip to a big sporting event, 6 friends get stuck near a small town named Ambrose where practically everyone is nothing more than wax figures. I love this movie and I don't think it gets nearly the ratings it deserves. Except for a few elements from the Vincent Price version, this is not a remake but rather a whole new spin on the idea. Although the story and acting isn't much more than what you'd expect in a film like this, the gags are priceless and the practical effects are awesome. Brilliantly well made film.

The Greatest Showman [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 56 / 86
Personal = 8.5

Updated Jan 2, 2020
Musical featuring the biography of P.T. Barnum. I wouldn't normally go to a musical but my wife wanted to see it and far be it from me to pass up a chance to go to the theater. I was supremely surprised how much I enjoyed this film. The music, characters, choreography are brilliant filling the screen with so much excitement, passion, emotion, and just plain fun that P.T. himself would have been profoundly proud. Never been much of one for musicals but of those I've seen, this is the best!

In Bruges [2008]

Rotten Tomatoes = 84 / 87
Personal = 4.2

Updated MLK Day, 2020
When a hit man accidentally kills a child on a hit, he and his partner have to hide out in Bruges, Belgium. A set up that could have taken 15 minutes took well over an hour and I was bored nearly to sleep. The characters were unlikable and spent an endless amount of time doing uninteresting things. By the time something started happening, I no longer cared what happens to anyone. I know this movie gets a lot of praise in some circles. I obviously don't share their sense of humor as all it did was test my patience.

THX 1138 [1971]

Rotten Tomatoes = 87 / 74
Personal = 9.3

Updated Jan 2, 2020
In a future society, where technology watches over every aspect of the human life and is totally void of humanity, roommates THX and LUH are arrested for the crime of drug evasion and physical love. This is essentially just a chase movie but I'm fascinated by the totally complete futuristic world that one is pulled into (and surprisingly not dated after 45+ years) where even those moments of humor are quite serious and your entire knowledge of human existence is simply what you've been told. Genius film!

Friend Request [2016]

aka Unfriend

Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 29
Personal = 7.2

Updated MLK Day, 2020
A popular college girl, with loads of friends on social media, decides to accept a friend request from a socially awkward girl in her school who has no friends ...unmindful of what this friendship will cost. This was a surprisingly complex and creepy film that maintains a disturbing level of unease throughout. The performances were well realized and appeared genuine without being forced. There's also some very good scare moments that sent some shivers down my spine. Well done ...certainly better than the ratings indicate.

Spy Game [2001]

Rotten Tomatoes = 66 / 75
Personal = 7.8

Updated Jan 2, 2020
A retiring CIA handler has to plead his case on rescuing an operative captured by the Chinese. Very intriguing and well written spy thriller with an excellent performance by Robert Redford as a handler who knows exactly what he's doing against all odds. Both my wife and myself found the film very compelling and, now that we know what happens, certainly worth a second watch to spot all the tricks. Good fun!

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