December 2018

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The Matrix Revolutions [2003]

Rotten Tomatoes = 35 / 60
Personal = 8.9

The final film in the trilogy depicts the machines attempt to destroy Zion and Neo's attempt to stop it. Far less complex than the previous films as everything culminates into a massive mechanical war that is truly impressive. Lot of people really disliked this film, compared to the others, with the way it ended. But for me, it was a perfectly logical conclusion to an amazing story. May not have been a perfectly happy ending but it was fitting and made sense. No complaints here. I loved it.

Power Rangers [2017]

Rotten Tomatoes = 47 / 66
Personal = 5.8

After 65 million years the power stones are dropped into the hands of 5 high school outcasts and a fallen ranger intent on destroying the universe. This film is a good example of expanding an hour's worth of material into a 2 hour movie. It took over 90 mins for the Power Rangers to finally get going and then they had one confrontation and that's it. The last half hour had some good action and eye candy but that barely made up for the investment in time to get that far. Not bad, just badly paced with no surprises.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 48 / 51
Personal = 7.7

Isla Nublar Island, home of the dinosaurs of Jurassic World, has become volcanic and a tycoon finances a mission to capture and save 11 species. Unfortunately, those doing the job have plans of their own. I found this to be a great film within the Jurassic series. It has a story that's more complex than the usual "dinosaurs are loose" which seems to permeate most of the others and that the dinosaurs are not nearly as dangerous as human greed. Of course, once they are loose, things get pretty intense. Great entertainment!

Deadly Presence [2012]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / -
Personal = 3.4

A girl becomes possessed by the spirit of a serial killer when she and two friends perform a seance in one of the murder houses. Obviously an amateur pet project by Shane Cole and Megan Lynn; writing, directing, photography, acting and a multitude of other credits. You have to admire making a film for $1600 and getting it on Amazon Prime. However, the money was not well spent. Beyond the embarrassingly amateur look to the film, the dialogue and pacing were just awful ...every scene nearly put me to sleep.

Shirkers [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 100 / 76
Personal = 7.3

At age 18, in 1992, Sandy Tan wanted to make a film more than anything else. Her and a group of friends made a road movie in Singapore ...something no one else was doing. After creating 70 rolls of film, their director took everything and disappeared. Sandy Tan now tells her remarkable story of dreams destroyed and regained in this personal and heartfelt biography. I don't normally watch biographies but this one was well worth the time and the journey.

Kingsman 1: The Secret Service [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = 75 / 84
Personal = 8.1

A billionaire believes the way to solve the world's problems is to transmit an audio signal that causes everyone to want to kill each other. In the meantime, the Kingsman are recruiting a new member into their organization of secret agents. Fantastic way to start off a franchise. Supremely colorful characters, involved, compelling story, incredibly well defined and choreographed action scenes (especially the Kentucky church scene ...WOW!) and enough humor to keep you smiling the whole time. Flint and Bond, step aside.

No Escape [2015]

Rotten Tomatoes = 46 / 62
Personal = 6.5

A man's job takes him, his wife, and two little girls to live an unnamed Southeast Asian country. They happen to arrive on the same day a military coup has overthrown the government and they're killing foreigners. This nail-biter played out in a realistic, logical way forcing the family to find some unimaginable courage and fortitude. The tension never lets up as they desperately try to make their way to some sort of safe haven. I've seen better films of this type but this one was quite effective and quite a ride.

Stepfather II [1989]

WARNING: the trailer is the whole movie in 2 mins.

Rotten Tomatoes = 0 / 34
Personal = 6.6

After surviving his wounds, our Stepfather is committed to an asylum which he soon escapes and is now trying to establish a new family ...and deals harshly with those who interfere. If you liked the first film, you should like this one. It doesn't have the same level of intensity or uneasiness, the story is simpler and focused directly on the principals involved, and Terry O'Quinn doesn't have the quality of material he had before but still manages to make a convincing sociopathic nice guy. Make room for daddy!

Westworld [1973]

Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 70
Personal = 7.8

Tourists can now go to Medieval World, Roman World, or Westworld, and experience the lawless west of the 1880's in complete safety ...unless something goes wrong. I haven't seen this film since in came out in 1973. I remember it being very cool then and I expected it to now be somewhat hokey and dated. Surprisingly, it's held up rather well and is not nearly as dated as I thought it would be. I felt the chase sequence near the end dragged on for way too long but I still enjoyed it immensely.

Ocean's Eight [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 68 / 45
Personal = 6.5

Debbie Ocean is released from prison after 5 years where she's had plenty of time to plan her next super heist. The characters are extremely enjoyable, the story was good and, overall, my wife and I enjoyed the film fine. However, for a movie of this type, it had sparse good wit and banter. Also, the heist went nearly perfect in that there was hardly any need to adapt to a major unforeseen problem or an adversarial antagonist trying to bring them down making the heist somewhat bland and lacking suspense.

The Guest [2014]

Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 69
Personal = 8.4

A stranger introduces himself to the Peterson's explaining that he was with their son when he was killed in combat. They invite this unassuming and seemingly harmless soldier to stay for a few days ...not knowing he's a militarily created psychopath. The pacing was pitch perfect in this insidious nightmare of first, unknowingly being protected by a monster and then being confronted by it full force. Stand out performances for both Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe. Magnificent thriller.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 92 / 78
Personal = 5.3

An anthology of western stories brought to us by the Coen Bros. With me, I either love or hate anything the Coen brothers make. In this, the first two stories were quirky, humorous, exceptionally fun entertainment which served to set me up for a big fall as it was all downhill from there. The next two stories were long-winded affairs with unsatisfactory endings. The next one was a wonderful 'romance on a wagon train' story whose ending was so sad, it rendered the whole thing pointless and the last story was just annoying.

Screamers [1995]

Rotten Tomatoes = 30 / 44
Personal = 6.9

A war between the companies and the miners on a distant planet has led nearly to total devastation. The miners created small robotic killers called screamers and gave them the ability to replicate themselves. Well, they have ...with upgrades. I was quite pleasantly surprised with this film. There isn't anything really new here but it was tense with believable characters and the screamers were sufficiently threatening to keep the viewer on edge. The end was sort of sappy, cliche and expected but still a fun ride.

Grave Encounters [2011]

Rotten Tomatoes = 64 / 49
Personal = 8.3

A paranormal investigation show called 'Grave Encounters' decides to do an episode in an abandoned asylum overnight. There are a few movies that use this premise ...some reviewed here (Perdidos, Sanatorium, etc.) but this was one of the first and probably the most terrorizing. There are actually very few jump scares and overt freights. The terror comes from the building itself and the pathetic, out-of-their-depth efforts of so-called 'ghost hunters' as they try to deal with activity that defies logic. Realistic and horrifically well made.

Patient Zero [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 17 / 24
Personal = 4.3

A strain of rabies has taken over nearly every human on the planet. A small scientific research center attempts to find patient zero in hopes of developing a cure. Most of the movie is talking. That in itself isn't so bad as the writer has a knack for decent dialogue. But, after a whole lot of philosophizing with an infected human, we have a big action scene culminating in an anti-climactic ending that was pretty lame. With all that talk, I figured there would be a resolution of some kind but, nope ...nothing's resolved. Mildly entertaining.

Book Club [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 53 / 54
Personal = 6.8

A light (despite the subject matter) romantic comedy about 4 elderly women whose lives are changed when they read '50 Shades of Grey' as a selection of their self-created book club. All the characters are extremely likable and sincere with most being actors we've seen all our lives, the situations and relationships are very funny and handled realistically. This isn't the type of movie that I generally watch but it was quite enjoyable entertainment and I really have nothing negative to say about it.

The Nun [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 26 / 38
Personal = 5.7

Part of the Warren universe series of films (The Conjuring, Annabelle, etc.), this one chronicles an investigation in the early 50's into the apparent suicide of an abbey nun in Romania by a Father of the church, who specializes in these things, and a nun-to-be who has visions. Incredibly simple story ...a gate has opened letting evil in and now it must be closed. So, the film is basically just a long series of horrific events, one after the other, until it's all resolved. It does have some pretty effective scares and generally entertaining.

Bad Blood: The Movie [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 79
Personal = 3.1

Unauthorized experiments using a liquid extracted from frogs turns people into repulsive werefrogs that likes to tear other people apart. I understand this is an amateur, low budget film and I tried to give it some credit for that but, boy ...this was ugly. The writing is third grade level at best, I was embarrassed for the actors, the film spent far too much time on things that did not matter and, overall, it just stunk. The creature was delightfully disgusting. That's the best I can say for it.

Last Woman on Earth [1960]

Rotten Tomatoes = - / 15
Personal = 5.2

While a gambler, his wife and his lawyer are scuba diving in Puerto Rico, the atmosphere is inexplicably robbed of it's oxygen temporarily. They discover they are the only ones alive on the island. Unlike most of Corman's films at the time, the event is the only thing about this film that is sci fi. In fact, this is a rather interesting character study of the dynamics between the last woman, an overbearing husband and a sensitive but fatalist friend that goes pretty much as expected. Overly melodramatic but a good film.

I Still See You [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 11 / 49
Personal = 7.3

An experiment gone awry killing thousands. The ghosts of those killed becomes a part of the lives of the living, even though they cannot interact ...or can they? I found this fascinating. The premise is quite unique (I knew nothing about the book). It's slow paced and isn't heavy on freights but the story was complex with quite a few minor twists and turns and had me fully engaged throughout. Once again, if you're going to freakin' analyze it, like those bozos on Rotten Tomatoes, you won't like it. Just enjoy the ride, it's a good one.

Hover [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 20 / 33
Personal = 4.0

In the near future, a woman, who works for a service performing assisted suicides, begin to suspect there's a conspiracy between her work and farming drones. Having to sit through 2 drawn out scenes of assisted suicide wasn't bad enough, I had to wait for 45 mins before she was even aware something isn't right and another 15 to find out what. The rest of the movie drags out a climax that's about as unexciting as it gets. Might have been a decent film if the pacing was improved and they put a bit of excitement in it.

To Live and Die in L.A. [1985]

Rotten Tomatoes = 91 / 78
Personal = 7.7

A Treasury agent will stop at nothing to bring down a master counterfeiter who killed his partner ...and his new partner is scared to death. This is a tense crime drama with a good story, great pacing, a shocking event that'll take the viewer completely be surprise and one of the best car chases ever filmed. It was also fun to watch William Petersen and Willem Dafoe in early roles before anyone knew them. Seems a bit dated today but still holds up well. Great, exciting entertainment.

Elevator to the Gallows [1958]

Rotten Tomatoes = 93 / 91
Personal = 7.7

A corporate exec kills the head boss at the behest of the boss' wife (who he's having as affair with) and effectively makes it look like suicide. When he returns to the office to fix a careless mistake, he initiates a comedy of errors and coincidences that ends up involving 4 more people and 2 more murders. French noir with a Miles Davis soundtrack, this was quite a treat to watch as one thing after another turns a simple crime into a total mess. Even the cops get everything backwards. Nicely done.

BuyBust [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 79 / 71
Personal = 7.4

Reminiscent of Black Hawk Down, Hard Boiled and The Raid, nearly the entire film is about a Philippines drug enforcement squad fighting their way out of a Manila slum after a botched drug raid. Although long in the tooth, you certainly can't accuse this film of being boring. The action simply never stops maintaining a high level of tension that actually wears the viewer down. There's a single-shot scene that runs over 3 minutes that has some amazing choreography involving over 60 people. The body count is off the scales!

Anna [2013]

aka Mindscape

Rotten Tomatoes = 35 / 38
Personal = 8.2

A man, who can enter other people's memories, is assigned to evaluate if a teenage girl is being manipulated into an institution or is, herself, a manipulative sociopath. Manipulation is the key word here as the movie brilliantly manipulates the viewer into never being sure one way or the other soon as it convinces you one way, it yanks you back. Convincing performances by Mark Strong & Taissa Farmiga, exceptionally well written and directed, and, even with no action to speak of, the tension is constant. Excellent film!

Fracture [2007]

Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 73
Personal = 8.3

Taught legal drama pitting an engineer who's developed a plan to murder his wife, confess to the crime and still walk away a free man and a state's attorney who simply will not give up. Stellar performances from Ryan Gosling and Anthony Hopkins (his best role since Hannibal Lector, imo). Great story with exceptional dialogue and a very satisfying ending. Bravo!

Kin [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 30 / 57
Personal = 4.2

A 14-year-old boy finds an alien gun. His ex-con brother is being hunted by a psychotic loan shark. What's to do? Road trip! ...and what a long dull trip it's been. Everyone in this film is boring, uninteresting, and/or unlikable. They have no charisma, no humor, and, as such, generates no empathy. The constant attempts at the brothers bonding falls flat and wastes time. No real action to speak of except the climax, which was exciting, albeit somewhat cheesy. It'll have it's fans but not this one.

Tears of the Sun [2003]

Rotten Tomatoes = 33 / 69
Personal = 6.3

A group of Navy Seals are sent into the middle of a Nigerian civil war to extract a doctor but they end up escorting several Nigerian refugees to Cameroon. Aside from being too long, they spent way too much time yanking heart strings to the point of distraction. In fact, I was getting so tired having my sympathy sucked out of me towards the end, I was going, "Jeez, let's get this over with". Fairly realistic depiction of genocidal warfare, though ...there were some pretty rough moments. Good film just more war, less drama, please.

Planned Reviews Coming Soon

A Crooked Somebody [2017]
Fahrenheit 11/9 [2018]
Guardians of the Tomb [2018]
Hannibal [2001]
Hannibal Rising [2007]
The Haunted World of El Superbeasto [2009]
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) [2009]
Living in the Future's Past [2018]
Malicious [2018]
Manhunter [1986]
Memoir of a Murderer [2017]
Occupation [2018]
Odd Thomas [2013]
The Outer Wild [2018]
The Padre [2018]
Repo Man [1984]
Salt [2010]
The Scorpion King 5: Book of Souls [2018]
The Silence of the Lambs [1991]
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three [1974]
This Is the End [2013]
Unfriended [2014]

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