Saturday, December 24, 2016

Green is Gold (2016)

Directed by: Ryon Baxter
Starring: Derek W. Adam, Jimmy Baxter, Ryon Baxter

From the outside looking in Mason (Jimmy Baxter) may appear to be ordinary teenager, living an average lifestyle. What you may not know about him however, is what his family background is like. After his drug dealing father is sent to prison, he is forced to go to live with his older brother, Cameron, who is a career supplier of marijuana. Everything seems alright from the start, Cameron (Ryon Baxter) figures it'll be simple enough to take care of his younger brother and even teach him some tricks of the trade.

If you're like me, you've probably never heard of this film until now. I just happened to come across it at Redbox whilst looking for something lesser known to check out with a free credit I had. Reading the synopsis and watching the trailer, I could immediately tell this wasn't going to be an Oscar, but I was fine with that as I've been pleasantly surprised with movies like these in the past, The Brass Teapot (2012) comes to mind, so I gave it a shot. Upon starting it I could tell I was in for a rude awakening, for starters there were no premise to what happened to Mason's parents, we can only assume from the later phone calls that he was arrested for drug dealing. I could live with that missing minor detail, however I almost gave up after twenty minutes of shaky-camera-vision and obvious cue card acting from our main characters. Really, this is 2016, and this film seemed to be shot using a early millennium Motorola cell phone. Not being fully aware of the film crew I won't be too quick to judge their acting abilities, after all I'm sure big time directors like Spielberg and Scorsese weresn't perfect their first time out. One important thing I watch movies for is the story, this one had the potential to be big, but fell way short. The plot was choppy, the ending was pointless and generally the whole screenplay seemed like it was written by a ten year old writing a school play.

Rating: 1/5
Overall: I'd steer far away from this one unless you truly want to watch crap. My recommendation if you're really interested in this, just watch the less than two minute trailer below, it basically covers the entire film. The fact that this gets a 7/10 rating on IMDb really makes me wonder what kind of audience is on that site.

A Year in Cinema: 2016

So here we are, at the end of another year. A rather sad year for movies in my opinion, then again any year I watch less than 400 movies is a bad year in my book. Nonetheless, despite work and family obligations I did venture out to the theater 21 times this year and watched over 217 movies combined, with 62 of them being first time viewings.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The BFG (2016)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Mark Rylance, Ruby Barnhill, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader

A Big Freaking Guy, yep.

Little orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) is an insomniac, never having the opportunity to dream and as an orphan always looking for an adventure. One night unlike the rest, she was up roaming around the orphanage, staring out the window when she spots something unusual, the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance). While initially she's scared of the Giant, she quickly learns there's more to him than just being monstrous and talking funny; he's actually quite sweet and just wants her to feel comfortable being around him. After all, the Big Friendly Giant feels as if he can’t let her go back to the real world, where she’ll most definitely be going on and on about the Giant, making everyone suspicious and worried about its actual whereabouts. For a short while, Sophie and the BFG seem to get along just fine, that is until word gets out in Giant country and his fellow, meaner giants like Bloodbottler, Fleshlumpeater and others, start sniffing around for something new to eat, giving Sophie and the BFG a challenge on how to stop these meaner giants once and for all.

This feature was brought to us by, in the humble opinion of this editor, the best filmmaker ever-Steven Spielberg. Spielberg's at the point of his career where he really doesn't have to try to please anyone, he's pretty much done a bit of anything and everything. He's done it all, and for now it seems Spielberg is oging to do what he wants, when he wants to, and how he wants to do it. With Disney picking up the tab, it should be an interesting result, right?

Well, yes it does, interesting being the key word. After watching The BFG, I'm reminded just what Spielberg is capable of doing: Taking any story, no matter how weird or realistic, compelling to watch.

The first act of The BFG is rather exciting because it's different then what we're used to seeing from a kid-approved Disney movie, where rather than concentrate on the visual effects and the like, Spielberg decides to take it slow so that we can connect with the chemistry between our characters a bit. It all works out too, because Rylance and Barnhill are both perfect for their respective roles.

Of course, the BFG isn't a perfect movie, as we can expect from the latter of Spielberg's work. He spends more time getting us to connect with the characters that I feel he neglects the actual story line, until, well it's too late. With a running length of just under two hours, it's a bit long for a children's movie but as I've said in the past, most any movie is worth sticking out to the end regardless (just good luck convincing that to a kid, who would have likely gave up on this one after the first 30 minutes).

RATING: 7/10; It's a good movie, although leaves a lot to be granted in the story department. A kid, whom I would think would look forward to this movie the most, would likely not make it past the thirty minute mark.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)

Directed by: John Hughes
Starring: John Candy, Steve Martin

So here we are, Thanksgiving Day in America, and what better way to celebrate than with a traditional viewing of one of John Hughes' best! Planes, Trains & Automobiles is about a man, Neil Page (Steve Martin) who is trying to make it to his suburbia home in Chicago. Along the way he meets this obnoxious salesman, Dell Griffith played by none other than the comic genius John Candy.

You never know what the holidays may bring, for Neil all he wanted to do was make it home for Thanksgiving dinner. Dell, however had no body to spend the holidays with, after losing his late wife and taking to the road.

For many years I avoided this film because I thought it was going to be just another road trip flick. I was pleasantly surprised, yes they're on a road trip, but also includes so much dramatic, emotional and truthful subtext. This has since turned into one of my favorite holiday comedies.

RATING: 9/10

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Goodfellas (1990)

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Whether you want to accept it or not, organized crime actually exists, in many parts of the world. Goodfellas is based on a true story, explores the lives of gangsters in Brooklyn, chonicling the events of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta).

As he gets older, he marries and has children, but still continues his long-term relationship with the organized crime family run under mob boss Paulie (Paul Sorvino), and befriends a calm, steady gangster named Jimmy (Robert De Niro) and wild man Tommy (Joe Pesci).

This is surely one of the great films from the gangster film genre. Director Martin Scorsese fully shows this unromantic view on the gangsters lifestyle. He shows that the gangsters do is steal, kill, and don’t associate with many others outside of their family, which in all shows how these character interact with one-another. What Scorsese is mostly showing and telling that these people are scum, and this is so crushing in a beautiful and artful way.

So, which is better: Goodfellas or The Godfather? Of course they're both amazing films in their own right, and both are focused on organized crime, yet each of them give a totally different approach. I feel that The Godfather is focused more on the family-side of things while Goodfellas spends more time with its characters.

RATING: 10/10

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Unfinished Business (2015)

Directed by: Ken Scott
Starring: Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Wilkinson

The Movie: 
Upon feeling unappreciated at a big corporation, a hardworking salesman decides to break off and form his own business. After a slow year on the business front, he and his two associates travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. What began as a routine trip, ends up being a battle against finding out what is truly important.

After watching this, I decided to double take what appropriate rating this deserved.  I opted to go with a solid 7 out of 10, why? Well, despite it's attempt at humor weren't much more than crude sexual jokes, I did find myself laughing throughout this movie. It's not Academy Award quality, but come on, ask yourself when the last time Vince Vaughn or Dave Franco was in a Oscar winning film...right, never.

Bullying seems to be a hot topic these days, not just in schools but in life. It is because of this that the writers intuitively included a back story involving an bullying issue with Vaughn's two kids, in an attempt to grab some emotion from the viewer. Not only the kids, but we saw how bullying is involved in the real world as well. Dan Trunkman and his two colleagues were counting on this important deal to keep their business, the company they were meeting with knew this and in the words of Tom Wilkinson, used them as to fluffers. They knew they were going to hire the bigger and more experienced company way before meeting with Trunkman's company, but insisted on wanting them to travel half way across the world anyway.

Upon first arriving in Europe, the three unlikely businessmen find themselves already off to a bad start, there were no hotel vacancies. Good news for Franco, there was a youth hostel with a vacancy and although Wilkinson may be youthful at heart, but let's face it he hasn't been a youth in many decades, but the owner of the hostel showed him some pity and allowed him to stay in the hostel's business center. Trunkman lucked out and scored a suite at a museum, or did he? Little did he realize that suite was actually an exhibit, an American Businessman exhibit, so he was being watched by the public all day long. To make matters worse, he had a routine running schedule and allowed his daughter to pack his running clothes...which she did, by the way, his wife's workout clothes. Still a routine is a routine, he put on the jogging bra and short shorts and hit the road.

Once realizing they were what they were afraid of, they could've left Europe and moved on with their lives, but they didn't. They had unfinished business to attend to, and although Trunkman had possibly a bigger problem at home they stuck around to get what they traveled thousands of miles for.

RATING: 7/10 (Worth a rent.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hardball (2001)

Directed by: Brian Robbins
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Diane Lane, John Hawkes

The Movie:
Conor O'Neill (Reeves) is a down-on-his-luck gambler in debt to dangerous loan sharks. Desperate for cash, Conor reluctantly takes a job coaching a youth baseball team. The "team" turns out to be a ragtag group of tough-talking kids from Chicago's inner city. Secretly, Conor plans to desert the team after he wins a big bet. But the stakes are higher than Conor imagined: The kids need someone to believe in. As Conor wrestles with his past, the kids start to teach him some lessons that will forever change his future -- that responsibility and trust must be earned and hope can appear in the most unlikely places.

It's unfortunate a movie with a little emotion would get so much negative criticism. After watching this movie I was extremely delighted with the entire experience. Anyone who ever doubted Keanu's acting abilities should only watch this movie, especially the eulogy scene to see that critics have been wrong. Strong, emotional, sympathetic, and completely believable. I originally believed this was going to be another story about a typical loser who takes over a group of unfortunates only to find a purpose for themselves, and I expected this to be only mildly entertaining. However I was wrong, this film truly moved me. I'm a middle aged male who doesn't care for too many sappy, emotional films, but I loved every second of this one. I'm especially glad the producers decided not to make it a last minute, win at the last possible second.

With the symbolism between one man's gambling addiction and the street gangs, we learn just how much "showing up" (taken from the film's official tagline) was the best way to overcome our problems, be it in life or on the field. This story is suitable for audiences of all ages, despite some choice words used. Honestly, I would not hesitate to allow my now eleven year old daughter watch this movie and talk about it. Recommended for everyone, sports fans or not.

RATING: 8/10

Monday, November 7, 2016

Pixels (2015)

Directed by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Michelle Monaghan

The Movie:
As kids in the 1980s, Sam Brenner, Will Cooper, Ludlow Lamonsoff, and Eddie "The Fire Blaster" Plant saved the world thousands of times - at 25 cents a game in the video arcades. Now, they're going to have to do it for real. When intergalactic aliens discover video feeds of classic arcade games and misinterpret them as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth, using the video games as the models for their assaults -- and now-U.S. President Cooper must call on his old-school arcade friends to save the world from being destroyed by PAC-MAN, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Centipede, and Space Invaders. Joining them is Lt. Col. Violet Van Patten, a specialist supplying the arcaders with unique weapons to fight the aliens.

So, to be honest, I wasn't expecting much when I went into this one. After all, I came to expect a lot of crap out of Sandler's latest. The man hasn't done a good comedy since what, Happy Gilmore? Nonetheless, growing up I loved going to the arcade - playing classics like Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong, and the like - so I actually wanted to see this one. I think it's been at least ten years since I was last in an arcade, do they even still exist? I'm convinced kids today wouldn't even know what a arcade console looks like, with the modern advancements of home entertainment systems.

After losing the national Donkey Kong championship in the 80s, Brenner, played by Sandler becomes a tech support guru while his childhood best friend Cooper, played by James is the President of the U.S. When the world is invaded by the characters in those 80s video games, President Cooper calls upon gamer Brenner to save it.

This movie isn't meant to be taken serious, it's a fun flick remembering arcade games of the 80s. Sure, there's a fair mixture of poor casting and over generated computer graphics, but it doesn't deserve the hatred it's received across the boards.

RATING: 6.5/10

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Intern (2015)

Directed by: Nancy Meyers
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo

The Movie:
Ben Whittaker is a 70-year-old widower who has discovered that retirement isn't all it's cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.

I have often asked myself, what will I do when I retire? After working all my life, I wouldn't be able to just sit around and do absolutely nothing and let's face it sitting in a senior citizen center playing bingo and eating pudding doesn't sound all that exciting. Unfortunately once you hit that certain age, employers no longer have an interest in you so finding a new job outside of a meaningless retail position will be extremely difficult.

If The Intern taught us anything, it's that Robert De Niro isn't far from living that lifestyle himself. Face it, he's old, he may have many years of successful acting experience under his belt as well as a few prestigious awards but even Hollywood is interested in finding new talent. Speaking of which, Anne Hathaway may have hit her peak in this film. I can't say I've seen anything else she's done that is so remarkably memorable.

We've pretty much seen this before with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in The Internship. When are filmmakers going to learn that jokes involving technology and older folks simply isn't funny? Oh, Ben's so old that he can't figure out how to turn on a laptop, we must milk that for everything it's worth.... However when young entrepreneur hot shot Jules (Anne Hathaway) finds herself too wrapped up in her business to spend time with her family, and is suggested to sell out to a big CEO, it's Ben who has to remind her what's truly important in life.

Experience is a good thing, but my advice? Do more than one thing, not just the same thing for 40+ years. Seriously, how many millennials even know what a phone book is? Thanks Google.

RATING: 6.5/10

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Time is the Ultimate Currency

Directed by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy

Imagine a world where you stop aging at twenty-five, then you're genetically engineered to only live one more year-unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich "earn" decades at a time, becoming essentially immortal while the rest struggle to work or otherwise beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day.

That is the cycle of life for the people of this futuristic science fiction, In Time (2011), people like Will Salas played by Justin Timberlake. Will is a "time-watcher" of the ghetto who is just like everyone else wants to buy their way into an immortal youth. When his mother, played by the gorgeous Olivia Wilde dies, he meets a man who escapes the uptown life and gives Will his remaining time with one caveat, he must do something productive with it.

First he gives a couple dozen years to his best friend, Borel (Johnny Galecki) who we later learn spends it all on booze and as a result dies. The rest of the movie is your basic Robin Hood story, he travels through the toll gates out of the ghetto to the uptown neighborhoods. This is something that has never been done before, for obvious reasons. When Will is accused of murder by the timekeeper (Cillian Murphy) he is forced to take the banker's daughter Sylvia Weiss (Amanda Seyfried) hostage.

Living minute to minute, the two team up to be a powerful tool against the system. Sylvia decides the best way to get back at her father for sheltering her for all these years is to rob him blindly one 'bank' at a time. Keeping enough time to keep themselves alive, and giving the rest away to others struggling. An ordinary Robin Hood story, stealing from the rich to give to the poor.

The concept of this movie was excellent, but the way it was executed was terrible. For starters, let's take our main character, Justin Timberlake who quite frankly we find out cannot pull off a "tough guy" act, the idea of giving him the girl in the end is pretty believable although choosing a talented actress such as Amanda Seyfried may have had a little something to do with that. Next, the irony of our "timekeeper" dying because he stop keeping track of his own time? That was not only expected but silly to write into the script, as he was killed off without even trying.

 Other than those two disappointments, this movie was excellent. The run time was perfect, I didn't think it was. One other thing that impressed me about this movie was just how much it was right on with the analogy of how it truly is in some parts of the world where the rich have everything while the poor are neglected and struggling to make ends meet.

Overall, if you find yourself looking for a science fiction thinker, don't look any further than this title. If you are looking for something a bit more adventurous, you can do a lot better than this.

RATING: 7/10

Friday, November 4, 2016

Every Dog Should Have a Boy

Directed by: Rob Minkoff
Starring: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Stephen Colbert

We could all learn a thing or two from our dogs. Things like how to greet others by sniffing butts, where to relieve ourselves on that bright red space ship on the curb, oh and using a time machine to learn about historical events first hand... Wait, what?

Dreamworks brings us yet another animated feature based on a childhood cartoon, Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014). In case you're living under a rock or otherwise can't figure it out, Mr. Peabody (voiced by Ty Burrell) is the dog decked out in big framed glasses and bright red bow tie. He's unlike your ordinary dog in the sense that he walks on his hind legs, and has an IQ of a gazillion +1. As a pup, he knew he was different than his brothers and sisters at the pound, rather than fetch a stick he chose to do math problems and make science experiments. One day upon walking down the street alone, he stumbled upon a crying basket sitting in an alley, inside the basket as one would guess was a baby similar to his physique. That day forward, Mr Peabody knew he had to take him in, naming him Sherman (voiced by Max Charles) and proving to a judge that he could be a parent.

Who knew dogs could drive?
On the first day of school, the slightly geeky Sherman found himself bullied by a girl named Penny (voiced by Ariel Winter). When she stole his dog whistle, he retaliated by biting her. This resulted in a visit to the principal's office for Mr Peabody, as well as a threat from the indifferent child services representative Ms. Grunion (voiced by Allison Janney). Upon trying to show Ms Grunion he is a fit parent, Mr. Peabody decides to host Penny and her family for dinner on the same night Ms Grunion comes over to continue her investigation.

Everyone knows when you tell your child not to do something, they're going to try to do it anyway. For Sherman and Penny, it's using the Wayback machine even after Mr Peabody distinctly tells them not to. When Sherman uses the machine to prove to Penny that he truly saw and spoke with George Washington, she decides to use the machine as a toy rather than a tool and goes back to ancient Egypt. Upon rescuing her from nearly being married to king Tut and mummified, the Wayback machine malfunctions and lands them in France around the time Leonardo da Vinci (Stanley Tucci) painted the Mona Lisa. Following the repair of the Wayback they get into a panic and drops into The Trojan War, in ancient Greece.

What an adorable couple!
This movie was filled with emotions and conflicts. The time travel, like any other movie can get a little hectic and may be off a tad, but if you just sit back and relax you will enjoy this flick. Let's face it, any movie regarding time travel will have it's plot holes, even masterpieces like Back to the Future.

In the end we see the relationship between Mr Peabody and Sherman mature. This is simply not only a "kids movie." Sherman and Penny grow closer together, so much that upon returning to present day they're the best of friends. Even the hideous Ms Grunion meets the man of her dreams, as she is pulled into the past by a Greek soldier. Needless to say, "Mr. Peabody and Sherman" is a beautiful, funny, and most importantly probably the most entertaining flick Dreamworks has produced since Shrek.

RATING: 8.5/10

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Post Grad (2009)

Directed by: Vicky Jenson
Starring: Alexis Bledel, Michael Keaton, Jane Lynch

The Movie:
Ryden Malby (Alexis Bledel) has a master plan, Graduate college, get a great job, hang out with her best friend (Zach Gilford) and find the perfect guy. But her plan spins hilariously out of control when she's forced to move back home with her eccentric family. By the time she lands her dream job, Ryden realizes it's meaningless without the man of her dreams...and the people she loves.

I didn't go to college, but I know many who did. Many of whom, spent months even years after graduating unemployed or stuck in the fast food or retail industry which of course they hated. Rather than start life out with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, I decided to go out into the workforce right after high school - working up from a $7.50 minimum wage job to making over $50,000 annually. Maybe I was just luckier than most.

In this story, Ryden thinks she has her life all figured out - fresh out of college with an English degree, she assumes this guarantees her the job she has always dreamed of having, at a large reputable publishing firm. Unfortunately during an economic crisis, she's not the only one looking for work thus being one of a dozen also qualified candidates, including the class valedictorian who believes herself to be on top of the world.

The job is just her least concern at the moment, she also has relationship issues. Her best friend obviously likes her, while she notoriously keeps him in the 'friend zone' while she chases the older, European hunk next door. When she finally gets the job she's always wanted, her neighbor decides to move back to Europe and her best friend decides to move 5000 miles away to go to law school she realizes a good job isn't everything in life.

I'll be honest here, I'm a dude and I liked the show Gilmore Girls, it's over dramatic themed episodes were clearly not meant for everyone and I didn't always agree with what was going on or how the show ended after seven seasons but I never thought about turning it off and have watched it many times over since. That said, Alexis Bledel wasn't my favorite character - neither was Lauren Graham for that matter. Her acting was a over ambitious, like she was trying too hard to impress someone. It's obvious this carried over into her film castings. I'm not saying she's a bad actress, I enjoyed her roles in the budget film The Brass Teapot and especially Disney's Tuck Everlasting.

There are many similarities between Gilmore Girls and Post Grad, both we see a do-good teenager get into a prestigious college and think everything from there will automatically fall into place. Sure enough, in both cases, they actually do. The movie much like the sitcom was extremely superficial which makes for a undesirable viewing.  No reason to lie, the only reason I watched it in the first place was for Michael Keaton's involvement, and that's  saying a lot as it seems like lately he'll take any job offered even if it's bad.

RATING: 7/10

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Brass Teapot (2012)

Directed by: Ramaa Mosley
Starring: Juno Temple, Michael Angarano, Alexis Bledel

I don't normally watch much TV, the excess of commercials bore me but every once in awhile I'll find myself channel-surfing and will stumble upon a hidden gem or two. The other day was no exception, I came across this as it was just starting on HBO and thought the summary sounded interesting enough and being on a premium movie channel meant one most important thing: No commercials.

The Brass Teapot (2012) is a movie about a high achiever who fell in love and later married a guy who had very few ambitions in life. Regardless of their financial woes, our lead character, Alice (Juno Temple) went to college but because she refuses to start at entry-level cannot get hired. Her husband, John (Michael Angarano) is a unsuccessful salesman. While driving down a seemingly desolate highway, they get hit by a large truck in front of a little antique store. Alice spots the owner, with an extraordinary looking teapot that she decides she must have so she finds her way inside.

Soon after arriving home with the teapot, she learns it's no ordinary teapot. Money flies out of this indestructible teapot whenever the person holding it gets hurt. The more pain, the larger the payout. One can only assume how the rest of the film goes, the once broke couple are now covered in cuts and bruises but are wealthier than they ever imagined they would be. This movie is an original story of greed, how can one be happy for beating the crap out of each another? The teapot, an imminent object, tears them apart physically and even emotionally.

I later found out this was an independent film, created on a low budget (est. $900,000), which would explain the rushed scenes and flopping storyline but not to say it wasn't enjoyable and the premise was original. The leading cast aren't well known names, Juno Temple and Michael Angarano but they both do a superb job, which sent me looking for the rest of their filmography.

Finally, the consensus is this film won't win any academy awards but that doesn't mean it's not worth checking out if you ever come across it.

RATING: 8.5/10

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Directed by: Mel Stuart
Starring: Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum

The Movie:
Join the expedition visiting legendary Candy Man Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) in a splendiferous movie that wondrously brings to the screen the endlessly appetizing delights of Roald Dahl's classic book. Coated with flavorful tunes and production design that constantly dazzles the eye, this effervescent musical never fails to enchant young and old. On a whirlwind tour of Willy's incredible, edible realm of chocolate waterfalls, elfish Oompa-Loompas and industrial-sized confections, a boy named Charlie (Peter Ostrum) will discover the sweetest secret of all: a generous, loving heart. And you'll rediscover the timeless magic of a delicious family classic.

I'm one of the many, who always preferred 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory to Tim Burton's better adaptation of Dahl's book. Sure, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory may have had it's moments, but one thing it didn't have, is Gene Wilder, who gave an ingenius performance as the odd title character.

Day after day, Charlie walks by the Chocolate Factory on his way home from school, which despite being closed for decades, has somehow still been mass-producing chocolate. Charlie's Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) says, the owner Willy Wonka grew tired of his competitors trying to steal his top-secret candy recipes so he fired all his employees and refused to let anyone see his operation. But that's about to change.

One day, Willy Wonka announces that he has hidden five golden tickets inside his world-famous Wonka chocolate bars, and whomever finds them will be invited to his factory for a grand tour. The first four tickets are found by Augustus, a German kid who loves to eat; Violet, a wise-cracking pre-teen who's addicted to chewing gum; spoiled brat Veruca Salt, whose father bought cases of Wonka bars to find her a ticket; and Mike Teevee, who rarely looks up from his family's TV set. Of course the one person who wants to find a ticket more than anyone else, and perhaps in my biased opinion deserves it more, Charlie winds up finding the fifth and last ticket. Accompanied by his Grandpa Joe, they join the others as they make history, being the first people allowed inside the chocolate factory in many years.

And what a magical place it is! From a chocolate river to geese that lay golden eggs, the kids find out the factory is run by little people called Oompa-Loompas, complete with orange skin and green hair. During the tour, as expected, the kids get into a fair bit of trouble. From falling into the chocolate and being sucked up by a giant vacuum tube, falling into a garbage chute, and even one blowing up like a balloon to require being "juiced" back to normal size.

All tied together by the in-genius of Gene Wilder himself, there's a fair bit of subtle sarcasm found in everything he says which puts him in a position of utter madness or seriousness. Again, in my opinion, there's no one who could interpret Willy Wonka better than Wilder himself.

RATING: 10/10

Friday, October 14, 2016

Curse of Chucky (2013)

Directed by: Don Mancini
Starring: Chantal Quesnelle, Fiona Dourif, Jordan Gavaris

The Movie:
Twenty-five years later, the infamous killer doll returns to seek revenge as well as to terrorize new victims. This story begins when the wheelchair-bound Nica (Fiona Dourif) accepts a package in the mail. Inside the package is a friend 'til the end.

This straight-to-DVD sequel is unlike the former two, it's actually pretty decent. The producers decide to bring back Chucky, and even release a little sinister history to keep the franchise fresh.

It all began twenty-five years ago, leading to the death of the "Lakeshore Strangler" and the reborn of Chucky. The "lakeshore strangler" falls in love with the then pregnant Sarah (Chantal Quesnelle). After the sudden death of her husband, Sarah goes into a depressed state, and insists on not seeing Chucky anymore. Now Sarah is still depressed and living with her wheelchair bound daughter Nica (Fiona Dourif) in a large, isolated house, when a package addressed to Sarah gets delivered. Inside the package, a Good Guys doll introduces himself as "Chucky". The event that night concluded in Sarah's untimely death. Nica's sister Barbara (Danielle Bisutti), her husband Ian ( Brennan Elliott ), their daughter Alice ( Summer H. Howell ), and their live-in nanny Jill (Maitland McConnell) all come to the house for their mother's funeral. When more people start showing up dead, Nica begins to realize the Good Guys doll isn't so good.

When I first went into this movie, I had the thought that it was going to be a total reboot of Child's Play which would've been disappointing. I'm glad to discover it was a sequel, and after all these years I think it was a job well done. Many scenes are effective with inbuilt tension and jump scares, notably the shower encounter and dinner gathering. With lingering camera movements and interesting angles, Mancini also leaves plenty to the imagination as some of the set ups take place off screen, that said there are lots of effects, blood and gore on display - decapitation, an electrocution, an empty eyeball socket and an axe attack to name a few.

I noticed they made the voice of Chucky more sparse this time around, I was expecting the foul mouthed one liners he was given in the Child's Play trilogy. That doesn't neglect my current feelings for this movie though, it was still superb acting and under great direction. The story leaves plenty of holes to be filled in with yet another sequel, which I will anxiously await. I definitely recommend this movie. And when you watch it, don't stop it as soon as the credits start rolling - stick around for the additional scene afterward.

Speaking of the after credits scene, my confusion was with the footage of Tiffany (Jennifer Tilly). She was killed, in the Bride of Chucky if I'm not mistaken, in the bathtub, shortly after transferring her soul into the Tiffany doll. So how could she still be alive at the end of this one? If anyone could clarify this bit for me, I'd appreciate it, drop a line in the comments.

RATING: 6/10

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Child's Play (1988)

Directed by: Tom Holland
Starring: Catherine Hicks, Chris Sarandon, Alex Vincent, Brad Dourif

The Movie: 
For Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent) the only thing he wanted for his 8th birthday is a Good Guys doll. To much of everyone's surprise, the doll is possessed with the soul of a serial killer. One of the doll's many phrases is "we're be friends until the end" which for most, is only a matter of words but for Chucky it's a promise.

My Review:
There's nothing better than some good 80s horror this time of the year.  Popularity of this movie has been shown throughout the years with the many sequels that spawned from it, but nothing will ever be as good as this one.

When the the "Lakeshore Strangler" gets shot by police detective Mike Norris, Charles Lee Ray aka "Chucky" hides out in a toy store after his accomplice escapes without him, he vows to get revenge against his said accomplice and the police detective in his afterlife. Believing in voodoo, he transfers his soul to a Good Guys doll before burning down the store. A couple weeks later, little boy Andy (Alex Vincent) is turning eight years old and has his hopes up for a Good Guys doll. Unfortunately, his mother (Catherine Hicks) can't afford to pay the retail price for the doll but thanks to a friend and co-worker, she manages to get one from a street peddler in a back alley. Come to find out, this doll was found at a old burned out toy store... That's where the story begins, and we see Andy and "Chucky" start an adventure together - friends to the end. Andy is quickly manipulated into skipping school and going downtown to hunt down Eddie Caputo (Neil Giuntoli), Chucky's former accomplice and visiting the voodoo "Dr Death" (Raymond Oliver) to find out exactly how to get out of the doll's body before he's trapped forever.

It's a movie that's not made to act serious, just a voodoo story to entertain and terrorize it's audience. A job it's done very well for decades. It's scary, but the gore factor is slim to none and does not include any cheap scares that you can find in more recent horror franchises.

Favorite quote: "Hi, I'm Chucky and I'll be your friend 'til the end!"

RATING: 8/10

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Tie That Binds (1995)

Directed by: Wesley Strick
Starring: Daryl Hannah, Keith Carradine, Moira Kelly

The Movie:
John (Keith Carradine) and Leann (Daryl Hannah) Netherwood are fugitives who break into homes, steal whatever they need, take pictures of the tortured owners and flee. Their daughter, Janie (Julia Devin) usually stays in the car when her parents are robbing a home. One job goes horribly wrong when the police show up, placing young Janie into an orphanage while her parents get away. Janie is soon adopted by southern California carpenter Russell Clifton (Vincent Spano) and his wife Dana (Moira Kelly). What they don't know is that they're in for the fight of their lives as John and Leann will do whatever it takes to get their daughter back.

Not the greatest thriller out there, but the direction and performances by the characters showed some potential. The beginning lagged quite a bit, but it seemed to get better as it went along. The story of a young girl adapting to her new parents all while her natural parents were on a deadly pursuit to find their child. .As John and Leann were tracking down their leads to the unsuspecting adopted parents, the suspense in the story started getting more tense. You see a bit of irony in Leann's eyes, as she constantly pulls out a picture of a mother and daughter, like she's out to just protect her offspring. From John's viewpoint, it appears he is looking for a piece of property (slavery?) he once lost.

Ending this review a bit short, like the movie, I feel I don't know what else to say about it  It's a familiar story with a very predictable ending, a bit overexerted but I feel it's worth the dollar I paid for it.

RATING: 5/10

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Red Riding Hood (2011)

Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman

The Movie:
 Set in a medieval village, the young beautiful Valarie (Amanda Seyfried) falls in love with a woodcutter, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) all while her parents have already arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Not wanting to be apart any longer, Valerie and Peter decide to run away until her sister ended up killed by a werewolf that haunts the town. For years prior, the town has sacrificed a animal whenever the wolf comes around. Until one red moon night, when the werewolf decides to take a human life. The town is now frantic and decides to call upon a famous werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. Soloman brings some bad news that warns the people that the wolf takes the form of a human by day, and can be any one of them. Valarie quickly suspects the werewolf to be someone she loves, but has she starts to panic the townspeople turn on her declaring she is a witch because she did something none of them have ever done: speaks to the wolf.

Twilight director, Catherine Hartwicke brings us a folk tale adaptation. The idea was good, but the way it was portrayed was horrible. There's something about movies like this that make me cringe for thinking there's no value in film anymore, a story that's supposed to be about a little girl walking through the forest to grandma's house only to find a big bad wolf has taken her place has been transformed into another love triangle. I couldn't help but think to my self whether I have  already seen this movie, even though I know it was the first viewing. It became obvious to me that this movie was put out to attract Twilight fans with this plot.

Casting Amanda Seyfried as "Red" (err, Valerie?) was an interesting choice, considering the last movie I remember seeing her in was Jennifer's Body where fortunately her good looks distracted us from her bad acting ability. And why Valerie? What was so wrong with keeping the original fairy tale alive and naming her Red?  Overall, Seyfried was the right choice. To be fair, given the cheesy dialogue and Hardwicke's uninspired direction you couldn't expect anyone else to do a better job.

This movie had it's fair share of bad CGI, especially the werewolf scenes. For a PG-13 rated film, you can't expect any hardcore action or gore and Red Riding Hood was no exception.

Bottom line, Red Riding Hood is a campy popcorn flick and is worth a dollar rental if you are hard pressed for something to watch.

RATING: 6/10

Monday, October 10, 2016

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009)

Directed by: Peter Hyams
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, and Michael Douglas

The Movie:
A District Attorney, Mark Hunter (Michael Douglas), who tampers with evidence to secure his convictions, decides to run for governor. But when an ambitious journalist, C.J. Nicholas (Jesse Metcalfe) begins to investigate him. Commencing a risky game of cat and mouse with Hunter, C.J. frames himself as a murder suspect to catch the corrupt D.A. in the act.

This movie has many problems, starting with the idea of someone practically murdering someone, turning himself in, and getting acquitted of all charges. A big blooper would have to be at the beginning when the police report showed the murderer was bitten by a small dog and yet C.J. didn't have any bites except the one from the small dog he adopted to bite him, to reenact the crime. Did he get bit when he first killed the woman, or was that just a rumor? 

The most bizarre scene was when C.J's  reporter friend Finley (Joel David Moore) was running around for the DVD that had the proof that C.J. was innocent. First, there was no need for all the running around. C.J. could have just handed his attorney an envelope that says not to open it until the trial. Second, what would that DVD prove anyways? Hunter already pointed out he could've bought a second pair of pants and shoes after the crime was committed. It was obvious at this point, C.J. wasn't going to be charged with the murder due to improper evidence to hold him, as long as Hunter was finally caught for tampering with evidence. 

As for Finley's death, it should never have happened... If he didn't panic at the intersection, he would've had time to pull out before that bus passed. Also you can't say no one on that bus (driver, passengers) or anyone between the bank and the scene of the accident saw anything -- that would've been enough to lock up that detective for manslaughter.

Also, the detective trying to kill Ella (a district attorney who works with Hunter and is in a relationship with C.J.) with his car, when she was snooping around to prove his 'innoncence'. I realize he wanted to scare her before killing her but all he had to do was pull out his gun, shoot her and drive off, I'm sure one gun shot would be quieter than the tires squealing. 

So, the end of the movie... Ella managed to prove C.J's innocence but realized she made a mistake when taking another look at the coverage of the young, pregnant prostitute from Buffalo NY that C.J. used and claimed was deceased was the woman killed. Putting two and two together, she did what she had to do...

Bottom line, the movie was had more than it's share of flaws and confusing moments, but in the end you have to realize it's just a movie! For a mystery to make one think and debate, it was definitely successful but as a movie it still needs some work. 

RATING: 6/10 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Zombieland (2009)

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson

The Movie:
During a zombie apocalypse, there are only four survivors, all nicknamed of the city they are from. There's Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a shy college student in Texas who's obsessed with his 30 rules such as: "look in the back seat," "double-tap," "avoid public restrooms." There's the good-old boy from Florida, on the road to kill some zombies and hunt down a Twinkie, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). The two soon approach a girl, Wichita (Emma Stone), and her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) who are both on their way to a Los Angeles amusement park that they've heard is zombie-free.

Having disliked most of what comprises of Jesse Eisenberg's filmography, I was a little hesitant to watch Zombieland. However, reading that it also stars Woody Harrelson who is well-known from the TV-series "Cheers" and the gorgeous Emma Stone I decided to give it a shot anyway. I'm so glad I did, this movie has opened my interest for other zombie-related films like Night of the Living Dead for instance.

This movie starts out in a town in Texas, where Eisenberg can be found in his college dorm room playing World of Warcraft (did people really still play this game in 2009?) when his neighbor, 406 (Amber Heard) frantically knocks on his door. He has had a crush on her since he first saw her, but due to his anti-social behavior and special rules he never made a move and now he finds out it's too late. 406 was his first encounter with zombies. The rules he has include common sense things like "Always wear your seat belt" down to ridiculous statements like "Never use a public bathroom"  After his encounter with 406, he packs up and decides to head home, to Columbus Ohio to see if his family is still alive, when he comes across a zombie hunter and Twinkie fan from Tallahassee Florida (Woody Harrelson). Along the way, at a grocery store stop in search of Twinkies they come across two con-artist sisters out to survive on their own with trust issues, there's Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), both on their way to Pacific Playland in Los Angeles, CA, where they suspect is zombie-free.  Against all odds, they form a group and head to California together. Once they arrive in LA, the first stop they decide to make is the legendary Bill Murray's estate. While the rest of the town was turned undead, Bill (played by himself) dressed and acted as a zombie to fit in. His acting may be too good, since he tried spooking Columbus and ended up being shot and killed with a double barrel shotgun. The next day, the group splits up again, as the girls head to the amusement park only to find it's not as zombie-free as they had hoped for. Getting trapped on a ride, they must now do what they've never done before, and rely on the guys to help them.

This movie had it's flaws and wasn't by far a serious movie to watch, but it'll make for an enjoyable Friday night with a bowl of popcorn. My opinion for Jesse Eisenberg didn't change after viewing this, I still don't like his 'type' of acting but I will probably give a couple of other movies he starred in a chance.

Favorite quote: "Believe it or not, Twinkies do have an expiration date." - Tallahassee, Woody Harrelson

RATING: 8/10

Saturday, October 8, 2016

1408 (2007)

Directed by: Mikael Håfström
Starring: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson

The Movie:
A paranormal investigator and author, Mike Enslin (John Cusack) decides to add one last chapter to his latest book by checking into the evil room 1408, at the Dolphin Hotel in New York, against the warning by hotel manager Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Soon after arriving, he finds out first hand that the evil happenings in that room isn't as fabled as he imagined. He checked into the room, but he now won't be able to check out.

This one may take a couple viewings to understand it, but as you understand it fully you should come to realize how much of a gem it is for it's time. The story doesn't waste any time to jump right into things. Mike Enslin writes a suspenseful series on haunted hotels, usually uncovering the mystery. Until this one evil room at the Dolphin Hotel that has taken over fifty lives prior to his stay. The first thing that comes to mind is how can a room be evil? My take on this would be the room forces the guests to dig up unfortunate events from their past, as such that happened to Mike Enslin. Mike lost his young daughter to a incurable disease, which forced him to give up hope for the future. He buried himself in his work for years following her death, separated from his wife, and pretty much gave up living. The room reminded him of the good times he had with her, as well as the last few moments they had together. All this stress piled on all at once caused him to go into a mental breakdown, resulting in thinking he was trapped. He had to clear his mind and kill hte evil spirits around to get out.

Favorite Quote: "It's an evil. f**king. room!"

RATING: 8/10

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Shining (1980)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd

The Movie:
When school teacher Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) decides he wants to write a novel and quit teaching, he takes a job as a live-in winter caretaker of a isolated hotel in the Rocky Mountains. Soon upon arrival his son, Danny (Danny Lloyd) starts seeing disturbing visions of the hotel's past. While burying himself in his writing, Jack also falls into a deep form of insanity caused by cabin fever and sightings of the hotel's ghosts. After being convinced by the waiter's ghost that he needs to "fix" his family, the only thing that can save Danny and his mother, is "the shining."

This film adaptation of Stephen King's novel has seriously scared the crap out of me since the first time I watched it. The story was written well and the movie is not a disappointment. Stanley Kubrick is a recognizable name in film history for a few gems such as "Full Metal Jacket," "A Clockwork Orange," and "2001: A Space Odyssey". The Shining isn't any different, his work has always had a sense of seriousness with the long lengths.

"What Is The Shining?" It's a telepathic sixth sense that Danny Torrance (Danny Lloyd) in the movie had, which allowed him to see and hear from ghosts from the hotel's past. It's this gift that perhaps saved him and his mother when his father Jack is convinced he must fix his wife and child from taking over, during his mental breakdown resulting from cabin fever. Being stuck indoors all winter will do this to someone, it's not too surprising in life. It's been proven that many people in the world experience similar symptoms, wanting to bring harm to themselves or someone else.

RATING: 8/10

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Christine (1983)

Directed by: John Carpenter
Starring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul

We all remember our firsts in life; first bike ride, first love, first child, first car, the list goes on. In retrospect, I remember my first car very much with air conditioning in the winter, a non-working stereo, half the interior gauges didn't work, four bald tires, and a bad idling issue which caused it to stall at every stop. But, the frame was solid and it was all mine for a whopping $100 (hey for a 15 year old with a paper route that was a lot of money). Needless to say, despite all it's faults, I never suspected that '89 Ford to be possessed, much like Arnie's (Keith Gordon) cherry red 1958 Plymouth Fury, in Christine (1983). Maybe that's because it never tried to actually kill me.

This classic 80s possession horror movie, based on a novel by Stephen King, is one of a kind. There has been many like it but this one will always remain a unique story about a lone teenager taking his first independent venture to buy his first automobile, which so happens to have a mind of it's own. The idea that whenever there's about to be trouble, the lights turn on and the stereo blasts rock 'n roll music is enough to send chills down your spine.

Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) is a nerdy high school senior with only one friend. Arnie's life begins to change when he discovers Christine, a red 1958 Plymouth Fury in serious need of repair. As Arnie spends the time restoring Christine, his family and friend comes to realize that he's changing as well. The one thing Arnie doesn't know is the former owner of Christine spent just as much time with the car, that when his family life started to suffer, he paid the price with his life.

Well unlike that '89 Ford I had, which has likely since been crushed, this movie will always be a classic. The performances of the cast and the story line is more than enough to recommend this to anyone.

RATING: 9/10

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Arachnophobia (1990)

Directed by: Frank Marshall
Starring: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman

The Movie:
Everyone is afraid of something...for Dr. Ross Jennings (Jeff Daniels), his phobia is downright embarrassing. But when he moves his family to a small town, the one thing that bugs him most is now harming the townspeople at an alarming rate. For this unlikely hero, overcoming a childhood fear of spiders might just save the community, but it may already be too late!

I'm not scared of spiders, but I watched this with someone who is. Needless to say, she spent a good share of this film with her eyes closed.

When the Jennings family move out of the city to plant new roots in a small town, where Ross is sure to fill a void as the town doctor, little do they realize it's not going to be an easy transition. For starters, the current town doctor decides not to retire as expected (a dick move if I ever saw one), he finds his place in said town won't be an easy grasp as he thought-after all, a small town only needs one doctor?

Things start to unravel when a deadly spider from South America stows away in the coffin of a dead photographer and winds up in the U.S. Ironically, each victim of the spider just happened to visit the new doctor recently, so the old doctor uses that to start a vendetta against Jennings; until Dr Jennings' uncovers the eight-legged beast with assistance from the town exterminator, played by John Goodman.

 For so long I have somehow overlooked this Spielberg production. I always considered it to be some kind of spin off of Hitchcock's "The Birds." Spielberg took a well known phobia, combined it with some clean humor and a family-esque adventure and created a well made film.

RATING: 9/10

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Descent (2005)

Directed by: Neil Marshall
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid

The Movie:
Soon after an accident that takes the life of her husband and daughter, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) starts visualizing things that aren't really there and her friends suggest going on a spelunking trip. After sudden change in plans, to discover a new cave, they wind up being trapped under ground. They have an limited amount of supplies, and they meet strange, blood thirsty cannibals as they try to find the way out.

This movie is highly rated on popular movie websites, but I didn't feel the love for this movie like a lot of the other reviewers. Regardless it was very well done. Many dark scenes to show they were below ground while in other movies that take place in a cave can be too brightly lit showing obvious nonfiction. This one also had the claustrophobic feel to it as the girls were crawling through the tight tunnels, which brought the viewer into the film so-to-speak.

Beyond the positive side, this movie had a handful of flaws to it. For one, it was very predictable, even for someone who didn't bother to read the synopsis or know anything about this film. This movie had plenty of jump scenes but having things jump out at you isn't scary. A plus I found in this movie was the heroine fight scenes particularly between Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and the creatures, although they were generally more gore than scary which isn't the point of a horror movie. Speaking of the creatures, those are some of the awful costume designs I've seen come out of Hollywood in years, as a casual movie watcher it almost leaves me unsettled on the future of cinema, as if they weren't even trying.

Overall, it's safe for a simple popcorn flick or if you plan to watch it with someone who's easily scared but if you're looking for anything serious, look elsewhere.

RATING: 7/10

Monday, October 3, 2016

Beetle Juice (1988)

Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Winona Ryder

The Movie:
After a deadly accident, the Maitlands (Alec Baldwin & Geena Davis) find themselves stuck inside their house. Confused on what happened, they now face a bigger problem...The strange, new family that's moving in! After many failed attempts to convince them to leave, they find themselves hiring the services of a bio-exorcist.

Only Burton can pull off probably the best horror comedy classic in the last 25 years! And of course he couldn't have done it without the infamous Michael Keaton  playing the lead role. Choosing an additional strong cast to pull off the recently deceased was no easy task I'm sure, but I feel Baldwin and Davis did a fantastic job with their roles.

Beetle Juice is a classic horror movie that explores life after death. The Maitlands (Baldwin & Davis) decide to spend their two-week vacation in their New England home. Upon returning from a trip to town, Barbara (Geena Davis) swerves to avoid hitting a dog in the road and crashes through the side of a covered bridge and plunges into the river beneath it. As they return home in spirit form, and quickly come to the conclusion that they are dead. They are in peace until a family from New York City buys their home and moves in, the father Charles Deetz and the dark daughter Lydia (Winona Ryder) are also looking for peace and tranquility but unfortunately his wife is indifferent on the current decor and insists on changing it, with help from family friend Otho (Glenn Shadix). The Maitlands are invisible to the the entire Deetz family except Lydia, who later befriends them. Against the advice of their caseworker Juno (Sylvia Sidney), they hire the free lance bio-exorcist, Betelgeuse (Michael Keaton) who was formerly a trouble maker in his life.

I can't stress it enough, Beetle Juice is near perfect movie and a classic to watch this time of the year. It may take a couple viewings but you will love it.

RATING: 10/10

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Orphan (2009)

Directed by: Jaume Collet-Serra
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Peter Sarsgaard, Isabelle Fuhrman

The Movie:
The last year has been troubling for Kate (Vera Farmiga) and John (Peter Sarsgaard) after the loss of their baby. Kate quickly turned to alcohol shortly thereafter. Since her daughter Max (Aryana Engineer) nearly died after falling through thin ice, while Kate was inside drinking instead of watching her, Kate decided to seek out therapy and is now doing better. The couple decide to adopt a child to fill the void in their lives. While at the orphanage, they meet and fall in love with the secluded, nine-year old Russian girl, Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman). Eventually, Kate quickly realizes her family has been a mess since Esther came into their lives, feels like Esther is manipulative, and starts seeking out her past history to the surprise of John who refuses to believe anything is wrong.

Interesting, dark, disturbing, twisted, and intense - just a few words to sum up my thoughts on "Orphan". This thriller is definitely the most interesting I've seen in a couple years, its' not like other thrillers involving a family. The twist in the plot, being when we find out Esther is really a near-40 year old woman with growth hormone disorder making it possible to look like a nine year old girl.

Usually child actors are painful to watch, but 12- year-old Isabelle Fuhrman gives a terrifying, chilling performance that is worthy of praise. Aryana Engineer debuts as the deaf little sister, Max is adorable and steals the life of the movie in almost every scene she's found in. Jimmy Bennett, who plays Daniel, the brother, portrays a middle child who's jealous of not being the center of attention and torments his siblings. The intensity of Esther getting the little sister involved in her murders, and threatening Daniel in the middle of the night will send shivers down your spine, a perfect combination to a great thriller.

Although this may be the greatest thriller of the decade, it's psychological terror is not recommended for children or the weak at heart. The basic idea is nothing new, but if you're looking for a horror movie without any cheap scares this one will keep you on the edge of your seat. The extremely well done performances by the child actors is enough of a reason to at least give this one a rent.

RATING: 7/10

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Mist (2007)

Directed by: Frank Darabont
Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, William Sadler

The Movie:
After a severe thunder storm, David Brayton (Thomas Jane), his son Billy (Nathan Gamble) and neighbor Brent Norman (Andre Braugher) drive into the supermarket in the small town of Maine. Along the way, they notice a strange mist covering most of the lake, and military vehicles going towards it, but not thinking much of it, they continue onto the store. While shopping, the inevitable happens, an older gentleman comes running into the store with a bloody nose, declaring "there's something in the mist!" This creates a panic among the eighty-some shoppers in the store, one specifically being a woman known for spreading her crazy religious beliefs across the town.

This has to be the first true horror movie I've seen in decades. This one doesn't need cheap frights to be scary, it's a down to earth scary movie. It was shown that the storm must have unleashed something evil that would get you if you went into the fog. A mixture of some horror and science fiction, as the secret "arrowhead project" created at a nearby military installation that they thought would open a proverbial door to the outside world.

The one peeve I had was the religious nut job that thought sacrificing non-believers would save the lives of all the believers. Don't get me wrong, I understand why she was included in the script and find it gave the film more meaning but I was ready to jump through the screen and beat the crap out of her by the midpoint. The audience at my recent movie night showing of this, all applauded when former schoolteacher (Frances Sternhagen) threw the can of peas at her during one of her speeches.

The ending showed the small group of people who just wanted to escape the mist, finally make it out of the supermarket and into David's truck. Taking a quick detour past his house, and seeing his wife not able to escape the group of five proceeded out of the town to however far a tank of gas took them. Unfortunately they hadn't made it far before running out of gas, but at least they tried. This is where the shock comes into play, they were minutes away from being rescued by the military when David decided to pull out the 6-round, although only four bullets remained, revolver and kill all five passengers including his young son. Being out of bullets he was frustrated on what to do, and vouched to get out of the truck and call for the "things" in the mist to take him. The credits start rolling as David is down on his knees crying, begging to be taken while trucks loaded with victims were being driven out of the contaminated area. It's surely the most shocking ending I've ever seen.

RATING: 9.5/10

Friday, September 30, 2016

Film Crazy: 4,000 Movies Challenge

Hi there, and welcome to Film Crazy, I'm Mike and I watch a lot of movies. I'm not a film critic nor am I trying to be one. I'm just an average guy, with an aspiration for film. Due to the limited offerings of film outlets available in my small corner of America, I have become infatuated with collecting film on all formats. That's right, I'm no presentation snob. Although I would prefer to see a movie projected on a jumbo screen in a clean theater, nothing stops me from watching a VHS tape or one of my thousands of DVDs.

Now, it's time to take this infatuation to the next level. Despite not being very good at it, I always liked writing, and since I love watching movies so much I decided to start my own film journal of sorts as a hobby. Believe me, as much as I enjoy watching, reading and writing about film I have no intentions on giving up my full time job. I'm about to embark on a journey that will take me years, maybe even decades to accomplish. As my collection continues to grow, I have had a problem keeping tabs on what I already own. That's where this blog comes into play, I hope to eventually review every single movie in my library, one at a time. The goal, is to have something new posted every day.

Let me reiterate, this is a journey through the world of film, and there's no telling what I may encounter along way. I welcome you all to follow along through this never-ending journey, and feel free to give your own thoughts in the comments field. Oh, and if you share the same crazy behavior as I and others do, check out the message boards, we're a close-knit community of film lovers who not only support one each other's collecting habits but also enjoy discussing film.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

And the Worst Movie Award Goes to...

Many of us watched the Academy Awards last weekend, and in light of the big update to this site I decided I wanted to kick it off with something special. As you may know I have seen hundreds if not thousands of movies, so it should come to no surprise that I've seen some really bad movies. I'm not talking about movies that are so bad, that they're good. Those I consider guilty pleasures which I'll save for another time. I'm referring to something that I actually suffered through, something I actually had to ask myself; "Can I have that hour and a half of my life back?" I'm sure we've all been there at one point or another, maybe more than once even.

Sadly this has happened to me on more than one occasion. Even sadder, I can guarantee I still own those movies in question. Anyway, I could easily point out a Tyler Perry flick or a direct-to-video release starring Nicholas Cage but considering we all know going into such a movie that it's going to bad, I won't say they deserve the worst movie award. The movie, I think deserves this award just happens to be one I watched in theaters when it was first released, nearly falling asleep multiple times, and yet still bought it on DVD during a video store closeout sale a few years back.....

Nacho Libre (2006)
Director: Jared Hess
Starring: Jack Black, Ana de la Reguera, Héctor Jiménez
Running Time: 92 minutes

Jack Black is Ignacio, a monastery cook who feeds orphan children by day and by night transforms himself into Nacho Libre, a notorious Luchador in stretchy pants. Spurred on by Esqueleto "The Skeleton," a street peasant turned sidekick, Nacho challenges Mexico's most fearsome wrestlers as he fights to save the children and win the affections of Sister Encarnacion, his inspiration and forbidden love. 

When a movie starts off funny, it doesn't take long before it becomes tedious. You can actually see some similarities in this and Hess' other comedy, Napoleon Dynamite. Both films are about outsiders, and both main characters have bizarre best friends. Difference is, Nacho is a lovable character while the main character in Napoleon Dynamite was an unpleasant individual. It's obvious by the script that we were supposed to like Nacho, but Jack Black's performance came off more irritating than endearing.

Nacho grew up in a monastery, and is now the cook.  He has a secret love, wrestling, which he can't admit because monks think it's the work of the devil. Even the newly arrived nun, Sister Encarnacion agrees wrestling is bad. This concerns Nacho, but it doesn't stop him from secretly starting a career of it behind a mask, alongside his skinny, also amateur sidekick Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez). Despite never winning, Nacho gains some popularity and eventually earns the chance to fight the king of wrestling, Ramses (Cesar Gonzalez) in an exhibition match.

Quite frankly, this movie will only interest those who are fans of Jack Black. It's only around ninety minutes long, but to me it felt much longer. The film dragged on, I may have laughed once or twice but not nearly enough to be able to rate this higher than a 2/10. Yeah, it was that bad.

So there you have it, one of the WORST movies I have ever seen. Whats the worst movie you've seen?