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REVIEW – Unfriended

October 27, 2016 1 comment
UnfriendedDirected by: Leo Gabriadze
Produced by: Timur Bekmambetov, Nelson Greaves
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Edited by: Parker Laramie, Andrew Wesman
Cinematography by: Adam Sidman
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
Year: 2015

 

Previews for this movie had me thinking this was going to probably be one of the worst movies of 2015. Screaming teenage characters, the gimmick of having the movie confined to a single MacBook screen for the entire film in an insane twist on the “found footage” genre, a guy forcing his hand into a blender by some unseen force that was apparently getting revenge for being “unfriended”… Just… every time I saw this movie being advertised, I couldn’t help but mentally wretch at the thought of seeing it. Audiences in the theatre even seemed to agree – there was always laughter accompanying the viewing. And then… a funny thing actually happened when it finally came out. Much like how I had hilariously low expectations for the schmaltzy, gimmicky-looking, Nicholas Sparks-esque The Fault in Our Stars, this sure-to-be-awful teen horror flick with the computer screen gimmick ended up getting some solid reviews from critics – not nearly as good as The Fault in Our Stars, mind you, but horror is an acquired taste genre, so you’ve gotta grade these things on a curve sometimes. However, just like with the other movie, I had to see what the fuss was about. Read more…

REVIEW: Captain America: The First Avenger

April 23, 2016 1 comment
Captain America The First AvengerDirected by: Joe Johnston
Produced by: Kevin Feige
Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Edited by: Jeffrey Ford, Robert Dalva
Cinematography by: Shelly Johnson
Music by: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Chris Evans, Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell, Sebastian Stan, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, Derek Luke, Kenneth Choi, JJ Field, Toby Jones, Stanley Tucci, Leander Deeny
Based on the Marvel comics by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Year: 2011

 

Believe it or not, at one time, this was the movie I was most worried about during the first phase of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. The director, Joe Johnston, didn’t have the best track record as a director, and the main star of the movie, Chris Evans, was someone who had already played a superhero in a movie series that was pretty garbage, Fox’s pre-reboot Fantastic Four movies. Rumors of the film also having a random musical number was also cause for concern, and Hugo Weaving was also revealed to be playing yet another intense villain role. Also, this was a film set before all the other films, being set during World War II. Period films were fine, but a period superhero film? C’mon, Marvel! Surely you must be crazy! No way could this live up to Iron Man and Thor, which at least had respected actor and filmmaker Kenneth Branagh at the helm, right!?

Oh, please. You know I was wrong on this on all accounts. Read more…

REVIEW: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

December 17, 2015 2 comments
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)Directed by: Ron Howard
Produced by: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman
Edited by: Dan Hanley, Mike Hill
Cinematography by: Donald Peterman
Music by: James Horner
Original song by: Mariah Carey, James Horner, Will Jennings, performed by Faith Hill
Starring: Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Jeffrey Tambor, Christine Baranski, Bill Irwin, Molly Shannon, Josh Ryan Evans, Clint Howard, Anthony Hopkins (voice)
Based on the book by Dr. Seuss
Year: 2000

 

I’m not really certain what makes studios think that live action adaptations of things that belong in animation are good ideas, but if I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s because they make money. Obviously, that trumps artistic expression, more often than not. And that’s how you end up with things like The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. These movies are at least technical marvels, when sufficient effort is put into them, and the environments in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are really quite incredible and well realized. The makeup effects are also mostly impressive, too. That being said, I’ve only once ever seen a live action adaptation or extension of a property that I ended up liking more than the original, and that was this year’s live action Cinderella. Still, that’s one exception, and none of this can overshadow the fact that Dr. Seuss’ book was already perfectly adapted decades ago by Chuck Jones in the 26-minute-long, 1967 animated TV special, complete with the perfect look and tone, and, best of all, with absolutely zero filler to pad out the original book. The same cannot be said about Ron Howard’s admirable but misguided adaptation. Read more…

REVIEW: Let the Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)

October 28, 2015 3 comments
Let the Right One InDirected by: Tomas Alfredson
Produced by: Carl Molinder, John Nordling
Screenplay by: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Edited by: Tomas Alfredson, Daniel Jonsäter
Cinematography by: Hoyte van Hoytema
Music by: Johan Söderqvist
Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar, Ika Nord, Peter Carlberg, Karin Bergquist, Mikael Rahm, Henrik Dahl, Patrik Rydmark, Rasmus Luthander, Mikael Erhardsson, Johan Sömnes, Elif Ceylan (voice)
Based on the novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Year: 2008

 

Movies about troubled youths and movies about vampires are pretty easy to come by, but mix the two together, and you’re more often than not going to end up with something that draws more comparisons to Twilight than an actual horror film. Back in 2008, however, Swedish director Tomas Alfredson partnered up with author John Ajvide Lindqvist to adapt Lindqvist’s acclaimed novel Låt den rätte komma in into a film that managed to shed any pretenses of sexy romanticism and juicy interpersonal drama and maintained a level of maturity and somber, dreadful sorrow that’s far more appropriate to both subgenres of storytelling – this, despite the fact that the film’s protagonists were far younger than either one of Twilight’s glittering nitwits. Read more…

REVIEW: Halloween (Unrated Director’s Cut, 2007)

October 9, 2014 5 comments
Halloween (2007)Directed by: Rob Zombie
Produced by: Malek Akkad, Rob Zombie, Andy Gould
Written by: Rob Zombie
Edited by: Glenn Garland
Cinematography by: Phil Parmet
Music by: Tyler Bates
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Sheri Moon Zombie, Daeg Faerch, Danielle Harris, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Kristina Klebe, Hanna R. Hall, Bill Moseley, Dee Wallace, Pat Skipper, Daryl Sabara, Skyler Gisondo, Jenny Gregg Stewart, Danny Trejo
Based on characters created by John Carpenter and Debra Hill
Year: 2007

 

Good grief. I knew this movie was going to be bad just by virtue of being one of the many films from the last decade to be a remake of a classic horror film, but this was ridiculous. Yes, after eight films – one of those being a reboot, and the final being a sequel to that reboot – Hollywood saw fit to throw the Halloween series under the bus and give it the straight up remake treatment with none other than Rob Zombie at the helm. Normally, it would be cause for concern if you had heard that a musician was taking over directing duties for a film franchise, but I’d heard that Rob Zombie had an admirable enough talent for directing horror films with The Devil’s Rejects, and so it wasn’t exactly as illogical as it may initially have sounded when he was hired to write and direct this movie. That being said, however, whatever talent he may have displayed there is noticeably absent from his remake of Halloween. Read more…

REVIEW: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

December 4, 2013 5 comments
Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerDirected by: Larry Roemer
Produced by: Arthur Rankin, Jr. (producer), Jules Bass (co-producer)
Written by: Romeo Muller, Robert L. May
Animation supervised by: Tadahito Mochinaga
Music by: Johnny Marks
Starring: Burl Ives, Billie Mae Richards, Paul Soles, Larry D. Mann, Stan Francis, Paul Kligman, Janis Orenstein, Alfie Scopp, Carl Banas, Corinne Conley, Peg Dixon
Based on the story and song written by Robert L. May
Year: 1964

 

I’m going to allow for my first 2013 Christmas movie review to make me out to be a Scrooge.

A 1964 TV special done in the medium of stop motion capture, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has become one of the most beloved and influential examples of the medium – if someone doesn’t know what the term “stop motion” means, you could undoubtedly point to Rudolph or one of its other Rankin/Bass Christmastime siblings as an example that nearly everyone will then immediately understand. It’s arguable that even the likes of The Nightmare Before Christmas owes its aesthetic style to these holiday productions, albeit with the obligatory Tim Burton-esque macabre twist, not to mention the countless spoofs, knockoffs, and affectionate references that followed across TV and film. Beyond the aesthetics and styling, however, this short TV movie also stands as one of the longest running TV traditions, airing annually each Christmas season since it was first shown. Read more…

Review: “Mean Girls”

May 30, 2013 2 comments
Mean GirlsDirected by: Mark Waters
Produced by: Lorne Michaels, Tony Shimkin, Louise Rosner, Jill Messick
Written by: Tina Fey (screenplay)
Edited by: Wendy Greene Bricmont
Cinematography by: Daryn Okada
Music by: Rolfe Kent
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Jonathan Bennett, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Ana Gasteyer, Neil Flynn, Amy Poehler
Based on the book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman
Year: 2004

 

Girls are awful. As a guy who had to go through his fair share of teasing from other guys from pretty much kindergarten onward, I can say with all honesty that no matter how mean the guys were, nothing compared to the way I saw my female peers treat one another and the guys they were around. One particular incident in 7th grade, where I had a note asking a particular girl out along with a ribbon rose made my mom in what I thought was the girl’s favorite color, has possibly tainted my romantic life forever thanks to the girls teasing me about getting the color wrong and the girl I was asking out taking until the end of the school year to tell me “Yeah… sorry, no,” after months of her flirting with the guy who picked on me. My sister had it even worse, however, being — well, another girl. The stories I heard from her make my experiences seem like a fairy tale with a happily ever after. The types of girls she dealt with apparently either did not see or understand Carrie – they even pulled the old nominating my sister for homecoming queen trick. Luckily, my sister heard about a scheme and managed to avoid whatever it was they were planning. Read more…

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