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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Friday, 28 September 2012

Old Dogs


Old Dogs
2009
Comedy
Rated: PG
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Robin Williams, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Bernie Mac, Rita Wilson, Seth Green, Dax Shepard, Luis Guzman, Matt Dillon, Justin Long, Lori Loughlin
Directed By: Walt Becker
Rating: 2 out of 10
Outline
Two guys trying to land the biggest work account of their lives have to 7 year kids thrust into their world to throw them for a loop.


Review
There is an old adage that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Well I have never been a dog owner so I can’t rightfully say if that is true or not. What I can tell you after seeing this film is you can’t teach old dogs to be funny apparently. Old Dogs is the story of Dan and Charlie. They are lifelong best friends and partners at a sports marketing firm. They are in the hunt for a huge account with businessmen from Japan when they are forced to look after 7 year old twins.

It is a harsh reality that our childhood stars are getting older. Because of this actors seem to be out of place or seemingly going for a last hurrah on screen when it comes to comedy. Because of the surprising success of the film Wild Hogs we will be inundated with similar films where age is a primary factor. I know some people will say I should ease up in my criticism of this film as it is a family oriented flick. To that I say family films can still suck as you will find out if you watch this. It will literally take you only a couple of minutes to realize this is not going to be a good movie. The film starts off with us getting to meet Dan and Charlie as they prepare for their meeting with the Japanese. We are treated to an unfunny flashback story where Dan has a drunken escapade in Miami and gets a stupid tattoo on his chest. This is a good barometer of where the film is going to try and get its laughs from. From there the twins are introduced into the story and the comedy is basically generated from 3 areas. The first area is that Dan and Charlie are old. This is beaten into you for where ever they go with the kids they are mistaken for grandparents (hilarious right.) The second area is that Dan and Charlie are often mistaken to be in a same sex relationship. This angle could have worked but yet it comes up short on almost every occasion. The last area is people continuously getting hit with different objects. Mostly people get hit in the crotch but no appendages are safe in this film. The slapstick humor in this movie will illicit little mirth from any viewer.

Talking about mailing in your acting performances in this film. Dan played by Robin Williams and Charlie played by John Travolta are a tired looking pair. They have zero chemistry in this film. Williams does the usual over the top shtick that I have never found funny. Travolta goes for the older lothario type performance and it comes off as creepy. Literally any older comedic actor in Hollywood could have been inserted into these roles and pulled it off. They are also supported mostly by awful characters. Rita Wilson playing a cross eyed hand model and Luis Guzman playing a food eating handy man are the worst of the bunch. Wilson’s character is just puzzling in its conception and Guzman’s character is sad. There are two positives to the supporting cast though. The first is Justin Long playing a camp troop leader. He is an angry redneck who gets into it with Charlie for stealing his women and he has a couple of funny lines. The second good performance is given by Dan and Charlie’s coworker Craig played by Seth Green. Green is hilarious in a film where nothing else is. An encounter with a gorilla at a zoo had me in hysterics and mostly his character is what makes this film rated a two instead of lower. The rest of the cast is blah with the late Bernie Mac and Kelly Preston turning in rather forgettable performances.

As the film travels along its mundane and limp trajectory it is clear no one involved with this film knows comedy. The story is awful and you will not care about a single thing that happens in this film. Dan and Charlie in their quest to stay young take drugs, get spray tans, go camping, and do lots of other young stuff with the twins which is neither heartfelt nor humorous. The film runs at a rather short 88 minutes and yet it feels like it is three hours long. You will be hoping five minutes in that someone takes these old dogs out back and puts them out of their misery Old Yeller style. If you haven’t got the tone of my review by now, please for the love of dog (reverse) don’t watch this.

Director Walt Becker knows comedy so there is no excuse for this film. He has the movies Van Wilder and Buying the Cow on his resume so this film puzzles me. Clearly they are trying to cash in with the audience without thought to content. The movie Wild Hogs sucked and this was worse. The mostly bland characters and weak story will cater to very few. I found myself constantly checking the clock to see how much was left to sit through. The casting, flow, comedic scenes, and the characters are all off and I am sure Becker knows it.

I cannot recommend this film as it has all the appeal of watching an Old Dog crap on your carpet.

T Factor + If you like family films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your films to have risqué humor than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Wild Hogs, the Bucket List 

Clerks


Clerks
1994
Comedy
Rated: R
Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Marilyn Ghigliotti
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Rating: 8 out of 10
Outline
This is the story and lives of two convenience store workers as they go about their daily jobs.


Review
I understand why people go all six to midnight when discussing Quinton Tarantino and his mastery of dialogue. What I don’t understand is why most people never mention Kevin Smith on that same level. While Clerks may not be his funniest work it certainly is his best in my mind and that is achieved through its brilliant dialogue. Clerks is the simple story of Dante and Randal. Dante runs a convenience store and Randal runs the adjoining movie rental store. This film follows them as they run their stores during the course of one day.

This movie just worked on every level for me. From its pink collar theme to its absurd characters I thought this movie was genius. Following the day and life of Dante and Randal is as entertaining as it gets. A quick introduction to the underachieving Dante and we find ourselves opening the convenience store with him. A little later a totally slacking Randal emerges to open the next door movie store. I am not sure if I liked this movie so much because I used to work in retail or because it is so well written (Most likely a combination.) Either way this film is mesmerizing. What this film basically breaks down into is the day and the life of a lowly retail worker. You follow Dante as he deals with the dregs of terrible and eclectic customers in a small town. You also follow Randal whose abuse and disdain of the customers is a hilarious watch. Dante is the straighter laced character that most people can relate to. Although he might not take pride in his occupation he still wants to do a decent job with it. Randal is what most everyone wants to be as he says what most people are thinking and somehow gets away with it. The film is at its best though when the pair of them just talk about life. Topics like relationships, sex, working acumen, movies, and anything else you can think of gets bandied about between them and you will just appreciate the amazing if not always deep discussions.

Dante is played by Brian O’Halloran and Randal is played by Jeff Anderson. While they might not be the best actors out there it doesn’t detract from the film. There is something about their open and honest performances that you can get immersed quite easily in. Would this film have worked with well known actors? Probably not. It is something in their not so easy relationship that is believable. They also should be commended for long scenes of unedited dialogue. They do well on their own but the chemistry while chatting between these polar opposite characters is undeniable. The rest of the cast deliver believable and interesting performances. From muscle bound jocks, to drug dealers, to angry customers this film is a bevy of small town characters that fit perfectly into the fold.

As the film progresses you will start to really like Dante for his underdog role and you will like Randal for being a dick. They are opinionated and hilarious and that is what makes this film so appealing. Sure there is low brow humor but this film is all about the dialogue. Closing the store to play hockey on the roof or to attend a funeral may not be on the list of typical convenience store happenings. Never the less though it just seems right. As the film comes to a shocking end involving Dante and a couple of his love interests, you will come to realize you loved most of these characters in this film for their individual charms and unique personalities (be it low brow or not).

Director and writer Kevin Smith has put forth a fantastic little film in his debut. Choosing to shoot it in black and white only adds to the charm. It is funny with its odd and sometimes irreverent characters. The long scenes of unedited dialogue are masterful and the casting even more so. While the film could be funnier I still felt it had enough of a comical edge to keep most typical comedy lovers interested. This is just a great shot film on a shoestring budget and kudos to Mr. Smith.

I recommend this film to everyone looking for a different comedy with great dialogue.

T Factor + If you like Kevin Smith films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like main stream comedy then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Chasing Amy, Mallrats

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Case 39


Case 39
2009
Drama (Horror)
Rated: R
Running Time:
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Bradley Cooper, Ian McShane, Jodelle Ferland
Directed By: Christian Alvart
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Outline
A social worker takes on a case where the parents are abusing their child. As she gets more involved it is clear there is more than meets the eye to this story and her life starts to unravel.


Review
To really make a decent horror you must have scenes that stick with the viewer long after the film is over. It could be a scene with a violent or bloody death. It could be disturbing imagery that makes you shiver just thinking about it. It could also be something as simple as a creature jumping out of the darkness. Bottom line is you need something to make your film stand out. This film will basically be forgotten by the time the credits start to role. Case 39 is the story of a social worker named Emily. She fights to save a girl from her abusive parents only to discover there is something more sinister to the situation.

When the most frightening thing is seeing Renee Zellwegers botched Botox on Blu-Ray you know the film is in trouble. Or that makes this the scariest movie in recent memory depending on how much of an ass you want to be. Anyways I knew very little about this film going in so I was pleasantly surprised with how this film started out. You are introduced to Emily as she struggles to balance her hectic workload as a social worker. The films darker cinematography allows you to get into the slower storyline a little easier as you know something violent is just around the corner. The film captured my attention as Emily’s battle to get a little girl named Lily away from her parents is a great watch. A scene where she interviews the accused abusive parents will give you the willies. After the solid opening, this film degenerates into random scenes of violence and destruction. It is asking the viewer to go on this strange journey with no real resolution to it. Throughout this whole ordeal with Lily and her parents Emily is plagued by bad luck and personal tragedy. This will hardly register with the viewer as it just isn’t interesting or frightful to watch.

The casting is not off in this film and that is why it doesn’t make sense this film was so awful. Emily played by Rene Zellweger is pretty good with the role as a social worker. She was believable during the more frantic moments and was a good lead in a genre she is not normally known for. Her costars Bradley Cooper playing a child psychologist Doug, and Ian McShane playing a detective Mike both allow the story to flourish where it needs to. The only thing off casting wise was the girl Lily played by Jodelle Ferland. She is obnoxious to look at and it detracts from the film. She is okay as the abused child but there is something about her delivery that is akin to hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. She is cringe worthy for most of the film and should have been recast.

As the film progresses you will quickly realize that this will be a movie no one will ever talk about. The strange occurrences happening to Emily are laughable instead of scary. The people dying in this film are murdered either off camera or in such stupid ways that it doesn’t work. There is no excuse for a film to have such pitiful kill sequences when it is Rated R. The slightly religious undertone of this film is just an excuse to throw big insects, large dogs, body possession, and hallucinations at the viewers with no affect. Sure a scene where child psychologist Doug interviews Lily about her living situation is bone chilling but that is the only scene I really remember standing out. You are supposed to feel the plight of Emily as this case unravels her world but all you really feel is contempt for the lame visuals and predictable story. The film slowly makes its way to a rather pitiful ending and you will be left wondering who this movie was even supposed to be targeting.

Director Christian Alvart clearly needs to brush up on his horror films. This film gets the slower dialogue scenes down but when it comes to the big payoff kills it falls way short. Also this film plays out more like a PG-13 rated film and there is no excuse for that. Blood should flow freely and the bodies should pile up but this movie never satisfies in that department. The camera work is decent and the casting was on par but this film never stood out in a positive way though. This is a disappointing performance from Alvart on a decent premised script (Ray Wright).

I cannot recommend this film as not only is it not thrilling, people will already be saying Renee Zellweger was in a movie called Case 39?

T Factor + If you like exorcism styled movies this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your horror bloody and gory this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Unborn, The Uninvited. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lockout


Lockout
Action (Sci-Fi)
2012
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Peter Stormare
Directed By: James Mather, Stephen St. Leger
Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Outline
A man travels to a space prison to rescue the president’s daughter and to clear his name from a frame job.


Review
If you have nerd tendencies like me than you have spent some time in your life perusing the SyFy channel. In these perusals I always find things like Arachnaquake and Octopus versus Shark (Don’t quote me on those titles.) They are shows that must have an audience as they show up quite regularly on television. This is where we find ourselves with this film. Well it is obviously not as bad as what I just mentioned it no doubt is catering to that sort of audience. Lockout is the futuristic story of a guy named Snow. He has been convicted of a crime/treason that he didn’t commit and now has a chance to have the charges dropped. The problem is to do so he has to travel to a space prison harboring the meanest criminals on earth. His mission: to recover the president’s daughter who has been taken hostage by the prisoners and return her safely.

This movie plays out very much like the movie Demolition Man but in space. The world’s most dangerous prisoners are cryogenically frozen but are about to wake up. I like how the film isn’t trying to be anything other than a low budget action flick. It has minimal story and lots of B grade action. It introduces us to the key players early and then basically jumps right to the break out on the space prison. The way the prisoners escape is hideously stupid. It shows in 70 years time although technology will be super advanced our brains will have regressed. Apparently a metal detector on a spaceship cost too much money to check for weapons. Of course in addition to the security lapse the president’s daughter would be there at the exact moment the escape happens. None of that bothered me though as this film was clearly not going for substance. Snow gets introduced into the prison and the fun begins. When you have almost 500 prisoners on board the space station you know the body count is going to be high. This is where the film falters though. Snow uses bombs and guns to kill these prisoners but the lack of budget and the lack of realism stop this movie from working. If the film played out more like the Duke Nukem video game I think this film could have worked. Having blood and body parts being strewn about everywhere would have been a better flow to this film. Alas we are left with lots of action and kills but no big payoffs as it is mostly left to your imagination.

Snow played by Guy Pearce is why this movie was better than I thought it was going to be. His sarcastic and dickish delivery makes this movie fun. He never gets frazzled even when he is in a death defying position. While some might find this off putting I thought it only added to the feel of this film. The president’s daughter Emilie is played by Maggie Grace and she basically was filling in any attractive blond actress here. I don’t think it was her fault it just wasn’t a great role. The prisoners don’t really play huge roles except for casualty fodder but they have the look and demeanor and that is all you need.

As the film progresses you get a little action outside the space prison. Military space ships fighting the space prison's defence system is a nice change of scenery for the film if not visually anything to write home about. Most of the story takes place inside the prison itself though. You basically follow Snow around the interior as he tries to lead Emilie to safety. Of course they encounter many convicts and obstacles along the way but that is to be expected. The film also tries to go unnecessarily deeper with the story as not only is Snow there to save Emilie he is also there to prove he got framed (of course in a blazing case of coincidence that proof of his innocence is on that same space prison). As things head to its standard end I couldn’t help but feel this film had potential. It wasn’t as bad as I expected and this will definitely have an audience it just isn't my taste.

First time full feature length directors James Mather and Stephen St. Leger do an okay job with this film. The budget restraints and rating clearly hampered their artistic license. The film had great pacing and the casting was correct in most places. I would like to see what they could do with a higher budget but overall this film was a success on their part.

I cannot recommend this film but if you like B grade action flicks it certainly is worth checking out.

T Factor + Like cheesy action films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need graphic violence in your films this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Doom, Serenity.   

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Jersey Girl


Jersey Girl
2004
Comedy (Romantic)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 102 minutes
Starring: Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, George Carlin, Raquel Castro, Jason Biggs
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
A newly single dad moves in with his elderly father to help raise his daughter.


Review
I am not sure why everyone is so down on this film. Critics, Kevin Smith fans, even Kevin Smith himself bash this film on a regular basis. I am not sure if it has to do with seeing Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez on screen together again (see Gigli) or because it is not your traditional Kevin Smith film with crass humor. Whatever the reason I think everyone is wrong in regards to this movie. Will it blow you away? No, it certainly won’t but if you are looking for a sweet romantic comedy with some decent moments than this movie should work for you. Jersey Girl is the story of Ollie Trinke. He suffers through an unexpected tragedy and mental collapse at work. He must take his infant daughter back to his home state of New Jersey to live with his dad to get his life back in order.

So this film is all about your mindset going in. If you are expecting the usual comments like “Snoochie Boochies” and familiar characters that have made Smith a cult icon then of course you will be disappointed. If you go in looking for a light romantic comedy then you will come out pleasantly pleased. Jersey Girl starts off and we are introduced to Ollie Trinke and his high profile job as a celebrity publicist. He is young, rich, and successful. His world is about to come crashing down around him with a new baby and him being a single dad. It is in this struggle between a demanding job and love for his daughter that this movie will win over the viewer. Ollie moves into his childhood home with his dad and the three generational trio is a fun watch. Are they laughing out loud funny? Not for the most part of the film but their relationship is one that is warm and easy to get into. Ollie’s affection for his daughter seems genuine and you want them to always be happy.

Ollie Trinke is played by the Kevin Smith regular Ben Affleck. He is good in the role as a publicist and amateur father but he is misses the mark on some of his delivery. A scene where he cries about hurting his daughter is laughable instead of being touching. It doesn’t ruin the movie but with some better acting during some of the key emotional scenes could have made this movie a better watch. Ollie’s dad played by the late George Carlin was a good character but also has moments of substandard acting. Ollie’s love interest Maya is played by Liv Tyler. I normally am not a fan of Tyler’s but she plays a quirky video store employee quite well. Lastly is Ollie’s daughter Gertie played by Raquel Castro. She is good in the overly adult way all kids are in films. She is cute and it is easy to like her. Now I do pick on the acting but to be honest they were all right for their respective roles and I don’t think I would have changed any of them.

As the film fast forwards seven years into the future the Trinke clan is still under the same roof and are no less fun to watch. Ollie is a great dad and totally devoted to his child. He struggles with his life though as he wants his old publicist job back while dealing with his confusing emotions surrounding Maya. Of course conflict arises from his deviation from the status quo but it is in this conflict that the movie can thrive. As the movie heads to its predictable ending it still somehow satisfies and it is easy to accept. The film will never amaze you but the story is fun and can get serious when it needs to. Plus any film where there is a kids production of Sweeney Todd can’t be all bad right?

Director and writer Kevin Smith makes a foray into the world of traditional romantic comedies and does a solid job with this film. His characters are relatable and believable and the story is an easy watch. Sure the jokes could have been funnier or come more often but it doesn’t make this a bad film. The musical score enhances this story about a single dad who has lost his way but still is on the right path.

I give this movie a recommendation but especially to people who like romantic comedies. Get over Jennifer Lopez being in it and just enjoy the flick.

T Factor + If you like romantic comedies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are expecting a traditional Kevin Smith film then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Raising Helen, 500 Days of Summer.

Quarantine


Quarantine
2008
Action (Horror, Zombie)
Rated: R
Running Time: 89 minutes
Starring: Jennifer Carpenter, Jay Hernandez
Directed By: John Erick Dowdle
Rating: 5 out of 10
Outline
A bunch of people are quarantined within a building with an unknown disease that makes people super aggressive.


Review
So you might be questioning the zombie label to this film. I know this might be blasphemous to zombie nerds out there. The movie plays out so similar to a zombie film though that I thought it warranted the label. So if this bothers you I apologize but really stop being so stiff. Quarantine is the story of a news crew doing a piece on some local fire firefighters. The news crew tags along with the firefighters to a call at an apartment building for a medical emergency. As they assess the situation they get shut inside with the residents as the CDC has quarantined the building without explanation. The trapped people must get to the bottom of what is making the residents sick and violently aggressive before everyone becomes infected with the unknown disease.

This film is based on the wildly popular Spanish film called REC. It plays out in much the same manner as REC with an obvious bigger budget. Now a bigger budget doesn’t necessarily mean better but I liked and disliked both films for different reasons. All though they are almost scene for scene the same movie they come across as different films. Fans of the handheld/found footage style will be pleased as that is how this movie is shot. Quarantine starts off with an almost gratuitous opening scene. We get to see the news crew and firefighters interact at the fire station. The intent is for you to build interest and buy into the obvious main characters. If I wasn’t so against it I would almost say fast forward to when they arrive at the building as the opening is a tedious watch. You will never care for the characters in any emotional way so why add an opening with filler background material is a mystery to me. The childish banter and interactions between the characters is hard to sit through but it is worth the wait for what is to come. As they arrive at the building where the emergency call originated from the film really picks up. An encounter with an old woman suffering obvious signs of distress and dementia is chilling. Her unpredictable movements and animal like grunts sets the tone for a film with some great scenes. The shaky camera work only adds to the tension within the building. The residents are scared, the firefighters are scared, and you will be scared as the disease takes hold. They are trapped inside a building with something that turns people into aggressive monsters and it is a cool premise.

The acting is barely passable in this film. At times I found it to be great but for the most part it was below average which really hurt this film. I found during the downtimes when the characters were conversing they seemed fake and indifferent. When they were scared I found most performances forced and unbelievable. The news reporter Angela was played by Jennifer Carpenter. There is something about her that I don’t really like. I know it is superficial but her weird mouth and eyes set too far apart is distracting to me. She does an okay job when she is scared so I will give her a passing grade. Firefighter Jake played by Jay Hernandez is only okay as well. He has the look of a firefighter but doesn’t really deliver in the films key moments. The rest of the cast is a smorgasbord of cultural demographics found rarely outside of the T.V. show Glee. It is added to add conflict but was glaringly stupid.

As the film progresses I found myself wrapped up in how they are going to try and survive the disease and escape the building. The violence is painfully abrupt and will have you saying WTF in a couple of surprising occasions. The characters interactions are so stupid though that this film never gets where it needs to be. After one woman gets violent and then others start showing the same symptoms you wouldn’t hang out right next to said person. The film is like that from start to finish. They are trapped in a building that raises the CDC’s concern and yet they mingle together like on holiday. When the characters are not making dumb decisions they are constantly bickering over stupid things. The contrived dialogue gets boring really quickly in this film. Lastly the film spends hours building up the tension only to see the situation inside the building breakdown in a matter of minutes. The total lack of attention to time is silly. As the film gets to a pretty scary but ultimately stupid ending the film never really won me over. Yes the camera work is cool (when they are not constantly reminding you why they are filming everything) and when the frights do come they are above average and do have elements of the Dawn of the Dead remake.  People are bitten and blood flows freely but it just never fully connects with the viewer.

Director John Erick Dowdle botched this film in many places. His terrible opening sequence and poor casting choices made this film fail when it should have worked. The found footage camera work is cool and the premise is sound. A virulent disease that turns people into vicious monsters has a large built in audience but he just couldn't capture the right elements to make this a decent horror. Sure this film is entertaining and at times great it just doesn’t do enough right to make it worthwhile.

I cannot recommend this film well at times entertaining there are too many flaws to make it sound.

T Factor + If you like zombie films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like handheld shot films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: REC, Chernobyl Diaries.     
    

Monday, 24 September 2012

Hitch


Hitch
2005
Comedy (Romantic)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 118 minutes
Starring: Will Smith, Kevin James, Amber Valletta, Eva Mendes
Directed By: Andy Tennant
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Outline
A consultant known as the date doctor is helping men around the city land the women of their dreams.


Review
Romantic comedies are what most males dread to hear when having to watch a movie with their significant others. Names like Hugh Grant, Sandra Bullock, Kate Hudson, Matthew McConaughey, and Katherine Heigl make most men cringe in terror. Don’t fret my friends Will Smith is helping you out in more ways than one. Not only does he fight off alien invaders from taking over the planet he is now making a genre tolerable for you alpha males out there. Hitch is the story of a guy who plays the date doctor. Hitch is a consultant who makes ordinary guys more appealing to their true loves. Hitch takes on his hardest case in Albert Brennaman an overweight tax accountant in love with the supermodel Allegra Cole. While juggling that he must also deal with his own budding relationship with a gossip columnist Sarah.

The film does things the right way. It gives you a quick introduction to Hitch working his relationship magic. He helps the average Joe go out and land his one and only. You get to see all the techniques he uses to win women over. From there it quickly translates to Hitch helping Albert land the ultimate woman. It also focuses on Hitch trying to woo his own special lady to less than stellar results. The movie works on both fronts. Hitch is a master with what each individual lady wants. In this knowledge he teaches Albert how to be a ladies’ man. Getting to see a fat man dance to hip hop, getting his back waxed, learning how to kiss properly will generate a generous amount of laughs. On the flip side seeing Hitch trying to work his own magic is also funny. This confident and suave guy can't get anything right in courting his love interest Sarah. Everything that could go wrong does and when things like his shirt gets ripped off in a taxi car door you can’t help but laugh.

Hitch played by Will Smith is the right call on so many levels. He is perfect as the date doctor as he has the look and chemistry to nail this role. He is complimented perfectly by Albert Brennaman played by Kevin James. Brennaman is this sweet but ultimately lost cause when it comes to the ladies. He bumbles his way through encounters and needs Hitch to steer him in the right direction. Smith and James are made for each other on screen. Their give and take rapport makes this movie. There is something so right in their performances that even when things are not funny they are still fun to watch.

Super model Allegra Cole played by Amber Valletta and gossip columnist Sarah played by Eva Mendes work great opposite the gentlemen. Allegra is polar opposite in looks and stature to Albert but their relationship is still believable and fun. Sarah is a strong willed woman and her and Hitch fence with quick wit and interesting dialogue. All in all Will Smith may be the funniest in this movie but you will not care who is on screen and that is a good thing.

The film is such a simple premise and yet it works. You want Hitch to be with his love interest. You want Albert to be with his love interest. You will just have a good time watching two different but equally funny budding romances. As the film makes its way to the classic romantic comedy ending it does so to a pretty upbeat soundtrack that compliments the film very well. All in all, this entire movie will win you over with its non aggressive humor and likeable characters. It does so without being entirely sappy making this a great movie night choice for a guy looking to compromise. It is just a good time.

Director Andy Tennant takes a very funny Kevin Bisch script and just owns it. Tennant is no stranger to romantic comedies (Fools Rush In, Fool’s Gold, Sweet Home Alabama) so it was not a surprise he did a good job with this. What is a surprise is how appealing this film will be to both sexes and that is a rare thing. His pacing is perfect and while the story heads to a predictable end it no doubt takes a funny and interesting path to get there. The casting was solid and the jokes come at frequent intervals making this film work.

I recommend this film for everyone who needs a light watch and a fun story.

T Factor + If you like Kevin James as an actor this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your humor vulgar and crass this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Love Actually, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

Deep Rising


Deep Rising
1998
Action (Horror, Sci Fi)
Rated: R
Running Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Djimon Hounsou, Kevin J. O’Connor
Directed By: Stephen Sommers
Rating: 1.5 out of 10
Outline
A group of Hijackers take over a luxury liner only to find out it has been infested with man eating sea monsters.


Review
I have a hard time not liking these types of films as I had a special affinity to them growing up. Movies like Leviathan and DeepStar Six are just a couple of films that I loved as a kid. Don’t get me wrong, I know they are awful films, they just have a place in my heart. Now I watched this movie and my god it is setting the standard for awful monster movies. Deep Rising is the story of the world’s most expensive cruise ship. A bunch of hijackers commandeer the ship so they can loot it, only to find out they got there second. The boat is virtually abandoned and what’s worse is the evil sea creatures are still on board.

I am just going to reiterate, you didn’t just read the plot summary wrong. Man eating sea creatures have basically taken over the Titanic to feed. To top it all off, a group of mercenaries are en route to pull off one of the biggest heists of all time. I couldn’t make this up if I wanted to. Why they need two angles to this story is quite astounding really. They should have gone with either the monster angle or the heist angle. Combining the two themes just made a mess of the storylines. Obviously monster movies must be given a ton of leeway in terms of realism. Amphibious sea monsters that live 20000 feet below the surface that have a special hankering for human flesh is preposterous. If done well though then who really cares? The problem is the sea creatures were cheap and poorly designed, so the film never works. We are given quick introductions to the key players on the cruise ship, and on the hijacker’s team. It does not take a fancy degree to realize who lives and who is monster fodder in this one. The film really doesn’t build any suspense as there are lots of people to be killed off. So the hijackers climb aboard and the killing fun begins. The problem is the film is basically shot in two sequences. The first sequence is having everyone with a gun line up and fire their guns at the sea monsters. The second sequence is having a sea monster drag away an unsuspecting person, inevitably to see a bucket of blood to be tossed on a wall or floor. Most of this film is left to the imagination as the monsters and the people dying are largely doing it off camera.

The acting is the best thing about this movie. I don’t mean that in a good way either. It is so bad it actually makes this film easier to watch. The dialogue is atrocious and even with a large cast no one shines. The best part about the film (yes sarcasm) was John Finnegan played by Treat Williams. He comes off as this second rate Han Solo and was an odd choice for this film. He is ridiculously out of place on screen as a loveable smuggler for hire. He also spouts off things like “Jeez Louise” when he is scared, only adding to his performance. The next terrible performance was by cruise line passenger and petty crook Trillian played by Famke Janssen. Sure she is pretty and that’s about it. Her character is added for a love interest aspect, but fails miserably. Nothing says romance while seeing people eaten alive on a frequent basis. Lastly the hijackers are such clichéd bad guys, it is also quite funny.

So I haven’t looked into the motivations of this film that deeply. I can only assume they were going for a campy it is so bad it is good type of film. What came off was it was so bad it was bad type of film. I was shocked to find out this film was shot in 1998 as it has a late 80’s early 90’s look to it. The survivors basically run around this large boat trying to survive as they get picked off by the sea monsters. What makes this film so hard to watch is its hackneyed dialogue and misplaced humor. The film never chooses its spots well. Is it supposed to be horror or is it supposed to be comedy? I could never figure it out. As the film makes it way to its predictable ending, you will be treated with cheaply thought up creatures, a very high but mostly invisible body count, and lastly a chase around the inside of the luxury liner on a Sea-Doo that shook my patience to its very core. Overall this film was garbage.

This was director and writer Stephen Sommers first venture into the action genre. He failed miserably at every step of the way. He seems to have learned from his mistakes though as films like the Mummy and the Mummy Returns are not horrible watches. Sommers never chose one genre and stuck with it, so this film lacked all the key ingredients to make it good. The creatures were not scary, the characters were not interesting, and lastly, much of this film was implied. Horror and comedy can be done well together (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland) it just needs a very tight script, and charismatic characters to pull off.

I cannot recommend this film and while its porn name title sounds intriguing, the only rising that will occur is your blood pressure due to time wasted anger.

T Factor + If you like C grade horrors this could score higher on your rating scale.

T Factor – If you like strong dialogue in your films this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Anaconda, The Cave.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Sorority Row


Sorority Row
Action (Horror)
2009
Rated: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Starring: Briana Evigan, Margo Harshman, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes, Carrie Fisher
Directed By: Stewart Hendler
Rating: 2 out of 10
Outline
A college prank goes wrong and now the perpetrators are being stalked by a serial killer.


Review
Iconic killers in cinematic history have to get their start somewhere. To be memorable in the horror genre you must have a thirst for killing and a signature weapon. Freddy has his finger blades, Jason has his machete, both Michael Myers and Ghostface use large knives. In this film a monk garbed killer uses a modified tire iron. I am not making that up. The killer took the time to smelt a tire iron with a blade and arrow tip on it. That should tell you two things. The first thing is this killer will not make the horror hall of fame. The second thing is this film is going to be a pile of crap. Sorority Row is the tale of 5 sorority sisters. After a prank goes fatally wrong they decide to cover it up instead of facing the music. After things settle down the 5 girls are stalked by a serial killer seemingly bent on revenge.

This film followed the how to shoot a horror movie for dummies book to a tee. Get a bunch of attractive females (and Rumer Willis). Have them scantily clad throughout the entire movie. Make the killer have the ability to be everywhere at once. Have overtly creepy supporting characters that give long, lingering, and hateful looks to add suspicion. Lastly have the killer display an Americas Got Talent ability to kill people in the strangest ways possible and voila, there is your film. The film starts off and we get to see the girls partying up in the sorority house. Naked guys and girls dance and frolic to blaring music and the drinks flow freely.  The quick introduction to the girls will make one thing very clear. That is you will be rooting for the killer. The tired and vapid conversations between the five girls just grate on you. You end up hating them right from the start of this film and that never goes away. After the prank goes wrong the film settles into the standard who is the killer type of film. Is it the cranky sorority house mother? Is it one of their boyfriends? Is it a ghost? Is it one of the girls? Really it doesn’t matter because the story is so weak. In a scenario where the sorority means more than life this film never had a chance to succeed.

The acting is offensively bad. I will not go that deep into it but the girls are clearly there more for their looks than acting ability. They can carry a conversation but it is hard to listen to them converse and bicker without cringing at the dialogue. The worst of the bunch is Ellie played by Rumer Willis. She clearly went to the acting school of screaming for no reason. She screams at everything and anything in this film and it gets old quite quickly. This is not a performance she will look back fondly at.

As the killer stalks the girls they are clearly in a lot of trouble. He has the ability to transport and throw the tire iron from vast distances with pin point accuracy. He is a supernatural killer that is bent on revenge apparently. Even the sorority house is a horror cliché as it is under construction and creepy. Wrapped up furniture and hanging plastic sheets provide ample cover for the killer to pop out from. In a world where nudity, sex, drinking, and being bitches is the norm it is hard to feel compassion for these girls. The positives are the film is not slow and the body count is quite high. The blood flows freely from every appendage even if they are killed in the dumbest ways imaginable. As the film comes to its tepid conclusion it will make you hate director Wes Craven for making this genre so profitable. You will hate the story, hate the girls, and lastly hate the ending.

Director Stewart Hendler failed in every category for this film. A superficial story with superficial characters is never going to work. The film never was able to capture a moment of suspense. People bleed and die but it never fazes the viewer. Guessing the killer is fairly simple in this one and there is nothing wrong with a killer just using a knife to murder. He needed to bring it back to the basics as this film never had the right feel to it.

I cannot recommend this film as the parties might be dope to be at they are not much fun to watch.

T Factor + If you like your horror to be a standard stab fest than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need strong characters in your films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Scream, Valentine.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Conan the Barbarian


Conan the Barbarian
2011
Action
Rated: R
Running Time: 113 minutes
Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan
Directed By: Marcus Nispel
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Outline
A man travels the world with his sword looking for revenge on the man who destroyed his village and his life.


Review
We are in the golden age of Hollywood remakes at the moment but this film is anything but golden. Did Conan the Barbarian need to be remade or retold? Yes I think it did. Did it need to be retold like this? No and it does not do the original film justice. This is the story of Conan. He travels the world looking for the man who destroyed his home village and getting revenge for all the love ones he lost.

Getting Morgan Freeman to narrate this film is like a magic trick gone wrong. His awesome voice is supposed to give this movie the illusion of it being good. The visuals do not quite live up to what his voice is saying though. In an age where the fantasy genre has never been better this film gets left in the dust. Why would people watch this film when things like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones is so readily available?   The answer is they don’t judging by its poor box office haul. The film starts off and one is instantly reminded of the television shows Hercules or Xena but with blood. I was waiting for Gabrielle or Eolis to show up and start fighting (try and beat that nerdy reference). This movie looks like a movie. What I mean by that is the costumes and settings all look like stage props. It is hard to get into a film where rocks look like sprayed grey Styrofoam and buildings look like they are made from Paper Mache. As the film starts we get to see Conan as a child. This whole sequence is both unnecessary and boring. It is trying to show us that even as a young kid Conan is a warrior but most viewers will not care. Even the revenge scenario that stems from his village being destroyed is blah. Fast forward many years later and Conan is leaving a crimson stain through the land. He is looking to enact his revenge on the man who destroyed his village but he is always just out of reach. The action scenes are okay and the blood is a nice surprise as usually these films are PG-13. Conan kills at will and the film never deviates from this angle. He travels from city to city, slicing, stabbing, and beating his enemies into submission all to a wretched soundtrack.

Conan is played by Jason Momoa and he had some rather large shoes to fill reprising an Arnold Schwarzenegger role. He did an okay job with the portrayal. He has the look, body type, and action capability down but his dialogue and voice always seemed decidedly weak. It is too angry a performance to be enjoyed and while I know that was what he was told to do it was a little off. The rest of the cast turns in a very made for TV movie type performance. They deliver the lines and the movie progresses but there are no positive performances. Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan, Rachel Nichols are all in this movie if you are fans of theirs.

The film rolls along and just like the acting the quality of the film is also very made for TV. The camera work is terrible only driving this film lower and lower on the rating scale. To top it all off random creatures show up when you least expect it. A fake looking giant octopus or squid appears and I was wondering if they imported it straight from the movie Goonies the extended edition (another try and beat that nerd reference). There are a couple of positives though. A scene where Conan battles men made entirely of sand is actually a decent watch but there are not nearly enough of these types of fights to make the film work. The film is also very easy to watch as you know basically what you are going to get. As the film finally gets to the predictable end battle it is relatively tame in comparison to the rest of the film. It is as if they ran out of money to film a decent ending and it shows. Instead of ending on a high note the film just fizzles and dies. Conan might be a warrior but he is terrible to watch and you really don’t care if he gets his revenge. On a side note everything in this world seems to be made from the cheapest material possible. People get slammed through buildings, ship walls, floors, and other items as if they were made of tissue paper, it was quite comical.

Director Marcus Nispel is not known for quality films (Friday the 13th, Pathfinder) so it was not surprising this film was sub par. You know what you are going to get with him and that is cheesy action with very little story. Is there a market for that? Absolutely, so for me to say he did a bad job would be wrong. He needs to work on camera work and background sets though to give his films a more mainstream vibe. He made the film R rated which is to be commended in a world replete with PG-13 crap. The blood was in no short supply and that is a good thing. If the script was better this film could have worked. Overall he did an okay job for his target audience.

I cannot recommend this film as it was a very cheesy remake. I will not be surprised if Salmoneus will be selling this DVD for 2 dollars out of a bin somewhere (Last nerdy reference for a while I promise)

T Factor + If you like gratuitous violence then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need a strong storyline for your movies this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Pathfinder, Willow.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Ip Man


Ip Man
2008
Action (Martial Arts)
Rated: R
Running Time: 106 minutes
Starring: Donnie Yen
Directed By: Wilson Yip
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Outline
A man must fight for the survival of his family in occupied China during the Sino-Japanese war.


Review
Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Sammo Hung are all masters of their art. There is only one legend though and that is Bruce Lee. Of course Bruce Lee must have learned his craft somewhere and that is where the movie Ip Man finds us. This is the story of Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man and his mastery of the fighting style called Wing Chun. The film follows Ip Man’s life as he tries to live a peaceful existence with his family. That is hard to do with so many people pestering him for training. It is even harder to do with Japan’s occupation of China during World War 2 and the poverty that ensues from it.

If you are a fan of martial arts movies and haven’t seen this then you are missing out on a great film. Ip Man marches at its own pace and doesn’t seem to force any of the action. The movie starts and we are introduced to Ip Man and to his wife and son. They live a quiet existence in their nice house but that is all about to be shattered. They live in a town called Fo Shan where many martial arts masters have schools with varying techniques. All look up to Ip Man though as his fighting skills are unmatched. The film does things the right way as it gives you a taste of Ip Mans skills early on. There is not a long wait to get to see his fighting style and it is truly a great thing to behold. His brand of martial arts translates into great fight sequences that the director lets you enjoy by not doing quick editing. Like most martial arts movies the story is nothing special. They want you to get emotionally invested in Ip Man's hardships but it doesn’t seem to work. Sure there are a couple of touching scenes but the story merely serves the purpose of getting Ip Man to his next physical encounter.

Ip Man is played by another master in Donnie Yen. I did not include his name at the start of this review as he is not as well known in the North American market. He is been around forever it seems and you might recognize him from films such as Iron Monkey or Shanghai Knights. He is fantastic in this film. He portrays Ip Man almost as a Jedi Knight from Star Wars. He seems to be able to control his emotions and his super polite and humble attitude only enhances the performance. There is something so cool in watching a man with humility that can basically kill every person on the planet with his bare hands. He is just amazing to watch as he punches and kicks his way through different fight scenarios. You will be shocked at how many punches this guy can throw in such a short amount of time. He also inflicts one of the worst broken legs I have ever seen in a film (take that Seagal). He was awesome. The rest of the cast do solid jobs supporting Ip Man. There are many great fighters to be seen in this film so you won’t be disappointed in that department.

As the film progresses you will find yourself waiting for Ip Mans next fight and really nothing else. Do you care about the townspeople? Not really. Do you care about the war? Not really. Do you care about Ip Man's family? Not really. This is kind of sad as the story is really poignant it just doesn’t come off that well. Seeing a people subjugated and under occupation should be an emotional watch and yet I never really felt the populaces or his family's struggle. Really though it didn’t matter as all you wanted to see was Ip Man beat on people and this movie delivers this time and time again. Even the fight scenes that don't include Ip Man are intense and worthy of this critics praise. Some people might not appreciate the wire work as the physics of it would make Isaac Newton’s head hurt but I found it only enhanced the fighting. As the film comes to its end the viewer will be more than satisfied with a film that literally punches its way into your heart. Ip Man fights with honor, integrity, humility, and lastly he kicks some serious ass making this film a treat.

Director Wilson Yip took and interesting character and just ran with it. He uses great camera work coupled with Sammo Hung’s choreography to maximum effect. It leads to visuals you will not want to miss. The story (script by Edmond Wong) has a lot to be desired but the film is never slow. It has a perfect amount of action to story. Although the fighting is a little over the top it is also why this film is so awesome. Director Yip gives you a taste of Ip Man’s life and will leave you wanting for more.

I give this movie a big recommendation but especially to those who like martial art films. Ip Man is a character not to be missed.

T Factor + If you like Martial Art films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like subtitles this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Magnificent Butcher, Fearless.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Meet the Spartans


Meet the Spartans
2008
Comedy
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Sean Maguire, Carmen Electra, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Sorbo, Method Man
Directed By: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Rating: 1.5 out of 10
Outline
A film spoofing the movie 300.


Review
Sometimes in the course of me reviewing movies I wish I could just copy and paste a past review to save me some time. I reviewed the spoof movie Vampires Suck a couple of weeks ago and here we are again with a different film but the same lame jokes. These terrible spoof movies really follow the same formula so they all kind of blend together at this point. Alas, I am guessing no one wants to read the same review twice so here we go. Meet the Spartans is spoofing the popular film 300. It follows the tale of King Leonidas the leader of Sparta. He leads a small group of men to repel an invasion from a massive Persian army under the rule of Xerxes.

So having seen the movie 300 before watching this film will aid you in storyline perspective. It will make this film easier to follow but what it won’t do is make this film funny in any way. The film is a tired attempt at humor and its pop culture references have limited appeal. An opening scene where a Shrek looking baby vomits neon goo all over an elderly Spartan really is as good as this movie gets. If you find things like that funny then by all means this movie is for you. If you have any taste in comedy then you will understand you are about to embark on 86 minutes of really unfunny cinema. It is like this film prided itself on being dumb. It throws things into the movie like Leonidas on the game show Deal or No Deal. It also has him fighting the penguin from the film Happy Feet. This film tries to reference as many things as possible with no thought to story or flow. Let me put it this way, this film makes Martin Short seem funny.

The acting was awful but it doesn’t need to be anything above that in a film of this nature. Leonidas played by Sean Maguire actually does a solid impression of Gerard Butler (he played Leonidas in the movie 300 FYI) He is really the only redeeming quality in this film (That is not saying much.) It is too bad his jokes weren’t better because he was a great choice as the lead character. The film has many other characters but they are mostly terrible. There are actors in this movie mimicking Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears who don’t look anything like the real thing. They are so far off in the looks department that if they didn’t tell you who they were you probably couldn’t guess. Carmen Electra, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Sorbo are all in this movie if you are fans of theirs.

As the movie progresses you will find out that this film relies heavily on stupid gay jokes and technology in the wrong era jokes. Scantily clad men making sexual innuendos and using cell phones in the olden days is what passes as humor in this film. Leonidas must stop the Persian hordes by any means necessary and by that I mean ANY means necessary. He doesn’t use a sword to thwart the enemy he has to beat them at dance offs, a yo mama contest, and even fight a terrible Rocky impersonator. As the film comes to its end you will finally be relieved from a film begging for you to hate it. All I can really say is please do not watch this for any reason.

Directors and writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer must get death threats their films are so bad (See Epic Movie, Date Movie). It is like a contest for them to turn a profit with the worst possible scripts known to man. Besides the casting of the lead this film failed in almost every way. This film is a torment to watch and will illicit mostly groans from the viewer. I gave this film an extra 0.5 on the rating scale as I felt bad they made all the actors sing I Will Survive at the end of the film.

I cannot recommend this film as you will not want to meet any of these Spartans.

T Factor + If you appreciate things that are so bad they are good then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you have not seen the film 300 this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Vampires Suck, Epic Movie

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Paranormal Activity


Paranormal Activity
Action (Horror)
2007
Rated: R
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat
Directed By: Oren Peli
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
A couple is being bothered by an invisible presence. With the help of a camera they hope they can find out what it wants and get rid of it.


Review
Just like the popularity of vampires and zombies has blown up in recent years so have stories about the paranormal. Things that go bump in the night no longer just rattle chains and moan in the background. They are here solely it seems to mess with our heads. Paranormal Activity is the story of Katie and Micah. They live together in a suburban home and think the place may be haunted. Micah purchases a video camera to record the strange happenings as they try to get to the bottom of the phenomenon.

It is no secret I am a fan of the handheld/found footage style of movies. While they have oversaturated the market with them in recent years I still quite enjoy them. This movie is best watched with the lights off and the sound cranked to the max. Or it can be enjoyed with someone who is easily scared and jumpy. The movie starts off and takes the usual pattern of us meeting the characters Micah and Katie. We get to see where they live and why he is documenting everything on camera. This movie details random days and times over a month span. The film takes a predictable course of the unknown entity slowly increasing its meddling ways. The film works especially in the two polar opposite opinions of Micah and Katie. Micah is a skeptic thinking the phenomenon is something easily explained. Katie is a believer and thinks the invisible entity is malevolent in nature. No matter what you believe you get to take sides of how they rightly or wrongly deal with this problem. The film is full of eerie visuals and at times can be crap your pants scary. The entity has a flare for the dramatic and will literally have you jumping with its loud antics.

Micah and Katie played by actors Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston are passable but not the greatest in this film. It could stem from their dialogue being fairly average but they don’t deliver on some of their scenes. When they were just having normal dialogue their interaction seemed unnatural. They did do well when they were scared though and that is all you really need of them.

As the film progresses two things happen. One is that the movie gets progressively scarier. Two is that Micah and Katie start becoming unhinged. Their bickering and arguing over what the correct course of action to take only adds to the suspense of the film. Micah wants to handle this thing by himself. Katie wants to call in a paranormal expert. Having the two characters at odds was the right way to go with this film. Now obviously there are problems with this film or it would have scored higher. The frights when they do happen are very well done. They don’t happen as frequently as one would hope though. The camera work is great for a handheld film but there is no reason why any sane person would be filming at some of the more tense moments. Micah films during all of the happenings and it strains the credibility of the story a little. The story behind what the entity is and why it is there is also pretty lame. At some point a skeptic would become a believer and get the F out of Dodge when things progressively got worse but not in this film. As the film comes to its end I reflected back and really was scared at all the key moments and that is why this film worked for me. On a side note I liked how Micah let Katie sleep closest to the bedroom door even though that is where a lot of the strange things occur. A skeptic who doesn’t give up the side of his bed for any reason is aces in my book.

Director and writer Oren Peli does a great job on a miniscule budget (15,000 est.) His casting of unknown actors was the right call and he really was able to keep the viewer entertained. The story and dialogue was weak but at the end of the day people just want to be frightened. The fact he was able to do so without the typical gore should be commended. The handheld camera work and great sound really added to the overall appeal of this film. All in all a solid performance getting this movie made.

I give this movie a recommendation as it proves not all invisible things have Casper’s constitution.

T Factor – If you do not need strong dialogue in your films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like blood and gore in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Blair Witch Project, Quarantine. 

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Cold Light of Day


The Cold Light of Day
2012
Action (Thriller)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 93 minutes
Starring: Bruce Willis, Henry Cavill, Sigourney Weaver
Directed By: Mabrouk El Mechri
Rating: 3 out of 10
Outline
A man’s family is kidnapped while vacationing in Spain and he has only one day to try and save their lives.


Review
There is nothing like a film that keeps you riveted to the edge of your seat. A film so awesome you don’t want to blink in fear of missing something amazing. Picture the exact opposite of that and you will get this movie. I hadn’t even heard of this movie until a week ago and now I am wishing I still hadn’t. The Cold Light of Day is the story about Will who is a young entrepreneur. He is vacationing in Spain when his family suddenly disappears and it is up to him to find out why.

I cannot express to you how thoroughly bad this movie is. It uses the same formula as the movie Taken but does not execute anything well in the slightest. Instead of Will having a particular set of skills he has no skills. The movie starts off with the introduction to Will and his family as they vacation in beautiful Spain. I liked the location for this story as Spain is an unusual spot for a thriller like this to take place. Usually movies where characters are running for their lives take place in major cities like New York or Los Angeles. So seeing beautiful styled buildings as Will runs for his life is a refreshing change. The movie doesn’t get going until Will’s family is taken and this is where the movie just doesn’t get it right at all. Will is stuck in a tight spot (Said like George Clooney from O Brother, Where Art Thou?). At the end of the day though, he is basically a kid running from professional killers and hired hit men. What starts off with a very unbelievable scene where Will narrowly escapes being shot escalates into a movie where that is the sole premise. Will runs and drives through the city at random firing a gun he has no practice with and takes on a multitude of bad guys. Will fires at the bad guys and the bad guy’s fire at Will, all with the precision of a drunken male teen peeing at a dorm toilet.

The lead Will played by Henry Cavill was below average in his performance. He runs through Spain like a mad man and does not get the viewer to care remotely about his predicament. I am not saying he won’t be a good Superman (Man of Steel 2013) but it is just a disappointing lead up to that film.

Bruce Willis plays Will’s dad Martin and he dialed in this role adding nothing but a celebrity name to this movie. A family friend Carrack played by Sigourney Weaver also seems to be in this film just for another name. Her performance is neither convincing nor fun to watch. All in all most of the characters in this film just go through the motions as they say their lines.

As the film carries along the viewer is treated to car chase scenes that are choppy and over edited. There are lots of gun fights where everyone seems to get hit but Will. The guns themselves seem to have unlimited ammo, and when the film does slow down the story is so broken and unbelievable it cannot be enjoyed. In a city where Will knows no one and doesn’t speak the language he gets around surprisingly well. Random encounters where people help him with no questions asked and also characters that make stupid non plausible decisions just adds to the chaos which is this movie. When the movie comes to its end you realize that it was basically an hour and a half of Will running around Spain like a chicken with his head cut off. You will not care for the story, you will not care if Will survives, you will not care if he saves his family, and finally you will not care to watch another thriller for a long time. With so many great movies of this ilk out there I found this film plain and quite frankly pointless.

Director Mabrouk El Mechri put together a very puzzling film. His camera work is spotty. His casting is made for household names instead of the right fit for the role. The action is choppy and uneventful. The story is rife with contrived plot and stupid characters. Lastly the films pace is way too frantic to be enjoyed. He failed basically across the board on this film except for having it based in Spain.

I cannot recommend this film for many reasons but mainly because the worlds next superman is boring as hell as an action star.

T Factor + If you like movies where the protagonist is on the run for his life than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you have seen lots of thriller movies before than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Taken, The Fugitive.