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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, 29 March 2013

Quarantine 2: Terminal


Quarantine 2: Terminal
Horror
2011
Rated: R
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Josh Cooke
Directed By: John Pogue
Rating: 1 out of 10
Outline
A plane full of passengers is quarantined at an airport terminal after they are exposed to a deadly virus.


Review
I am not sure why they make 4 or 5 sequels to every horror movies these days but here we are. After an entertaining but mediocre first installment, we find ourselves with the second Quarantine film, that is best left unseen. This film has all the appeal of catching a horrible disease or having to watch Nicolas Cage do Shakespeare. Quarantine 2 is the story of a plane flight afflicted with a mysterious virus. After the plane is forced to land, the passengers are quarantined in an airplane baggage terminal.


What do 5 dollars and a dream get you? Apparently, the answer is a horrible sequel. The film starts off and the first thing you will notice is the poor quality of the cameras. It is not a deal breaker, but it is a major distraction. After a short preamble where we meet the passengers boarding the plane, the movie then properly gets underway. The film inexplicably tries to make you guess where the virus could come from. It could come from the copilot who looks like a walking zombie. It could come from a passenger that is constantly sneezing. It could come from some animals stored in the luggage compartment. Or it could be from a cat that was carried onto the plane. The secrecy behind the origin of the virus is unneeded and quite frankly, dumb. So the plane takes off and the viewer is treated to the most random flight ever. There is a 400 pound man trying to hit on the flight attendants, there is a man with Parkinson’s that cannot talk, there is the douchiest guy on the planet that won’t get off his cell phone, and so on and so forth. When you think things cannot get any worse, the viewer is then treated with things like animals walking around the plane, a guy getting fellatio from his girlfriend, and 30 year old flight attendants discussing boys like a couple of teenagers. The film’s first act is equal parts bizarre and stupid. After a passenger shows signs of unknown distress, the plane is forced to land. What the viewer is forced to sit through for the next hour or so is appalling, and somehow should have been used to torture the suspected terrorists in the movie, Zero Dark Thirty.

The acting is not good and that is putting it politely. I am not going to rip on the actors though, as it is mostly out of their control. The spotty dialogue, shitty cameras, and inane character personalities all conspire against them. The only person I have to point out, was a character named George, played by Mattie Liptak. This kid needs acting school ASAP. He somehow ruined a movie that already sucked out loud. He basically reminded me of an emo Justin Bieber, or I guess Justin Bieber. I cannot express enough on how much I hated this kid’s performance.


So the passengers are quarantined in a small area, and the virus passes between them by various means. It stalks them in the bites of the infected, both animal and human. They are shot on sight if they leave the hangar, so they have to find another means of escape. What should be a scary and tension filled time, is mind numbingly dull. The passengers turn into slobbering zombies that patrol the terminal for fresh meat. They are super strong, they are stealthy, they are everywhere, and lastly, they are not remotely scary. The film does have a high body count, lots of blood, and plenty of screaming zombies that tear and rend flesh. What it doesn’t have is any sense of realism. As the film comes to a close it tries to explain where the virus came from and why the government is wary of it, but you won’t care. In conclusion, this movie is one of the worst that I have seen in a long time. I sat blank faced and care free watching this, and I wasn’t remotely interested in the characters or the story. It has an odd moment of blood, but it is ruined by the low budget and terrible camera work.


Director and writer, John Pogue, has put together just an awful film. It fails on every level and frankly it is shocking to me that it got made. To be fair, with the lack of budget and no name actors, this film was destined to fail. If you have seen the first Quarantine, then this movie can be missed as it is just a copycat in a different locale. I do applaud Pogue for not using the found footage technique but that is about it. I won’t judge him as he had little to work with, but by god this was a disaster.


I cannot give this movie a recommendation as I rather get rabies then watch another film like this.

T Factor + If you like B grade horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.

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

If you liked this film reel recommendations: 28 weeks later, Dawn of the Dead.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Get the Gringo


Get the Gringo
2012
Drama 
Rated: R
Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Mel Gibson, Kevin Hernandez,
Directed By: Adrian Grunberg
Rating: 6 out of 10
Outline
A man is thrown into a Mexican jail and must try and survive with the help of a young kid.


Review
I am just going to come out and say it, I miss Mel Gibson movies. He was one of my favorite actors back in the day, and every time he shows up in a film, I am reminded that it is a shame he has fallen so low. Listen, I understand the dude is a mess off screen, but I still appreciate the guy’s body of work. You know you might have a drinking problem when I say you have a drinking problem. Get the Gringo is the story of a guy named Driver. After stealing a lot of money, he is thrown into a Mexican jail to rot. With the help of a young kid he must learn to survive in this unforgiving environment.


It is a shame that this film didn’t get a wide release as it is actually quite good. Here is a tip for anyone making a movie. You can never go wrong by starting your film off with a high speed car chase, and that is where we find ourselves with this movie. Instantly, the viewer is hooked to this film as Driver tries to elude both the Mexican and the American authorities. The film doesn’t really get underway until we find Driver thrown into a Mexican jail for stealing a large amount of cash. From there, the film settles down into a tale of one man’s survival. I love these types of films and I was instantly reminded of an earlier Gibson movie in Payback. Driver is a bad guy in a prison full of bad guys, but you like him for his quick wit and charm. The prison where he is incarcerated is like a really filthy mall. There are no jail cells and the inmates can walk around to purchase food, drugs, booze, clothing, and sundry products all for their everyday use. The film has a little bit of every genre blended into it so there is something for every type of viewer to appreciate. You will like the con aspect, as Driver has to hustle his way to make money. He lies, cheats, and steals his prison money by using his brain and some MacGyveresque techniques. You will like the action aspect, as Driver is shot at on numerous occasions and also fires back when his life depends on it. You will like the crime aspect, as Driver tries to work his way up the criminal hierarchy in the prison. He does favors for the right people at the right time to try and advance himself. You will like the prison break aspect, as Driver tries to find a way to escape this jail. Lastly, you will like the revenge aspect, as many people seem to want Driver dead (Which he obviously doesn’t forget.) The film is just straight up entertaining as Driver works his criminal magic in various ways.

Mel Gibson can be called many things, but one of the most entertaining actors is certainly amongst his titles. It takes only a few minutes to realize how much I missed this dude. He is such a charming guy and his wise cracking ways will bring a smile to most people’s faces. This is classic Gibson, as he manipulates his way out of many situations. This is another great role that he can add to his already awesome resume. Driver befriends a young kid in this played by Kevin Hernandez. Hernandez offers up a very gritty performance at such a young age. Hernandez smokes, swears, and fights his way into a very impressive showing. Gibson and Hernandez have an instant chemistry and a lot of the film’s success can be attributed to the easy dialogue between them. They are enjoyable to watch as they work various con jobs inside the prison.


So, the film is a little all over the place with so much going on. It does seem to lose focus as Driver tries to con everyone he meets. There are corrupt police, prison mafia men, corrupt U.S. ambassadors, American mafia men, drug dealers, prison medical staff, and probably many more people that I forget. With so many cons going on, the film lacks both cohesion and excitement at times. As the film comes to a hectic close, one wonders why they don’t make more movies like this. In conclusion, this film is pretty cool with its multifaceted story. Gibson is awesome and super easy to follow. The action is solid and the cons are great, both big and small. The negative is the film tries to be too big at times. There are too many characters and also too many overly complicated subplots muddying the flow. A more simplified path to the end would have worked better in my mind.  

Director Adrian Grunberg’s first movie was a complete success. He guides an interesting tale that will appeal to many different types of viewers. The action sequences are well shot and his use of slow motion techniques only adds to the sequences. He could have done without a fake looking scene with a grenade, but no one is perfect. He made me remember why I miss Gibson,

and I credit him for a job well done.

I give this movie a recommendation as it is hidden gem.

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

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

IF you liked this film reel recommendations: Payback, The Score.
  

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Fantasy (Action)
2012
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 169 minutes
Starring: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage
Directed By: Peter Jackson
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
A Hobbit and a group of Dwarves must travel to a faraway mountain and reclaim their old kingdom from the grips of an evil dragon.


Review
Almost 10 years have passed since the release of LOTR: The Return of the King, and FINALLY we get to watch the Hobbit. Well, the Hobbit plus some appendices from the LOTR, spread out over three movies because Peter Jackson is a greedy slob. I personally could care less that it is three films, more that people have to pay for three films. The Hobbit is the story of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins (If you do not know what a hobbit is at this point, my god.) It takes place 60 years prior to the Lord of the Rings, and details a very remarkable journey. Bilbo Baggins sets off in the company of Gandalf the wizard, and a group of 13 dwarves. Their task is to retake the Dwarven home of Erebor (Lonely Mountain) from the clutches of an evil dragon.


Nerds everywhere have been super patient in waiting for this film to be released and their patience has been well rewarded. So grab your Sting replicas and your elven cloaks, and revel in the awesomeness of Tolkien, one last time (cough, three times). The movie starts and it doesn’t take long to remember that Peter Jackson is a wizard himself, when recreating Tolkien’s vision of middle earth. The sweeping landscapes and unique buildings of this story, truly immerse you in a world of unparalleled fantasy. We meet a younger looking Bilbo as he enjoys a relaxing morning with the sun on his face and his trusty tobacco pipe in his hand. This unassuming creature is about to have his world turned upside down by the famous wizard, Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf has signed him up as a professional thief and treasure hunter for a perilous journey to the Lonely Mountain. This journey is to reclaim the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor, and also dealing with the dragon that may still live inside. After a long scene where we are introduced to the group of dwarves, we then get to see them laugh and joke at Bilbo’s expense. This opening scene makes one thing perfectly clear, that thing is this film is no Lord of the Rings. This movie with its childish humor and musical interludes is remaining true to the book and offering a more kid friendly atmosphere for the movie. While it is cool to see dwarves cleaning dishes and burping beer, I think it would have been better suited to make the film more adult orientated (Just my opinion.) A slobbering goblin boss is a perfect example of appealing to the kids, gone wrong. It had me cringing as it so reminded me of Boss Nass from the Phantom Menace, but at least Jackson keeps most of the cheesy characters to a minimum in this. It should come as no surprise, but there is LOTS more walking in this movie. The journey to the Lonely Mountain wouldn’t be as interesting if it was easy, so the group faces many deadly obstacles along the way. There are evil creatures at every turn, wishing them harm. Goblins, Orcs, Spiders, Trolls, Wolves, and many other agents of the dark try and waylay the group. They also must travel through torrential downpours and unfamiliar caves to get to their destination. You never know when something may attack them from the dark, and that is half the fun of the film.


There are way too many characters for me to critique so I will just mention my two favorite. The first is Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman. I was wary at first because Bilbo should be played by Ian Holm (Old Bilbo) but the dude got old in real life. It only takes a few moments to realize that my trepidations were stupid. Freeman has an easy way with the Bilbo character without making it cheesy. He seems naturally flustered in all the right spots, and can switch very easily to charming when he needs to. Freeman is a likeable fellow, and it makes this film that much more enjoyable. My second favorite character is Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen. He reprises his role from LOTR, and pretty much ruins all other wizards from other films (with the possible exception of the late Richard Harris, as Dumbledore.). McKellen, should play all wizards from this point on as he is that awesome. McKellen can win the viewer over with his quick wit and grandfatherly presence. He can also win the viewer over with a mischievous smile or the swinging of his sword. It seems impossible not to like this film with him in it. Everyone else ranges from good to superb. There are also many cameos from the LOTR films, that will bring a smile to your face as they appear.

As the film carries on there is much to celebrate. The action sequences see many dead enemies piled up, and lots of goblin heads are separated from their bodies. Plenty of arrows hit home, that would make even Legolas jealous. The viewer is treated to fantastic shot footage of deep caverns and expansive mountains, which makes this film breathtaking at times. The movie sees multiple storylines that are all intertwined. There is the Dwarves quest to reclaim their kingdom, there is the rising evil of a new dark power (The Necromancer), and there is the story of old enemies looking for revenge. No matter what story the viewer is following, they will always be intrigued. Unfortunately, this film runs into its own worst enemy, and that is itself. The LOTR films are masterpieces, and the Hobbit just never gets to the same lofty heights. There are too many scenes of barely made jumps across gaping holes. There are too many falls from great heights, where the characters walk away unscathed. There are too many close calls, where the group just escapes through stupid tactics. And lastly, there is too much uncalled for humor. The film tests the laws of physics and the viewer’s patience at times. As the film comes to it close, it sets up the next film perfectly with plenty of unanswered questions. In conclusion, this film is good but not great. There is lots of action and the film is visually impressive. The characters are all fantastic and the story is sound. The negative is that the film has plenty of down time and more cheesy scenes then I cared to count.


Director Peter Jackson knows his Tolkien material and what his fans want. It is no shock that he put together another solid film. It is so easy to fall under his spell and get lost in his vision of Middle Earth. He does take a lot of liberties with believability, but to be fair, this is more for the kids then adults. The key thing is he nailed all the awesome parts from the book (Finding of the One ring, the three troll meeting) and that his incorporation of the appendices was flawless, if not entirely accurate. The film will never be called fast paced and if he was able to edit better, he easily could have chopped 15 to 30 minutes of screen time.



I give this movie a recommendation and while Bilbo may challenge an old acquaintance to a game of riddles in this, it should be no riddle if you should watch this or not.

T Factor + If you have read the Hobbit and the LOTR appendices then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like films that have long running times then this could score lower on the rating scale.    

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Harry Potter Franchise, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Mother's Day


Mother’s Day
Drama (Horror, Thriller)
2010
Rated: R
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Rebecca De Mornay, Jaime King, Briana Evigan, Shawn Ashmore, Frank Grillo
Directed By: Darren Lynn Bousman
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Outline
A house party is broken up by a violent home invasion.


Review
If this movie isn’t a clear sign that Hollywood is running out of ideas, then I don’t know what is. What’s next, a film about a serial killer who kills people for wearing white after Labor Day? What about a film about a serial killer who kills people with bad memories on Remembrance Day? Mother’s Day is the story of a group of friends having a house party. What should be a fun and relaxed time quickly turns frightening as they are subjected to a home invasion by wanted fugitives. The fugitives are all part of the infamous Koffin family, and they are led by their domineering mother.


A quick introduction where a baby is abducted from a hospital, sets the film up nicely in a few ways. It shows the viewer that the film can be overtly gory and bloody. It also shows that this movie has a reasonable budget for such a poorly titled film. Lastly, it sets the tone for a matriarchal figure to lead a family of misfits. Fast forward many years and we find a house party underway at the Sohapi residence. The booze flows freely as the eclectic group listens to music and shoots some pool. Their happiness is about to be shattered as the fugitive Koffin family descends on the house (which used to be the Koffin childhood home.) From this point on the film descends into a clichéd thriller where the fugitives threaten their captives, but never really restrain them properly. Where the fugitives make their captives fist fight each other, but leave them within an arm’s reach of kitchen knives and pool cues. Where the fugitives search the captives for money, but never search the house properly for other valuables. All of this is happening while Mother Koffin calmly walks around directing her brood. She even makes a cake during this home invasion. We get it Mrs. Koffin, you are a mom. We are also supposed to believe that people who rob banks for a living cannot properly subdue people at a house party? We are also to believe that a tornado warning has emptied the entire neighborhood so no one hears gunshots or screams? Lastly, we are to believe that these fugitives like to torture random people for no reason? It is a lot to sit through for one movie.


I didn’t mind the acting individually, but hated this acting as a group. The fugitives were made up of the tired and seen before criminal staples. There is the older menacing brother, the slightly crazy middle brother, and the innocent looking younger brother. All held together by a constipated looking mother, played by Rebecca De Mornay. Some people will say that De Mornay does a great job of being the glue that holds this film together. I found her weird persona a major distraction and I didn’t remotely buy into her performance. The fugitives try and please their mother by tormenting the captives, and in this torment we find a group of people who don’t remotely like each other for various reasons. There is a greasy looking business man with an attractive but scantily clad gothic woman. There is a doctor and his girlfriend. There is a couple in love, and there is also a couple with secret problems. Lastly, there is a random single person thrown into the mix (That is usually my role at the party, baby! So I won’t criticize that!) The utter lack of believability in these people hanging out together is glaring. So when they are arguing about how to escape, it just seems ludicrous. Also, do we really need another film where there is a doctor to mend all injuries? The group makes suspect decisions and at the end of the day they were thoroughly disagreeable to watch.

As the film presses on it is clear that there are going to be a number of gruesome deaths. The question is not will they all survive but how many? The gore is actually really well done with a combination of CGI and different make-up techniques. There are gaping wounds left by all sorts of weapons, and graphic scenes of torture and violence which should appeal to some. The film could actually have worked if they tightened up the story in a bunch of places. There was no reason for any of the film to take place outside the confines of the Sohapi house, and yet they venture out to different locations around the town. The captives make many escape attempts and yet go unpunished for a lot of the movie. Also, when people are fighting for their lives, you would think they would invest in a simple double tap to make sure the job is done (See Zombieland for double tap reference.) There are many more problematic scenes of this nature, I was just naming a few. The film struggles to its predictable end and it proves one thing: Holiday horror films are mostly balls. In conclusion, this film suffers from stupid characters doing stupid things. There is so many clichéd and hackneyed scenes, that anyone who has seen a couple of horror movies before will get bored. The director also seems to be worried about being called a misogynist, as the guys get frakking tortured while the women go virtually unscathed in comparison. The positives are that the gore and effects are surprisingly well done and the body count is high, but it doesn’t make up for the idiotic story.


It shouldn’t be surprising that director Darren Lynn Bousman knows gore as he directed the Saw movies, 2 through 4. He suffers from the same directorial flaws with this film though. He is worried too much about the killing strokes and not enough about the buildup. The casting is mostly suspect, and there is too much


happening to get emotionally invested in any of the characters. He knows his blood and guts, but lacks style.

I cannot recommend this film and I wonder if I could just give my copy of this film to my mother for Mother’s Day?

T Factor + If you like your horror films to have high body counts then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like great stories to accompany your thrillers then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Strangers, Panic Room.   

Monday, 25 March 2013

Apartment 143


Apartment 143
Horror
2011
Rated: R
Running Time: 80 minutes
Starring: Rick Gonzalez, Fionna Glascott, Kai Lennox, Gia Mantegna, Michael O’Keefe
Directed By: Carles Torrens
Rating: 1.5 out of 10
Outline
A team of paranormal researches head out to a supposedly haunted building to investigate.


Review
When the DVD cover art is the creepiest thing about a movie, you know you are in trouble. I will always defend the found footage style, as I am a big fan of the genre. I will not defend laziness though, and that is where we find ourselves with this film. Apartment 143 is the story of a small group of parapsychologists. They are investigating a building that has a history of paranormal activity. They are there to determine if the family that lives there is in any danger from the unexplained haunting.


This film is basically an episode of Ghost Hunters gone wild. We meet the small group of parapsychologists as they make their way to the affected building. After a quick setup, where one team member installs cameras and motion sensors all over the building, the film gets underway. Almost instantly, the viewer is treated to unexplained sounds coming from somewhere in the building. What can only be described as a race car driving around upstairs doesn’t really seem to faze the crew and that is puzzling. These types of films need that slow rise of built up suspense, so when the viewer is treated to unexplained happenings from the get go; it takes all the momentum out of the film. From there the film settles down into the generic pattern that these films usually take. Things move seemingly on their own volition, the cameras pick up unexplained images, and family members are accosted when they sleep. The films lack of budget is glaring and in its absence, the films story cannot make up for the weaker special effects. The one thing I really liked was that the crew was there to find scientific answers to what could be happening in the building. So instead of just saying there is a ghost, they try and debunk all the moving objects and eerie sounds. I also liked how the crew moves into the place and lives with the family as they go about their everyday lives. It shows some creativity on behalf of the writer to not just have the paranormal crew locked inside the building for the night.



I find found footage is a hard thing to judge acting wise. I was not put off by the performances but I was put off by the characters, namely the family. The paranormal investigators were a cohesive unit if not impressive. They talk about mundane things as they go about their work so I have no complaints there. The father is played by Kai Lennox and he is a man clearly hiding something. His pale complexion and depressed attitude just wear on the viewer. The daughter played by Gia Mantegna also has something wrong with her as she is a straight up B to her dad. Clearly she too is hiding something and it is also hard to sit through with her emo attitude. Instead of just having a stressed out family, living in a strange building, we have a family full of secrets that they aren’t even trying to hide.

As the film plays its self out, the viewer will notice many things wrong with it, but the most glaring is the lack of frights. Sure there is the odd moment where something pops out from the darkness, or a loud bang happens at an opportune moment, but nothing we haven’t seen before. Pots and pans that move, pictures that are turned upside down, and ghostly apparitions caught on camera will not raise the hair on the back of your neck. As the paranormal team pries deeper into the family’s history, and gathers more information with their mostly unexplained instruments, the viewer sits in anticipation for anything to happen and yet nothing really does. When the film comes to a sudden end (where the movie Poltergeist was clearly an influence) they don’t entirely explain what you just watched, leaving the viewer scratching their head. In conclusion, this movie tries to be different but doesn’t have the budget to make it work. The family is obnoxious, the story is way too complicated, the buildup is non-existent, the building itself isn’t scary, and the scares are mundane (sometimes unintentionally comical.) The positive is the story has a little twist to it and that a run time of only 80 minutes means it is not hard to sit through.



It is hard to judge director Carles Torrens effectively as this film has such a small budget. He seems to have the basics down and the camera work is okay if not good. There is just too much going on with this film to be truly appreciated. One moment there are odd sounds, the next moment a séance. Then there are ghostly apparitions, then a therapy session. All this flip flopping leaves the viewer tired and frankly uninterested in the cause of the buildings paranormal activity. I would watch another one of Torrens films if only to get a proper gauge of his techniques.

I cannot recommend this film as its lack of scares will have you hating this genre if you don’t already do.

T Factor + If you like low budget horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like found footage movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Grave Encounters, REC

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

50/50


50/50
Drama (Comedy)
2011
Rated: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed By: Jonathan Levine
Rating: 7 out of 10
Outline
A young man is diagnosed with cancer and it details his struggle in fighting the disease.


Review
I finally watched this film after it sat on my shelf for  over a year. I had to build up my desire to watch a movie dubbed, “The Cancer Movie”. Cancer has been a very prevalent presence in my family history, so finding humor in it seemed impossible to me. I was pleased to find out that I was incorrect. While this film is not uproariously funny as the DVD cover suggests, it is humorous and has an engaging story. 50/50 is the story of Adam. At the young age of 27, he is diagnosed with cancer and we follow his battle in trying to conquer the disease.


The film starts off and we are introduced to Adam as he goes about his everyday life. He has an attractive girlfriend named Rachael, a best friend in Kyle, and a job at a local radio station. He is as happy as can be with only some recurring back pain to complain about. That is all about to change as he gets some devastating news that he has a rare form of spinal cancer. From this point on, the film is a wonderfully wrought tale of relationships and how they are affected by this terrible disease. Adam struggles to find a balance between an over bearing mom, an unreliable girlfriend, and an immature best friend. As Adam gets treatment for cancer, he starts to look worse and worse but he never gives up hope. Humor can be found in the strangest of places in this movie. It can be found as Adam is sitting next to a crotchety old man at the hospital. It can be found through Kyle using Adam’s cancer as a way to pick up women. It can also be found in the awkwardness of Adam having to shave his own head using Kyle’s ball clippers. The humor has a way of alleviating the awfulness of the situation and makes you forget the cancer for a while. What I really liked about this film though, were the people’s reactions to Adam. A work party where Adam is forced into talking to many different acquaintances, shows how uncomfortable things can get when someone has cancer. The long awkward pauses, the inane small talk, and the random emotional outbursts, were all captured perfectly in this. The film will have you smiling at a well timed joke, but more often than not you will smile at a well timed conversation.

Adam is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he was up to the very hard task of playing a cancer patient. His pallid complexion, coupled with his positive outlook really comes across as honest. At the end of the day, Gordon-Levitt is just a likeable dude in this film. You go through the ups and downs with him because you feel his pain. Because of this fact the other characters just all fit somehow. Kyle is played by the funny Seth Rogen and offers up 90 percent of this movies comedy. While Rogen’s dramatic acting skills are clearly lacking in this, the movie wouldn’t be nearly as good without his jokes and his desire for casual sex. Anna Kendrick plays Adam’s therapist and Bryce Dallas Howard plays Adam’s girlfriend, and both offer up solid performances.


Most people will like this movie for its humor, I found I liked it for the story. Following Adam from his chemotherapy appointments, to his therapy sessions, and to his doctor appointments, make you appreciate how scary cancer truly is. Adam still needs to live his life though, so walking his dog and hitting the town with Kyle still shows you how strong he is. As the film comes to an end it will teach you that comedy can be found in very dark places. Will the disease claim his life? Or will Adam beat it? Watch to find out. In conclusion, this film is so well written that it needs to be watched. The power of the film lies in the peoples varied reactions in dealing with Adam, and the well crafted humor eases the pressure off the more hard to watch scenes. The film is slow though and if you are expecting a comedy for the ages, you may be left disappointed.    


This is the first movie I have seen from director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) but I am impressed with this. He breaks the film up very well. For every scene where Adam fights with his mom, there is a scene where Adam smokes pot with Kyle. For every scene where Adam throws up from the chemo, there is a scene where Adam and Kyle go out drinking. The offsetting of depressing scenes with funny scenes will make most viewers appreciate the film. The casting was sound and the humor never seemed tasteless even in the face of death. The film was written by Will Reiser and details his own personal struggle with the disease, and the realism is evident in almost every scene.

I give this movie a recommendation and while the title implies 50 percent, I say 100 percent you should watch this.

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

T Factor – If you do not like Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an actor then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Funny People, Juno.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Let the Right One In


Let the Right One In
Drama (Horror, Thriller, Vampire, Foreign)
2008
Rated: R
Running Time: 115 minutes
Starring: Kare Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson
Directed By: Tomas Alfredson
Rating: 7 out of 10
Outline
A boy, who is bullied at school, befriends a weird girl with a bloodsucking secret.


Review
To my regular readers, please forgive this quick introduction as not only is this a movie review, but it is also my first submission into a movie review club. I am participating in a group called DJ’s Digital Movie Club that can be found on Facebook. So welcome everyone to my blog. My name is Tyler Bonham and my dad’s name is amazingly John Bonham, but I have no relation to Led Zeppelin. You can probably tell by my Scarface picture that I take life pretty seriously (That picture was taken by my ultra conservative and elderly mom BTdub.) I have been described as a husky and more alcoholic version of Kiefer Sutherland. I have also been described as a svelte and more alcoholic version of John Goodman. I love movies, and I like to make outrageous claims like I invented Fruit by the Foot. I hope you enjoy my writing and I look forward to reading all of your submissions on this movie. Lastly, I am Canadian and I would like to thank all of you for choosing this movie as it is not on Netflix Canada. We also have no access to Amazon Prime (possible name for Transformers 4 character) and so I had to trade two bottle of maple syrup and a beaver pelt for a copy of this movie. Cheers!


Little known facts about Canadian vampires are that we have to stake them with icicles or sharpened hockey sticks. So, when I saw that this movie takes place primarily during the winter months, I instantly got a sense of familiar territory. Let the Right One In is the story of a kid named Oskar. He is scrawny and a little bit of a loner. He is bullied at school and neglected at home. Through his struggles to fit in, he befriends a strange girl named Eli, who has a chilling secret.


The movie starts off and we are introduced to Oskar as he looks out his apartment window. We are also introduced to Eli as she moves in next door with an older gentleman. The film’s opening act takes its time in detailing Oskar’s struggles at school. He is called piggy and is physically assaulted by his classmates. He is also ignored at home by his seemingly nonexistent mother and absentee father. In Oskar’s quest to find a quiet space from the abuse, he heads outdoors and encounters Eli in the chill of night. It is in the budding relationship between them that this movie thrives. Oskar finds solace in this odd girls company. She treats him as an equal as they discuss life. The film is beautifully shot, and it is the continual quietness of the falling snow and in the lack of musical score that makes this story seem very real. I also liked that there are simple things to be appreciated, like cars passing in the background as a body is strung up in the woods, or the twitching of a man’s foot as the blood is drained from his neck. It is these little captured details that can give you the chills if you care to notice. You will also get lost in the story as these two unlikely kids form a very adult relationship with each other. Oskar doesn’t seem put off that Eli smells weird or that she doesn’t wear shoes in the snow. Eli doesn’t hold it against Oskar that he is a so called loser. Their relationship is open and honest even if Eli’s secret is menacing. Whenever they are together it seems they are the only two people in this movie, and that is how it should be.


Oskar is played by Kare Hedebrant and he does a great job as the lead character. It doesn’t hurt that he very much looks the part of a picked on child. His albino skin, paper thin body, and unkempt haircut (that looks like an amalgamation of Jim Carrey’s and Jeff Daniels hairstyles from Dumb and Dumber) make you feel his suffering. Eli is played by Lena Leandersson and she is also very good in the role. Her lack of facial expressions and quiet delivery make you feel that she could easily be a vampire. It is in her dealings with the older gentleman that you can really feel the caged animal insider her. She directs the old man like a pet, while going about her business and it is cool to witness. Hedebrant and Leandersson have great chemistry together and it only grows as their relationship does. Eli has a strange charm about her and it doesn’t seem a stretch that she seduces Oskar so easily.


As the film carries on it is clear that this movie will not really scare or frighten many people. It is all about the relationship between the kids and Eli’s survival (which depends on drinking blood unbeknownst to Oskar.) Bodies go missing and strange things are happening all over town, but most of it takes place off screen or in the shadow of night. The film will never be described as fast paced, so if you need the thrill of the vampire hunt, this will not work for you. As the film comes to its bloody end, I couldn’t help but feel they did a great job on a genre that has been oversaturated for the last little while. In conclusion, this film will awe you with its tale of a vampire stuck in a child’s body. A strange love story that ends up in a quest for revenge will beguile you. Be warned though as this film is VERY slow and it is never going at a pace faster than molasses. It also has very few scenes of blood so it will not win over the gore crowd. The films lack of budget is noticeable in a couple scenes, especially one involving cats. The cats look imported straight from a 1980’s Stephen King movie, they were that bad to look at.


Director Tomas Alfredson is virtually unknown to North American audiences but this film should put him on the map. He has shot such a great film on a very tight budget (est. 4 million) that he has much to be proud of. Vampire movies are hard to do well and the fact he did it with two child actors is amazing to me. I was lost in the dialogue between Oskar and Eli and the film is so gentle at times it is hard to remember that vicious murders are taking place. The film is very slow and not as violent as I would like, but that cannot deter it from the awesomeness of the story (written by John Ajvide Lindqvist.)

I give this movie a recommendation to people looking for a neat take on the Vampire genre.

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

T Factor – If you like lots of graphic violence in your vampire movies then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Interview With the Vampire, Orphan.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Possession


The Possession
Horror 
2012
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 92 minutes
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick, Madison Davenport, Natasha Calis
Directed By: Ole Bornedal
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Outline
An antique box tries to take over the body and soul of a young girl.


Review
I was looking forward to this movie because I read a lot of paranormal activity books. In my readings, I have come across a few stories about the Dibbuk/Dybbuk box (which this movie is based on.) I will save you the entire back story but the readings are far more interesting than this movie ever was. If you want to save yourself the hour and a half, then just go to www.dibbukbox.com and read the story there. Trust me, it is far more compelling. The Possession is the story of a young girl named Em. After purchasing an antique box at a yard sale, Em starts to fall prey to the box’s malicious spirit trapped within. It is up to Em’s family to find a way to stop the curse before it is too late.


At first glance, The Possession seems like a spooky look into the world of Jewish belief on evil spirits. Unfortunately this is just another run of the mill exorcism movie. The film starts out and we are introduced to the antique box as its malevolence is enacted on an elderly woman. The opening scene will tell you two things. The first, is that the box is malicious and can cause much harm to people who get in its way. The second thing it tells us is that this film is made for a very younger crowd (which is fine, but hard to pull off with the horror genre.) The film doesn’t really start until Em notices the antique box at a garage sale and makes her dad buy it. From there, the film is a REALLY slow build up as the box tries to take over Em’s body. Sure there is the odd creepy moment where insects swarm and unexplained things move under Em’s skin, but not enough to sate any horror lover. There is just way too much time spent on Em’s parents and their struggling relationship. The antique box’s powers are also very unbalanced, and they seem to pick on the fringe characters the most for some reason. If a minor character only marginally interferes with the box’s plans, then they can expect the box (or a possessed Em) to cause strokes, break bones, rot away teeth, hemorrhage blood, and even force suicide. If you want the box outright destroyed, then prepare yourself for such menacing things as thrown coffee mugs, slight winds, thrown books, and things jumping out at you from the dark. So we are to believe the box has survived for a hundred years with no survival skills? I normally let these types of things go but because the film is so boring, it is hard not to notice that the box is pretty stupid. Even the box itself made me laugh. It would open on its own accord and start to say things in a foreign tongue and all I could think of was a Parkay margarine container saying “Butter” every time this happened. (I am aware that last comment makes me sound old.)


The acting in this is decent enough, but once again I found my mind wandering due to the films lack of frights. Instead of enjoying their performances I started trying to find lookalikes for each actor. Em is played by Natasha Calis and she has that innocent look down for an exorcism film. She doesn’t detract from the film and does better than most child actors would have. I dubbed her, Mira Sorvino with Anna Paquin’s teeth. Em’s father was played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and I thought he was the best part of the film. He plays a very believable and caring father, and is a likeable enough guy to follow. I dubbed him, North American Javier Bardem. The other characters are all passable if not memorable. Em’s sister is played by Madison Davenport and I dubbed her, Lindsay Lohan as a teenager. Lastly was Em’s mom played by Kyra Sedgwick and I dubbed her, the Scarecrow from Batman Begins (I jest)


As the film rolls along it falls into all the pratfalls that plague most exorcism films. Most notably, it has all been seen before. This film had all the unoriginal exorcism staples. It focuses on a young girl; the evil spirit gets progressively worse, there are strangely spoken dialects, insects, the white nightgown, and then an attempted exorcism where all hell breaks loose. While all of these unoriginal scares are happening, the film seems not to have a shred of realism to it. As seen in the trailer, Em stabs her father’s hand violently with a fork, and yet he kind of just brushes it off as kids being kids. If my kid stabbed me with anything, I have seen too many movies not to have them looked at by a professional. (He also never favors the hand or rocks a bandage for the stab wound.) From there, the film also shows you that when you need something from a hospital, it is there for the taking. You can kidnap people there, walk around in any area you would like, take part in MRI tests, and even visit the morgue (where there are dozens of bodies lying around for no reason.) All of these things are apparently at your disposal from your local hospital. As the film and the box come to a close, one wonders was this film even trying to scare the audience? In conclusion, this film has the odd moment but not enough to make it remotely worth your time. It relies too heavily on recycled material in the genre, and even the Jewish religious angle is not enough to save the film.


I am unfamiliar with any of director Ole Bornedal’s previous work, and yes smartasses, this even includes his movie called, The Masturbator. This film seemed very novice in its execution though. The slow story line is in no way offset by the scare factor. There is just too much time spent on character development and not enough time on building tension. The film even comes across as comical at times which I am sure wasn’t the intent. Overall, this film will be quickly forgotten and filed under the title, what could have been.

I cannot recommend this film and I am not sure what possessed them to make it.

T Factor + If you haven’t seen many exorcism movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your horror to be bloody and graphic then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Last Exorcism. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Underworld: Awakening


Underworld: Awakening
2012
Action (Sci-Fi,Vampire)
Rated: R
Running Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Easley
Directed By: Mads Marlind, Bjorn Stein
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Outline
The vampire Selene wakes up after being frozen for 12 years to a world that she does not know. She must find her lover and try and survive in a human dominated world.


Review
Every great franchise needs a solid finale to send it off with a little style and grace. Unfortunately, for us, Underworld: Awakening was not that movie. It has been a steady decline for this once great franchise. It is sad that instead of going out with a bang, it goes out with more of a whimper.  It has been six long years since the last Underworld movie. (That does not include the forgettable prequel.) Underworld: Awakening follows the story of the world in turmoil. Humans are aware of Vampires and Lycans inhabiting their cities and they are determined to annihilate them. We follow the vampire Selene in this as she awakes from a Cryogenic sleep. She must lead the fight against the humans while also trying to track down her long lost love.


So, there are obviously way worse movies out there but this may have been the biggest disappointment of 2012 for me. I loved the first Underworld, liked the second, was entertained by the prequel, and now puzzled by this film. I agree movies need new angles and stories to keep them fresh, but having this movie a futuristic tale of vampire survival was the wrong choice. They should have gone with elder vampires from different parts of the world chasing Selene, but I am only a lowly movie reviewer so what do I know? The film starts out and we get a brief synopsis of what has taken place in the first two Underworld films. This is nice of them as it will save you from having to familiarize yourself with the back story.  Having Vampires fighting humans is a new touch but it is too in your face for the entire film. There is too much blood, there is too much CGI, and lastly there are too many inane fight scenes. This franchise went from being well designed and almost indie in nature, to unremarkable and generic in nature. I had to blink many times to make sure I wasn’t watching a Resident Evil film because this movie was so lacking. To be fair, if you are a mindless action lover then there is lots of it in this film. Selene uses her automatic dual pistols to kill swaths of humans as well as Lycans in her quest to find her lover (Michael). There are also lots of heads being torn asunder and lots of bodies piling up so it is also entertaining in that department. That is all I can really say positive about the film is that it is easy to watch. Besides the fast pacing, please prepare yourself for an hour and a half of bat guano.


Selene is played by Kate Beckinsale and as always she does a great job with the role. She holds her own during the fight sequences and she almost looks the same as the first film, which is quite remarkable. (Sorry fat Data from Star Trek: Nemesis). It is too bad that the story doesn’t support Beckinsale more, as her talent with this character was mostly wasted.


So as the movie continues they try and incorporate things to make this movie different. They add an enormous Lycan that smashes buildings and rips apart vampires. Although visually cool, it didn’t work. They add camera work where Selene can see out of Michael’s eyes when he is close. It is a little cheesy and reminded me of the eagle's view from the Beastmaster (Hell yeah I just referenced Beastmaster),so that didn’t work. They tried to introduce a new coven with new vampires and it didn’t work due to their pathetic nature (It is hard to top Bill Nighy as Victor.) Lastly, they try and make this movie about right and wrong and that didn’t work either. Vampires help vampires, vampires help lycans, and humans help vampires, and so on and so forth. It was simply a boring tale of unnecessary morality. As the film comes to a close with dead bodies piled all around, one gets the feeling that this franchise has lost its way and it will never be found again. In conclusion, there are lots of torn throats and many gun fights. There are a host of new ideas and tons of new weapons and characters, but the positives seem to be a description for a new X-Box game instead of a new movie. The terrible story line of love and deception, plus the lack of any depth to the characters really held this movie back, and figuratively staked this movie in the heart.


Unknown Mads Marlind and Bjorn Stein replaced Len Wiseman as directors of this franchise, and it was a big swing and a miss. They received a hefty budget (70 million est.) and didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Sure there was a lot of action but little direction. The film was a sloppily shot mess and all the subtle nuances of the first films were replaced with flashy explosions and arcs of computer animated blood. Without an elder vampire as the bad guy, the film seems without focus. The film just seems a little low rent for a franchise that had once been so cool.

I cannot recommend this film as its cheesy visuals will leave you batty.

T Factor + if you like vampire movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are expecting anything like the first two movies then 
this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing.

Doubt


Doubt
Drama
2008
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 104 minutes
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Directed By: John Patrick Shanley
Rating: 7 out of 10
Outline
A Father is questioned about his relationship with a 12 year old boy at a Catholic school.


Review
I can remember when I was a kid I used to hate Meryl Streep movies with a passion. It is funny with a lot of years and a LITTLE maturing, that I can now fully appreciate her greatness. Doubt is the story of a Catholic school in the Bronx. Taking place in 1964, the story surrounds the tale of a priest’s relationship with a troubled 12 year old student. That relationship's appropriateness comes into question by the stern and strict school principal.


Normally titles of movies are just that, titles. After viewing this film I came to the conclusion that Doubt maybe one of the most aptly titled movies ever. This film will have you thinking different conclusions right up to the end scene. The movie starts and we are introduced to the strictly run school and the key players involved. The film is slowly built up and takes a while to get going, but please stick with it. The film will give you two sides to a horrifying accusation. Father Brendan Flynn is accused of having a more than professional relationship with a 12 year old student. He is challenged about it by the principal of the school, Sister Aloysius Beauvier (That last name makes me think of Grandpa Simpson for some reason.) From there, the film is a series of heated encounters where your opinion will constantly change on what you believe. Father Flynn is a personable and charming man who loves his students and the school. Sister Beauvier is a taciturn lady, with no facial expressions and little to like. The two of them are like giant waves crashing together as they throw verbal jabs at each other. In one instance you are on Flynn’s side, as he has very plausible explanations for his so called indiscretions. The next instance you are Sister Beauviers side, as she uncovers more truths about the Father’s past. To say you will have doubt is a huge understatement as the film roles along.


This is truly a film guided by brilliant acting. Father Brendan Flynn is played perfectly by Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is an very likeable character in a place of dullness. His easy smile and caring ways cover up his odd attributes (like long finger nails). You are rooting for his side because he seems friendly and kind. Sister Beauvier is played by Meryl Streep and she also nails the part (which is a huge surprise.) She is exactly what you think of when picturing a strict nun. She has a never smiling visage and is always vigilant in the ways of god. Few people could have been on par with Streep’s performance, but Hoffman is a rare breed of actor. So the two of them fight, yell, banter, and have a battle of wits as they try and prove their individual cases. The contest of wills is what will enthrall the viewer as your belief of what actually happened wavers. They are supported very well by Amy Adams playing the nice/naïve Sister James, and Viola Davis playing the 12 year old's mother. The four actors mesh cohesively with their unique personalities and personal opinions, making Doubt one of the best acted movies in 2008. If I was to recommend a movie solely for acting performances than Doubt would easily make the list.


The film continues to be slow as it carries along but that is hardly noticeable as you will be so caught up in what actually happened between Father Flynn and the 12 year old boy. As more answers come to light it only intensifies the situation between the characters. A sex scandal that could tear the very school apart is gripping in its delivery and very real in its presentation. Will you side with Father Flynn? Or will you side with Sister Beauvier? Watch to find out and you will not be left disappointed. This is a film rife with deceit and secretiveness that leaves you thinking about it long after it is over.


Director and writer John Patrick Shanley puts forth a great effort in this film. With only the movie Joe versus the Volcano on his directing resume (Should have won best picture that year), it is shocking he put forth such a realistic drama. The long shots of unedited dialogue make the movie realistic and tense. The casting is perfect and the setting is dark and ominous. With so much dialogue a film like this can easily get bogged down, but the story is so intriguing that this never happens. Shanley brought this fantastic group of actors together and shot a Oscar quality film.

I give this movie a recommendation and if you have any doubt about watching this film…don’t.

T Factor – If you appreciate films for great acting performances than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need fast paced films than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Cold Mountain, In the Valley of Elah.