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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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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Gangster Squad

Gangster Squad
Drama (Action)
Rated: R
Running Time: 113 minutes
Starring: Josh Brolin, Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Nick Nolte, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Michael Pena, Giovanni Ribisi
Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Rating: 5 out of 10
A secret task force is assembled to bring down a notorious Los Angeles mob boss.

That gangsta gangsta lovin, it’s got Sean Penn buggin. (I must be tired if I just quoted an old school Eve/Alicia Keys track.) Anyways, the worst thing a movie can be in this world is a poor man’s version of an existing film. Gangster Squad is very much the poor man’s version of The Untouchables. Or to quote my brother, “This film is Untouchables with Scurvy.” Gangster Squad is the story of a secret group of police officers. They are tasked to bring down the mafia kingpin, Mickey Cohen, who has the city of Los Angeles in his ruthless grip.

You can change the city, you can change the cast, and you can even change the character names. It doesn’t mean people won’t compare this to The Untouchables. I tried not to compare the two movies, but the storylines are so similar that it is impossible not to. Last statement on the matter, this movie couldn’t even carry Sean Connery’s jock strap, let alone fit into it. Taking place in the late 1940’s, the movie starts out and we see super cop Sgt. John O’Mara as he goes about his daily job. He is frustrated that no matter how many bad guys he brings in, they always get off without facing jail time. It is because the city of Los Angeles is a cesspool of crime and corruption. The judges, most of the police force, and a lot of the politicians are all on the bankroll of the notorious mob boss, Mickey Cohen. It is a decent start to the film as John O’Mara kicks some criminal ass in the opening moments of the film. With a reputation for rigid honesty and shocking brutality, O’Mara is the perfect choice to lead a secret task force in the fight against Mickey Cohen’s criminal empire. These rough and tumble men will carry no badges, they will make no arrests, and they will show no leniency as they try and destroy Cohen’s organization from the ground up. The task force quickly gets to work as they try and bring down everything from illegal casinos to heroin shipments. A tacky scene where the group fights a bunch of criminals in the style reminiscent of the old 60’s, Batman television show, does not set the tone well. Every punch that is thrown I was expecting a “Zap” or “Kapow” to show up in a cartoon bubble on the screen. This is not the last of cheesy fight scenes either.

It is not shocking that most of the acting in this movie is passable to good. They have a great veteran cast so the film was solid in the acting department. Sgt. John O’Mara is played by the easy to like Josh Brolin. Brolin, with his gruff voice and permanent frown is easy to watch in this. He leads his ragtag group of misfit cops by example and that is the right call. He kicks ass, and then can show a softer side as he relaxes with his pregnant wife at home. He is supported by Ryan Gosling who is playing Sgt. Jerry Wooters. Gosling was really the only one with the old time accent going in this. His quiet performance was smooth to compliment Brolin’s rough one. Gosling worked for me and once again shows he is good in pretty much anything he does. The biggest surprise for me was Mickey Cohen played by two time Oscar winner Sean Penn. Penn was an overacting mess in this film. His forced bravado and over the top performance was him clearly trying to capture another Oscar with the role. He also looked like a bad guy from the Dick Tracy movie which didn’t help matters. He was a big miss for me and a huge reason why the film struggles.

As the film continues on it just is hard not to pick on its weaknesses. Although fun to watch, the secret task force is made up of a clich├ęd bunch of characters. They reminded me of the A-Team almost. You had the sharpshooter and the tech guy. You had the rookie, and one of the characters could even throw knives like the Army trainer in the movie Starship Troopers. (“Put your hand on that wall, trooper.”) It was pretty comical. The film tries to be serious but I felt I was watching a cartoon at certain points. To be fair, there are very easy to watch scenes of violence. There are old time car chases, and machine gun shoot outs. There are exploding dynamite sticks, and gruesome scenes of torture. There are plenty of dead bodies on both sides, but there are not nearly enough of them to make this film viable. As the film sees itself to its finish, the viewer is treated to an out of place, and pathetic slow motion shootout that will test most viewers resolve. In conclusion, this film never hits the right notes for me. It has cheap camera work gimmicks, and an unneeded love story. It is not serious in any of the right moments, and Sean Penn was terrible. Despite all the negatives it was entertaining at times and very easy to watch. It also makes you want to talk like an old time gangster see.

I am not going to rip on director Ruben Fleischer too hard as he directed the movie Zombieland. He took risks in this film which is to be commended, but they didn’t pan out and that is where the movie faltered. The camera work was out of place, the tone of the film is off, and the story drags in many places. It also has glaring unoriginal parts that are taken from a variety of other movies. The film can be fun at times and the casting of the task squad was on point, but the film just felt wrong to me. This was a below average effort from Fleischer.

I cannot recommend this film as you would just be better served in watching the Untouchables again. This film was not the Chicago way….

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

T Factor – If you do not like old fashioned gangster pieces then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Knockaround Guys, The Departed.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

The Victim

The Victim
Rated: R
Running Time: 83 minutes
Starring: Michael Biehn, Danielle Harris, Jennifer Blanc
Directed By: Michael Biehn
Rating: 0.5 out of 10
A man living in a remote cabin is inundated with unwanted visitors.

I saw Danielle Harris on the cover of this DVD and said to myself, why not. A little voice in my mind told me that this was going to be bad, but I could never have imagined what levels of wretchedness that this movie would get to. The Victim is the story of a man living by himself in a remote cabin. He is minding his own business when a group of visitors show up unannounced.

I am not entirely sure who the victim was supposed to be in this movie. Was it one of its unfortunate characters? Or was it the viewer for having to sit through this drivel? Anyways, the movie starts off and I actually found it to be a quite interesting beginning. You see the guy from the remote cabin, shopping for some supplies. You see a woman being chased through the woods, and you see another woman having sex in the woods. You will be wondering how the film connects with these three different storylines. I am here to tell you that it is not worth the wait. It is as if the director (Biehn) didn’t know where the story was going so he edited the film without care or thought. What happens is this film is cluttered and entirely disjointed. Not only that, virtually nothing happens for the first hour of this movie. You see strippers doing cocaine and trying on skimpy outfits, you see lots of conversations about nothing, you see lots of driving around in the dark, and you see plenty of nudity. What you won’t see is anything remotely representing a decent movie. The different groups of visitors descend on the man’s remote cabin with tales of murder and deceit, but the stories they tell are fraught with boredom and little else. The deep woods are supposed to illicit unknown fears, not feelings of your time being wasted.

The acting was a fail across the board in this. It is as if the actors were handed the script right before the scene was shot, and then had a hard time recalling their lines. The worst of the bunch was clearly Jennifer Blanc. She plays a stripper on the run named Eva. She was little more than an ample filled sweater in this film. Her delivery is cringe worthy, and her emotional range is non-existent.

As the film carries on it never really settles into any specific genre. If this is supposed to be horror, there is no horror. If this film is supposed to be a thriller, there are no thrills. If this film is supposed to be an exploitation film, there is no exploitation. The film is little more than a tale of corrupt cops, scantily clad strippers, and a creepy dude in a cabin. And trees, lots and lots of trees, and when you think something actually might happen, more trees. The many scenes of torture and the abrupt scene of Rob Zombieish (Yes I just used the word Zombieish) styled violence will not arouse any emotions in the viewer. The ending sees a conclusion to why the visitors have arrived at the cabin, but the twist is asinine. In conclusion, this film sucked out loud from about the 5 minute mark to the very end. It has little going for it except two things. The first thing is no matter the time, no matter how life or death the situation, no matter the place, and no matter if you just met, it is always appropriate to have sex to save yourself (and it also is apparently an effective tool, pardon the pun.) The second thing is if you are going to have a movie about a cabin in the woods, get Joss Whedon to help.

Director and writer Michael Biehn seems lost in this endeavor. What happened to this dude? I thought he was going to be big after seeing him in Terminator and Aliens, back in the day. Now he is creating movies that The SyFy network would be embarrassed to put on. The musical score in this is awful and the editing is amateurish. The camera work coupled with the weak acting makes this film a snooze fest instead of gripping. I will not hold it against Biehn as this film had a miniscule budget (Est. 800,000) but wow this was awful.

I cannot recommend this movie. I gave it 0.5 solely for the fact that I love Danielle Harris.

T Factor + If you love horror and grind house styled films then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – None

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed
Comedy (Romance, Sci-Fi)
Rated: R
Running Time: 86 minutes
Starring: Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni
Directed By: Colin Trevorrow
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

3 magazine employees are writing a story about a man who placed an ad in the classified ads. The man is looking for a time travelling partner and he states their safety is not guaranteed.

This is my 3rd review for DJ’s Digital Movie Club which can be found on Facebook (So check that sheet out, and maybe like my movie page in the process. TBizzyMovieReviews) Some people say this is the clubs last review. I say DJ is just taking a hiatus like the television show Community, and that this club will come back stronger then ever! So, here we go. The most unbelievable thing about this film is not that a dude thinks he can time travel. It is the fact that someone is reading a newspaper in the present day. Safety Not Guaranteed is the story of three magazine employees. They are doing a story on a guy who took out an ad in the classified section of the newspaper, and the ad states that he is looking for a partner to time travel with.

This film is probably not for your mainstream viewer. It goes for a more indie type vibe, and for the most part it works. It combines many characters with a multitude of psychological problems, and the mix is odd but appealing. The film starts out and we are introduced to Darius. She is a young lady coasting through life. She is an intern at a magazine and seems a little depressed (or very cynical.) Her everyday monotony is about to change though, as she has been chosen to go on writing assignment with two of her coworkers (Jeff and Arnau.) Jeff is in his late thirties, and is a magazine writer who speaks his mind. He is slightly misogynistic and always looking to party. Arnou is another intern, and he is in his early twenties. He is a virgin and a quiet introvert. As you can imagine, the three of them make quite the team. Darius is constantly poking fun at Jeff for his ridiculous take on love and life. Jeff is constantly making fun of Arnou for not trying hard enough to get laid. Arnou quietly interjects by making creepy comments about women. The three of them are funny together because they are so opposite, and you will be laughing at a multitude of situations that they find themselves in. They head out as a team to interview the wannabe time traveler (named Kenneth) from the classifieds, but it is not going to be as easy as they imagined. The time traveler is obviously not working with a full deck of cards. He is suspicious of everyone, he spouts off scientific mumbo jumbo, and he thinks he is constantly being followed. It is up to Darius to get close to Kenneth and get the story on why he is heading back in time, and more importantly, why he thinks he can time travel in the first place. It is a neat premise and will be enjoyed by many types of film watchers.

The acting is sound, but more importantly the characters are enjoyable to watch. Time traveler Kenneth is played by Mark Duplass. This guy was the glue of the movie for me. The goofy intensity that he brings to the role is what made the film work. He constantly spouts off nonsense about weapons, lasers, and calibrations of his time machine. He seems so honest about everything he says that you want him to succeed in his mission. The comedic side of this movie is mostly brought by Jeff who is played by Jake Johnson. Johnson always seems to be having a good time and says things that most people wouldn’t. He drinks in public, looks up old flames on Facebook, and generally has an inappropriate line for every situation. He was pure jokes. Darius is played by Aubrey Plaza and to be honest I am tired of her at this point. If you have seen her in anything before then you know her shtick. She is awkward and emo, all balled up into one cynical persona. If you haven’t seen her before then she probably will work for you in this film, but for me her act seems played out. Awkward Arnou is played by Karan Soni and he does a fine job as the virgin, but most people could have pulled off the role. These four actors combine to make an enjoyable story of love, missed opportunities in life, and humor.

As the film rolls on it is clear that Kenneth is passionate about travelling back to the past to correct a wrong. Darius is there as his wing woman and goes through a battery of training to make sure she is the suitable candidate for the time jump. They have fun together doing mock army training and just hanging out and getting to know each other. Kenneth likes Darius because she doesn’t look at him like he is a freak. Darius likes Kenneth because she sees a kindred spirit. She sees someone who is misunderstood in this world but is not lost in it. Together they embark on the mission to head back in time. The magazine article seems to be put on the back burner as Darius gets more involved in the journey. As the film comes to its end it will leave a smile on most people’s faces. In conclusion, this film is quirky enough to be enjoyable without losing focus. It has a little bit of a cute romantic element for the ladies, but it has enough misplaced humor that guys should like it also. I will admit that the first half of the film is way better than the second half, but Mark Duplass keeps the movie always heading in the right direction.

Director Colin Trevorrow took many risks with this film and they mostly paid off. From the lesser known cast to the quirky love story, this film could have easily failed. Somehow Trevorrow is able to harness the strangeness of the script, (Derek Connolly) with the quirkiness of the characters to ultimately make a film that is both funny and touching. Good job Mr. Trevorrow; if you can revive the next Jurassic Park movie then I will be really impressed!

I give this movie a recommendation, but especially to mainstream people who are looking to try something a little bit different.

T Factor + If you find Aubrey Plaza funny then this could score higher on the rating scale.

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

If you liked this film reel recommendations: 500 Days of Summer, Silver Linings Playbook. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013


Rated: R
Running Time: 73 minutes
Starring: Michael Rooker
Directed By: James Felix McKenney
Rating: 0 out of 10
A group of ice fishermen are stalked by a monster living in a frozen lake.

It is funny that this movie is called Hypothermia when not a single character in this suffers from that affliction. This movie should be renamed to “The Shittiest Monster Movie Ever Made.” Hypothermia is the story of a group of people trying their hand at ice fishing. What should be a relaxing weekend quickly turns into a battle for their lives. It turns out that something is stalking them from below the ice.

This movie needs to be erased from existence. From the terrible acting to the atrocious dialogue, this film is one of the worst I have ever seen. The frozen lake that the group is fishing on seems ripe for murder, and yet it never works even once to scare the viewer. The monster stalks them from the water and all you can think about is why was this movie even made? I am not going to pick on this movie for long as I have other reviews to write. All I will say is that the main problem is with the creature itself. When it first showed up I almost shot Diet Coke out my nose. It looks like a guy wearing a generic Halloween monster costume that can be found at your local Toys R Us. And not one of the expensive ones either. The creature tracks the group of fishermen with a cartoonish, red haze vision. The haze looks cheaply drawn into the film, and it is immensely overused. When the creature does attack the fisherman, you will be unsure of what exactly is happening due to awful camera work. Often times, one of the group members will come away with a cut that you will have no idea how it happened. Apparently, leaving the lake is not an option as the monster boringly picks them off one by one. It is more comical than scary to watch. If this movie was made in the 1950’s it would still have been said to have bad special effects. In conclusion, this film is NOT to be watched for any reason. It is chalk full of characters you could care less about, and is replete with killing sequences that will leave you shaking your head. There is little blood, little gore, and little common sense. This movie is the definition of horrendous.

Director James Felix McKenney is the Rebecca Black of the movie industry. He makes Uwe Boll look like Frank Capra. It is pointless to ramble on about his weak spots as he has too many. He clearly has an audience I am just not sure who that is. This is one of the worst shot movies of all time.

I cannot recommend this film. Putting your hand into liquid nitrogen would be a better time than watching Hypothermia.

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

T Factor – None

If you liked this movie reel recommendations: Piranha 3DD, Lake Placid.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Drama (Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 157 minutes
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Chloe Sevigny, Elias Koteas, Donal Logue, Dermot Mulroney
Directed By: David Fincher
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Based on true events, Zodiac is the story of a serial killer that stalked the San Francisco Bay area in the 60’s and 70’s.

I once revealed that I have a love for movie musicals. I now have another confession to make…..drum roll….I also love true crime stories. Hmm, a love for musicals and true crime, I am sure a psychologist would have a field day with that. Anyways, Zodiac is the story of the Zodiac Killer. He was a serial killer that tormented the San Francisco Bay area in the late 1960’s to mid 1970’s. We follow a cartoonist as he becomes obsessed with finding out the true identity of one of the most infamous serial killers in American history.

Ed Gein may have been more macabre, Ted Bundy may have had a more sadistic nature, and Jeffrey Dahmer may have committed more unspeakable acts, but no serial killer in history has been more puzzling/intriguing than the Zodiac. He is the North American equivalent of Jack the Ripper. I have followed the Zodiac story for as long as I can remember, and I thought there was no way that they could turn it into an effective movie. I was wrong. The film starts out and we are treated to a typical American 4th of July weekend. (Year 1968.) There are fireworks, kids running in the streets, and people laughing and having fun. That is all about to change with a deranged man stalking the San Francisco Bay area. After some unexplained murders occur, the local newspapers receive letters from a man claiming to be the Zodiac killer (The Zodiac name will be explained in the film.) It would be the start of an investigation that would span a decade, but still is talked about today. Why the case/movie is so gripping is that it has so many interesting angles. The Zodiac sends complex ciphers to the newspapers, he sends crime scene evidence to the newspapers, he sends pictures to the newspapers, and he sends messages of impending massacres to the newspapers. You know all those stupid generic crime films where the killer taunts the police? That actually happened with the Zodiac. So, as you can see this is a story that someone can easily obsess over. That is where we find ourselves with this movie. A cartoonist named Robert Graysmith takes it on himself to discover the true identity of the Zodiac. The journey for the truth may cost Graysmith his family, his job, and maybe his life.

This is an ensemble cast that gels on almost every level. You have Robert Downey Jr. playing the charming and drugged up Paul Avery. He is a journalist that is tasked to write about the Zodiac. He is an imperfect character that is played perfectly. Avery’s co worker is Robert Graysmith played by Jake Gyllenhaal. He is a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case to the detriment to his personal life. Gyllenhaal is solid, but I felt that he should have had some serious weight loss to seal the performance. It would have given his crazy obsession more believability. Lastly there is Inspector Dave Toschi played by Mark Ruffalo. He is a kind of OCD detective who is tasked in catching the Zodiac. He also sees his life turned upside down as he is pressured to catch the killer. He was great and it made the film amazing to watch. No matter if it was Downey Jr., Gyllenhaal, or Ruffalo on screen, you were guaranteed a fantastic performance.

As the film rolls along it is clear that this is all about the mystery of the Zodiac, as opposed to the murders themselves. Don’t get me wrong though, the victims are dispatched with violence that is so shockingly real that you feel like you are watching real life footage. But the killings seem secondary is all I am saying. The Zodiac is proficient with his many killing weapons, but his pen is his mightiest (Don’t giggle at that line.)  He torments a population with his pronouncements of grand killing sprees, and baffles them with his cryptic codes. The film is also awesome in the sense that it spans different counties. Back before computers it was hard to coordinate evidence from different areas. The frustrations that occur because of this fact are staggering. Key pieces of evidence can be missed for years because of this fact and that only adds to the story. As the film comes to a close you will feel Graysmith’s passion for finding the killer. It could be anyone. It could be your next door neighbor, it could be your work colleague, it could be a police officer, and not knowing is part of the allure. In conclusion, this movie is amazing right from the start. The Zodiac Killer held San Francisco in his grips and slowly squeezed it until all that was left was paranoia. The film is brutally realistic without being over the top gory, and the twists and turns will take you for an emotional ride. Lastly, there are a few fantastic, gripping your seat moments as Graysmith’s obsession leads him to some truly chilling locations.

Director David Fincher knows his crime/mystery movies (Seven, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) He captivates his audience once again with this movie, and he does it without any glorified gore. The Zodiac Killer has so many theories and evidence surrounding that it could have been confusing. There is no need to worry as Fincher directs this film like a sea captain to a light house. He has captured so many nice little nuances to the story. He presents many suspects, and he also makes you see how this killer tore apart so many people’s lives. Fincher has many gems on his resume, Zodiac maybe at the top.

I give this movie a huge recommendation as the story is not to be missed. If you liked this film, than you should read about the Zodiac’s unsolved ciphers and the radian theory which are also quite interesting.

T Factor + If you like crime movies, than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are like high body counts and lots of gore than this could score lower on the rating scale  

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Seven, The Bone Collector.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Celebrity Doppelgangers Part 2

Celebrity Doppelgangers Part 2

These are more people that I think look alike.

They are in no particular order.

# 10 Pat Morita and David Suzuki

# 9 Alexander Ovechkin and the Giant from Happy Gilmore

# 8 Emile Hirsch and Brian Austin Green

# 7 Mark Wahlberg and Nate Ruess

# 6 George Karl and John Lithgow

# 5 Sidney Crosby and Andy Samberg

# 4 Alan Cummings and Peewee Herman

# 3 Elias Koteas and Phil from Night Court

# 2 Orlando Bloom and Luke Evans

# 1 Jeff Garlin and Norm from Cheers

Honorable Mentions

Nicolas Cage's Hair and the Crypt Keeper's Hair

Lea Michele and My Pet Monster

There you have it. Are there any that you would add?

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Celebrity Doppelgangers

Celebrity Doppelgangers

When I first saw Dave Franco in 21 Jump Street I was like, “Easy there, James Franco.” I found out after that they are brothers. It got me to thinking though. There are a lot of actor/actresses that look remarkably similar. So similar in fact that it is hard to believe that they are not related in some way. Here is a list of people that are connected by looks. These are off the top of my head so I am sure I missed some obvious ones.

This list is in no particular order.

# 10 Brie Larson and Maura Tierney

# 9 Matt Damon and Jesse Plemons

#8 Helen Hunt and Leelee Sobieski

# 7 Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan

# 6 Michelle Monaghan and Emma Stone

# 5 Penelope Cruz and Paz Vega

# 4 Frankie Muniz and Maisie Williams

# 3 Gary Sinise and Blake Shelton

# 2 Shia Labeouf and Ben Savage

# 1 Leighton Meester and Minka Kelly

Honorable Mention

Melanie Griffith and Mickey Rourke

Paul McCartney and Angela Lansbury

Let me know if you have people that you think are related?