Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Grey (2012) review


I didn't expect this to amount to much, but wow, was I wrong.

PLOT:Ottway (Liam Neeson) is a depressed, Irish man working on a petroleum rig with tons of other hardened men. He had lost his wife and his father in the past. One day he and some of his working companions board a plane headed to a job, but the plane intensely crashes in the middle of a frozen nowhere. Now he and the seven survivors must trek across the wasteland until they reach trees and civilization, but they're being tracked down and picked off by a pack of ravenous wolves. Who will live and who will die? It's a very good plot idea that's executed quite well; I might even say better than I expected.

ACTING:The acting is pretty good if I might say so. Neeson did an excellent job though he stayed hardened most of the film. Other shiners go to Frank Grillo as John Diaz, Dermot Mulroney as Talgot, and Joe Anderson as Flannery.

SCORE:The score is nothing really new, but it's pretty good.

EFFECTS:There are more blood effects than I expected to see as well as an intense plane crash. The plane crash was pretty great, but it wasn't the best ever. It made you feel the intensity and freefall of the crash. The blood effects are pretty standard, but more realistic as opposed to most creature features and thrillers these days.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie surprised me. It was not just a wild, survivor thriller with soulless characters, it was a wild, survivor thriller executed with cinematic magic a handful of soulful characters. The character development did have some flaws, though, for some of the victims die before we get to hear any bit of backstory. Neeson's backstory has the most detail, and it is shocking. The cinematic magic of cutaways, flashbacks, and psychological visions are used more than once in here and they make the movie a sure-fire treat for film buffs. It's not anything truly spectacular, but it's worth a watch for everybody. The only things that bring this movie down besides character problems are shaky cam in important action scenes and predictability. Shaky cam appers so much in important action scenes that the audience can't tell where the wolves may have attacked or what happened to the people. The movie can be pretty predictable at times, too, which brings it down. The scare factor of this movie is pretty generic, but it gets the job done.

OVERALL,a great survival movie with a well executed plot, good acting, good score, intense and realistic effects, cinematic magic, and an accomplishing scare factor, but there are character development problems among some characters, lots of shaky cam, and some bits of predictability.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Pagemaster (1994) review


It's amazing how one of your favorite childhood movies can be so different with age.

PLOT:Young Richard Tyler (Macaulay Culkin) is a kid that's scared of nearly everything he sees or touches. One day when he's running to get some tools for his dad in the town, it starts to rain and Richard is forced to enter the library where he meets the ecstatic librarian, Mr. Dewey (Christopher Lloyd). After being somewhat introduced to books, Richard asks to use the phone to call his parents. On his way there, he slips and falls, knocking him out. Now Richard is trapped in a world ruled by the Pagemaster (Christopher Lloyd) where he must make it to the exit by facing and meeting the worlds and books of Adventure (Patrick Stewart), Fantasy (Whoopi Goldberg), and Horror (Frank Welker). It's a unique but simple plot that's executed very simple-mindedly.

ACTING/VOICES:Most of the acting in the live action scenes was overdone, especially Culkin's, but in the voice-acting section, every voice fit its persona accurately in a fun and loveable way.

SCORE:The score was made up of just regular adventure score and extremely cheesy inspirational songs about imagining and dreaming.

ANIMATION:Some say the animation is lazily done, but I say aside from the beginning scene, it's pretty well done. It reminds me of the nostalgic animation as used in "An American Tail".

OTHER CONTENT:This movie was mainly made for one reason, and that is to persuade children to read. The simple idea shows through cheesily, as nearly the whole movie's an inspirational nightmare as related to books. I'm one for literature, and I appreciated the book references too, but there is such a thing as overdoing it. The one thing besides the voice acting, animation, and references that kept this going was the dry yet sharp-witted humor used to refer to the books. I laughed a few times, guilty as charged. To think I would've given this an 8 out of 10 when I was about 5...

OVERALL,a movie that's not too shabby with a simple plot, overdone acting and fitting voicing, cheesy score, nostalgic animation, cheesy and inspirational feeling, great book references, and sharp-witted humor.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Day of the Dead (2007) review


If it had not been a gift from a secret santa, I wouldn't have watched it.

PLOT:In a Leadville, Colorado, a virues has broken out where a parasite infects the brain and turns the infected into flesh-eating zombies. Now it's up to a socially-awkward teenager (Michael Welch), his jittery girlfriend (AnnaLynne McCord), a tough-as-nails military officer (Mena Suvari), and a comically-influenced soldier (Nick Cannon) to warn others, put an end to it all, and get out alive. It's a very interesting zombie set-up, but it's executed very crudely.

ACTING:This had to be the worst part of the movie. Suvari couldn't get any emotion expressed, McCord was a bland character, and Welch played a typical character. Cannon I cannot even go into how bad he was. He mainly was the comic relief, but the whole movie stole his job.

SCORE:Typical horror jump-score. Nothing impressive.

EFFECTS:This is the second worst part of the film. The effects are either digital effects that appear out-of-place or make-up effects that look like strawberry jello and pizza. This failed pathetically at the realistic factor and horribly at the entertainment factor.

OTHER CONTENT:Where do I begin? This movie is supposed to be a remake based off of Romero's "Day of the Dead", which it is, but it can't even capture a bit of the terror and cult following the original received in here. It tries to recreate some of the iconic scenes from the movie, but it puts it to shame and only angers me by how they actually tried to copy them scene-by-scene. Secondly, the zombies in the original are typical yet ferocious, wherever these are ferocious and overdone to the point of trying to hard. This movie's so suckily done that even the combat scenes fail. They switch the camera angles so much during combat that you can barely tell what's happening and all the "cool stuff" is lost in translation. I don't even think I should mention the plot twists. The plot twists are so ridiculously written that it couldn't even entertain a simpleton. The only thing that made this movie worthwile was that everything was fun to laugh at. The movie itself, as I said before, turns into a huge comedy relief.

OVERALL,a horrible movie with a crudely executed plot, emotionless and typical acting, jump score, failing effects, failure at trying to re-vamp Romero, overdone zombies, failing combat scenes, and ridiculous plot twists, but it's fun to laugh at.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Regular Frankie Fan (2001) review


If this doesn't make you a regular Frankie fan, then I don't blame you!

SUBJECT:Rocky Horror Picture Show has been a cult classic since in came out in 1975 with midnight shows being held all over the world. This delves into the spirit and experiences of a midnight show and performance group by interviewing several performers and audience members of the midnight shows. It delves into how it got started, how a performance group lives, the "Virgin Sacrifice", and even how people have gotten laid during a show. I, being a fan of Rocky Horror, love that they touched upon this, but they didn't do the best of jobs capturing the emotion the movie gives.

PEOPLE:Paul Williams narrates parts of the movie, and of what he narrates, he does a great job of. The people intereviewed from the audience and groups give interesting stories about Rocky Horror shows and conventions as well as the feelings they convey, but they don't succeed at fully capturing the theme of Rocky.

SCORE:The score consists of obscure artists performing heavier or more electronic versions of Rocky songs. It lets you know for true that this is an independent documentary, but some of them aren't that bad, trippy in fact.

OTHER CONTENT:With myself being a fan of the Rocky Horror movie and feel, I expected myself to enjoy this documentary, but instead it plunged me into a world of strangeness. I, myself, am strange, but this just mislead me to think that live shows were raving sex parties with people being crazy. That may be part of the spirit of Rocky Horror, but they didn't even choose hardly to cover the feeling the movie gives off standing alone. I found myself asking, "Where's the magic? Where is the feeling I so enjoyed in watching the actual film?" It was greatly missing the point. I still enjoyed the realism it touched upon in the live shows and how it draws everyone together for a wild good time.

OVERALL,a neutral-feeling documentary with a failed execution of subject matter, great narration and indescribable people, indie score that set the mood of the doc, and a wild good time, but it fails greatly to catch the true essence of Rocky Horror.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

House (1985) review


10% war movie
20% comedy
70% horror
100% unique

PLOT:Roger Cobb (William Katt) is a famous horror author who's wife (Kay Lenz) divorced him and son went missing at his aunt's house. When his aunt commits suicide, he takes the house over to start work on a novel about his experiences in the Vietnam War. His aunt was a raving loon, saying that the house was haunted and that it will trick you. Roger didn't believe it, but when he starts finding freakish monsters in the house and inanimate objects come to life, he starts to believe. Now he has to get to the bottom of it while avoiding his annoying new neighbor Harold (George Wendt) and other problems. Questions still remain though: Are these all personal demons released through the house? Is it really haunted? How is this all connected to his missing son? I'll leave you there. It's a very unique plot executed in a pretty different way.

ACTING:The acting isn't really the best part of the movie, truthfully. Katt I found to be a bit bland at some parts. Wendt did a pretty awesome job for this movie. Everyone else was just ok, except for Richard Moll as Big Ben. His acting was truly overdone.

SCORE:The score was mainly composed to set the mood for a cheesy 80s horror, but it actually has a pretty spooky theme that I find classic.

EFFECTS:The effects are what make this thing worthwhile. The monsters may be made from low budget costumes and stop motion effects, but they're designed to look like no other movie monster and to enthuse the laugh-scare factor (as seen in The Evil Dead). I said long ago in my first review for Beetlejuice that I love the cheesy effects used in it; well, these are present in here. I find the effects what mainly make it what it is.

OTHER CONTENT:Now this film has a lot of flaws (such as the somewhat lazy acting), but they all come together to make a campy 80s classic that borrows inspirations from all the right places. One problem that I found pretty cruddy was that I found the movie rushed in production and editing because we get placed into certain situations quicker than imagined and when a flashback comes along, we have to infer based on the brief cut-in. Even though this made the movie a little wild, it never tried to be anything special but a cheesy comedy, which it was.

OVERALL,an awesome comedy horror with a unique plot, lazy acting, cheesily spooky score, cheesily funny effects, and a rushed production.

Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2001) review

(Just to let you know, I organize documentaries differently than I do regular films.)

To finish off the marathon, I take advantage of the bio disc.

SUBJECT:This is basically a biography on the great filmmaker Stanley Kubrick consisting of his child-life stories, his inspiration stories, and his life in film and family. They discuss the topic very well for a biography, but without his presence to secure his ideas and such, it just feels a bit empty.

PEOPLE:The people in here range from other filmmakers like Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg, to Kubrick's collaborators like Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. They all have interesting things to say about Kubrick that just glorify his name more than most would expect.


SCORE:The score in here ranges from the wonderful classical music played in his movies, to the themes he had made specifically for his movies, to themes used to set the emotion for his life and loss.

OTHER CONTENT:This is a pretty decent biography. The introduction and closing are both very powerful, and the body of the film is very thought-provoking, but I believe it misses some of the important points of Kubrick's life. Of course, he wasn't present to express them, but I guess that's one of the movies shortcomings.

OVERALL,an awesome biography with a well discussed subject, ranging people, beautifully mixed score, and a powerful introduction and closing, but without the presence of the man himself, it misses some important points.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Stanley Kubrick Collection: Ranked from Worst to Best

I have watched all nine of Kubrick's best films in the collection and now I will rank them on how much I like them in descending order. Enjoy!

9. Eyes Wide Shut - This is Kubrick's least favored work to most and for me. It just has a whole different feel and goes way too far on the terms of art.

8. Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb - I find this film hugely overrated. The jokes aren't that funny, but it still has some charm and ideas to laugh about.

Full Metal Jacket
7. Full Metal Jacket - It's a very good war film and an excellent movie by Kubrick, but without the brilliant first half, it would seem just like a generic 80's war film.

6. Barry Lyndon - This movie is a little underrated, though very excellent. The only problem is that the trick Kubrick was trying to pull off didn't agree with my mindset.

5. The Shining - The movie is a top-notch horror, but it apparently doesn't stand up to the book and it could be done so much better.

4. Spartacus - Spartacus is a fine historical drama and action film, but it isn't the best movie I've ever seen.

3. Lolita - Lolita is a great boundary-pushing film for its time. It's not as out there as Eyes Wide Shut, and it's very dramatic and interesting, but it can get draggy and has a few character problems.

2. A Clockwork Orange - It's entertaining, artsy in the way of seeing a point, psychological, harrowing, and just a fine film, but the book tops it by a slice.



1. 2001: A Space Odyssey - The film may be painfully slow, but it's beautiful, unique, epic, futuristic, mysterious, possible, and a whole set of other things.

Now you know how my Kubrick marathon went. I'll watch his bio and then move on to...smaller?...things.
R.I.P. Stanley Kubrick

Eyes Wide Shut (1999) review


SEX-The ninth and final of the favorite subjects of Stanley Kubrick as listed in the DVD booklet.

PLOT:Doctor William Hartford (Tom Cruise) and his wife Alice (Nicole Kidman) have been married a long time. When they're invited to a party by fellow friend Victor Ziegler (Sydney Pollack), they both reach a feeling of seduction toward other people. Nothing happens, but they confess their thoughts one night and it sends them on a wild trip into sexual desire and temptation, mainly William, who stumbles upon an erotic nightmare like nothing else. It's a very great and somewhat difficult idea to act upon, and Kubrick does a very good job of it, but it's not really the best.

ACTING:The actors must all have some kind of bravery to be in this movie considering all of the sex, so I give them credit for that already. But in performance, everyone was pretty good. Cruise played a convincing part of a man in uncharted want and struck some thought within me. Kidman also did a good job getting emotions across accurately. Pollack did a very convincing job as well. The only other true shiner was Julienne Davis as Mandy, though Rade Serbedzija did a decent job of Milich the costume shop owner.

SCORE:The score mainly contained one haunting piano theme that sent chills of mystery and anticipation down my spine. It's very distinguishing.

CAMERAWORK:This being Kubrick's last work, especially being on the edge of the modern world, it was still pretty detailed in the camerawork. It was not as detailed as his usual stuff, but it still managed to come off as visually pleasing.

OTHER CONTENT:This really is a close for Kubrick. It was almost like fate ended his career right at the perfect timing. What I believe is that Kubrick tried to go with something new and unique that has never been done before, but I don't think he really succeeded. Kubrick threw a stone into new territory, but it landed too far out of his reach. He wanted to be different and exotic, but this just ended up crossing the line between art and trash. The movie isn't complete trash though, for it is an interesting story, compelling mystery, and it kept me on the tips of toes to figure out what was happening and why. Sex is a delicate issue to film; it only takes so much to get it right. Kubrick tried his best and nearly succeeded all the way. Not only that, but Kubrick's works have his own feel to it. This one had a completely different mood and atmosphere that changed everything. It's almost like it has a mind of its own.

OVERALL,a good Kubrick film with well executed plot, very good acting, haunting score, and visually pleasing camerawork, but it goes to far to be considered true art and changes the feel of everything. This was a sufficient end for Kubrick, though he would've probably made more masterpieces if he had lived.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Full Metal Jacket (1987) review


WAR-The eighth of Kubrick's favorite subjects as foretold by the DVD booklet.

PLOT:This takes place during the drafts of the Vietnamese War. We see the conditions troops are faced with in boot camp and on the battlefield and how war turns into hell, but mainly we follow the squadron of Private Joker (Matthew Modine) and how he tries to keep his buddy Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio) alive in boot camp, and then serving his duty as journalist in the war. The plot is pretty basic for a war film, but it's executed greatly, though the first half is way better.
Full Metal Jacket

ACTING:The acting is awesome. Modine does a great job as Joker and D'Onofrio does a brilliant job of Pyle. I can feel the change that takes place in Pyle during his boot camp days. Other great performances were R. Lee Ermey as Sgt. Hartman, Adam Baldwin as Animal Mother, and Kevin Howard as Rafterman.
SCORE:The score was mainly cheesy 80s music and military songs, but they seemed to fit the moods just well.

CAMERAWORK:This had some of Kubrick's famous camerawork in it, but not much.

OTHER CONTENT:This had most of Kubrick's best perks and feels in it, but I can tell what people mean when they say that it's overrated. You can't feel Kubrick's presence in here as much as some of his other works; in fact, if not for the first half of the film, it would have been just another war movie that no one would've acknowledged as anything more than generic, Oscar-bait. It's still a great film, but it just doesn't live up to the potential Kubrick had.

OVERALL,a great Kubrick film with a greatly executed plot, awesome acting, fitting score, classic Kubrick camerawork, and a great first half, but without the first half, the movie would've been pretty bland.