Wizard-8

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Reviews

Animal Crackers
(2017)

Longish and cluttered, but fun
I'm not sure why someone like me chose to sit down and watch this family movie - I'm not a child, and I'm also not a parent. Maybe I decided to watch it since it was for free on Netflix. Anyway, I am glad that I did give it a go, because the movie was often quite fun. The voice actors seem to be having a lot of fun in their roles, and that gives the movie a very amiable feeling. Contributing to that feeling is a message (not delivered too thickly) that family is very important. Indeed, the protagonists really seem to care deeply about each other. which is a nice change from the usual strident animated family entertainment we get today. While the animation isn't extremely exceptional, it's colorful, and often giving some amusing production design. There are also a number of amusing gags, as well as some fast-paced action that add some real energy.

While I did like this movie (and I am certainly recommending it), I think it could have been significantly better. With a running time of about 105 minutes, the story seems stretched out at times. Also, there are plot threads and characters that don't seem to be terribly important, and just end up making the story somewhat of a jumble at times. Though there are also some times when we don't get enough information, one example being a central character whose eventual fate is never really explained, and the "rules" of the animal cracker box don't seem to be firmly set.

I've heard that the production was troubled by studio interference, so that may explain why the story at times seems kind of messy. Because of this, I don't blame the directors or writers for these story problems. Anyway, the movie is still enjoyable whether you are a child or an adult, so I say give it a look.

Hell on the Border
(2019)

Sadly, it just doesn't work
Given that African Americans haven't been represented well in the western film genre despite in real life having a big impact during the days of the wild west, I was really interested in seeing this movie, especially since it was based on a real African American lawman (Bass Reeves). But whatever your ethnicity may be, I am pretty sure that you will find this movie to be simply terrible.

The portrayal of Bass Reeves here is extremely unsatisfying. About all that the movie can think of to do with this character is for him to regularly meet people who are racist and/or doubtful he can do the job, and brood silently about it. If they had really explored this character deeply, I'm sure things would have been better.

However, even if great effort had been made to portray Bass Reeves in a multidimensional manner, the movie would still have been pretty awful. Right from the start, viewers will see that the movie did not have much of a budget - cinematography looks almost like VHS quality, the locations are drab and boring, there's not much in the way of props, the costumes look too clean and too new, and the sets are really flimsy and cheap.

Probably due to this pittance of a budget, the filmmakers didn't seem able to put in a lot of spectacle. The movie is really slow-moving, with a lot of (cliched) dialogue instead of action and a swift pace.

I'm sure the filmmakers had their heart in the right place, but the end results indicate that they should have waited to get a bigger budget (and a better script) before filming started. As it is, it's yet another Lions Gate / Grindstone production that's way below par.

A Thousand Words
(2012)

Melancholy comedy
Probably the most memorable thing about this Eddie Murphy vehicle is the fact that after principle photography it sat on the shelf for four years before being released to an indifferent public. It doesn't take long to see why the studio wasn't exactly gung ho about getting the movie released. Some have called it a variation of the Jim Carrey movie "Liar Liar", and there are some striking similarities. But that didn't bother me as much as the downbeat spirit given to the entire enterprise. It's sometimes a somewhat angry comedy, but a lot of the time it just feels... well, sad. There is no wacky spirit, no sense that the writer or the director were having fun in their roles. Murphy does try hard (maybe TOO hard) to wring out a few laughs, but you can eventually tell by looking at him that even he was thinking it was all futile and the ship was doomed to sink from the start. Another problem is that (despite the movie going through some reshoots) there are some important plot details that are either not fully explained or not at all, meaning that it ends on kind of a confusing and murky note. You won't need anywhere near a thousand words to express how this movie goes wrong should you decide to watch it.

Our House
(2018)

Mostly a by the numbers exercise
Canadian filmmakers make so few movies that are aimed at a wide audience that I really don't want to criticize one of these few efforts that despite best intentions does not work. Alas, I have to do this for the Canadian supernatural thriller "Our House". I could forgive the movie for hiding any "Canadian" traits that would show that the movie was taking place in Canada with Canadian characters, since the credits indicate that the movie was made with American involvement, and the movie might not have been made without the American involvement. I could also forgive the movie for having (despite the American involvement) somewhat low production values at times, though it never looks too tacky or cheap.

What I can't forgive about the movie are two aspects. The first is that the movie is painfully predictable. While it does start off with an interesting angle concerning how the evil forces are brought into the story, there's not any other plot element or plot turn that doesn't feel like it's been done dozens of times before in other movies. You'll be able to pretty much predict what will happen before it happens, right down to the closing shot.

Actually, I might have forgiven the movie for its standard script had the director brought in some serious zip and/or a new presentation style, but unfortunately that doesn't happen. The story plods on at a really slow pace; it isn't until about halfway through the movie before the characters really sense they are dealing with something potentially dangerous. Also, the tone throughout feels "soft", lacking conviction and energy. It's also somewhat aloof at times, seemingly afraid at some points to add a believable human angle.

This is far from being among the worst movies (Canadian or not) that have been made, but I still can't recommend it. It simply doesn't go the extra mile in key areas that might have made it more intriguing or entertaining. Probably most viewers will agree it was yet another waste of Canadian taxpayers' dollars.

Evolution
(2001)

Blandly made by everyone involved
It's obvious that producer/director Ivan Reitman was hoping to recapture the magic of his earlier hit movie "Ghostbusters" with this movie, but unfortunately the results this time around are a real disappointment. From what I heard, the original version of the screenplay was written in a serious vein, but someone along the line decided that it should be made as a comedy. It's not much of a surprise that the comedy here seems extremely shoehorned in here instead of coming across as natural and belonging to this particular cinematic environment. It might have been okay had this forced-in comedy been funny, but it simply isn't. It's both extremely predictable and without any big spark to it. This may explain why the cast doesn't seem particularly enthusiastic, giving passive performances from the beginning to the end. The movie doesn't even have any good eye candy; the special effects, even for the period this movie was made in, are really below average for a big budget Hollywood movie. They come across as really phony and unnatural. You'd be a lot better off rewatching "Ghostbusters" instead.

The Courier
(2019)

A stupid script + bad acting = A bomb
I'm into B movies, so when this came up on Netflix, I thought it might have enough action and thrills to make it worth sitting through. However, it didn't take me long to suspect that what was to follow was as badly handled in the opening sequences. For starters, the movie is really boring for the first 25 or so minutes. There is absolutely no way that establishing the situation and the characters should have taken this long.

Things do pick up a little after that point, but then the script finds new ways to be unendurable. For one thing, it soon becomes yet another clone of "Die Hard" instead of doing something more original. What makes this clone worse is that a lot of the plot turns are really stupid. Why aren't there more cops nearby where the witness is going to testify to come in should there be trouble? Would a power and maintenance room of a tall building be located on the top floor? Why doesn't the courier just pull a fire alarm to alert the authorities? Those are just some of the many hard to swallow things about the story.

The script is bad in another way. The dialogue, quite frankly, is really atrocious. It wavers between clichés done in many other movies before, and really awkward sounding statements. Making the dialogue worse are the actors to have to speak it. The acting in this movie is quite frankly awful. Gary Oldman gives a really weird performance, the witness character is extremely annoying, and the hired goons are stiff. Kurylenko isn't that great, though you do see that she's trying and may have the ability to give good performances elsewhere with the right material and the right director.

I guess the movie is not completely bad. There are some really intense bone-crunching action sequences as well a good amount of blood and gore spilled. But it's not enough to make it worth sitting through an incredible amount of awfulness. Instead of watching it... return to sender.

10
(1979)

Lightly amusing fluff
For several decades this film was always on my list of movies to watch, but for some reason I never got around to watching it until now. I'd had heard how hilarious it was supposed to be, though I didn't find it laugh out loud funny, just a silly but somewhat likable exercise. But at least it's more palatable than "R" rated movies in this day and age, because of its much different tone and pacing. What really surprised me about this movie was how leisurely paced it was, as well as being over two hours long. A modern comedy wouldn't take long to get down to business, but this movie takes its time; for example, Dudley Moore doesn't get down to Mexico to crash the honeymoon of his dream girl until almost half the movie has passed. But the movie never gets so slow that it's boring, and Moore does give a likable comic performance. Not one of the best comedies ever made, but perfect when you want to kick back and be lightly amused for a couple of hours.

Trauma Center
(2019)

It will give you brain trauma!
I really don't understand why Bruce Willis keeps agreeing to do these quickie direct to DVD movies where he only appears for a few minutes. Granted, getting a few million dollars for just a few days of work would be tempting even to me. But after doing so many of these movies, Willis has severely damaged his reputation.

This particular one (yet another by the prolific producing team of Randall Emmett and George Furla) is, I admit a little better than usual. Willis, for one thing, shows up for about ten minutes this time instead of his usual five minute limit. (Though he continues to use the same awful sleepwalking performance he uses for these quickie efforts.) Production values are also not bad for a movie where most of the budget had to be designated to pay Willis his exorbitant salary. And occasionally there is a little suspense.

However, the movie is saddled with an incredibly dumb script, one that constantly brings up questions that are never answered as well as characters making incredibly stupid decisions. Do emergency doors really have internal locks that can make escaping from a building impossible? Why wasn't the entire hospital alerted when the fire alarm was activated? Why didn't any other security guards arrive after the security guard radioed to his command the request to send more security guards? Why did the heroine just stop at calling Willis' character when she got to a phone instead of calling other avenues of help? Why didn't she use the Internet on the computer to send the contents of the memory chip to the authorities?

I could go on and on for quite some time illustrating this movie's stupidity, but I think you've got the point by now. Even the (limited) merit to be found here and there is not enough to make this worth a look even for the biggest fans of B movies... or the few remaining fans of Bruce Willis.

I Don't Want to Be Born
(1975)

Unsatisfying mishmash
It was perhaps inevitable that the casting of Joan Collins in the star role of this clone of "The Omen" (with a little bit of "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby" thrown in) would instantly destroy almost every avenue of giving the movie credibility. Actually, it seems that the makers of this movie did sense that, because there are some moments that are so absurd that it seems they were admitting that the movie was ridiculous. Though these touches of black humor are somewhat amusing at times, the rest of the movie is pretty much a disappointment. General production values are acceptable, but it seems the movie didn't have much money for special effects or true spectacle. There's also little nudity and bloody violence. A bigger problem is the script. For long periods (well, pretty much the entire movie) the story advances at a really slow crawl. There are no real surprises as well, except maybe that the movie ends on a note where some really glaring questions remain unanswered. Whatever you may think this movie might have to offer to your particular taste - '70s genre movies, Collins, exploitation material, substantial unintended comedy - most likely you'll be very disappointed at the end

The Last Days of American Crime
(2020)

Good premise badly botched up
When this movie came up on Netflix, I was really interested by its advertised premise, that being a future American implementing a system that will prevent people committing crimes, and a small group of people planning one last robbery just before that system kicks in. I hadn't heard of a premise like this before, so I was really interested to see how it would be depicted. But believe it or not, the movie doesn't really explore the implications and consequences of what would happen if such an anti-crime system was put into place. It wouldn't take much of a rewrite to make the story into a full caper movie, which is mostly as it is now. It's possible the movie might be able to be salvaged with the planning and execution of the caper, but there really isn't anything new with this portion of the movie. It just goes through the same tired elements such as double-crossing partners, corrupt law officers, etc. etc. Even when the movie tries to throw in some action, it still goes through the motions instead of being original and special. And as others here at the IMDb have pointed out, at two hours and twenty-eight minutes in length, the movie is far too long for its own good. All I can say that's positive about this movie is that it doesn't depict my country (Canada) with any real stereotypes when there are Canadian references. In short, the movie is yet another Netflix exclusive flop.

Carter's Army
(1970)

Worthy subject given shabby treatment
The premise for this made for TV movie had a lot of promise - there haven't been a lot of movies made concerning African Americans who fought in World War Two, and the production managed to round up some serious talent in front of the camera.

But the cast really deserved a lot better than what they actually got. Since the production was made for television in the early 1970s, you can imagine how the movie looks and feels. If for some reason you are not able to, I'll just say that the locations are inappropriate (California does NOT look like Europe), there is a bare minimum of props in most sequences, and often the props that are used don't seem to fit the time and place (such as the uniforms the soldiers wear.)

The fact that the production doesn't seem to have bothered to hire any kind of military advisor doesn't just apply to the production values, but also with the battlefield maneuvers and interplay with fellow troops; even those who have never been in the military will get a strong feeling that all of this is simply inaccurate. It's also sometimes insulting, because most of the African American soldiers in the movie come across as lazy and undisciplined; I am sure real African American soldiers in this war were trying extremely hard to prove themselves to the Caucasian soldiers.

The biggest disappointment, however, is that most of the movie is really dull and slow, even though its running time is only about 70 minutes. The thin story is ridiculously padded out. There also isn't any real action until the last twenty minutes, which certainly doesn't help things.

Is there anything worthy to see here? Well, the movie does provide the chance to see some then unknown African American actors who later became famous, such as Robert Hooks, Billy Dee Williams, Rosie Grier, and Richard Pryor. Speaking of Pryor, you also get to see him in a rare serious role. But apart from that, the movie is so poorly done that you'll understand why no one renewed its copyright, resulting in the movie being widely available in DVD bargain bins at Wal-Mart and other retailers.

Mute
(2018)

Pretty, but makes little sense
While some Netflix exclusive movies or TV shows are pretty good, there are also a number that don't work very well, and "Mute" unfortunately is one such example. Clearly a lot of effort was put into some aspects of the movie, because the cinematography, sets, and the special effects and props look very nice. Not only that, they manage to create a futuristic world that seems a lot more plausible than a lot of movies dealing with high tech/dystopian science fiction settings. However, all this effort with giving the movie style and color doesn't make up much for the fact that the script is a mess. Scenes that might provide some explanation simply aren't there. Other scenes run on for too long of a time. Characters disappear suddenly and don't pop up again for a long time (if at all, that is.) The story drags on and on, being much too long at 126 minutes. It's too bad, because along the way I did see a few ideas with great potential. If the screenwriters had tackled these ideas slowly for a long time while writing the script, we might have had something here. The best use for this movie is to use as background noise/visuals when your main focus is on something else more important.

Song of Norway
(1970)

Incredibly boring musical
By the time that the musical "Song of Norway" was released to theaters, the theatrical market had been saturated with many other musicals for the past few years, enough so that it was getting much harder to attract audiences to see these movies. That probably explains why this movie, while not an outright flop, all the same underperformed greatly. But while the declining market may partially explain why the movie failed at the box office, I think that there is a bigger reason for the lack of audience interest. That reason being that the movie is pretty bad. For starters, the musical numbers - the backbone of any musical - just don't cut it. None of the songs are memorable, except how often awkward they sound. Also, the movie goes on for far too long (142 minutes!) and is obviously being padded out. A worse problem with the story, however, is that none of it is particularly interesting. From this movie, Edvard Grieg's life doesn't seem to have been very exciting, mainly consisting of several long years of tedious rejections from his contemporaries until he finally broke through. Even the marriage to his cousin, and pining for another woman while married to his cousin, don't feel the least controversial or interesting. The only thing the movie has going for it is its magnificent photography, which clearly shows how beautiful the Scandinavian countryside is. But you would be better off watching a travelogue show on TV instead.

Shot Caller
(2017)

Don't miss this one!
I hadn't even heard of this movie before stumbling across it on Netflix. It had a sparse description, but it was enough to intrigue me enough to watch it. Sometimes I stumble on a real gem when cruising around Netflix, and that is definitely true for this movie. It manages to tell two stories - how a law abiding man can turn into a harden criminal, as well as what happens when that same person is freed into society. The movie chooses to keep cutting back between these two parts of the man's life, which I think is much better than if it had been told chronologically - it keeps the storytelling fresh while peeling away the layers of the character so we know what's driving him and making him make his decisions. Almost everything else about the movie is top notch - the production values are solid and the acting is convincing and professional. The only flaws I feel the movie has is that the central character's transformation into a hardened con is done a little too quickly, and the ending to somewhat of a degree is predictable. But those are just minor flaws in an otherwise outstanding production. This is one movie that is definitely worth the time to invest in.

Sanyangeui sigan
(2020)

Watchable, but not exceptional
As you probably know, Koreans have been cranking out a lot of great movies of all different genres for the past few years. I'm a big fan of them, so when this one appeared on Netflix, I was certain to give it a watch. However, in the end I found this particular effort to some degree to be underwhelming. The main problem I had with the movie is that it goes on way too long at 134 minutes. There's no way this story should have been that extended, and as a result I sometimes got a little impatient with it. Curiously, despite the great length, there are some plot details that seem missing. Also, there are some pretty big leaps in logic at times (for example, where was the security and hospital staff when the bad guy came by and started to shoot up the place?) And at its core, the premise of the movie - people stealing from organized crime and being tracked down by a cold and expert tracker - has been done many times before. There's not much new with this particular telling. Still, the movie does present a dystopian Korea in a fairly convincing way despite not having a megabudget, there are some action and suspense scenes that do generate some excitement, and I can't say I was really bored even during the slower moments. So I am giving this movie a marginal recommendation for fans of Korean cinema. If you are not a fan of Korean cinema, you may want to lower my rating by a star or two.

Looking Glass
(2018)

Has a great setup, but doesn't know what to do with it
This week's Nicolas Cage movie (well, it does at times seem he appears in a new direct to video release every week!) actually had a lot of potential. It's well produced, and right from the start it starts to put one plot element or new mystery after another. For a lot of the running time, I was thinking, "This is shaping up to be a terrific movie!" However, the movie ultimately blows it. The long running time is definitely one factor; you eventually will be yelling at the movie to get on with it and reveal some meat concerning what is going on. Which leads to the second big problem of the movie - it ends on a note where a LOT of plot threads and character motivations are never answered! (SPOILERS AHEAD) Who killed the former motel owner, and why? What do those people hanging out across the street from the motel know about the situation? How did the killer at one point (dressed head to toe in black) gain access to an occupied motel room? What was the point in throwing the pig carcass into the pool, as well as throwing blood or red paint on the motel? Why was the killer killing people in the first place? These and other questions are never answered satisfactory - or at all, for that matter. It's incredible that apparently nobody connected to this movie saw all of these unanswered questions. While this movie is marginally better than some other recent Nicolas Cage movies, that doesn't mean it's worth investing 103 minutes of your time to watch it.

John Henry
(2020)

Even fans of Crews will be let down by this
I think it's understandable why many people might think "John Henry" might deliver the goods - there is its title, the setting being gang territory in Los Angeles, and the fact that Terry Crews is the central protagonist. However, I think just about anyone who sits down to watch this movie will be very disappointed. If you think that there would be non-stop brutal action, think again - after the opening action sequence, there isn't another action sequence for about an hour. And when the action does come, it isn't particularly well done, mainly due to the fact that it's pretty poorly directed and edited at times. The overall amateurish feel of this movie no doubt comes from the limited budget; while the movie never becomes incredibly cheap and tacky, it's obvious that the filmmakers were working with some severe limitations. Terry Crews can't do much with his role, possibly because of a screenplay that doesn't explore his character much, as well as making a number of other characters and plot details murky. This could have been a great update to the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, but it's pretty much a misfire.

Dangerous Lies
(2020)

Promising idea deflated by many plot holes
The core idea behind this Netflix exclusive movie - down and out people stumbling on a fortune but things soon getting complicated - had been done many times before, but it's still an irresistible premise. All that is needed is some careful writing - which unfortunately, "Dangerous Lies" does not have. (SPOLERS AHEAD!) The movie has a lot of unexplained elements, such as: Where did the elderly man get all of that money? Why was the mummified body on top of a shelf? Did the male protagonist really have some connection with the person who tried to rob the diner? How could the diamonds at the end not be found when their bag had been lying next to a tree trunk for several months? Was the check made out for $7000 a mistake or a gift? I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea that this is one screenplay that really needed a rewrite, not just for those plot holes but also because it takes a long time for the protagonists to be in really big trouble. This movie is much too slow for its own good. The production values are acceptable, and it's always nice to see Elliott Gould (though he deserves much better), but apart from that I think viewers will be completely let down.

The Man from Hong Kong
(1975)

Delivers enough of the goods for martial art fans
I have wanted to see this movie for several decades, but at least in North America, it never received a video release for some reason. Fortunately, there is a thing called YouTube, and with it I finally got to watch this Ozpoitation exercise. Overall, I thought that it was worth the wait to see. It's well produced, with nice looking Hong Kong and Australian locations. When it comes to action, the movie delivers the goods, from car chases to (of course) kung fu battles. The martial arts battle in the Chinese restaurant is a knockout! However, I don't think it quite reaches a level that would make it an action classic. The biggest problem with the movie is that it goes on too long. It's clear many times that things are going much slower than they should, and that reveals the plot being somewhat thin. Also, the climatic bout between George Lazenby and Jimmy Wang Yu is somewhat of a disappointment because it's much shorter than you would think (Though Lazenby in this sequence shows some jaw-dropping stuntwork.) But if you can look beyond those flaws, you'll be more than satisfied with the rest of the package.

Aaron Loves Angela
(1975)

Mostly a disappointment
I had wanted to see this movie for many years, since it was the first movie listed in Leonard Maltin's classic movie review book, and the book gave the movie a favorable review. Today I finally got to watch it after recording it off Turner Classic Movies, and I was pretty let down by it. I feel I should mention that though the movie advertises itself as a kind of updated urban Romeo and Juliet tale, surprisingly there is almost no feuding between any of the African Americans and Puerto Ricans showcased. It still could have worked as a drama or a romance, but these angles of the movie are also a letdown. I never really saw what the two youthful protagonists found attractive with each other or got a sense of their building (and challenging) relationship. For example, they actually seem to already know each other very well when they are shown talking to each other for the first time in the movie. Actually, there are tell-tale signs that the movie was cut down significantly in the editing room, since there are other plot points that are not seen, or are talked about long after they happened offscreen. Also, the very ending of the movie is kind of hard to believe considering who the two protagonists were struggling with (mobsters) just before the final few seconds. The movie does have some value in that it is kind of a time capsule, showcasing a pre-cleaned up New York City in the mid '70s, as well as showing the attitudes and fashions of the NYC citizens of the time. But other than that, there isn't much of substance here. It's easy to see why this movie has to date never received a home video release.

Plagi Breslau
(2018)

My second Polish movie
Some time ago, I watched my first Polish movie, the 1967 "Westerplatte Resists". I enjoyed that movie, so when the modern Polish movie "The Plaugues of Breslau" popped up on Netflix, I was curious to see a sample of what current Polish filmmakers are putting out. Technically, things are okay - it wasn't a high budget exercise, but it never looks really cheap or tacky. Also, gorehounds will be very pleased by the graphic carnage that's sometimes put on display. However, in other areas there should have been a lot more thought put in before filming started. As others here on the IMDb have pointed out, the movie is clearly inspired by the American movie "Seven", even right to the style of opening credits. Being a rip-off doesn't automatically make a movie bad in my books, but bad scripting does. The movie seems to start at chapter two instead of chapter one, resulting in me being confused for a while before everything was set straight. A bigger problem was that some important details and plot points are either vaguely explained or not explained at all. (For example, where did all the other cops go when the empty warehouse was being searched?) The scripting is bad enough, but what makes matters worse is that all the principle characters are quite unlikable, from their actions to how the actors playing them perform. While there is some curiosity value in this movie - you don't get to see a Polish perspective in a movie all that often - the negative definitely outweighs the good in this movie, so it's probably best that you skip it.

Absurd Planet
(2020)

Too much (bad) humor, and not enough facts
This new animal documentary series popped up on Netflix just the other day, and when I sat down to watch the first episode, I was kind of excited. I love learning about not commonly known animals and their eccentric habits. However, it only took a few minutes before knowing this show was an almost complete disaster. As many other commenters here on the IMDb have already said, the narration is unbearable. It's way too comic, the narrator has an annoying sounding voice, and it often sounds like the narrator is insulting the animals instead of finding something to admire about them. Some low key occasional humor would have been okay - this is a show about unusual animals, after all - but as it is, it's incredibly overdone. Another problem is that with some of the showcased animals, they tell us almost NOTHING about them apart from one quick fact. Surely they could have told us more interesting facts about these animals! I am giving this show two stars instead of one because some of the footage looks nice and I did learn a few things. But at the end of the first episode, I felt so frustrated by what I saw that I doubt I will watch the rest of the episodes.

Next Gen
(2018)

Okay, but it could have been a lot better
While I am giving this Chinese/North American co-production a recommendation, I feel I should point out it's more of a marginal recommendation. Before I get into the faults of the movie, let me list some of its positive attributes. For starters, the movie looks great. The computer animation is not quite as slick as Pixar, but it's pretty close, giving the audience some great visuals and some great production design. Next, the movie certainly doesn't have any dull spots, always remaining interesting at any point. Also, the action depicted is spectacular and very exciting to behold.

If they only had a better script, however, this movie would have been a knockout. But as it is, there are some serious flaws with the writing that hold back the movie significantly. First, while I earlier said that the movie is never boring, it all the same feels way too long (106 minutes!) and the padding is extremely evident. Another big flaw is the lead teenage girl character. She is so sullen, so sour, so filled with anger and hate that it takes forever before we can start warming up to her. Also, the start of her relationship with the robot is not sketched out very well; it's hard to see how the two managed to connect so quickly and become fast friends.

Despite the inadequate script, I am still giving the movie a mild thumbs up. Adult viewers will best approach this movie with lower expectations than usual so there's a better chance they will enjoy it. Kids will probably look past the flawed writing and enjoy the whole package. There are certainly a lot worse family films for a family to watch (though there are also a lot that are much better.)

Er ist wieder da
(2015)

Intriguing idea is handled inconsistently
The idea behind this movie - Hitler finding himself in the 21st century and reacting to (and using) modern day Germans and new technology - is one that's both very intriguing and full of potential satire and humor. However, the end results are kind of a mess. On the positive side, the movie's dark attitude to the drama sometimes really hits the target, revealing that some evil opinions are still in a lot of German citizens and could be reactivated easily, as well as giving a plausible look as to what Hitler would use in this day and age (such as the Internet) to get what he wanted. At the same time there is plenty of absurdity that prevent things from being so black that all the entertainment is sucked out.

But the movie has just as many flaws as it does virtues. One flaw for some viewers who are not German is that the movie seems squarely aimed at a German audience who will understand all the references to present (and past) German society. I admit that some references left me scratching my head. Another problem is that the story really jumps all over the place. Plot threads are dropped for a long time before resuming, the improvised bits don't really fit with the scripted material, and there are also a lot of unanswered questions here and there. A third problem is that the production values are quite often pretty tacky and cheap, which makes this world have less of a believability than what was intended.

So as you can see, the movie has its ups and downs. Is it worth watching? Maybe. I would recommend you start by watching the first thirty minutes. If you find enough interest (and also are able to look past the flaws), you might get enough out of the entire movie, especially if you can watch it for free. Though it may be best to watch the movie in thirty minute chunks so that the flaws don't get too overwhelming at any sitting.

Seven in Heaven
(2018)

Promising idea is made largely incohenent
Blumhouse Productions is well known for making high quality movies on low budgets. To a degree, this particular effort of theirs is high quality, being that it is professionally made from the cinematography to the camerawork. Also, the acting by the no name cast is also pretty decent. But even all of these good points can't make up for the fact that the script for this movie is really not all that good. The core premise of the movie is promising, and things get off to a decent start. However, about a third of the way into the movie, things start falling apart. The movie starts to build a long list of questions that are simply not answered very well - or at all. It's almost as if the screenwriter was coming up with the plot as he was writing instead of thinking through the story completely before sitting in front of his computer to start writing the story down. Eventually, the movie becomes downright silly and unbelievable. The movie is not a total washout, for reasons explained at the beginning of this review, but it ends up being a big waste of time, especially for the viewer. It's easy to see why the distributor of this movie (Universal Pictures) never gave it a theatrical release.

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