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Some Good Moments, But Mostly Bland & Ultimately Predictable!
"Oculus" is a horror film that tries very hard to be clever, hip and psychologically terrifying. I stress the term "tries" because unless you're a theatrical snob who mistakes style with substance and convinces yourself that you're brilliant enough to know the difference even when you're not, you're likely to find this film to be a total flop.

The story in nutshell goes like this: a mirror destroys a family, leaving the Mother and Father dead, and their 10 year old son incarcerated while their 12 year old daughter is forced into foster care.

Fast forward 11 years, and 21 year old Tim Russell is being released from a mental health facility, where his Doctor warns him if he must choose between his sanity and his sister, he needs to choose his sanity.

Meanwhile Kaylie Russell picks up her brother, and informs him that she has access to a cursed mirror that led to the insanity and ultimate demise of their parents, and she expects him to make good on a promise he made when he was 10 to help her destroy the evil being in the mirror.

We get a general accounting of the horrors that have been visited upon all who have come into contact with the mirror, a strategy to destroy the mirror that makes utterly no sense, a fail-safe that the moment you see it you just know one of the siblings is going to wind up impaled on it, and a convoluted passing of the evening that intermingles the experiences of the siblings as children and in the present day.

There are some interesting parts and some scenes that are quite stylish, but for the most part the only questions I have are as follows:

1) If the house remained in the possession of the kids after their parents died, why didn't the mirror?; and

2) Why not just put the mirror up, set the timer on the fail-safe, and walk out the front door and let it happen? I mean all that planning by Kaylie, and she couldn't figure out that summoning the evil presence with them still in the house served no logical purpose???

This movie has gotten critical praise, and I'm sure some people who conflate style with substance will call this movie a horror classic, but it really isn't.

It is the proverbial story of what Bill Maher calls "a smart stupid person," and there's just too much bland monotony to have the film go down THAT ridiculous path!

Cloud Atlas

Quite possibly the most unique movie going experience of the last 20 years!!!
Having never read the book that this film is an adaptation of, I entered "Cloud Atlas" with no preconceptions of what it should be. I'd read critical reviews that hailed it as great, and others that called it boring.

After having seen it, I was stunned: what an absolute gem of a motion picture!!! "Cloud Atlas" tells six different stories in a completely non-linear way, so if you go to see this, be prepared: you need to pay attention, otherwise you will not enjoy this film. The stories are entwined together, with connecting individuals, histories and even objects that reappear again and again. I'll attempt to summarize all the stories here, but will not be able to list every connection...for that, you have to see the film.

Adam Ewing (Jim Sturgess) is a young lawyer from San Francisco who is abroad, negotiating contracts for his Father in law (Hugo Weaving), when he witnesses a slave (David Gyasi) being whipped, and falls ill from a "polynesian worm" infection. On the trip back to the USA, he is becoming sicker and sicker, despite receiving treatment from Dr. Henry Goose (Tom Hanks), a physician allegedly familiar with this particular type of malady.

Ewing's journals, are later published and partially read by Robert Frobisher (Ben Whislaw), a gifted young musician and grifter who was apparently disowned by his family because he is a homosexual. Hoping to achieve fame and fortune, Robert offers his gifts to renowned composer Vyvyan Arys (Jim Broadbent), while writing faithfully of his hopes and dreams to his dear love, Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy). When Vyvyan asserts his claims to Robert's work by leveraging the mistakes Robert has made in his life, Robert becomes as desperate as Adam had been, and tragically ends his life after finishing his "Cloud Atlas sextet."

Some 40 years later, an elderly Rufus Sixsmith finds himself trapped in an elevator with Luisa Rey (Halle Berry), a reporter who longs to follow in the footsteps of her Father. Sixsmith attempts to provide Luisa with a report that is suggesting that industry insiders are planning a nuclear disaster, but before he can hand over the report to her, he is assassinated. Luisa realizes that this is the biggest story of her life, but one that could very well get her killed.

Some 35 years later, editor Timothy Cavendish (Jim Broadbent) has barely had an opportunity to read a manuscript about the adventures of Luisa Rey when he is assailed by the brothers of Dermot Hoggins (Tom Hanks), a writer he represented whose book is now much more successful because he threw a critic off the roof at a party. Turning to his brother Denny (Hugh Grant) for help, he finds himself locked away in a nursing home at the mercy of the vindictive Nurse Noakes (Hugo Weaving), plotting his escape.

Over 100 years later, the story of Timothy Cavendish's escape from the nursing home is, for a time, the sole image of the world that fabricant Sonmi-451 (Doona Bae) carries with her. Having watched a fellow fabricant die a horrible death after attempting to escape, she finds herself freed by "pure blood" Hae-Joo Chang (Jim Sturgess), who shows her what awaits the fabricants after they fulfil their contracts and are supposed to be free. Hae-Joo believes that Sonmi will change the world for the better.

And finally, in a future time, after the fall of civilization, a group of valley people try to live their lives according to the lessons handed down by their God, Sonmi-451. Zachry (Tom Hanks) is haunted by the demon Old Georgie (Hugo Weaving), watching his brother in law and nephew murdered by the violent Kona people. When his niece nearly dies, he enlists the help of other world woman Meronym (Halle Berry) to save her, and agrees to take her to the devil's mountain so that she can fulfil her mission.

There is a lot more to this movie than what I've revealed, and although some critics claimed the film's components were pretty thin...I never felt that way at all.

Yes, some elements needed more elaboration...particularly how Sonmi-451 went from vacant fabricant to a more evolved being...but I just can't hold that against this film.

You're not going to see another film like this in a very long time, so my suggestion would be to get out there and see this one while you can. It's easily the best film I've seen this year, and one of the best I've seen in a very long time!

Silent Hill: Revelation

Solid visuals and imagination, even if short on plot and acting.
When video games are converted to big screen films, more often than not they flop. It was true with "Street Fighter," true with "Mortal Kombat," true with "Hitman," and I'd argue it was also true with the first "Silent Hill."

These films of course pale in comparison to the most ridiculous video game to film renditions, like "Super Mario Bros" and "House of the Dead," but I think the point is crystal clear: for the most part, video games do not adapt to the big screen particularly well.

I say this because, as I watched "Silent Hill: Revelation," I wasn't really watching it as much as I was watching it as a patron at a scary amusement. Such is the benefit of 3D I believe, and in this sense, "Silent Hill: Revelation" is a perfect candidate for 3D rendition.

The story is about a young woman who, with her Father, has been running from people who seem to want to take her. She is being haunted in her dreams by demonic creatures who seem to be warning her not to return to Silent Hill, and also by other demonic creatures that want her to return.

When her Father is taken, and a private detective who tries to warn her about those who are after her is murdered by one of these bizarre creatures, she resolves to return to Silent Hill. Of course she doesn't return alone: another new student at her new school accompanies her...and as it turns out, he was also from Silent Hill, and tasked with following her and helping encourage her to return to Silent Hill.

What happens next is the standard fare: she ventures from one location to another, finding a key, looking for a piece to a puzzle, looking for her Father, and evading demon creatures and evil fundamentalists.

In the end, the girl confronts her demon self Alessa, is united with her, and returns to the sanctuary where she learns that the religious zealots who burned Alessa are evil in their own right. A final battle royal between the giant triangle headed monster and the woman with saws embedded in her head is quite entertaining.

Do not go into this movie looking for either a tight storyline or good'll find neither. However the dark visuals and jump scares are sufficient to keep you interested for the 90 or so minute running if you think you can watch a film with the same perspective as you'd exercise walking through a haunted house attraction, you may well enjoy "Silent Hill: Revelation."

Paranormal Activity 4

A major step backwards in the franchise, even for fans of it.
Okay, so I'll admit that I found the first "Paranormal Activity" to be overrated, and the second to be largely an extension of the first. The third one, I must admit, I found very effective at times, and it was the best of the franchise in my view.

Now we have "Paranormal Activity 4," and I must admit, I found this one utterly ridiculous in so many ways.

The base story is that Katie, the possessed woman from the first two films, and the sibling who was haunted by Toby in the third film, has moved next door to a new family with her adopted son "Robbie" in tow.

Robbie has a propensity for wandering onto the property of the neighbours across the street, giving Alex, the daughter of the family, and her best friend Ben the creeps...something that they mention seemingly every 30 seconds in the first half of the film.

One night Katie is taken away in an ambulance, and so the family across the street takes in Robbie until Katie is well enough to come home. During this time Robbie bonds with the family's young son Wyatt...and introduces him to his unseen companion...who we assume is "Toby," though I don't recall this ever being made clear.

Paranormal activities begin to plague the family, in particular Alex, from the moment that Robbie enters the home...but her efforts to alert her family of what's going on falls on deaf ears until, by the end, they meet the typical franchise fate.

Now it has to be said that I think the found footage element in this film has been stretched to the max. I mean, there are no home video cameras in the's all captured apparently on laptop web cam...which requires Alex to basically cart along her laptop wherever she goes, while the other laptops are set to remote record.

Apparently no one closes there laptop after they're done using it, but I digress...the formula is obviously warn out.

As is the need to rely on jump scares and CGI. Seriously, aside from some menacing moments when Katie appears behind someone, and you're waiting to see what she does, there is literally no scares besides jump scares.

The most bizarre moment of the entire when Alex and her Father are under attack by the witches coven and the paranormal force...and presumably as she's running for her life, Alex is carrying around her laptop.

To be honest, I just think they've run out of ideas on this franchise, which is I suspect why the film, even with about five minutes of clips from the first two films, just barely makes it over the 80 minute mark.

My advice: if you're looking for a scary film that will be with you for days...go see "Sinister." If you see this one, prepare to be it wouldn't be incorrect to say that the scariest scenes...are in the trailer...some of which somehow don't even make it into the film itself.

La femme du Vème

Really dumb, dull ghost/multiple personality film
Okay first, let me just say that I have nothing against non-mainstream fact, I rather like most of them. One of my favorite films of all time, "Urbania," was about as independent as you could I understand the limitations of independent films, and keeping an open mind when watching them.

Now that that's out of the way, lets call a spade a spade on this one: this film is just plain bad! The main bones of the story is pretty simple: a novelist moves to Paris to be closer to his wife and daughter, but he is unwelcome due to his past history. Apparently he was either imprisoned or institutionalized, but it's never made clear which it is or why.

Chased away by his (ex?) wife, he stays in a seedy hotel, is given a job by the shady owner of the hotel, and becomes involved with two different women, all while occasionally watching and sometimes interacting with his daughter while she's at school.

When one of the women (a Polish immigrant waitress) turns out to be romantically linked to the shady owner of the hotel, the novelist is subjected to a blackmail by his neighbor in the hotel who has seen him fooling around with her.

When that man turns up dead, his alibi (the other woman, a literary translator) turns out to have been dead for about 20 years, and his daughter goes missing...

...y'know, don't even worry about it anymore. This film is like waiting for a climax that never really comes!!! Do yourself a favor and skip it!


Lots of pop, but too muddled to become another classic!
I originally saw the teasers for "Prometheus," and to be honest I wasn't really looking forward to it.

Then, after reading some of the reviews on other websites, and seeing the more recent trailers, I became more interested. And then, seeing the cast (Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace in particular), my interest was fully stoked, and I went into this expecting to see a classic.

What I got...was modest entertainment, but a far cry from what I was expecting.

The story, as it goes, is that two researchers near the close of the 23rd century find cave art from various, primitive civilizations, which seems to suggest that humanity may finally be able to find the "engineers" who

Fast forward a few minutes, and a full crew in cryostasis on board the trillion dollar ship called the "Prometheus" arrives at a planet that seems to be very Earth like...but for the fact that it has no atmosphere that is capable of sustaining human life.

The crew ironically enough without a short time of arriving on the planet discover topographical markings that seem to suggest that we may have found them. And upon further exploration, it is discovered that they have found them: humanoid creatures that apparently share our DNA completely...except that they seem to average 8 to 10 feet in height, and are considerably stronger than us.

And for the most part, they are dead.

Naturally the crew are scientists, so they recover the head of one of these beings, while the android David (played by Fassbender) embarks on his own secret, clandestine, malevolent mission...which includes engineering the demise of his master, and infecting another crew member with an alien organism.

The alien organisms start to pick off the human crew members of the Prometheus, resulting in chasing and carnage and leaving a sole survivor who is effectively stranded on an alien world, without the hope of rescue, and the birth of a new species...which suggests that this film may have been intended to be the prequel to the "Alien" saga.

The film is effective at keeping you engaged, and providing some mild scares...but for the most part, as I watched it, I found myself completely underwhelmed. This is a new role for Noomi Rapace, and she's decent in the film, but she has more talent than gets showcased in this.

The same goes for Michael Fassbender: coming off a year where he played a psychologist with an ethical dilemma ("A Dangerous Method"), a short lived but a suave, extremely sexy and ruthless assassin ("Haywire"), a tortured mutant with almost unmatchable powers who kills a madman and leads a rebellion ("X-Men: First Class") and a conflicted man struggling with a sex addiction ("Shame"), this seems like a real come down for him.

This isn't a bad film...but I think it's been over-hyped, and if you buy the hype, you may not enjoy what you get to see.


Terrible...just really, really terrible!!!
Okay, so I'm thankful I didn't pay to see this film, because it is an absolute abomination for so many reasons.

The film revolves around quest for revenge: a young man was burned alive during a prank. As we find out later, his Mother offed herself following his demise just a few short weeks after he died...and she's royally ticked that the school didn't also commemorate her death as well, but that's another matter.

Somehow the children of the original kids that killed him wind up in detention, along with a nerdish straggler and a new teacher. And then, one by one, the group gets peeled away while they are stranded in the school, and killed off.

It's best not to think about the impracticalities that this film the fact that these kids (the children of the original ones responsible for the prank accident) are all the same age, their parents live in the same communities, and they all happened to get detention on the exact same day as the new teacher (guess who that turns out to be) starts.

The strangest thing is that people start seeing ghosts and suspecting the supernatural is at work, but when some of the students (namely the nerdish straggler) act strangely, no one really puts two and two together.

The straggler is possessed...and when he attacks the "hero" and "heroine," he is hit with a fire extinguisher, which ends the threat he poses. So then, what does the heroine do to the defenceless boy? She pulverizes him with the fire extinguisher until it's pretty obvious that she finished the job.

There are all kinds of ropes...they could've tied him up...but alas, she decides that killing him while he's unconscious is the way to go. I mean, WTF???

Others have mentioned the CGI, and they are right. The ghost scenes reminded me of the film "Ghost," although keep in mind that that film was 20 years old when this one was's about as silly as it would've been if James Cameron had used the visual effects from "Raise the Titanic" for his film "Titanic!" The burning scene at the beginning was especially cringe worthy...not gross, not just bad...but unforgivably bad! I'm sure there are grade school kids who play on the computer who could've come up with something better than what was passed off there.

My advice: this would make a good film to watch before seeing the cheesy, terrible film "Battleship"...if you see this one first, the CGI in "Battleship" will likely blow you away!

A Flesh Offering

General rule of Canadian cinema: never miss a chance to kill white people
When watching "A Flesh Offering," I originally found myself marvelling at the aesthetic beauty of the film. The three women and one of the guys in the film are cute, while the other two guys are absolutely gorgeous. And the setting of the film is actually quite nice as well.

That was enough to keep my interest...until they started getting butchered. Bummer! The story is pretty pedestrian: a flashback sequence introduces us to the Wendigo, a cannibalistic spirit known to the First Nations; then a young First Nations artist sells one of her paintings for a rich bounty, and then she and four other friends (soon to be joined by her boyfriend) go up to her cabin in the woods.

During the first hour of the movie, the film sells the view that those who are targeted and killed by the Wendigo deserve you might ask why do they deserve it? The reasons in this film are far too ambiguous. One guy was disrespectful to his Mother when he was young; another guy shot a mother black bear when he couldn't flee and she was right behind him with her cubs; one of the women sleeps around a lot, and the suggestion is that she is also a cheater.

None of that struck me as a reason for killing any of them...which led me to believe that the unspoken reason...was the contempt that they all seemed to hold for First Nations traditions. Which also made no sense to me; I mean, who disrespects the traditions that are important to one of their friends???

Either way, the film really isn't scary at all, doesn't make any sense at all, and comes with a moral that is spotty at best because it's sooooo unrealistic and ridiculous! I gave this a 3/10 because I liked the scenery and those two gorgeous guys enough that they each earned a point. But the truth is, outside of the eye candy, this is a dull, boring, stupid film!

No disrespect to the First Nations, but I think this film could've been a lot better. As it was, it seemed like it was made purely for the satisfaction of watching a First Nations woman orchestrate the murders of five others (who she apparently was friends with) to make a politically correct statement! Avoid this stinker!


Surprisingly interesting and more or less gender impartial bang for the buck.
This film, about three guys who are best friends and at different stages of their romantic lives, was surprisingly interesting and different from the old cliché Hollywood formula.

For starters, I can't remember seeing a more gender impartial take on the challenge of relationships where blame doesn't get tossed on the man so inevitably. In that sense, the film seems more real, exploring the way men and women co-exist together, and finding that both could use some tact and common sense at times, and how each does things that are just immoral at other times.

Of course the film was made on a $40,000 budget, so much as it is superior from a subject matter sense from most Hollywood films, it has to be noted that there is considerable trade off.

For instance, the acting is pretty rough at times, and the pairings are also a pretty unusual. At times as I was watching, I found myself cringing at just how dead pan or cheesy some of the acting was, and although I'd not go as far as to say that none of the actors in this film should give up on acting...I think they do need a lot more acting lessons to be successful.

In addition the settings are at times bizarre. In one example, one of the boyfriends turns up in the living room of his girlfriend. You'd also think he teleported, but this is not that kind of film. I suspect that they were probably reusing the same home, and had to avoid using the front door or back door unless it became obvious to the audience that it was all the same home.

If you can excuse the acting and setting, and focus on the film's message, and some of the light hearted moments, you may well enjoy the film. For my own part, I found it more interesting than similar big budget Hollywood fare like "The Break-Up," but it's not a film I'm going to add to my DVD collection or anything.

The Righteous and the Wicked

Painfully bad in parts...not so bad in others!
Sitting through "The Righteous and the Wicked," I kept waiting for some kind of "eureka" moment where there would be a revelation or some kind of detail that would come out to explain why things happened the way they did. Sadly, that moment never came.

So lets get to the film. It starts with a grey haired man seeming to be living a relaxed life...until another man shoots him dead. In perhaps the most intriguing moment in the film, the older man was still alive when his killer was digging his grave. In one of the colder moments that I can think of in recent westerns, the dying man begs the other not to bury him alive...thereby inviting the inevitable kill shot.

The rest of the film features a gang of six who plan to rob, and then rob a mining company of it's money. It is at this point when things just get really weird.

Six becomes five when one gang member kills the other in a gun fight that was supposed to be staged to distract people. The odd thing is they pick two gang members with a tense relationship: the younger one impregnated the teen daughter of the other! Really? The gang leader couldn't determine that that was just a bad idea? Five becomes four when the grim reaper from the first scene turns up and kills the young security guard who was always part of the gang and helped them with the heist. The weird thing is that the young guard never hurt or killed anyone...and for a time, his killer seems to be trying to talk him into stopping. Then he begins prodding him...and ultimately, he kills the young guard.

Four becomes three when the gang's leader kills the young guy who killed the other gang leader. They have a protracted conversation about whether to split the money six ways, five ways or four is as dull as it sounds! I didn't make it to the just got too lame! I love Westerns, but I can't recommend this pile of horse manure! A couple of cute guys in it, but for the most part, just boring!

The Last Rites of Ransom Pride

Turns the Western on it's head...but that isn't necessarily a good thing!
More a short film than an actual film, "The Last Rites of Ransom Pride" tries to distinguish itself as a Western that seems to challenge just about every convention that Westerns used to stand for.

The question is, is that really a good idea? The plot, in a nutshell, is as follows: a woman (Juliette Flowers) is trying to recover the body of her deceased lover (Ransom Pride) from a malformed mystic, who will turn the body over, as long as she gets in return the brother (Champ Pride) of the deceased lover.

We really don't know why Champ is important to the mystic...or even why she's holding the body of Ransom Pride in the first place...although we are given a rather difficult to follow explanation in the end if you make it that far. If anything, the explanation makes events that happen in the film seem even more unusual!

Just as unusual is the idea that Champ's Father Early (Dwight Yoakam) hates Champ for what happened to his wife, who died when Champ was born. In fact, he makes a pilgrimage to recover both Champ AND Ransom's body from the mystic...after he discovered that Juliette was planning on trading Champ for Ransom's body.

Naturally he holds a grudge against Juliette, who he blames for Ransom's death, and suckering Champ into servitude, so he plans to kill her...until he is shot Champ!

This film is plagued by several factors, among them:

  • Unusual action edits which, after an action scene takes place, are for some reason reversed and choppy.

  • A strange assortment of characters, including the mystic (who looks more like a Voodoo practitioner than a Native American or Mexican priestess), a little person, a drunken black veteran of the Civil War (I think) and pot smoking siamese twins.

  • Other scenes, which don't seem to make any sense at all, except if you consider them in the film to expand on the running time.

I'd put the running time of the film officially at around 80 minutes...but if you were to trim out the scenes that make no sense and those strange rewinding segments, I suspect you'd cut that down to between 50-60 minutes!

Jon Foster is absolutely gorgeous in the film...and Scott Speedman and Lizzy Caplan aren't terrible to look at. It's just a little eye candy, but it's no where near enough to save THIS film!

In Time

The Social Commentary is obvious...but the film still stands out well!
It's interesting that this film is coming out now, as the "Occupy" movement is raging in several cities around the world. It couldn't be more opportune for a film like this, which makes an obvious statement about the concentration of resources in the hands of a few, and the pain and complexity the creates in the lives of the many.

Justin Timberlake is impressive as Will Salas, a 28 year old man who is chronically living day to day, literally, due to the fact that he was born in a slum, in a world where your life span is the only currency out there. Of course we are left with no doubt that although he feels the pressure acutely, he is still very generous to the people in his community.

One night at a local bar, Will happens to meet Henry Hamilton (Matt Bomer), a man who has lots of time, but is weary after having living for more than a century already. Will saves Henry from a gang of time hustlers known as "Minute Men" by hiding out in a factory. It is there, after Will sleeps, that Henry empties his clock of all but 5 minutes, topping up Will's life span before leaving to secure a poetic end for himself.

Will all this time on his clock, Will gives some to his drunkard friend, and intends to use much of the rest to treat his 50 year old Mother Rachel (Olivia Wilde), only to get to her too late to prevent her from "timing out" for good. Devastated by her loss, Will decides to work to help others and shake up the system.

Along the way, Will is pursued Timekeeper Leon (played effectively by Cillian Murphy) and by Fortis (supurbly played by the gorgeous Alex Pettyfer) and his Minute Men gang. While trying to evade both men and their factions, Will takes rich girl Sylvia (Amanda Seyfried) hostage...which turns into a romance There are some scenes that are fun to watch...among the funnest for me was the showdown between Will and Fortis. Fortis and his men capture Will and Sylvia, and as he was holding a personal grudge, Fortis decides to fight Will, man to man, as they do it in that futuristic day. Of course little does Fortis know that Will learned how to fight from his Father...and before he knows it, his men are shot dead, and Fortis himself is "timed out" (or in other words, killed) by Will. It is an excellent scene in a very good film!

The film itself however works because the commentary is so relevant: Will sees the system for it's cruelty, but as he works to change it, he's unable to do it without the help of Sylvia. Timekeeper Leon was once in the ghetto like Will, and he seems to be a fair man, but he believes that the system is the best one available to THIS society at THIS it's best to uphold it and accept it. Fortis is the scumbag criminal (albeit gorgeous) who plays dirty and cannibalizes his own community to get he likes the system because it lets him do what he wants to do. Sylvia is the curious and insulated branch of affluence who knows the system is unfair, but is unsure of how to change it.

Check out this's certainly worth it!


Not terrible, but not terribly good either!
Lets keep this review short: if you go to see this reboot of Footloose, you may like it better if you're completely unfamiliar with the original. To be fair, the original film was a box office hit, but it was far from a hit with critics: having said all of this however, the remake is far weaker than the original.

Kenny Wormald plays Ren, a young man who has just endured the loss of his Mother. This is different from the original, as Ren and his Mother travel to Bomont (Georgia?) following the death of his Father, if I'm not mistaken. In this reboot, there is a more misandristic tone: Ren's Father was a deadbeat, and his Mother was the one who died.

Wormald has screen presence, but he had some huge shoes to fill...and I think this is a case where too much of the original was left in this remake. For instance, there is the scene in the original where Ren (as played by Kevin Bacon) is struggling with the impact of being accosted by his Uncle, harassed by the police, accused by the Principal of the school, teased by Ariel and bullied by Chuck...and he takes out his frustrations in a warehouse. In the original, you can kind of understand why Ren is so angry: he has no outlet for his frustrations, and they just explode.

In this reboot, the warehouse scene is still present...almost in it's entirety...yet we never really understand why Ren needs to explode because he has a fairly supportive Aunt & Uncle, had only one run-in with the law (which the judge dismissed), and even the Principal of the school opts to cut him some slack instead of suspending or expelling him for being caught with drugs!

That in a nut shell is what happens pretty regularly in this remake: it is largely faithful to the specifics of the original, but it just never feels right! Even the fight scene climax, which was so effective in the original, looks so sloppy and poorly choreographed in this remake.

Wormald is likable...he's about the only reason I haven't given this film a sub-5 score. My advice however is this: if you loved the original, wait for this one to come to DVD, and watch it on that.

Apollo 18

Beware of moon rocks that go might be in the sequel!
By now, I assume most people reading this are aware of the fact that this is a film that is apparently spliced together from footage taken by the crew of the ill fated "Apollo 18" mission to Mars.

Of course it's a faux documentary, but I suspect if you can suspend your disbelief until after you see the film, it may make the experience if not more enjoyable, at least less boring!

Three astronauts take off for the moon; two of them are to collect rock samples from the moon's surface, while the third is in orbit above the moon. No one seems to question the need for scores of cameras...but needless to say, cameras are set up all over the place, and the two astronauts on the planet have a camera fastened to their space suit!

On day 1 of their two day mission they encounter strange rocks that feel different...but they still bag them and tag them and take them back to their "lunar pad" if you will. That night they hear strange sounds around them...but they don't draw any conclusions about them.

The following morning, they discover one of the rocks is no longer contained, but is sitting on the floor of the quarters. Thinking nothing much of it, they set out on the second day, discovering a Soviet lunar ship that has landed, and the inside is stained with blood.

Searching a dark crater, they find the remnants of the Soviet Cosmonaut, and decide to hole up until their mission ends. Attempts to find out if NASA knew about the Soviet mission are quelched with a "need to know" provision.

The next morning when they are preparing for take off, they are rattled from outside, and their communications are damaged. Unable to take off without fixing communications, one of the astronauts leaves the ship to repair the damaged equipment...and realizes something is moving around in his space suit.

If this description sounds bland, it's because the film IS bland! Most of the efforts made to keep the audience engaged include zoom shots that you can't really see anything in, sounds that seem to have been selected to try to create atmosphere, and eerie shadow shots of the astronauts on the moon.

It's the latter that is somewhat effective at creating the menacing atmosphere...but nothing is really done with it.

In the end, none of the astronauts make it home, the government is implicated in knowingly sending the men to their deaths (as per usual), and we learn that the moon rocks that were so strange are in fact are spider like creatures that, not unlike the aliens in Alien, seem to get inside your body, multiply, and cause you to explode in a wash of...alien rock spiders!

Oh, and we also learn that something like 500 tonnes of moon rocks have been brought back to Earth...most were given away as souvenirs and gifts to foreign dignitaries...and many are now unaccounted for! Duh-duh-daaaaahhh!

In earnest, this is a very shallow imitation of the Blair Witch Project, except involving aliens and the evil government rather than a witch. My advice would be to save your money, and either watch "Alien" or "The Blair Witch Project." This is not a good movie!

Final Destination 5

A surprisingly good, clever way to cram in a sequel!
Okay, I really enjoyed the original "Final Destination," and I have to admit that I found the films that followed the original to be a step down, each time. Indeed, I hated "The Final Destination," and found Bobby Campo to be just the wrong choice in the film.

Nicholas D'Agosto fortunately does a much more convincing job in this one, even though he has a quality to him that, at times, just looks TOO wholesome! This film is ultimately an attempt, in my opinion, to redeem the direction that the franchise took with "The Final Destination." Indeed, the final moments of the film actually show a montage of the deaths that the previous four films depicted. It's not the only homage made to the earlier films.

The story at this point is as predictable as any of the others...only this time, death doesn't seem to be leaving all that many clues behind as to how to prevent the impending tragedies. Is it because death isn't sending the signals, or is it because our protagonist isn't savvy to interpreting them? We never know for sure.

If I had one complaint, it was that Sam really didn't need to do what he did to Peter. Yes, Peter's behaviour was irrational and Peter needed to be stopped: however in a kitchen full of supplies, when a pan could've been grabbed and Peter could've been laid out, what Sam ultimately does to his "best friend" borders on immoral! When your friend is insane with grief and fear, you kinda have to be the bigger man...even if you're protecting your girlfriend. I think the film could've taken a stand against misandry...and it misses the mark. :( Some surprises to look for however: the gymnastics scene is something I'm thinking I'll never see again (thankfully!!!), while the ending will tie it all together in a way that many will not see coming. LOL

Bangkok Adrenaline

Annoyingly Bad!
Okay, so lets sum up the plot pretty quickly: four Europeans get into gambling problems in Thailand, and decide to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy man in order to collect the money and solve their problems.

That pretty much sums it up, and although there are some minor variances, that's it. Indeed, at some points the film descends into obnoxiousness, apparently for no other reason than because it's depraved sense of humour swings that way.

For instance, the useless dread locked crack head (I still am not sure if he's French, German or various times, his accent seemed to swing back an forth), watching a debtor having his fingers broken for not paying his debt as a warning, pipes in to remind the gangster that he hasn't broken enough of the debtor's fingers. I mean, WTF??? Yes, there's action...but the problem with martial arts films of this day is that they try so hard to look groundbreaking that at the end of the day, they look overdone.

So much energy expended to rotate ten times more than is necessary to kick the tar out of anonymous henchmen...kinda defeats the purpose of martial arts that were designed to maximize defensive technique with minimal energy expended! After a time, it gets so redundant that it's tiresome! I guess there are a few very pretty guys in the film, and so there is some eye candy...but not enough to save this dreck from being a stinker you should avoid!

The Magnificent Seven

Saturated with Political Correctness!
I recently purchased the two seasons of "The Magnificent Seven" on DVD for $10 each...and I'm afraid to say, I feel ripped off.

The show centres around what the old movie centred around back a couple of decades before: a group of colourful characters use their unique skills to work helping the disenfranchised.

Well, that's ultimately what the show is supposed to be about...but what it amounts to more or less is a group of mostly white men helping groups of mostly minority characters kill mostly white men who are doing bad things. Of course, it helps that apparently this is going on during the days of the Confederacy, and so apparently by proxy, everyone who was part of the Confederacy was evil, ruthless and murderous.

I think my biggest complaint is that, for all the morality implied in this show, it really fails to live up to it's own moral code. In one episode, for instance, a black man is going to be strung up by a bunch of drunkards for failing to save the life of their boss.

Good reason for saving is precious. However the guys that do save him end up killing seven or eight men in the process, and get involved in a shoot out in the middle of a graveyard. I mean, come on! Part of the fun of the old Westerns...the true Westerns, is that a man was a man, regardless of if he had his gun or not.

Even the spaghetti Westerns understood what were they thinking with this rubbish, boring, redundant program? Michael Biehn in particular is annoying...he's so obviously doing his best Clint Eastwood impression, but he has neither the on screen presence, nor the tough reputation to make him believable in the "Man With No Name" theme they try to cast him in.

Episode after episode, the gang rely on absurd, cliché plans that any 4th grader could come up with to get the drop on the bad guys...and of course they never seem to take prisoners...oh no: instead, they just kill them all.

My advice: despite some interesting cast choices, this is one major flop of a TV show, and I'd never recommend it. I can only assume that it's getting rated highly from some people who enjoyed the original movie that it ripped the concept off of.


Terrible, terrible film!
Chace Crawford should never have pulled out of "Footloose" seems like it was his only opportunity to really play a character different from the one he plays in "Gossip Girl," or the one who, with only slight differences, he played in "The Covenant" or "The Haunting of Molly Hartley." Of course he's absolutely beautiful, and the prospects of seeing him in a film where he played a drug dealer was something I couldn't resist!

Well, as odd as it may sound, he once again plays a grounded rich guy who likes a other words, the usual Chace Crawford fare! I mean, even his drug deals seem more like networking amongst the next generation of privilege!

So what is "Twelve" all about? Well, it's about rich white kids who are drug abusers, the children of pill popping, indifferent parents...and that's really about all it is. The title of the film refers to a new drug of choice!

There are at numerous times, clandestine suggestions that the wealthy are victims of the jealousy of the have nots. And of course I guess the main climax comes when the disturbed brother of one of the ensemble cast of nobody's shoots up a party and is gunned down by the police...but even that really fails to impart a meaningful message! We already knew that drugs destroy lives!

If you've read this far, and you still aren't discouraged about this film, imagine the most deadpan narration in the world, and imagine that it never, ever, EVER shuts up!

Yes, I'm talking about Kiefer Sutherland...opening narration might've been okay...but when he kept on narrating, it was an open excuse to avoid actually creating a storyline where people interacted with one another in any meaningful way.

I mean, in the one scene, after "White Mike" finds out that his cousin Charlie is dead, he goes to a Church. We even get Kiefer Sutherland's voice: "White Mike thought to himself, why am I here?" I mean, c'mon!!!

Utterly, utterly annoying and pointless to a painful degree! Were it not impossible for me to just like looking at Chace Crawford, the film would get a 1...but it inches up only slightly to a 2!

Don't waste your time on this stinker!

Halloween II

Dreadfully Pathetic...the worst Halloween of all!
Before this film came out, Rob Zombie toured the horror junket, talking about how this would be HIS Halloween, and how he would not be constrained to the rules of a remake (a la his alleged "extreme vision" of the original), etc... To that end, he talked about his choice of film medium, and how he opted for a medium that was grittier, dirtier and rougher.

To that end, Zombie's "H2" is a study of contradiction. After all, here he has created a film that features some inventive, darkly fantastical scenes that in a nicer medium would have been far more effective...but which is more painful to behold because of the outdated film medium used! Even gornophiles will be horribly disappointed with this endeavour: there are plenty of savage, gory deaths, however the film is so gritty, it's like watching them on a black and white TV! And to think, we haven't even talked about the story yet. It's pretty generic: Michael Myers makes his escape at the beginning...and following a homage to Rick Rosenthal's "Halloween II" at the beginning that is revealed through a dream sequence, we are updated to the following year.

Laurie is now living with Annie and her Sheriff father, and in the lead up to Halloween, Michael Myers cuts his way through Haddonfield's "underbelly" while Dr. Loomis reveals himself to be an upper class sleaze ball, capitalizing on the tragedy from the previous year to sell his book.

Michael is not alone on his rampage this time: his dead mother returns, accompanied by a white horse, and some nonsense explanation about the meaning of it all. She eggs Michael on to "take us home," which of course means picking off Angel/Laurie on the way.

There is so much in the film that is deserving of ridicule and contempt, but the reality for me was that most of it centres around Zombie's take on people, and on the horribly inept development of Scout Taylor-Compton's portrayal of Laurie Strode.

The former is not new: Zombie's remake of "Halloween" was chock full of white trash stereotypes that got tedious pretty quickly! For those unsure of what I mean: no one brushes their hair, they wear gaudy clothing as a rule, and most of the men have long hair.

However as for the latter, it got annoying really, really quickly! This is not the innocent Laurie Strode made famous by Jamie Lee Curtis: Taylor-Compton's Laurie harasses her new guardian for his choice of pizza toppings, spray paints her en-suite bathroom with satanic graffiti, and acts in general like a petulant brat! I won't even go into her dreams of killing Annie, or of the incomprehensibility of the ending when she finishes off Michael with a knife AFTER telling him she loves him, then walks out of the broken down shed wearing his mask. Or that silly ending, where she's meant to look menacing...but instead looks less menacing that the child Michael! I sure hope Malek Akkad milked this for all it was worth...because in one movie, he has destroyed the film franchise that Moustapha Akkad had created with John Carpenter and Deborah Hill!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Odd Scare can't save this lemon!
Having never been a fan of Freddy, I often found myself less than impressed with the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise, though even I couldn't help but admire the originality and craftsmanship of the original, first part of the series.

That is perhaps why, after having seen this remake, I can't help but marvel at how big a flop, even for a remake, this film really was. Perhaps the best way to review this is to compare the original, SOLID horror film against it's MEDIOCRE remake! In the original, Freddy is a child molesting serial killer who escapes justice on a technicality, and is friend in a bonfire put on by the parents who are outraged that he escaped justice! In the remake, he's a paedophile who is fried apparently to avoid putting his child victims though the trauma of a court of law.

In the original, Freddy's sole interest appears to be stalking, terrorizing, and eventually killing four friends. In the remake, he apparently wants to guide his victims back to a preschool where they were among 15-20 kids.

In the original Nancy was the main character, and she was a sweet girl who defied the odds by maintaining a high moral character in spite of her alcoholic mother and distant father. In the remake, Nancy isn't the least bit likable, and all the kids come from one parent households. I don't know...apparently in the reboot of the original, the divorce rate is also a nightmarish 100%!

I could go on, but there really isn't a point. This reboot does swipe some scenes from the original, but it mostly flubs them- case in point, when Freddy stretches the wall over Nancy's head...the CGI is so evident in this remake that it's impossible to take it seriously.

There is but one recharge that succeeds very, VERY effectively...and that is the concluding scene to this film. For those who have seen the original, you have a hankering of what the final scene may consist of...however this is the sole scene in the remake that actually qualifies as an improvement, and I will not ruin it for you.

If you want my honest opinion, at best this one scene is only worth a DVD rental...and so I'd suggest passing up on this one! This is one really, really ridiculous remake!

Saw VI

Obscure, even for a Saw movie!
Do you think it's possible that Jigsaw is really Professor Peabody, and all these last second revelations that have become the hallmark of the Saw franchise are more the outcome of some fancy work with his time machine than any actual brilliant sequence of planning? Okay, I admit, it's a long shot, and I'm not actually serious: however is it even possible to take these movies seriously anymore, given how they've gone from being ground breaking to being formula?

In this episode of "Saw," we learn the following lessons:

  • Subprime mortgage brokers BAD! - Health Insurance people BAD! - Lawyers BAD! - Journalists mostly BAD! - Psychopathic, stupid, corrupt cops BAD!

Of course enter in the obligatory gore, more victims, and a methodical logic that completely fails to live up to it's own preachy rhetoric, and it should be said that not only has Saw betrayed it's own vision, but in fact it has obscured it to the point that it has become little more than a director impersonating a psychopath, playing a head game with all of us!

After all, the lesson that memories of Jigsaw continue to elude to is the inability to comprehend just how the meaning of life becomes most apparent to those about to lose it- so what lesson does it really teach when the victims, for the most part, are living and dying at the whim of a hamster in a cage?

Oh, for those looking for a more through review, complete with spoilers, here it is:

Two sub-prime mortgage brokers square off in the first game: who will give up the most flesh to save themselves from having screws drill through their head and into their skulls?

Then, a health insurance executive and a journalist are kidnapped. The journalist, along with a woman and her son, have just been locked away: however the executive is set through paces where he is supposed to help a lawyer run a maze to survive, decide whether his single file clerk or his elderly secretary deserve to live, and then which four of his six hardworking underlings will die of gunshot wounds.

Throw in a role for the family of a man who died of a denial of coverage decision, a past revealed between the executive and Jigsaw, more dead FBI agents, and the role Jigsaw's wife played in his misdeeds, and what you have is a ridiculous movie which will yield yet another ridiculous, formula written sequel next October unless the box office kills it this year!

Don't waste your time or money on this one!

Paranormal Activity

A Good Effort...but one not everyone can appreciate!
I'm sorry, but no! This is not the scariest movie of all time, nor is it guaranteed to leave you experiencing nightmares...unless you are already predisposed to being very sensitive to these types of films.

Long story short: a haunted woman and her boyfriend of 3 years, living the American dream, are being tormented by a presence which opens and closes their doors, leaves three toed foot prints around the house, and apparently has been burning an effigy for the wife in the attic.

They consult a psychic who tells them that this isn't a ghost, but rather a demon, and it feeds of negativity. He recommends a demonologist, which of course leads to an increase in tension in the relationship because the stereotypical boyfriend doesn't like the idea of having someone else solve his pet project. This, in turn, leads to fighting, which in turn leads to more substantial paranormal activity, and so on.

Before you know it, the girlfriend is showing all the signs of possession, which in turn culminates in a finale that is only mildly creepy for those who have seen the Spider walk scene from "The Exorcist." The performances in the film seem rather authentic, and so one has to admire the film maker: after all, it's not everyday that a film that cost just $15,000 can generate this kind of buzz.

However for me, this film just wasn't effective or scary! Don't believe the hype...see it and judge for yourself!

17 Again

Silly...but very cute!
Going into this movie, I knew that it was going to be a silly premise. Sub-40ish man in the cliché marital difficulty and not relating well to his children, falling into a time warp and discovering that he has gone back 20 years is very silly, and to some degree, writes itself.

However for all intents and purposes, it is really hard not to come out of this movie with a smile on your face...even if you're a 30-something man.

Zac Efron stars as Mike, a high school basketball stud who is being checked out by a scout, is happily in love, and even stands up for the little guy. Nevermind that his little friend Ned looks more like he should be in elementary school...I think we all know that nice, popular guy in school that everyone loves.

Well Mike is in for a shock as his girlfriend Scarlett tells him she's pregnant, and in a flash, his hopes for a basketball scholarship goes out the window.

Fast forward 20 years, and Mike (now played by Matthew Perry) is a newly separated man living with his childhood friend Ned, who has cashed in on the cliché that small nerds make wealthy adults. Of course Ned is ever the nerd: his home is more like a shrine to George Lucas and JRR Tolkien, but that's besides the point.

Mike, forced increasingly to face the loss of his family, and finding his career and friends wanting, longs for the days when he was a star high school basketball player. It always helps when an old janitor who, in different attire could pass for Santa Claus, is there to overhear and grant the wish to be 17 again in a rainstorm on a bridge.

Falling off the bridge, something that would kill most people I suppose, Perry becomes Efron once again, and Ned fills in to provide more comic relief as the father of "Mark," Mike in disguise, looking to reconnect with his teen kids while he himself is a teen.

It is at this point that Efron really shines. After the initial hiccup of using K-Fed as an example of hip fashion, he settles in as a handsome, athletic teen who learns that "his children" have missed out on the benefits of a positive male role model, and are struggling with their place in the high school hierarchy.

Whether it's taking "his son" Alex under his wing and helping him both join the basketball team and land his first girlfriend (which isn't so much a peculiar site...after all, best friends are often there like that for one another), or trying to help his daughter Maggie see the anchor that is her boyfriend, or recover after he breaks up with her (which leads to one of the most awkward, and also one of the funniest moments of the movie) are both touching and hilarious!

Indeed, when it comes time for Mark/Mike to return to the present, we are almost sad to see the teenage Mike disappear once and for all! Of course, the movie is not without major flaws...however if you look past those, this movie is full of touching moments, and full of funny moments as well.

Certainly more than enough to make it worth a watch! :-)

The Midnight Meat Train

Indulges too much in the absurd!
Anyone who has read H.G. Wells' classic "The Time Machine" will relate, somewhat, to what you'll find in "Midnight Meat Train," a story adaptation of one of Clive Barkers' perverse visionary tales. It is hard to put the blame for the miscues in this movie on Clive Barker, the horror master who has given us (through a variety of other tales) the Hellraiser trilogy, Lord of Illusions and Nightbreed.

The problems here not even so much story based. The tale of a young photographer who happens to capture images of a woman who, moments later, would seemingly disappear from the face of the earth, leaving him to follow the leads that the police will not, is cliché but also effective.

No, the failings in this movie are largely sourced simple logic and overdone cinematography and gore. Among the things you can expect, there is a sterile, blueish coloring to the most common settings that makes the movie drastically unpleasant to watch, with or without the gore. Indeed, as the photographer mentioned that he wanted to show the city as it really is, the thought that went through my mind was that I don't know of too many people who would live in a city THAT ugly for the long term.

And then there is the ramped up speed in segments of the movie. When Mohogany (the fiend who usually does the killing) is sitting on the subway platform, waiting to board the last train of the night, or even the first non-subway scene in the movie, there is a reliance on moving the surrounding characters around so quickly that what someone might have seen as an artistic portrayal of the rat race quickly degenerates into the silly and hackish! Oh, and although I'm sure there will be some that are fans of the gore in this film, the obviousness of the CGI involved in exploiting the gore quickly goes from interesting to absurd! I mean, in one absolutely laughable scene, a dorky guy is struck in the back of the head, leading to a gushing of blood, and knocking his eye not only out of his head, but right into the camera! I should note, this is not a 3D movie. In another scene, a woman is decapitated with the same silver hammer, and the head, when it finally rolls to a stop, continues to blink. So lets understand: her geeky husband/boyfriend lost an eye, but she was completely decapitated? How does that work? This wasn't a was a hammer.

Then there is the underlying story itself: Mohogany isn't just a killer, he's also part of a conspiracy city wide, which is feeding the Morlock-ish beasts that inhabit an abandoned subway tunnel. Police, the transit authority, apparently even city hall is involved. Oh wow, another film encouraging people to distrust authority! And then there is the gore. Yes, I can imagine getting hit with that hammer would kill and cause the bleeding, but it does seem like at times it gets just a wee bit excessive. Naturally, it seems that the movie is making a case against human dietary habits, but c'mon! And on top of all of that, why is it that in some cases, Mohogany removes hair, eyeballs, teeth and finger nails, while in other cases, people are just strung up as they are? Does that make sense? I could go on and on, but in earnest, I don't think this movie is really deserving of all that time and attention! My advice is, if you're a gore fan, or if you can excuse an ugly looking, mediocre film, this is the one for you.

I think the film ought to have been called "Mediocre Meat Train," but that's just me.

Oh, and on the plus side, Brooke Shields has a good role as an art gallery owner and guru whose line "then you're failing...stay put, be brave, keep shooting" was solid!


A low rent version of Heroes!
There have been a myriad of movies about people with gifts who are either causing or trying to thwart the end of the world or evil from assuming a strangle hold on power. Just off the top of my head, "X-Men," "Watchmen" and "Heroes" comes to mind.

And there is of course an inevitable quality difference between what you see on the big screen, and what you see on television.

So pray tell, how did this film get the green light? In every manner of speaking, it is a low rent version of the television show "Heroes" AT BEST! Chris Evans plays a young man with an extraordinary ability, hiding out in Hong Kong after the death of his father years earlier. How he got to Hong Kong, why he chose Hong Kong, and why his idea of laying low is getting involved in gambling games and becoming indebted to loan sharks is all a mystery.

Evans (sorry, I don't remember ANY of the character's names) is a mover, who meets a seer (Dakota Fanning...again, another child that finds her way to Hong Kong, to find Evans...go figure!!!) who wants him to help her recover a pusher (Camille Belle, another white American headed for...Hong Kong...I mean, what the hell???) who is apparently carrying money. Except she's carrying a syringe full of what she was injected with.

Meanwhile Hong Kong is awash with "bleeders," who are obnoxious lunatics with loud screams, and another seer who is from Hong Kong, who is also searching for Camille Belle so that she and her bleeder brothers can recover the syringe! Of course Camille Belle is linked with Chris Evans, but why not? After all, an indebted, unemployed American loafing around in Hong Kong, what's not to like, eh? Especially when she can push thoughts into anyone's mind. Why not find a wealthy, handsome man and push a history of love into his mind? Evidently Chris Evans, even as a bum, has some magnetic appeal: regardless of whether or not he's pushing the homeless trouble making bum label to the limit! And naturally there is an evil company that sends a pusher of its own (Djimon Hounsou) along with a mover, who apparently has the ability to push away bullets, but cannot really stop the bleeders from hurting him unless he impales them on something.

And there is a vindictive stitcher who can heal wounds and cause them ten times quicker who figures into this story, along with sniffers, shades, erasers and all sorts of other characters. By the end of the movie, you come to realize that the normal non-gifted people are actually in the minority! The problems in this movie are so numerous that they become impossible to avoid: from the totally unpleasant scenery (surely Hong Kong is not all dense, cramped shanty towns or casinos...per capita its' economy is on par with the USA's!), to absurd and ridiculous story lines, and of course the hapless happy ending.

I typically love these types of movies, but I really HATED this one! It was awful: a mediocre cast in a sub-par story that is both poorly directed and dreadfully boring! Save your money and watch "Heroes" instead of seeing this piece of garbage!

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