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White House Down

Unrealistic. Pure rubbish.
If you like seeing the same plot and characters regurgitated over and over again, "White House Down" delivers.

Filled with dumb bad guys, dumb wisecracks, obvious special effects, and a White House so vulnerable, Elmer Fudd and the rest of the Looney Toons characters could easily take it over.

The script used to play an essential role in an actor's life. With scripts like this, there is no way an actor's talent is going to grow.

CGI has made filmmakers incredibly lazy. There is less and less dedication to the craft.What happened to the passion? The commitment to realism?

"White House Down" lacks all the elements for a great movie.

Unfortunately, there are children growing up watching subpar movies. They don't know the difference between what makes a movie a classic, and movies that have no effect on them.


Poorly Written Story
Set in France, preceding the onset of WWII, a wealthy film producer is so taken by American sisters and their séance act, he puts them up in his wealthy estate, puts one of them in a movie to jettison them into stardom, and, at the same time, becomes obsessed with contacting a spirit that haunts him.

Sorry, but this movie needed several script doctors and/or rewrites. Please do not waste your time watching it. Worst of all, it is an uninteresting story that didn't need to be told.

The only positive thing about "Planetarium" - Lily-Rose Depp. She is one hell of an actress. The only reason I stayed with the movie was to watch her. However, find a more palatable movie with her in it if you want to catch her talent.

Brahms: The Boy II

Watch the Original, Pretend They Didn't Make a Sequel
Lacks everything the original had.

A very weak and predictable story. No suspense, no atmosphere like the first one.

Pretty amazing the doll's clothing was so intact and clean after being in the ground for so long. That's when I thought, "This is going to be pretty bad." And it is.

Swimming Pool

An aloof publisher sends one his best authors off to his country home in France to write her next novel which she wants to be different from her previous ones.

This movie is not for everyone because the ending might not resonate with some folks. (It will resonate with writers.) And when an ending does not resonate with the viewer, the viewer believes he has wasted his time.

If you watch this movie and don't get it, this might help - An aloof publisher sends one of his best authors off to his country home in France to write her next novel where her characters "come alive."

The excess nudity is overkill to the story. We got it, Mr. Director. Instead of so much nudity, the writers could have shown Ms Rampling's character's process as a writer. Instead, we see her a couple of times at her laptop typing. Except it is evident Ms Rampling does not know how to type. Her pinky fingers never touch the keyboard.

Ms Rampling walked through this one. Whereas Miss Sagnier's performance and transformation were quite good. Again, her constant nudity was overkill.

The movie lacks atmosphere and the cinematography is just okay. It is not a thriller. It is a drama that one does not invest himself in. If you skip it, you're not missing anything.

Session 9

Seriously, a waste of time. Lacks everything that should go into a dramatic script
Not bothering writing the synopsis. You can read it on the film's homepage.

If the majority of the viewers do not understand the story, then you have a poorly written script. Or you had a pretty good script that others attached to the film decided to mutilate. Which is so the norm.

Either way, this is not a horror movie. It does not fit the horror genre definition.

In addition, the movie lacks tension, well-written / placed clues, pace, build-up, and everything else that goes into a well-written script. It also lacks characters we care about. Or hate. Or root for.

Despite its location, the film lacks atmosphere! You guys screwed that up real good!

Most egregious, the ending ties everything up too quickly in a "Yeah? So what?" vain.

A waste of time and a waste of talent - meaning the actors, not the writers or director.

While watching this movie I kept thinking about "The Sixth Sense." In that it's a much better film. Don't waste your time with this one. Seriously.

Set It Off

Sadly, stereotypical. I would have expected better for these 4 talented actresses.
Four friends unable to lift themselves up from their current situations, take to robbing banks after one of the friends - who is an actual bank teller - is fired when her bank is robbed and she is accused of possibly helping the robbers by not following proper procedures.

This movie is filled with stereotypical characters, language, and plot lines. If you can overcome these no-no's taught in script writing 101, then leave your brain at the door, make some popcorn and watch four talented ladies overact their way through an uninspired and hokey movie. (I blame their overacting on their director.)

When writers who have not studied their craft create stereotypical characters, they feed the narrative and perpetuate the grossly offensive beliefs of others. This type of writing should never exist.


Senior actors plus an interesting storyline to ponder equals a 10
A promise is made between two elderly Auschwitz survivors - to murder the Nazi guard that killed all the members of their families. One survivor, Zev Guttman (played by Christopher Plummer), has a form of dementia. The other survivor, Max Rosenbaum (played by Martin Landau,) is wheelchair bound and is the brains behind their seeking justice after 70 years.

"Remember" is a look into what happens when elderly concentration individuals don't make peace with their demons... They behave just as appallingly as their Nazi tormentors.

Here is a Jew so hell bent on revenge, he uses his friend with dementia to fulfill the promise. But is that what's really going on here? You will have to decide for yourself at the climax of the movie. And that is just one morsel that makes "Remember" an interesting movie to ponder.

Kudos to the writer for creating a story for senior actors to shine in. "Remember" is a movie worth watching for the story, the subject, and for the talented senior actors whose stellar performances will keep you watching.

The Lighthouse

A salty lighthouse keeper and his young lumberjack helper are scheduled for a two-week work assignment, but when a storm hits they find themselves stranded on the dreary islet and short-changed by their writers and director.

The reason this movie did so godawful at the box office is because of the poor writing, poor editing, and poor directing. The writers do not know how to tell a story well. Lighthouse didn't need a keeper, it needed a script doctor, or one talented writer who studied his/her craft.

Simply put, the story does not equal the cinematography.

The story lacks mood, tension, foreboding, mania, and a satisfying ending. Instead the director strings together a whole bunch of cinematic shots in black and white forgetting the elements of great story-telling. Think "JAWS."

So, there is nothing nightmarish or epic about The Lighthouse. (Box office receipts don't lie.)

Those that gave this movie a high rating are easily fooled, easily pleased, and don't know a great story from a mediocre story. Reviewers who warned that this movie is a waste of time got it right!

Lastly, to the director of Lighthouse: If you don't have the balls to stop your actor when he keeps slipping out of his accent, then you shouldn't be directing.

Get on the Bus

Powerful Messages
Written by Reggie Rock Bythewood and directed by Spike Lee, "Get on the Bus" follows a group of dissimilar black men on a chartered bus cross country to their destination: The Million Man March on October 16, 1995.

Without giving away the types of men on the bus, during their almost week-long trip, conversations will be hostile, unpleasant, touching, poignant, sad, droll, and often very personal. Here are a group of men one would think are united. Instead, we find during the bus trip that these black men act racist and jaundice eyed toward one another. How ironic since they are on their way to The Million Man March.

Because of Bythewood's superb character creations, we get who these men are despite their many layers. This is how it has been, and is, for these men and their families. And that is what Bythewood and Lee want viewer's to know... In case you didn't know. Especially if you're white.

I did not expect the ending. And, so, the denouement is extremely powerful. It's a wake-up call for black men. And who better to deliver the message than Bythewood and Lee?

Sadly, the one man Bythewood and Lee did not invite on the bus was a black man married to a white woman. I would have liked to have seen that character. Instead, they give us a mixed race cop. Nevertheless, "Get on the Bus" has a powerful message to black men: If you continue to undermine your brothers, you will never close ranks.

My only disappointment is the music. Movie scores are supposed to stay in the background and set the tone and help tell the story. Unfortunately, that did not happen with "Get on the Bus." Perhaps the reason is because Lee made the movie quickly.

How Bythewood and Lee were overlooked in the awards sector is beyond me. Just kidding. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know why "Get on the Bus" was left out. Especially back in 1995.

The many talented actors in this movie lay bare their characters' struggles and sufferings, but most importantly, they deliver their power messages.As a movie, you can't get any better than that. Thank you Mr. Bythewood and Lee!

Lastly, as an award-winning white female screenwriter who grew up with a black aunt, I challenge Mr. Spike Lee to work with me.

The Irishman

Avoid. Fails on so many levels.
"The Irishman" is based on a book published in 2018 about the life of Frank Sheeran who the author claims murdered Jimmy Hoffa. A new book penned by a Harvard law professor implies another individual killed the labor leader. Should this conflicting information dissuade you from watching "The Irishman"? Not necessarily. However, "The Irishman" fails on so many other levels: Poorly written script, too many directors, unsatisfactory editing, verbose acting, histrionic acting by Pacino (as usual), and unnecessary voice-over narration.

The only good thing about "The Irishman" is the super-talented Brit, Stephen Graham, who out acts everyone in the very short time he is on screen. Hopefully, someone will put his scenes up on YouTube so no one will not have to suffer through watching the entire movie.

Where to begin? 1. The Voice-over Narration. The movie begins with De Niro's character in an old age home telling "his story." A great script does not need voice-over narration. And because voice-over narration is used in "The Irishman," the movie is not visceral. And because the movie is not visceral, the viewer has to convert the screenwriter's words into feelings. That is not why we go to the movies - to do the screenwriter's job. So, because the writer didn't do his job, you'll have to process everything De Niro says (while at the same time watching the movie) as he talks over everyone's scenes.

2. Balloons informing us who very minor characters are, and when and how they died. Who is the idiot who thought this was a good idea? Now the viewer has to process two things: 1. The Voice-over narration. 2. Reading unnecessary balloons filled with unnecessary information.

3. The Acting. Both De Niro and Pacino sound, gesture, and emote like they have in every other movie they've been in. De Niro and Pacino both could learn a thing or two from Stephen Graham on how to become and sound like the character in the script they signed onto to play.

4. The CGI used to make the actors appear younger. What moron came up with this idea? I can just imagine the powers that be sitting around saying, "Hey, salaries for Pacino, Pesci, and De Niro will be greater if we don't use actors to play them as young men. What do you mean? We'll use CGI to make them appear younger. What will the audience think about that? F the audience." The CGI used on the faces of Pacino, Pesci, and De Niro is HIGHLY distracting to the viewer and should not have been used. Meaning, viewers are not idiots. Well, some are. You can't get away with fooling us, or satisfying us with this type of CGI. What's the matter, are De Niro and Pacino too irritable and restless in their old age to sit in a chair several hours for makeup?

5. The movie is over 3 hours long. This movie is not a movie worth 3-plus hours of anyone's time. It is unnecessarily too long. Unlike James Cameron's "Titanic," the 3-plus hours of "The Irishman" does not make the story richer or more memorable. It just makes it unbearable too long.

6. The movie has no plot. It's just De Niro's character reminiscing. A movie CAN do both. This movie does not.

7. The director clearly was not directing the movie. A director should never allow his "buddy" actors to interfere with his job by allowing said "buddy" actors to direct a scene. By the same token, actors should respect their director and allow him to do his job unencumbered by the actor's opinions, appraisals, or judgements. Actors are not screenwriters. They should respect the director and stay in their lane. No one wants a nurse going into the operating room to operate.

Bottom line, "The Irishman" offers nothing new to the Mob movies genre. Couple that with unimaginative acting, distracting CGI and balloons, disjointed directing, and that should tell you to skip the unnecessary telling of a man who may or may not have killed Jimmy Hoffa.

Our Souls at Night

Disappointing and contrived... Skip it
Addie Moore, a widow, played by Jane Fonda, and Louis Waters, a widower, played by Robert Redford have lived near each other for years, but have never been neighborly. Out of the blue, Addie visits Louis unannounced and proposes they sleep together sans sex.

Sounds like a promising start, right? But, as usual, writers unfamiliar with their characters and their character's lives, instead give us a subplot that totally ruins the story and does not develop the Louis/Addie relationship that satisfies.

Most outrageous is the one minute the director devoted to Fonda and Redford's love scene.

What's the matter Mr. Ritesh Batra, don't you have the balls to direct a passionate sex scene between two elderly iconic actors? If you don't, get the hell off the set and give the job to a real director.

Also, Mr. Batra cuts way too many scenes short leaving the viewer to fill in the blanks and unsatisfied.

If you are expecting a love story you can sink your teeth into, this aint' it.

Most disappointing was choosing an actress who hasn't gracefully aged and instead chose several facelifts and Botox to play against Redford, a man who HAS gracefully aged. What made casting think the audience would relate to Fonda's waxen face?

Mr. Redford did a fine and poignant job portraying Louis Waters. Ms. Fonda was miscast.

Leave No Trace

Directors should concentrate on directing
When movie-goers have not read the book a movie is based on and more than one writer is at the helm adapting the story into a screenplay, the story-telling sometimes suffers. That's the case with Leave No Trace.

A father (Ben Foster) and his young, teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) have been living in the woods for a number of years until the teen is spotted by a jogger who reports his sighting. As a result, father and daughter are placed in a home, where, after a short period of time, the father rejects his situation and takes his daughter back into the woods.

The father clearly has issues he hasn't dealt with, and, so, finds solace in the woods. We get that, but why not delve just a little deeper into those issues so we'll care about the characters?

Unfortunately, the viewer is not given any back story regarding the father's issues other than he's a war vet. Also, the viewer is not given any back story as to what happened to his wife or at what age his daughter is taken into the woods. We are given very little information (via a sentence here or there) about the duo and their existence before taking up residence in the woods. This scant story-telling may have been done on purpose. Then again, maybe not. Either way, this type of unembellished story-telling is risky and can turn viewers off and away from future projects the director and writers partake in.

The ending is disappointing because it's too quick and lacks the denouement these two characters deserved. It's no wonder the ending did not gratify some viewers.

I think this movie fails on certain levels because the director felt she needed to show more than tell to create her "atmosphere". Atmosphere doesn't work without all the elements of what goes into a story to make it great. (Think JAWS.)

Ms. McKenzie does a stellar job as the daughter. Kudos to Ms. Granik for her directing the young actress into a believable daughter who was brought up in the woods. I adore Mr. Foster's acting. Unfortunately, in this movie, he doesn't stand out. And when an actor doesn't make his character stand out, it leaves me believing that any actor could have played the part. Too bad Ms. Granik did not pay attention to directing Mr. Foster as much as she did with Ms. McKenzie.


Warning: This is NOT a feel-good movie for overweight teens.
I promised myself I would never watch movies distributed by Netflix because they're in it for the money and not the quality of the story-telling. That being said, I decided to see if I was correct. (A friend allowed me to access his account and I picked Dumplin' to watch.) Boy, was I right!

An overweight Texas teen (Dumplin'), enters her mom's (played by Jennifer Aniston) teen beauty pageant after discovering that her deceased aunt - also overweight - had planned on entering when she was a teenager. Dumplin's reason for entering is to cause turmoil... or protest. Two other "misfit" friends and Dumplin's BF also enter the beauty contest. But the girls don't really cause any turmoil. Nor do they protest. Instead, the script goes way off track, steals bits and pieces from other movies, and is riddled with stereo-types and clichés. It's as if a fourteen-year-old wrote it. Or two-fourteen-year-olds, because I could tell more than one writer was writing dialogue. Unless the writer took dialogue from the book as well as wrote her own.

One of the production companies for this film is Echo Films, founded by Jennifer Aniston and her production partner, Kristin Hahn, the screenwriter of Dumplin'. Ms. Aniston should be ashamed of herself. Ms. Hahn's screenplay/adaptation is awful. Instead of picking your friend to write a screenplay, hire a talented writer who knows how to adapt a book. Although... some books should NEVER be adapted.

It's good to know I ain't pissing my money away on a Netflix subscription!

Terrible movie with no message.

Another Happy Day

Nothing to see here, keep moving
A slew of dysfunctional family members and extended family members take verbal shots at one another and whine about past painful slights as wedding preparations take place.

While watching this movie, I couldn't help but wonder if this hot mess was semi-autobiographical. And if it was, we don't care, Mr. Levinson.

Painfully apparent: The writer/director obviously did not study the craft of story telling. There is no beginning, middle, or end, no character development, no backstory, no antagonist, no protagonist, there is nothing at stake, no arc, no satisfying ending.

With that in mind, there is nothing to see here. Keep moving unless you're one of those people who take to social media and waste your time watching snippet videos of people behaving badly in public. If you are, then you will enjoy this movie and the actors' one-dimensional acting. Which means the "writer" did not learn how to direct either.

It is too bad unknown talented writers can't catch a break and children of writer/directors/actors with no credentials or education, do.


Keep walking. Nothing interesting here except a poorly written and adapted drama.
A middle-aged woman who owns a video game company, and whose father is rotting in jail for heinous murders he committed when she was 10, doesn't get her life together until she is brutally raped by a masked stranger... more than once.

There is a lot wrong with Elle: Too many flawed males, too many side stories, and overkill on the repeated rape scenes. Meaning, the rapist's "flaw" could have been shown numerous other ways instead of the same repeated ways the writer chose to show them. The writer is obviously not that creative.

In addition, if you can't write a movie that everyone can understand, then you should either step away as the writer, or don't adapt the book. Viewers should not be made to fill in the blanks when watching a movie, or be confused. And that is why other reviewers panned it. Because they did not get the story, nor why Michele is Michele.

The Romanoffs

Weiner uses "Romanoff" name to sell his show to Amazon and creates dull fluff
"The Romanoffs" is a fictional series having nothing to do with the Romanov family. The characters in this drama are not real descendants of Russia's royal family. And that's okay. However, Weiner's fictional "The Romanoffs" is dull and the writing, fluff. That's probably because Mr. Weiner couldn't keep his mind on the work at hand due to being accused of sexual harassment by one of his "Madmen" TV writers back in 2017. (Look it up.) And Amazon STILL allowed Weiner to run with their money and create a TV show that takes us on a boring and banal self-indulgent bunny hop.

Why do I say self-indulgent? Because Weiner uses his series to defend his own questionable behavior. No writer should use his fictional show as a personal platform to make a self-serving statement. (See episode titled "Bright and High Circle.)

This Hollywood Boy's club must stop. Amazon has plenty of unknown writers' scripts on their desks they could have produced. Instead, they ran with Matthew Weiner's idea. The question is, WHY?

Let's hope Amazon does not continue to condone and monetarily support the behavior of men who feign memory loss at the expense of a woman writer's career.

As far as Weiner's show "The Romanoffs" - it's garbage in, garbage out. Which pretty much sums up what's being produced these days.

The Fields

Poorly written and lacks suspense.
A little boy goes off to live with his grandparents while his parents are estranged. He sometimes becomes frightened with certain "scary" events and people, and sometimes, not.

The problem with 'The Fields" is, poor writing. The person who wrote this mess needs to take script writing classes. He has "events" he experienced as a child in his head, but does not know how to get them out of his head and on to paper. And because he does not, 'The Fields' lacks a beginning and middle, and most importantly, a satisfying ending. As a result, the viewer is subjected to scenes that make no sense (except to the writer), and nothing that keeps the viewer interested or motivated to watch. Also, who cares about what you experienced as a child? Especially when you can't weave an interesting story and interesting characters into it.

If you are expecting a thriller or a scary movie, this isn't it. It is, however, a good example of a poorly written script.

And, it's a good movie for young teenagers who don't care what they watch.

Surprised Ms. Leachman signed on to do this.

Points for locations, props, and some of the shots. Points taken off for Ms. Reid's ridiculous wig. Seriously? And points taken off for overdoing AND under doing the foley and the music.


Not your typical documentary. So watch it.
Many action movies, rom-coms, sci-fi movies, and documentaries are formulaic. Not so with "Fire at Sea." There are no voice overs by elderly Hollywood actors, or dry commentary by hardcore journalists.

Writer/director Giafranco Rosi tells his story by contrasting and comparing young Samuele's - a local inhabitant on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa - "speed bumps" with the plight of African, Asian, and Middle Eastern refugees as overcrowded boats of them stop near Lampedusa until the Italian Coast Guard can rescue, help, triage, or mark them for burial.

Rosi uses both beautiful, poignant, and graphic scenes to engage the viewer throughout. No loud-mouthed protestors with bull horns or offensive signs in this movie. No politics. Just two stories intertwined to help educate, enlighten, and perhaps to teach tolerance and compassion.

Most impressive - the Italian Coast Guard. Their job is relentless, dangerous, and I am sure... Satisfying. They should be sainted!

Rules Don't Apply

Beatty Hits the Nail on the Head
This is not a movie about Howard Hughes. It is about old Hollywood. And Beatty captures that theme brilliantly and beautifully.

I was never a Warren Beatty fan. (Sorry, Mr. Beatty.) But I am now! His creation of Howard Hughes is brilliant. Whether Hughes was really like this or not, is not the issue. It's how an actor brings his character to life. Mr. Beatty's portrayal of Hughes is riveting. So are all the other characters that help tell the story to Rules Don't Apply. I like that Mr. Beatty used well-known, super talented actors to round-out his story about old Hollywood: Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Ed Harris, Oliver Platt, Annette Benning, and Martin Sheen. They all bring a sense of reality to the story and their character's vocations.

Plot: 1958 Hollywood. Two devout religious employees of Howard Hughes - an aspiring actress and songwriter, Marla Mabrey (Lilly Collins), and Hughes' chauffeur, Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich), must put up with Hughes' eccentricities. Including their not being able to date because Hughes' #1 rule is no employee is allowed to have a relationship with his contract actresses. But when Hughes steps over his own line, things get dicey... and interesting.

The Space Between Us

Does what a movie is supposed to do - tell a story well and give a satisfying ending
This is a charming movie. A breath of fresh air. It is devoid of curse words, sex, violence, gore, and a dumb plot. The Space Between Us is a teenage love story with the love and the story as the meat and Mars and space as the bread. So, if you (or your teenager) are looking for a 2001 A Space Odyssey-type Science Fiction masterpiece, this will not satisfy your need.

On the flip-side, if you (or your teenager) want a mildly exciting FANTASY story with blossoming teenage love and characters with obstacles to overcome, and a satisfying ending, watch The Space Between Us. It delivers quality entertainment, acting, and music.

The plot: An astronaut dies giving birth on Mars. The child's existence is kept a secret. The child, Gardner (Asa Butterfield), returns to Earth as a teenager to connect with his spunky Internet penpal, Tulsa (Britt Robertson), find his father, and live on earth. Tulsa and Gardner take off across country to find Gardner's father. As they do, Gardner experiences Earth for the first time. In pursuit of the couple are two scientists played by Gary Oldman and Carla Gugino, who returned with Gardner to Earth.Their mission: save Gardner from dying on Earth.

Kudos to the writers and producers for making an enjoyable movie for teenagers without stereotypical and sophomoric characters, dumb plots, and WTF endings.


Grow a pair Darren! (Semi-autobio about the writer/director.)
A talentless writer with an ego the size of a hot-air balloon is suffering from writer's block. He invites strangers into his home and life - who he later calls friends - at all hours of the day and night to get his creative juices flowing at the expense of his relationship with his wife and child. The people he invites in want a piece of him - his attention, his food, his house, his newborn, his toilet bowl to piss in.

Clearly this is Aronofsky's own life played out in Mother!

If only Aronofsky had given us a simple story. A straight shot of honesty and reality that we could sink our psyche's into, and relate to. Instead, Aronofsky hides behind silly horror-like scenes to confuse viewers, be "different", and mask what Mother! is really about. Him.

Grow a pair Darren! Nobody likes to watch a movie while driving in a car with insects hitting the windshield and their wipers broken. If you're not going to be honest with your audience, then take your freakin' fingers off the keyboard and write historical fiction. That is, if you can stand being in front of your computer for more than a week. Just don't dick around with movie-goers. You are going to lose their respect and attention.

Jennifer Lawrence, as always, nailed her character.

The movie is a mess. Don't waste your time.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

If you like magic and fantasy, don't miss this
While the Napoleonic wars are raging, one powerful British magician has many reasons why he won't help another powerful British magician as he uses his magic on the battlefields and at home.

Thoroughly enjoyable grownup fantasy based on Susanna Clarke's award-winning novel with several subplots that keeps the viewer interested, guessing, and entertained.

If you love unusual stories having to do with magic, love period pieces, love magical special effects, noises that make you jump, and actors who take their craft seriously, then you'll keep your remote on play until you've watched all 406 minutes.


Serial killer Ben Keller (Colin Hanks) murders a woman and steals her winning lottery ticket. After his newfound "luck," coworker Lucy (Ari Graynor) - who has known Ben since childhood, but have never given him the time of day, decides he's a catch. When Lucy finds out Ben is a serial killer, she helps dispose of the bodies. Then she decides she wants to wait until the next lottery check shows up in the mail box, take it, and skip town without Ben.

There is a lot wrong with Lucky. First, the story. It's lame. (See above.) Second, the writer assaults the viewer with bland one-minute SNL-type scenes that are just not funny. Three, because the one-liners sink this movie like an iceberg hitting the Titanic, Ms. Graynor appears like she is overacting.

The only reason I popped the DVD in was because Ann-Margret was in it.


Lacks suspense and so much more
Detective Ray Archer (Al Pacino) and his partner, criminal profiler Will Ruiney, (Karl Urban) try to catch a crazed serial killer who uses the game HANGMAN to keep them guessing where he will strike next. Crime journalist Christi Davies (Brittany Snow) tags along to report on the grisly murders. Yet, the detectives' crippled Captain Lisa Watkins (Sarah Shahi) prevents the journalist from writing a single word. (Then why create the journalist character???)

Every mystery has at least two plots.

Hangman's story/script lacks suspense, a subplot, and red herrings. And because it lacks these crucial elements, we are left with characters telling us what is going on, and when the next gruesome murder is going to happen.

Hangman also lacks pace. Pace is not just running from incident to incident like the detectives do in Hangman.

The actors: If you're an Al Pacino fan, you will like him in Hangman. He uses the same gestures and facial expressions you've seen him use over and over again in every movie and play he's been in. And, at times, Mr. Pacino speaks with a strange, slight southern accent.

Karl Urban does a good job trying to sink his teeth into his character and the messy script.

Both Brittany Snow (journalist Davies) and Sarah Shahi (Captain Watson) stay in their one-dimensional lane. Note: we should have seen way in the beginning that Captain Watson was a cripple. Show us, don't tell us. Perhaps then we'd have some empathy for her.

There's lots of poor continuity throughout Hangman. Those that notice will find those particular scene cuts annoying.

There are also lots of questions: How did the detective get inside a locked school? What meat processing plant leaves hacked meat laying out during the night? Why wasn't a SWAT team sent to the Captain's house? I could go on and on...

The only good thing about this movie is Joe Anderson. I was riveted to his performance. I thought he might be British so I looked him up. I was correct. Here is an actor who really sunk his teeth into his character. I doubt Mr. Anderson will ever use the same facial expressions he used in Hangman, again. Kudos, Mr. Anderson! Too bad we only see you for a few minutes.

Lastly, Hangman lacks a rousing climax and denouement.

Hangman will definitely be a waste of your time. So skip it.

Instead, if you like crime drama, feast your eyes on a classic: Diabolique (1955) Black and white with English subtitles.

Victor Frankenstein

Good try, but...
Nothing beats Mary Shelley's story. Nothing. However, that doesn't mean a writer shouldn't try to write his/her own adaptation.

In this adaptation, we have an interesting change of events and characters. We have Victor Frankenstein (McAvoy) rescuing Igor (Radcliffe), a circus hunchback and self-taught doctor and transforming him into his medical partner. We have a Scotland Yard detective hot on the duo's tails. We have not one, but two monsters. We have several typical formulas (perhaps too many) already seen in other movies. We have too many conflicts muddying the story, and we don't have Shelley's message... Or any message at all.

Both McAvoy and Radcliffe have created interesting characters, but never really take us deeper. Even when we learn that the untimely death of Victor's brother is what turns him into a "mad scientist".

Charles Dance, as father Frankenstein, is riveting. Unfortunately, he only has a few lines. He should have been used as the antagonist instead of the religious detective who is on Frankenstein's heels throughout the story. Who can relate to a religious zealot detective these days? Especially, when the writer doesn't give us any back story other than his wife is dead. On the flip side, most everyone can relate to father/son squabbles.

The CGI sets, costumes, and props in Victor Frankenstein are colorful and full of rich detail. However, dazzling us with fake backgrounds and antique-looking objects doesn't help to elevate this story to Shelley's masterpiece novel. And neither does the adaptation. Read Mary Shelley's book. It's a masterpiece with a message that will live on forever.

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