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Dark Shadows

Almost Never Saw This
I saw the trailers for this film, and sadly did not see it in the theater. I couldn't imagine WHAT Tim Burton was doing, but this was most certainly NOT "my" Dark Shadows. The trailer made the film seem trivial and preposterous; a complete farce. Whomever was in charge of that trailer needs to be disposed of in a most visceral way.

The actual FILM is quite fetching. Depp is a star in this role as in most. His recreation of Frid's original character is startling, while maintaining a continuity between the two renditions.

The problem with the original soap opera is that it took itself WAY too seriously. It tried to scare us green, and it really DID entertain...while accidentally making us laugh from time to time. This film is fun and really took me a good way. The comedy is campy and intended, where the original series had no intention ever of making one laugh, though it often did. The character development is sufficient without boring the audience into a long nap, and plot execution goes off seemingly without a hitch.

Continuity has a few holes, but this was done for fun and in who cares about continuity? I didn't. I was entertained. That's what film-making is all about. And, if it makes money, that's a bonus. LOL

On a more personal note, I genuinely hope they make another. I know the plates of all the principals are full, but would still very much like to see a run of these. A plethora, if you will.

Dark Shadows ala Tim Burton rates an 8.4/10 from...

.: the Fiend :.


Documentary-stylized hand-held camera action is featured prominently herein. Remember Blair Witch, anyone? Well, that's about where the comparison stops. This is a well told story with some surprising elements. I won't spoil this for you by naming which elements, but suffice it to say this was a real treat. The Americanized remake of this one will appear in 2014. If it is as trashy as the Juon remake, I won't be surprised. Disappointed, but not surprised. This endeavor holds a certain innocence about it, which will most likely be lost in the translation. Usually what happens is that the producers give the story or the innovative flow over to big kaBOOMy effects, and supplant the enjoyment with a slick production style. Here's hoping, because this original version is inspired.

Green Lantern

We Like It!
For those who are desensitized to any and all great effects, decent stories, and spectacular production values, this will be a so-so movie, but if you still have the ability to carry some form of wonder in your heart, this was pretty darned good. I had no problem with the principal actors, their performance, or the execution of their characters. I enjoyed the repartee between Hal and his love interest.

I thought the intro was pretty spot on with the earlier editions of the comic, and I think the remainder of the film is a great introduction to the franchise. But I do say "introduction." Honestly, without a follow-up or two, this intro will fall flat. It sets the audience up for something more; something bigger. So without it, this doesn't work. As a stand alone movie, it IS so-so, but if we are given a sequel or two, the grandeur of this film will pay off.

My biggest disappointment is in the Blu-Ray release. The "digital copy" is NOT a digital copy. It's an ultraviolet copy from flixter and you have to put it on your android phone, iPad, or computer to watch it. My iPod is how I watch movies on the go, so this didn't work for me. I'll be looking out for that Ultraviolet Digital Copy warning next time. I want my $5 back for the upgrade that wasn't.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

It tries, bless its heart.
This attempt utterly fails to capture either the charisma or the electrified atmosphere of the original work. This also fails to update the franchise in any way desirable. The graphic images are awesome and very well done, but the story itself is very mundane. It lacks all sense of truth.

Furthermore, it also fails to possess the charisma generated by the Robert Englund version of this villain. I'm not anti Haley by any sense of the term, but I was not drawn to his characterization of Freddy as I was with the prior incarnation. He sounds like he's attempting a Christian Bale thing with his voice, and it just doesn't work in any way proactive to generating the necessary ambiance or atmosphere this particular franchise needs to succeed.

It also lacks one key ingredient to any horror film. This is a more psychological look into the back-story of Kruger than the original, which means by the definition of "horror," alone, it is inferior to a more visceral version. Yeah, the remake here just doesn't scare you. It makes you want to feed the poor guy some Zoloft and just knock those kids OUT! Sorry guys, but this one is a sleeper, and I don't mean sleeper hit.

It rates a 4.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Gutsy and Sweet
An owl-ized King Arthur tale, with several spins. I have not read the books upon which this is supposed to be based, so from that perspective, I cannot comment. But as one who viewed this movie straight with no preconceptions, it was rather entertaining, showed a lot of heart, and wove a nice (if not wholly unfamiliar) story.

The lesson here is clearly to listen to your heart instead of your head, but considering today's impetuous youth, I sincerely doubt that lesson could be driven home any deeper. It seems that the brain has been given a permanent vacation. But I digress.

Voice parts are done with gusto, as is the animation. While some of the owls do resemble animated carpets, for the most part, it was done well and with love. Just try not to be too disappointed in the close ups, and concentrate mainly on the story, and you will enjoy it much more.

All in all? Great for the young and the young at heart, but only good on Friday or Saturday if unless you are part of that selective audience. Me? I like it!

It rates a 7.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Death Race 2

Unrated Edition is a whole different movie.
I have to begin by saying I was not impressed by this prequel. The observer is given nothing in the way of the "Frankenstein" character about which this was to be based. There is no mask, no charisma, and no Natalie Martinez as Case. Instead, Tanit Phoenix is pretty good as Katrina Banks and she rides with Luke. Luke you ask? Yes, Luke. Not Frank. There is no Case and further, there is no Frank. So unless the Powers That Be are making a second prequel, there are continuity holes large enough to drive a herd of woolly mammoths through.

If they ARE making another prequel, however, this installment will need a completely different review.

While there seems to be a LOT missing between this chapter and that of the original Statham remake, if this is intended to be the starter film of a trilogy, I would have to say this is pretty good. One can only guess that the main player Luke will become Frankenstein. Along that vein, this runs pretty smoothly, setting up for an advantageous bridge attempt.

I hope such is the case, and I hope they are successful in the proposed attempt.

NOTE: The "Unrated Version" (just released) eliminates the issues. The whole story is there. The theatrical version is watered down and pretty rotten, in comparison.

Unrated version rates an 8.2/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Due Date

Clunky and Jarring
The comparisons have been made between Laurel and Hardy; Planes, Trains, and Automobiles; and several other comedic teams, and this film. And yes, there are some elements which call for these comparisons. Overall, I found Cheech and Chong a more apt comparison than the aforementioned ones, but what do I know? LOL

Downey plays the straight guy fairly well. He also plays the delightfully eccentric ego-maniacal popinjay relatively well. I honestly cannot say I have ever DISliked a performance of his, even going back to the 1980's. That not withstanding, I found this pretty mediocre at best.

Both principal actors do a good job, but there is no chemistry between them. There has to be a chemistry, even if it is a negative one, for these vehicles to work, so this runs like of like a train with square wheels...clunky and jarring.

I don't hate it, but it won't be in my collection.

It rates a 4.5/10 from...

the Fiend :.


I liked this work more than I did Disney's previous princess movie The Princess and the Frog, but only just. Tangled does not have what it takes to be an "instant classic," nor does it have enough quality content to become an eventual one. There are too many pop culture references, herein. It breaks the spell woven by the medieval setting and trappings, and leaves its viewer feeling unsettled and (if they are an older Disney fan) rather melancholy for the older pre-computerized hand-drawn animations like Snow White and Bambi. Ah, the details in THOSE films! But not in this one. Now I'm no elitist. I love Cars, and Finding Nemo, so I am not anti-CG. I am anti-lazy artists who pay no attention to detail, backgrounds, props, and settings. I am anti-lazy animators who really believe that four lines make a face, six lines make a horse, and shading and shadows are unnecessary evils.

It was unremarkable, but not bad. It was mediocre for its lack of anything resembling heart.

It rates a 5.7/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Tourist

Adventurous, Coy, and Charming
This isn't typical Depp fare, but it IS pretty typical for Jolie. She acts coy, adorable, and smarter than those around her, because she is. LOL Depp isn't exactly hapless (which is a nice change) but he's no match for Jolie's Mata Hari-type character.

This is a nice diversion from the latest Pirates movies, and it is nice to see Jolie out of victim mode, even though she ... well, I won't spoil the movie for anyone.

All in all? Don't listen to the nay-sayers. The Tourist is nowhere near the dreck they claim it is, and we found it entertaining and fun from beginning to end. I'm betting what this movie fails to generate as box office revenue, it more than makes up for in Blu-Ray sales. ;) It rates a 7.7/10 from ...

the Fiend :.


Has Heart and Entertains
While this may not be as cute as "Despicable Me" in my opinion, it contributes more to the entertainment of the masses than "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs." "Megamind" is one of those "superhero" films with every necessary element to insure its eventual place in the "classic" category. This one has a rich story, a few twists, and a nice (although unexpected) resolution. The voice cast is most excellent, and I found the story to be compelling.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Megamind. I particularly like the level of character development, which was nominal but enough to endear the characters, leaving more time for story and less time for wasted film. That's always a plus, in my book. As I said, the story is rich, well written, and smartly executed.

I'll probably own this as no Will Ferrell collection could possibly be complete without it. ;) All in all, this is a good flick for the kids with a good overall morality. It's fun for adults, too, but probably not for Friday or Saturday night viewing unless you're into the new cartoon revolution (which I seem to be LOL).

It rates a 7.8/10 from ...

the Fiend :.


It Is Fun!
Poking fun at the James Bond era will always be good fun. Austin Powers did it so irreverently, and if you didn't like that, you should like the more dignified comedic venture found here. This is a new favorite for me in the venue of action/comedy. The comedic tone is perfect. It does not draw away from the action, nor does it overshadow the story.

Production style is smooth with a tongue-in-cheek look at the Cold War days, a paranoid view of the American government, and a hopeful view of the future. I did not know what to expect, so I had no preconceived notions surrounding this film, so my cold reaction is that it was totally enjoyable, and one I WILL own.

This work features little character development, but it doesn't seem to need it. Investment in the characters is still easy and natural. The plot moves well, and the execution flows consistently to a satisfactory conclusion.

All in all? Watch it. You'll like it.

It rates a 8.2/10 from...

the Fiend :.


Okay. Not Horrible, Not A Masterpiece.
As most of the hard-line horror fans here at IMDb, I found this underwhelming. The performances were really good, but I kept wondering if this scriptwriter saw the original before hammering out this work? "Hammering out" would indicate a craft or some talent ...

Sutherland's performance is poignant here. I'm so sorry the story did not rate the treatment he gave it. Nice budget, good solid base idea, with some disappointing execution throughout the production via the writing, attention to detail, and plot resolution.

Sutherland's performance redeems this, for me. I love watching that man act. He plies his trade with love and talent. He is the reason I own this on Blu-Ray in all its various forms (digital, DVD, Blu-Ray).

All in all, if you want something to make your honey jump into your arms and squeal, you got it here. Beyond that, just leave your thinking cap at the door and have fun with this entertaining but confused thriller and all its lovely CGI-candy.

It rates a 6.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The 7 Adventures of Sinbad

Straight To Video & Still Pretty Rotten
As far as Sinbad movies go, this is pretty wretched. It starts off weak, continues weakly throughout its contrived story, what story there is, and terminates climatically but flat. If this were Made-for-TV, perhaps I could be a bit more forgiving, but even with a tiny infinitesimal budget, it should have been far better than this.

Competent talent could not have hurt, but unfortunately for the audience, no one tried that tack. Had they, perhaps invested a little love in the earlier stages, paid the least bit of attention to necessary elements such as wardrobe, staging, props, or details of any kind.

The story is weak, the production style is M4TV, the acting (other than the two principals) is elementary at best, and the direction seems to be disorganized and lacking in intent. That might be the fault of the film editor instead of the director, but the direction itself does seem haphazard.

All in all? I wish I'd read a book.

It rates a 1.7/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Red: Werewolf Hunter

Interesting Take
As with Tin Man, this is better than one would expect for a made 4 TV SyFy channel movie. While the story is anything but original, it gives us a somewhat darker view of the Little Red Riding Hood story, along with a cohesive afterwards.

Dialog delivery is a little stiff, but considering the source, I really enjoyed this, and cannot wait for it to come out on DVD/Blu-Ray, to watch it again and again. Honestly, Underworld, it ain't, but it does have a good story, some great innovatives, and a plausible delivery. It runs well, exhibits well, and follows through to a satisfactory ending.

All in all we recommend this one for any werewolf fan. It is more than just your run of the mill formula.

It gets an 8.2/10 on the M4TV scale from...

the Fiend :.

Pit Boss

Gutsy, Gritty, and Genuine
This is a show I find time to watch. Shorty has a great heart and a loud mouth; an odd but appealing combination. Kind of like a small version of Della Reese. He loves his sister, he loves his crew, and he loves his dogs. Sounds like a simple formula, but when you combine that with his two businesses (Shortywood, a talent agency for Little People used to fund Shorty's Rescue his pit bull rescue service) the mix becomes volatile and interesting.

The interactions between Shorty and his staff show a high degree of camaraderie but not without some entertaining personality conflicts. Each team member has his or her own agenda, which could ultimately take them away from Shorty's world, or will send them scurrying back behind Shorty's protective wrath. Either way, it's a fun ride, with a lot of heart, and some great human (and animal) interest content.

I personally love this show - a rarity for me, since I don't typically watch TV, much less reality-type shows. I have to admit tho, that Shorty's world is totally is Shorty, the man.

See it. Watch it. Love it.

It rates a 9.8/10 (on the TV scale) from...

the Fiend:.

Pit Bulls and Parolees

I just keep watching to see who gets killed first
I watch Pit Boss, which this follows, and got roped into watching this as a by-product of being busy at work at my desk and unable to bestow enough attention to the set to change the station. But this show kind of grows on you. Like a fungus, yes, but one which grows quickly enough to enable you to actually SEE it grow, so it captures your attention a bit better than maybe it should.

The premise is a lonely prison-widow (an ex-con, herself, I think?), saving pit bulls to the detriment of her own children (she talks about what hideous sacrifices the children had to make in order for her to have her kennel), while employing parolees to house and work around her two impressionable (and by all accounts very available) young daughters.

I cannot stop watching, simply because I MUST KNOW who dies first? A dog attacking one of the workers? A worker by the hand of a dog or another con? A worker by virtue of knocking up one of the daughters? One of the daughters by virtue of one of the dogs? the Mom jealous over a one night stand? or a con out on parole for rape/homicide? The possibilities are limitless.

While the initial premise may have been a worthy one (saving dogs and giving cons a second chance), this thing is an absolute train wreck. If you're not already hooked, leave it alone. Do what Nancy Reagan taught us, and Just Say "NO!"

It rates a 3.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Expendables

We really had fun.
Was it cheesy? Yes. Was it nostalgic? Yes. But it never takes itself too seriously. There are some really nice one-liners, and a lot of reminiscing about the good old days (presumably the 1980's), but Micky Roarke manages a very nice serious scene which attempts to speak for the overall tonality of these types of films and the American audience's thirst for them. I found it completely enjoyable; cheesy without outright camp; an ultra-violent flick with no gratuitous sex to speak of; fun, funny, and ... did I mention fun?

On the whole this is an actioner with enough camaraderie to make you wish you were there and with enough explosions and casual violence to make you glad you aren't.

There is (surprisingly) a plot. Yes, there are holes big enough to drive a Schwarzenegger through, but there IS as plot. It remains simple enough so as not to lose the avid fans of these films, but complex enough to engage the average movie goer.

Typically, those who seem to be the most disappointed by this film are the newer generations who really had no idea what to expect from these guys, or the avid fans for whom nothing would have been enough. I am a casual fan of actioners, so for me, this was great fun.

This film delivers performances we expect from these seasoned pros, a better than expected story, and super hot action.

We really had fun.

It rates an 8.8/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Ministers

This one is hard to watch. The serious tone of the story line, the edgy dual performance by John Leguizamo, and the dark Christian perspective will not win this work any fans in the Bible-Belt, for sure, but they also factor into the equation of elements adding together to make the viewer cringe and pull back not only from the story, but from the characters. By the time you decide whose side you're on, the movie is over and you're left feeling empty and incomplete from the experience. This is, without a doubt, John Leguizamo's "the Libertine," in that it may well be his best performance ever, and maybe 12 people will see it. I cannot say this film is fabulous, but I will say that John Leguizamo purely shines, so if you're a fan of his work, do yourself a favor and redbox this (at least), but if not, you may want to try "What's the Worst that Could Happen?" instead, wherein he costars with Martin Lawrence and Danny DiVito.

All in all? This is one of those dark obscure pools of goodness whose appreciation calls for a genre-fan, or a fan of the principal actor, to really enjoy the work. Otherwise, you may be disappointed.

I love John Leguizamo, so for me, it rates a 7.6/10 from...

the Fiend :.


Both Insidius AND Fiendish
I love this film. I can see why some parents are going crazy about the content, but frankly, if a parent has done his/her job, some superhero/comic book movie can't jade the kiddies as badly as folks are saying this one will. Get over yourselves, and enjoy the film for the care-free fun flick it is.

Slick production style, relatively low budget, with high quality action sequences, and some awesome characterizations make for some really great movie moments. Although this stars one of the kiddies, this movie may not be appropriate for all ages. The starlet uses some horrible language and perpetrates some horrible actions, but the film is richer for it.

Nicolas Cage's role is below tertiary, but it is wholly enjoyable seeing him in this endeavor. As usual, he contributes a beautiful aspect to the story's emotionality.

All in all? It's suitable for Friday/Saturday night viewing as long as your bff/gf isn't the churchy type.

It rates an 8.2/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Despicable Me

7.8 at IMDb ... ? Wow.
While I agree with the rating, I'm sure I got there via other means. I have to ask if this is a fair rating of the movie, or if this film garnered a 7.8/10 due to flaccid choices at the box office? Either way, this is a deserving summer sleeper hit, which will find its way into my collection.

Morals and life's lessons set aside, the movie is fun, witty, sweet, amusing, and entertains while still managing to maintain a coherent story. The lessons are pretty standard, the morals are slippery, and the animation is pretty decent, but the overall effect is greater than the individual components. No slick production style, just cute, cute, cute, which would normally have me hurling into the nearest trash receptacle but herein, it works.

We actually laughed through 90% of this film, which is pretty amazing for us.

Loved it.

It rates a 7.7/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Dueling sorcerers, a compelling back-story, top-notch acting talent, and the Disney brand bring the idea born of Fantasia's Sorcerer's Apprentice to the big screen in a live full movie adaptation. While this film did not fully live up to its potential, it is a fun movie which will find its way into the collection.

This is silly and sappy just like any other live action Disney movie, and if allowed, will worm its way into the heart in a disingenuous way. If you view this film expecting Casablanca or the Godfather, you WILL be unimpressed. But if you go in expecting to be entertained, you shouldn't be disappointed.

The action sequences between Cage and Molina aren't elevated as much as many would expect, due to the story centering around the kid's battle, not Balthazar's. This is another standard Disney formula wherein the kid is undeserving, unprepared, and uneducated in the ways of the Samurai but is thrust into the center of the fray, regardless. Those who would rail against this formula, obviously weren't there to see a Disney movie.

All in all? The five of us ranging in age from 45 to 15, loved it. It is clever, and creative, marrying the science of magic known by today's standards with the arcane stories of our past. I found it intriguing and adventurous enough not to be preachy, while still managing to educate even the most unwilling movie goer.

It rates an 8.4/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Last Airbender

This movie strikes a chord within me. It speaks to some ancient racial or tribal memory; coaxes it out of the subconscious until it sparks the imagination and ignites the creative juices. This film was rife with magick and possibilities about our earth, our past, and our future as humans. MNS has a reputation for creativity. I'm really happy to see he still has the propensity for high magick about him.

Many will misunderstand this film, and others will claim to understand it, just not like it. But for the same reasons that Star Wars, Avatar, and Psycho still inspire us, intrigue us, trigger our creativity, and fuel our imagination, so this does, as well.

All in all? If you have even the smallest spark of magick in your veins, you will find enjoyment herein. Let the pretentious numbers prattle on about how bad this is, how lifeless, and how it lacks creativity, but I found it purely Magickal.

It rates a 9.2/10 from...

the Fiend :.


Avatar is phenomenal! Nowhere else is the Pagan story told so clearly, lovingly, and well. This is a film for all time, all peoples; it resonates with the indigenous peoples throughout the world, with the lives of their ancestors, and the oral histories passed down by hundreds of cultures.

Aside from that, we found Avatar to be entertaining, well made, creatively produced, and lovingly presented. There are many factors in this film one can love and designate as a "favorite part," well established characters, and a tight storyline with good pacing. There doesn't seem to be a second of wasted film in this lengthy epic tale.

All in all? This is great viewing anytime, and sufficiently awesome for Friday/Saturday night viewing. We bought the Blu Ray and cannot wait to own the extended edition later next year, or so.

It rates a 9.75/10 from...

the Fiend :.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Not Dismal, But Weird
This is a half of a beat off from beginning to end. The timing is off, but so is the cadence, the pace, and the plot. It feels behind itself by a half of a step throughout.

Based on a video game, sometimes it is difficult to ink a believable storyline from the mindless game play, which seems to be one of the more serious issues herein.

While Jake Gyllenhaal is made to closely resemble the game character he attempts to portray, he seems wholly out of place in his environ. Actually, I could not imagine where this interpretation of the character would belong. He is obviously not of Persian blood or descent, but moreover, his (clearly) Roman features stand out even more once he dons longer hair and infinite profile (and 2/3 and 3/4 profile) shots.

The main problem I have with this film, I think, is Jake Gyllenhaal's presence as the lead character. I like his acting, and have no problem with him in general, but he was clearly not the one for this part.

All in all? It was fair, but it will not go into my vast collection.

It rates a 4.9/10 from...

the Fiend :.

The Karate Kid

Fun and Enjoyable
Jaden Smith has true talent. It's in his genes; there's no denying it. Regardless of how you feel about a Karate Kid remake, between Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, the movie is fun and enjoyable.

Honestly, it failed to do anything the original didn't, except to showcase Jaden's skills at whining, loathing, and being an average 9 or 10 year old boy (at the time of filming). But don't take that to mean his performance isn't enjoyable because it is, unless you're on adolescent-boy-overload, in which case you probably aren't interested in seeing this movie in the first place.

My whole crew went to see this one, and the overall opinion was favorable. The story is updated well enough to present a passable scenario whereby the main elements are introduced and used. All that having been said, I would have liked a bit more martial arts in this flick, as what was exhibited was precious little, and pretty lame.

I found it a bit implausible that Jaden's character could even come close to doing what it did in the end, because we never saw him do anything even remotely close to that, throughout the movie. And changing the venue from that of Japanese Karate to Chinese Kung Fu...okay, I had no problem with that, but why insist on the title of Karate Kid? This should have had a different name. Kung Fu Kid? Right, that sounds like a lame spoof of Karate Kid and Kung Fu Panda, so call it Karate Kid: the Remake, and don't use karate? It made the whole movie seem off, to me. Fun and enjoyable, but off.

All in all? Because of the lack of progression, I wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be, but that was in no way the fault of Jaden Smith or Jackie Chan, whose performances were stellar. This one may not be destined for Friday/Saturday night viewing, but fun and enjoyable, nonetheless. Just stick your thinking cap in your pocket and have some fun.

It rates a 7.1/10 from...

the Fiend :.

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