IMDb member since May 2012
    2013 Oscars
    2012 Oscars
    Lifetime Total
    Lifetime Name
    Lifetime Filmo
    Lifetime Plot
    Lifetime Trivia
    Lifetime Title
    Lifetime Image
    Top Reviewer
    Poll Taker
    IMDb Member
    10 years



Arachnophobia probably wouldn't make certain people's skin crawl in terror, but it's mostly a joy to watch for most part.
Although most of the world's spiders have fangs full of poison venom; the vast majority of them are pretty harmless to humans and serve a critical role in controlling pest populations. People still have a fear of them. So, it was not a surprised that this film from producer Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Walt Disney's Hollywood Pictures became a financial success at the box office and received generally positive reviews from critics in 1990. Yet there are those, certain movie goers who kinda hate the written story by Don Jakoby and Wesley Strick, of a fictional fast growing, human killing invasive species coming to Americans towns looking for blood, because it could cause public misconception that all of them are deadly when they are not. Fearing that the film could do serious harm to the ecosystem of spiders. The director and director Frank Marshall and his production crew make great lengths to promote spiders not getting killed by having a cheesy out of place positive pro-arachnid song by singer Jimmy Buffett called 'Don't bug me' in the end credits. That was so bizarre to hear that after seeing many scenes of our protagonist killing bugs. Even the scientists were gases trees in the beginning! Still, the film tries really hard to promote that no serious harm came to the real-life spiders that was used in the film like goliath bird-eater tarantula named Big Bob who played the General. They did this, by using animatronics create by fame Jamie Hyneman, drilling holes in books and boots whenever it looked like they were smush and using dead ones if otherwise. Nonetheless, hearing stories of the crew typing strings on their bodies, poking them with sticks and squirting lemon pledge to make them move in certain ways on film, might rub the truly diehard animal activists in the world the wrong way. Regardless, the creature feature is well shot. Love the low pov camera filming. You really get a good view what the spider might be seeing from that angle. However, overtime, the film hasn't aged very well with me in other departments, especially with the humor. Yes, I know jokes are subjective, but the humor that they gave Jeff Daniels as Dr. Ross Jennings are just so niche and dated. Half the time, I have no clue what he is even reference about. One such example is the joke about spaghetti. What was that about!? The only one of his that got me laughing was whenever he was talking to the coach character Henry Beechwood (Peter John). To tell you the truth, the acting is fine from Daniels, but I found the character really dull. The late add on backstory of why Ross fears spiders is kinda lacking. Even his relationship with his wife Molly played Harley Jane Kozak felt empty and void. That actress wasn't given much to do. To be honest, John Goodman as Delbert McClintock could had written in to carry this whole film or better off have a buddy horror comedy with Dr. James Atherton played very well by Julian Sands as the straight guy, at least, those two were somewhat entertaining, but instead Delbert comes in, way too late and Dr. James Atherton's adventure in Venezuela and discovering the spiders takes too long to establish and felt like a different movie. The movie tone and pacing were somewhat off. The editing is just as bad. I hate that they delete certain moments like awful villainize side characters getting their just punishment and kept others pointless drawn-out scenes around. And finally, there is just the all for nothing running gag wine bottle sudden ending that felt like the camera ran out of time. Honestly, I would have dug the original Alfred Hitchcock 'The Birds' homage type climax. As of the visual effects for the gore. It's works for what the film is, even if it's kinda hard to believe that one spider can cause a body to looked like a mummy in the opening kill. Nonetheless, I did enjoy seeing one coming out of a person's open hole. That was pretty disturbing. As for the action, the forced limitations and plot armor that characters receive is just outrageous too out there to be called realistic especially in the drawn-out climactic battle with the General. Ross and his family should had died a million times over in real life as well as the General. The acting for supporting characters dying is laughable and doesn't look really menacing. As for PG-13 fan service, it was just awkward with the whole flesh tone bodysuit and the fact that we the audience is watching a teenager character shower. I get that it's an obvious nod to another Hitchcock film 'Psycho', but it was really pointless. As for the soundtrack. It's all over the place. Delbert's light hearted blue-collar song does not mix well with the jungle feel of composer Trevor Jones' main theme. Not a great overall listen. There was also a PC game released on several platforms that was vaguely related to the movie, in which the player took the role of the exterminator and traveled to different towns to locate and kill off the spiders. Not really fun to play. In the end, overall: Will this movie make you squirm in terror? Maybe, but its most perhaps not. Still, if your spider sense is tingling and you just need a background movie. It's worth checking out on cable television, DVD or streaming on the world wide web.


I was mostly satisfied with this musical that turn the world upside down. It was a good watch.
From its 2015 opening at off Broadway. The interesting new take musical by Lin Manuel Miranda about American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton received grand acclaim from both critics and audiences. The historical hip hop sung and rapped through show became so popular that for its several month-engagement, the event was always sold out. Because of that, those like myself whom were unlucky to find tickets had to wait years to witness that story. In 2020 that day finally arrived as Disney gain a live stage recording of the show. Rather than put that copy in theaters during the pandemic, they wisely put the viewing through their video on demand streaming service. It was an instant success as it became one of the most watched straight to streaming title of that year. While I was somewhat disappointing that it was just a three normal stage recording that happens to be stitch up together by editor Jonah Moran and director Thomas Kail rather than a sweeping new epic film full of extravagant real-life locations, expansive special effects and a large ensemble cast. The piece is certainly no cheaply done camcorder recording of a bare stage community theatre production. In the course of over three days of shooting, the movie captured the visual lighting and choreography very well. To add onto that, it was very well edited. The only clue that the movie was filmed from multiple shows was how Eliza Hamilton (Phillipa Soo) hair look between certain scenes. Yet it's really not that noticeable. I also dig that the movie more perspective. The overhead bird eye shot is one of them. It really works to show the out of body's experience of key moments in the play. 'Hamilton' as well feature some impressive turntables that rotate the stage floor that cleverly function to give a deeper meaning to the historical musical. It allows two scenes to play out at the same time symbolize the literally and mentally duel oppositive nature of the characters on stage; while the camera and the performers mostly remain stationary. If there was movement, the turntables gave a very surrealism visual moment of fate. One such example is the eye of the hurricane and the rewind sequence of the wedding told in the point of view of supporting character Angelica Schuyler (Renee Elise Goldsberry). Choreographer Andy Blankenbueller deserves a lot of credit for these amazing footwork movement on these turntables. Another cool thing that I notice after rewatching was how the stage's scaffolding represented the building of America. The brick work gets taller and larger as the play goes on. The background ensembles were also clever easter eggs. I like how one of them Ariana DeBose plays a key symbolism figure that always foreshadow death without once having an official title. Nonetheless, perhaps the greatest thing about this show is the theme of dual acting! The fact that nearly all of 'Hamilton' supporting performers plays multiply roles is awesome. It adds so much depth to the production. Especially full of energy and natural charismatic Daveed Diggs taking the role of friend and foe Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de La Fayette. Although some of the dual acting can be a bit awkward such in the case as actor Anthony Ramos performing as a small child after a good showing as John Laurens. The way he acts as Phillip, kinda makes it look the son was mentally challenged. To add onto that, the actual homosexuality rumors about Hamilton and Laurens being lovers also kinda hurts Ramos performance as Phillip, as viewers might forget that he's playing a new character. The relationship could come across as incest. As for the performers playing one title character. I have to say Leslie Odom Jr (Aaron Burr), Christopher Jackson as George Washington, Lin Manuel Miranda (Alexander Hamilton) and a cameo of Jonathan Groff returning as King George III really made this show worth a watch. As for the fact that a multiracial cast are playing the mostly white forefathers. I found the few mocking moments of outdated white stereotypical mostly harmless. It's certainly not as bad as the majority of whitewashing practices happening throughout the history of Hollywood. Yet I do get why some people think of the choice as racebending. It does seem like a gimmick. Still in the end although the play was based on historical events and people, using some dramatic license to rewrite history like that to hook modern audiences in was truly unique. Miranda did a good job making it entertaining. He adapted out certain key characters that would overtake the spotlight or hurt the pacing. Another thing Miranda did is make those who surround Hamilton's ideas a lot clearer; which in real life are a lot more questionable such in the case toward slavery and war, but perhaps the biggest historical inaccurate has to be the events that leading up to the famous duels. In real life, there was a lot more hesitation. Regardless I did like the uses of foreshadowing as counting to ten is the same melody used in previous songs. Talking about music. I love the different styles from 1960s British Invasion pop, standard epic rap battles of history to slam poetry. Too bad George Clinton's like funk wouldn't be incorporate into the play without disrupting the narrative. The break the fourth wall moments were also clever like Jefferson handing out a pamphlet even if it was future president James Monroe that led the investigation that almost cause a duel with Hamilton. A duel that was only prevented by of all people, a little more ambitious and less villainous Burr. Indeed "Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story". It really shows in the portrayals of characters regardless of history. Nevertheless, this play is lot better than '1776' and 'Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson' big time. Overall: Don't throw away your shot! Go see this musical. It's really good. If you had. You'll be back for sure! It's worth a rewatch.

A Lego Brickumentary

Everything was nearly awesome with this Lego documentary.
Although, the film directed by Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge does have some flaws. One such example is the documentary's structure. It was a bit all over the place. Hardly any connecting building blocks. Honestly when the filmmakers introduce the on-screen Lego figure narrator voiced by Jason Bateman, the movie cowritten by Davis Coombe should had starts off by getting all the product placement commercialism with the 2014's Phil Lord & Christopher Miller's animation 'Lego Movie' over with it. Quickly chat about that, along with the model work featured in the live action sequences of that flick, then move on to other brick filmmakers and celebrities talking about their personal connection with the bricks, along with the X-Wing building sequences. Trust me, this structure works better rather than bringing the subject up in the beginning and toward the end. Anyways these sequences should had followed with the retrospective history of the company; which surprisingly was somewhat well done by the documentary. I just wish the filmmakers explain more about the struggles of the company trying to keep the Lego patent after it expire in 1989 and the companies' wars with Mega Bloks and Best Lock. Despite that the history lesson parts were very informative. Also, those parts didn't feel like the directors were part of the corporate shilling. For example, hearing about the company flaws with creating new products like over expensive Technic Fiber Optic Multi Set and the Znap and Primo pieces being too elaborate to be compatible with regular Lego pieces with traditional Lego bricks was very interesting to watch. My only complain about those failed sequences, would had been that the filmmakers didn't go into a deeper dive into that. For example, the movie didn't bother talking about the Lego's ill-faithed attempt to revived an obscure doll line from '79 targeted at young girls nor the early 2000s 'Bionicle' and 'Galidor', action figures line based on a kid's show of the same name. The movie acts like the Danish company have always been focus on one type of toy: the manufacturing of construction sets despite otherwise. Nor does the film talk about the Lego Group being the one of the largest tire manufacturing company in the world due to its unique design for miniatures. Then there is the Legoland argument. While the theme parks are not fully owned by the Lego Group itself; rather, they are owned and operated by the British theme park company Merlin Entertainments. Lego still get a share of the profits. In truth, the downturn of tourism after the attacks on 9/11 was one of the biggest reasons why the company nearly went under in 2003. Another thing, while the documentary acts like the Lego Group only turn a profit by allowing its adult fanbase to help create products for them such as the Lego Creator line. The truth is, that the biggest influence to Lego's grown was the child-based series 'Lego Ninjago' that was produced in-house by ethnographic market research toward kid's interests; along with their wiliness to go into the video game and television market. Despite that the documentary does go into great depths to showcase a lot of what adults have done with the product such as helping solve complex traffic, math and learning problems was really interesting to witness. Most surprisingly for me, was the sequence in which an artist help people cope with the aftermath of the Holocaust by rebuilding historical sites with Lego pieces. Seeing that dark theme here in this G rated movie was very surreal. Although that sequence was somewhat a downer, the film does show more intense but uplifting topics such as hobbyists at a brick con trying to win awards. I always kinda like competitor documentaries. Furthermore, I believe the movie would have work better if there was more focus on Lego CUUSOO winner/Curiosity Mars Rover engineer Stephen Pakbaz. Having the movie end with him kinda works with the whole cheesy Legos in space opening. Overall: While some sequences of this documentary have not aged well over the years such as the positive focus on 'Melting Point' which later backlash where the fans didn't get the 30 minutes stop motion brick film that Indy director Jonathan Vaughan promise on Kickstarter. Still, not quite worth banging your head onto a brick wall to get anger at. The movie in the most part was worth watching on Amazon Prime or any streaming platform where as of this writing, currently stands despite its admittedly cluttered and disorganized niche unfunny nature of being a few bricks short of a full load.

Mortal Kombat

Get over here! It's time to talk about Mortal Kombat. Is it a movie worth watching? Kinda.
Honestly while not a flawless victory, this fantasy martial arts adaptation of a 1990s fighting arcade game was not horrible. Like the original PG-13 1995 & 1997 movies, this 2021 reboot also adapted in and out franchise story elements. With the results being that the visuals are too extremely gory. Because of that, this flick came very close to getting an NC-17 title by the MPA. Instead, it got a Rated R rating. With that, this film's gruesomely kills are a lot more memorable than the previous movies big time. Even with all the quick cuts from director Simon McQuoid and his crew, the fights perform by the legit martial artists honestly lives up to the bloody fatalities of the game; along with the somewhat silly unnatural special effects, listenable music and semi beautiful cinematographic backdrops. However, the previous ones do establish the underground fighting tournament for control the Earthrealm a lot better by showing it. Here the movie explains the lore in a quick spill badly execution black screen text scene, follow by a repetitive exposition dump from a character with little history of witnessing the tournament, firsthand. You would think that Earth God defender Raiden (Tadanobu Asano), would be that story teller yet it's given to Sonya Blade (Jessica McNamee). Nevertheless, the tournament never really does starts in this movie. This film instead establishes that sorcerer Shang Tsung (Chin Han) who has overseen the last nine victories loves to cheat by taking out the Earthrealm's champions before the fights starts. All of this doesn't make any sense; seeing how the tournament is there to stop Outworld from conquering Earth. Yet they could enter easily and freely into that world at anytime and anywhere to interfere with the God of Thunder's fighters. Honestly what's really stopping them from conquering the world all through. Another thing if Raiden could take his fighters to the endless void, a neutral world to escape the villains. I really don't get why his crew wouldn't train there until the tournament starts or the Elder Gods find out on Tsung's scheme. A lot of this film's conflict could easily be resolved with his teleporting powers. The movie never makes it clear what Raiden could and couldn't interfere with and why he couldn't just banish Tsung all right. I really got lost in the lack of logic of the plot because of him. It sucks because Asano does look the part, but he doesn't have the natural charisma or gravitas of that of the previous actor Christopher Lambert to keep me entertain to overlook the big jarring flaws of that character. This version of Raiden is also a jerk with his bemoaning and insulting attitude. Not fun to be around. The film makes it hard to believe that he cares about Earth. Another thing that the original flick has over this, was its protagonist. Instead of having original video game characters like Liu Kang (Ludi Lin) take the helm. This supernatural martial arts film written by Greg Russo and Dave Callaham goes in another direction by following a studio mandated new character Cole Young (Lewis Tan), a somewhat mediocre mixed martial arts fighter who quite dull and boring as the chosen one. It's really hard to root for Young as an underdog because how dumb and reckless the story makes the character be. It's quite stupid to rage quit and go back to his family when the threats are still happening. He pretty much put his wife and daughter in danger on purpose. Plus, he doesn't even evolve into Scorpion like the story makes it out to be. Instead, his new gain powers are kinda lame. Think of a punching bag mixed with Wing Chun wooden dummy and you got what he turns out to be. Nonetheless I kinda do understand why he has those magic based powers due to feeble Earth realm individual traits being enhance for the tournament such in the technology or cybernetic case of Mehcad Brooks' Jax's metal arms and Josh Lawson' Kano's eye. Since Cole is always in the meager defense. It made sense for him to have a literal plot armor. Still, I kinda wish he had more of a fighting spirit. The character always getting his butt beaten or having another character save him at the last minute. He made out to look so weak. That's not how you build up a hero at all. The movie would probably work better as a revenge story if they kept the establishing character Hanzo Hasashi/Scorpion (Hiroyuki Sanada) as the lead. I kinda like the Edo period Jidaigeki Chanbara opening with him versus Bi-Han/Sub-Zero (Joe Taslim). Still kinda wish they establish why they were fighting with each other. Nevertheless, there was a lot of material that they could had gone with Hanzo after that fight, such as showing how he gain his demonic powers and the conflict that comes with it, like choosing to defend the Earthrealm for his daughter or join the forces of the Outworld for his soul. Sadly, that character doesn't show back up until the final few minutes of the end without much exposition. Nevertheless, it was still badass to see him fight his rival once again. Love Joe Taslim as Sub-Zero. Sorry for the pun, but he was chilling. Very menacing. As for the other antagonists. The performances needed a little work even with Lawson being somewhat a memorable comic relief as Kano. Nonetheless, I do get why the filmmakers chosen to showcase some of the lesser-known villains from the franchise. Can't have ultimate baddie Shao Kahn died in the first movie. The same with the heroes. Glad they kinda hint that other characters like Nightwolf, Johnny Cage and others might be coming soon. That would be nice to witness. Overall: While not truly toasty. This reboot still worth a watch both in theaters and on HBO Max. So, check the movie out.

Wonder Woman 1984

Oh Lord! What Happen? Wonder Woman 1984 sure could had been so much better. It's only semi entertaining.
Be careful for what you wish for HBO MAX. This sequel about one of the world's most famous superheroine kinda divide your audiences when it came to your streaming platform. Based on the DC Comics character of the same name by Dr. William Moulton Marston, the Warner Bros film from director Patty Jenkins has one of the weirdest saving the world concepts ever put onto the big screen. Instead of fighting off evil gods like the previous movie, aliens from 2017's 'Justice League' and criminal masterminds such as those in 2016's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'; Jenkins has Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) go against everybody wishes, in order to stop total chaos in the 1980s. What a surreal, but interesting watch. It's like many goofy clown cars getting into a wreck. You can't help staring at how bizarre everything is. A guilty pleasure for the most part. Even if the opening Ancient Olympic-like games went so long and play very little to the plot. The mall robbery for the Dreamstone McGuffin should had been the first thing we see. Regardless the tone for that action scene is so fluffy cheesy that I kinda wish it was taken a little more seriously. The over-the-top silliness made it hard to believe that these events take place in the same world as the previous flick or any of the future timeline dark gritty DC Extended Universe films. After all it does beg the question, why the near disaster events of this film were never heavily talk about before and why nobody still didn't know who Wonder Woman was during the start of 2016's 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' in-story? Seriously, I think the overall story would make more sense if was the two Jenkins films were left along separate from the canon of the Zack Snyder cinema-verse. There would be too many jarring questions if not. Nevertheless, most of the action sequences besides the first two openers got better as the movie went on as the chaos started to add on due to Maxwell Lord's (Pedro Pascal) undoing. The desert car chase and the White House fist fight are good examples. Using CGI and practical, traditional special effects with stunt performer work semi well. Being honest here, I didn't really notice the child-like dummies during the first time watching. Really. If there, a worthy few nitpicks about the later action sequences, it would have to be the disappointing over preachy 'Greed is bad; struggle is good' message during the climax along with pitch darkness fight that equally as annoying due to how hard to see it was. Thank goodness, not all the action took place in the night. Still, I would have love to know what any of this has to do with George Orwell's most famous book and why the film used part of it as the title. More exposition on that please. Nevertheless, I also dislike the way Diana's new powers like turning things invisible or flying with pointless armor wings are introduced out of nowhere with very little exposition how she gained them. Along with the leap of logic that came along with it such as amount of travel time, energy intake and extreme inside knowledge of the characters. It's quite worse than the first movie like it comes to that. Then there is the reincarnation of a dead love one-swap subplot. I really couldn't get into the idea that both Diana and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) were risking the well-being of some bloke body! It gets worse as they also boned using that same vessel without his permission. Because of that the romantic elements and chemistry in this sequel felt dirty, exploitation and wrong. To add onto that, the whole rebirth moments really come out of nowhere with a proper hello and disappears just as unabrupt without a solid goodbye. Nevertheless, I didn't really mind too much of the reverse fish out of water tale between their characters. As it's Trevor turns to get used to then modern life. It was quite funny. However, Steve's unearthly ability to fly a jet engine plane full of fuel just in time to intersect Maxwell in the Middle East who left days earlier, but not able to understand the single means of a trash can is really mind-boggling stupid. Regardless the two performers really put it all out in the comedy, stunt work and dramatic. Along with that, the two thespians playing the villains were equally as an impressive. Especially Kristen Wiig as Barbara Minerva. Her character's metamorphosis into the antagonist was well executed. Likewise, I didn't mind that Pascal was over the top hammy. There was certainly some charm. The end credit cameo was also a nice touch. As for the soundtrack. While it's not as epic and intense as the first movie; the music is very listenable for its choice of 1980s vibes and tunes. Plus, Hans Zimmer's theme score is still iconic. Overall: After several release date changes caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, it's nice to see it finally come out. While not as good as the first movie. The weird choices the sequel makes this a must watch.

Making a Living

Silent No More! It's time to talk about 'Making a Living'. A very interesting little short.
Also known by many names like 'Doing His Best', 'A Busted Johnny', 'Troubles' or 'Take My Picture', this 1914 one-reel comedy short was the first appearance of comedian Charlie Chaplin on the big screen. Produced and released by Keystone Studios, 'Making a Living' is certainly a unique watch for many things. For starters, while Chaplin did walk around with his cane in this flick. His famous iconic "Little Tramp" screen persona did not appear until his next film, 'Kid Auto Races at Venice', five days after the studio began distributing this short. Because of that, it was surreal to see Chaplin portray another character. The Max Linder-like Edgar English 'Swindler' character with his large moustache and top hat was bizarre looking on Chaplin's short frame. It made his head look hilarious colossal. Another thing worth noticing is how the character's cunning antics is a prototype to what the Tramp would do. Nonetheless one of the faults of the swindler is that the individual lacks the generally good-hearted childlike bumbling that the Little Tramp has. Because of that, most of his mannerism toward making the unnamed news reporter played by actor/director Henry Lehrman seem mean spirited and cruel. It really did seem that the innocent reporter did nothing wrong and the Swindler was just there to ruin his private life. Sadly, I really couldn't laugh at much of the antagonism antics due to that. Especially when it caused innocent people to get stab and strangle. I just wanted to turn the short at times. Thank goodness the other 34 Keystone shorts that Chaplin made in 1914 with the Tramp character was less annoying. Another thing that bugged me was the lack of slapstick from the Keystone Cop. It already sucks that most of the original cast didn't return for this short even actor Hank Mann who would later work with Chaplin on his other films. Don't get me wrong I do know that this is the 6th of the 12 films featuring the cops, most of the actors were working on Fatty Arbuckle productions, plus the casting of the Keystone police force changed from one film to the next with many of the members were per diem actors who remain unidentifiable such as Chaplin appearing in a bit role later after this as one in a lost short, but it really does seem like the members of the squad must had anger producer Mack Sennett, because the fictional humorously incompetent policemen really did take a backseat for this vehicle. None of them were given any screen time including main actor Chester Conklin. The cops don't appear on screen until a couple of minutes during the climax. Then the action unabrupt ends with no punchline. No comeuppance for the Swindler or anything. Lots of things are left unresolved. Not a great way to end the flick. I have to agree with Chaplin here, it really does seem like Lehrman deliberately removed some of the best parts from the short's final cut. There was a lot of missing frames during the opening and closing fighting scenes. It's very noticeable during the main characters both trying to woo a love interest Minta Durfee played by actress Virginia Kirtley and her mother portray by Alice Davenport. Another unabrupt cut was before the car crash scene. Who knows, maybe those sequence was in the original cut and lost over time, but a part of me kinda doubt it. After all, it's true that 5 seconds of the short was indeed cut from the UK release because of the violence. Sadly, if there is such a print version where those deleted scenes were included. It has yet to recovered. Until then, we have this version that can be found on the internet. While the black and white coloring kinda make the Swindler' monocle look like a bloody black eye and the contrast flickering film grainy is creepy in from both sides. The copy most people can see isn't that bad as it hasn't yet reached badly deteriorated conditions. Hopefully there are some film preservation institutions out there trying hard to keep it from dipping closer and closer to a significant loss of quality. Because this short has a lot of historical value. The footage of various areas of downtown Los Angeles streets in 1914 is a time capsule. After all, you would never get to see the original fame Fremont Hotel ever again as it was torn down in 1955. To be truthful, this short did have one of Keystone's more elaborate productions. One particular moment was the staging of a tipped car even if the footage where the Studebaker go over the cliff look like it came from another lost film. That scene was still pretty gutsy. Overall: While not as good as Chaplin's later flicks. This 13-minutes short was truly worth seeing. Nice to see where one of the cinema's most iconic superstars started from. Not a bad way to make a living.


Pixar truly put their heart and soul into this animated movie. For the most part, it kinda work.
Watching protagonist Joe Gardner (Voiced by Jamie Foxx) try to escape the world of before life with the help of a young soul 22 (Voiced by Tina Fey) was a somewhat interesting character study. Although the mature philosophical themes about living may elude younger viewers. Even for adults, the movie can be a bit confusing at times with the spiritual elements of existential crisis involving the character's out of the body experience; along with the Catch-22 subplot of looking for a spark. After all, screenwriter and director Pete Docter along with co-writers Kemp Powers & Mike Jones didn't even know if the film should go with the nurture or nature route with the baffling unclear Eastern and New Age mediative. Having both themes just made the message of the picture a little more jarring & muddled. Then there is the fact that the movie can get a little too preachy and seriously heavy handed at times to the point that most of the humor takes a backseat. The jokes that were left for the audiences didn't really hit my funny bone. The montage of interactions with key historical figures trying to mentor 22 was somewhat insulting. I found the sassing bantering between Joe and the cynical, snarky and mischievous soul really annoying. Plus, the constant messing with people by 22 in the Zone probably caused at least a few fatalities. Truth be told, none of the souls in the Great Beyond doesn't really seem to care about the value of life; including the Jerries. After all they're the worse, openly willing to let megalomaniac' personalities go to Earth. Who knew that the manifestation of dynamic energies, appearing in a comprehensible form, albeit abstract could be so hypocritical? As for the 'Freaky Friday' body swap concept later on the film. I found those jokes a little more adorable. However, some animal lovers might find Mr. Mittens' out-of-body experience jab tasteless. Along with that, certain people of color might find the fact that Pixar's first movie with an African-American lead somewhat problematic. The film visually has Joe barely portray in his own body. As for me, I found everything about Gardner's urban surroundings felt authentic and real. The film so deeply ingrained into Afro-American culture that not seeing the protagonist in his human form for most of the runtime was no bother. After all, that concept beats the original idea of Joe as a Caucasian animator wanting to become a rock star. I really don't see that fitting the title that much. That said, the movie still fails to go into detail how Gardner could be ever be mistaken for Dr. Bjorn P. Börgensson. Honestly if the Jerries could tell the different between unborn souls with little more than vague circular blobs and few personalities, you would think that they would notice who the mentors are, through their distinctive features that those souls carry over. Bjorn and Joe truly don't match. The Jerries really are awful. Plus, did they ever found what happen to the good doctor in the end? I don't think he ever appeared in the movie. Shame that they didn't even use John Ratzenberger's voice for him. Anyways, I guess he's a mysterious throwaway character; along with odd mentions of Joe's unseen ex-girlfriend Lisa and missing posthumous father. Backstory on these three would had help the film a lot as they could had played more into the plot. Because of those unexplored character developments and the cop out ending, the movie wasn't as tear-jerking or cathartic as other similar Pixar flicks. There just weren't enough supporting characters with great voice performers to provoke a deeper and more resonant emotional response. As for the main cast. Those voice performers felt at times like they were holding back. Especially Foxx whom could deliver a very good emotional musical driven performance. The actor doesn't even provide all the jazz piano playing as that role went to pianist Jon Batiste. Since the film was centered around music and needed something to animate Joe's piano playing to, why not use Foxx! It would had been nice. The tune to 'Epiphany' with his singing voice could really stood out. Sadly, I hardly remember any of the score by composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. I found most of them forgettable. As for the animation. It's a mixed bag. Some of the visuals are breath taking vibrant. I do like the way the music notes looking Jerrys and Terry (Voiced by Rachel House) were traditionally animated; along with the abstract sound waves shapes the main character falls into from the musical staff conveyor belt. The blending of the 2D animation into a CGI world landscape was truly flawless. However, those scenes are far between with others designs failing by being little too unnatural. As for the after-credit zinger. That add on really doesn't make much sense now since many of the 2020 movies were impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, forcing Disney to skip its theatrical release and debut on its streaming service instead. Nevertheless, the movie still certainly still worth checking even if fails to capture the greatness of other Pixar existential films like 2017's 'Coco' had. At least, the flick is not too much of a grinding, soul-crushing experience. It's decent at best.

The Fan

Right off the bat. This movie didn't cover all its bases. Not quite hit a home run! Only semi watchable.
It's time to step onto the plate. Although this 1996 American sports psychological thriller directed by Tony Scott received generally negative reviews from most critics and was a box office flop. The film based on the 1995 novel of the same name by Peter Abrahams haven't yet strike out with me. I found the story of a trouble baseball fan Gil Renard (Robert De Niro) slowly creeping into madness after getting disillusioned with his favorite ballpark player Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes), still in the ballpark. Even if Scott used the film as a guinea pig to experiment with edgy rock music video visuals and audio cues. While this movie's out of place heavy edited quick cuts with blurry glossy downgrade color filler images sequences with songs from Nine Inch Nails playing in the foreground is better suited for a gritty violent football thriller like 1999 'Any Given Sunday'. The film still makes it up to me due to the great performances of De Niro & Snipes. Don't get me wrong, I do know that the acting from these thespians was nothing new. Especially with De Niro known as the guy well verse in playing psychopaths and Snipes at the time as the near realistic sport athlete. However, scenes like where both leads play a friendly game of catch, only to find their characters slowly tensely intimating into exposing each other's true colors really shows both actors' range. Attaway Bobby! It's just too bad that the reasons how the individuals met up at the beach house was poorly written. Phoef Sutton's script has way too many forced and absurd over convenience events. Are we really supposed to believe that Gil was waiting outside in the right moment that a rogue wave would come just to get close to Bobby's family? That's outrageous. Then there is the poorly delivered third act kidnapping plot device. The film could had done better if Gil just wanted to rise Bobby's kid Sean (Brandon Hammond) as a trade-off because he rarely sees his own son Richie (Andrew J. Ferchland) and to get back at Bobby's so-called betrayal. It really seems out of character for Gil to threated to harm a child. The movie could had been stronger if we slowly get to see Renard manipulate Sean into seeing him as a father figure over Rayburn. It would had been really complex and intense. Sadly, we don't get that. Truth be told, a lot of the family dynamics from the source material seem to be missing here. It sucks because the movie could have painted the ways that Gil & Bobby react to home life a lot better. The fatherhood message of the film was somewhat lost because of that. As for the film's use of basing Rayburn on real-world parallels of Barry Bonds. I have mixed feelings about that. While having Rayburn's portrayal as an African-American baseball player for the San Francisco Giants rather than being white and playing for the Soxs from the novel was indeed blazing, unique and adds to the thrills. Still, it was indeed a bit disturbing and controversial to model him way too close on a real player. As it could had put Bonds in danger regardless if they make a in story joke about it. Nonetheless, it was nice to see a black actor as the lead protagonist. It was very rare to see at the time and still somewhat is. Although, if Snipes really got what he wanted. I really interested in what he could had brought as Gil squaring off with a Brat Pitt's Bobby Rayburn. As for supporting cast. I felt that Ellen Barkin's snarky role was really cut down compare to the book. In the novel, her character Jewel Stern did a lot more investigating once the crimes started to pile up. Still, I kinda glad the movie kept away from detouring too much into Gil's unrelated criminal activities. What they did with the Coop character was great. Charles Hallahan played him so well. The positive interaction with Sean during the baseball game. Top notch. Along with that, Benicio Del Toro as Juan Primo & John Leguizamo as Manny was also great in this movie despite certain scenes with them like whole hotel sauna magic number conflict being awkwardly shot or metaphorically dialogue about Babe Ruth being botch. It's also somewhat cool to see Jack Black cameo as a broadcast technician. Overall: As much as I love Americas Greatest Pastime films along with watching most of the performers. I can see why many people are not a fan of this movie. The visuals and audio cues are jarring, the plot is not particularly original and the climax is kinda weak. In the end, the film was certainly a foul ball.

Dead Poets Society

Carpe diem! Seize the day! Make your lives extraordinary! Watch Dead Poets Society!
Set at a fictional uptight authoritarian American elite boarding school in the 1950s, the motion picture directed by Peter Weir tells the story of an unorthodox English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) inspiring his students to think for themselves through the power of poetry. Without spoiling the film too much, the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards and won best screenplay. I love that Tom Schulman semi-autobiographical script doesn't use a few poetic lines as one-time throwaways inspiration quotes. He really did work it out to fit what the characters were indeed going throughout the movie. There is no better example of this than Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) gaining the stage part of Puck in William Shakespeare's fantasy masterpiece 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. In these few sequences with this character, we see the glimpses of happiness, dreams and death that Keating has been divulging. Triumph and tribulation. A small slice of life. Even if the youthfulness of most of the students visually doesn't really come across that well due to most of the performers looking older than they seems. Yet Ethan Hawke does look the part. His acting as Todd Anderson outshines everybody even Robin. Such heavy emotional powerful delivery. So, it was a shock to hear that Williams would often tease Hawke for his style of acting. I guess he was jealous of Ethan and angry that his career might dry up after his recent ugly divorce. Thank God, Robin matured enough to patched things up after this film and help the young actor find future roles. Talk about being nearly hypocritical. Anyways Hawke's performance brought out some really great visually beautiful shot moments in the film. Yawping and the tossing the work desk scenes are great, but the sequence that stood out to me is one take wonder where Todd cries in the snow. Glad that they got it before the frost started to fade. Can't believe that was originally going to be an interior shot. The director and crew made the right decision with that wide shot as it shows how lonely, lost and overwhelm the character can be. Along with that, the impressive low angle camera angle of nearly all the Dead Poet Society members standing tall and looking at things from a different perspective makes the downer ending a little more pleasure to watch. In truth, cinematographer John Sela really deserved an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. These visuals shots are remarkable. Along with that, composer Maurice Jarre should had been nod for Best Original Score. Astonishing music to the ears. Even if his use of bagpipes "The Fields of Athenry" wasn't historical accurate, as the piece was composed in the 1970s. Other historical inaccuracies nitpick that came with this was poem misquotes and people reading books that have yet to published in the 1950s. Nevertheless, if there are any real flaws that comes with this picture, it would have to be the fact that part of the movie hasn't aged well and would unlikely get through modern day sensitivity. One such example is the disturbing ways that Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles) tries to win the heart of a girl he only met once. Seeing him grope her when she's asleep and excessive lust for her to the point that she got angry; didn't really made me want to root for him. He come across as an aggressive creep that fit the definition of sexual predator. I found the love story not really charming. It's perhaps the weakest part. Then there is the character of Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen) making an excuse to act like a trouble maker by using what come across as a made-up African lampoon name despite the context of the words referring to the Slavic people of eastern Germany. Having him act like a stereotypical minstrel show clown pimp without the blackface is a bit cringeworthy. Another thing that might stop modern audiences from watching this movie is how on the surface level, it is a generic WASP coming to age story. A context that isn't really appealing these days with most Millennials going to public school full of a variety of melting pot students. This movie certainly failed the Bechdel test and diversity index. There wouldn't be many young viewers that can related to these boys. However, I think there might be some Millennials & Zoomers that can find something about themselves in these characters; either with the universal educational themes toward mental health. Particularly when it comes to trying to rise up from depression and suicidal thoughts. I like that the film still tries to promote an idealistic viewpoint even though a lot of situations in the film are firmly on the cynical end. Unfortunate that religious aspect isn't one of them. Faith in the school is made out to look like an authoritarian system of control rather than a normal way of dealing with guilt and learning to heal. I have mixed feeling about how that was portrayal. Along with the idea that it's ok to vandalize school property like censoring ideas that go against his teachings by ripping out pages from a textbook. Some of Keating's actions can seem polarizing. Nevertheless, Williams gives out a performance that really spoke to the struggles and dilemma of balancing free will when it comes to youth; with the actors playing the students all roomed together to help build up a believable bond. The film's final scene farewell salute to him is very reminiscent of The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Changing of the Guard" with their teacher. Along with many future parodies. Now that scene is almost impossible to watch without feeling like a send-off for Williams rather than his character. The suicidal themes of the film are now harsher in hindsight after that actor passing. Despite that, o' captain, my captain this movie is still worth the watch. A near poetry in motion masterpiece.

WWF St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Let me rattle your cage. WWF St. Valentine Day's Massacre is not as good as nostalgia goggles has you believe. The event only average at best.
First off, I have very mixed feeling about Vince McMahon's company using that title. While the name does sound cool, it also a bit offensive and disturbing to allude a criminal event that saw seven people murdered in part of the gang war between Al Capone and Bugs Morgan in 1929. It doesn't even make much sense beside the date of the event taking place during the holiday. Honestly if you going to take that controversial title. You might as well go all in on it. Why not have the silly over the top gimmicky stereotypical Prohibition era mobster image and urban landscape as a backdrop entrance. Also, why is this PPV was taking place in the Pyramid in Memphis, TN rather than fame arena Rosemont Horizon near Chicago, IL? Don't get me wrong Tennessee is known for some famous bootleggers, but the Windy City is king when it comes to that theming. To add onto that, it not like this was the first time WWF use that heading. In the 1980s, they had Chicagoland house shows with that name. So, it's quite possible to host an PPV there with that title. Nevertheless, this event was also the last show to use the B-show 'In Your House' subtitle until 2020 NXT. Kinda glad that they got rid of that gimmick. Every event should seem special. As for the poster. I do love the one with McMahon holding flowers with a bloody hand. I just don't get why there is a flash reflection. Is that supposed to represented the flash of a gun's muzzle or something? It's just odd. Also why is the poster made to look like it been worn down and folded. It's just makes the text harder to read. The alternate one with the steel cage is a little better. Regardless as for the event itself. Besides the dark match between Too Much (Brian Christopher and Scott Taylor) versus The Hardy Boyz (Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy) that the live audience only got to see. Starting off the night was two matches that were contested on Sunday Night Heat, the preview show, with Test versus Viscera and Tiger Ali Singh against Billy Gunn. Both bouts were slow, sloppy and badly pace with them ending with disqualified or no contest. Hardly worth talking about. The real opening saw Goldust versus the Blue Meanie with the latter parodic the bizarre one's clothing and make up. It was short and gross. Probably not the best way to open a show. The next match was a lot better with the Job Squad members fighting along each other. Al Snow fighting Bob Holly for the vacant Hardcore Championship was surprising very entertaining. It must have suck for the arena fans but having them fight backstage with wacky props and weapons was kinda cool. Although, the best thing about this match was them going outside and crossing the street to fight on the banks of the Mississippi River. This was probably the first time a body of water ever played a factor in a WWF match. It was very unique. Still rare even today. Sadly, the next bout of the night saw two heel faction members, corporation Big Boss Man fight the ministry Mideon. Another short gross fight with slow moving big hosses with nothing major happening. To add onto that, Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart with Debra defending their tag team championship against D'Lo Brown and Mark Henry with Ivory was not good as well. Surprising with three fast paced wrestlers and one decent powerhouse; it was also slow and sloppy. The ending shot with the guitar was awkward. Henry had to see that coming. Anyways that brings us to the Intercontinental Championship with Billy Gunn as special guest referee. Val Venis versus the champion, Ken Shamrock fighting for the title take a backseat as the main story of the match has two of the three men trying to make their moves on Shamrock's kayfabe sister Ryan. Besides the cringe worthy wolfing storyline, the bout was decent even with the botch Ken telling Ryan to slap him moment. The Corporation (Chyna and Kane) versus D-Generation X (Triple H and X-Pac) continue the night's entertainment as the intergender tag match was solid with every member doing their part. I like that Chyna really show that she can hang strong with the big boys in one of her earlier matches. She had the timing, selling and execution of move sets down to the wire. Anyways it was a really good showing from all four of these wrestlers. Champion Mankind versus challenger The Rock for the WWF Championship was next. The bumps that Foley was taking was really brutal, while the Rock was pretty entertaining on the mic. Sad that the match end with a horrible make no sense decision making for a Last Man Standing contest. No wonder why this bout is nearly forgotten. Their previous fights outshine this big time. It was a bit disappointing. Probably a good thing this no contest brawl didn't main event the pay per view. Stone Cold Steve Austin versus Vince McMahon in a steel cage is what everybody wanted to see. They finally pull the trigger after a year-long built. Love the old timey promo feud recap video. They really do make it seen like it was the end between them. In reality, the two would continue to feud years after this contest. Anyways, the match between them this night was decent enough even with all the time-wasting goating and escaping Vince was doing with Steve. The big bump that McMahon took that night was crazy. Along with that, the debut of Paul Wight and Austin accidently escape was iconic. Overall: I'm not married to the mob. I won't highly overrate this show. Besides a few key memorable spots in two or three matches. It was not quite a well balance event. At least, it's not a total mess. It's watchable and that's good enough for me.

The Last of Us: Part II

Finally, at last! It's time to talk about 'The Last of Us Part 2', a disappointing sequel that really divided its audience.
Written and directed for the most part by Neil Druckman, the survival horror game tells the story of Ellie (Voiced & Motion Capture by Ashley Johnson) trying to seek revenge on those for the death of a colleague in a post-apocalyptic world. Produced and developed by Naughty Dog, the sequel has nearly the same third-person perspective violence and bloody gory graphic gameplay mechanics as the first one. Seeing players use short & long ranged firearms & bows, improvised limited use melee weapons for stealth or last stand assaults and throwing objects like bottles to distract and move past hostile humans and cannibalistic Cordyceps fungus inflected creatures was still a blast to watch. Although scavenging ammo and raw materials continue to be a tiresome chore as well, this time, crafting equipment such as health kits, Molotov cocktails, shivs and makeshift silencer doesn't matter as much due to the fact that the gamer lose whatever they stored up on in later missions. The same can be said with any collected items used to upgrade weapons at workbenches. It's not fun having to start over. However, it's not all bad, collecting supplements & looking up training manuals found throughout the environment does continue to help the health meter, crafting speed and skill set, regardless of what character is being played in the current moment. Also, the 'listen mode', the visual representation of locating enemies is still very useful; especially when crouching or crawling behind obstacles to gain advantages or evade combat. So that's kinda cool. The game also introduces guard dogs that track the player's scent, which can be visualized in listen mode. However, a lot of fans dislike this added feature as killing innocent animals kinda makes Ellie look bad if the in-game story doesn't do that already. Nevertheless, being impaled by an arrow by people can be a challenge as it can progressively decrease your health meter and disables listen mode until removed. Enemies AI are improved as well. They don't run into a burning fire or off high cliffs as much as they use to, and could heard certain noises. Human hostiles do take better covered, call for assistance and use flanking advantages when the player is distracted, out of ammunition, or in a fistfight. While AI escort were designed never to get spotted during gameplay. They're not ridiculous getting close to threats in the open like the previous version without alarming them. The escorts also assist more in assaults, platforming and scouting missions rather than standing around. It kinda make the stealth elements more believable. Sadly, this game has no multiplayer, but riding horses and boats with the escorts are nearly seamless with very little glitches. They get what you're going for. Their warping to where you are is not really that jarring. Along with that, the animation transitions between gameplay and cutscenes intercut so well with very little loading. It's absolutely flawless. The graphic is very breath taking beautiful and everything looks like it's really happening in real time. However, the over switching between Ellie and a new character Abby Anderson (Voiced and motion captured by Laura Bailey) can be a bit annoying; especially with all the out of place jumbled flashbacks cut scenes. The difference in gameplay between them is highly one-sided as well. Not only is Abby given the most amount of time between them all with Joel Miller (Voiced and motion captured by Troy Baker) around 5 minutes, but also most of the best perks with weapons and unique missions. It can also be polarizing as well for diehard fans to play as somebody that brutally shock value murder one of the original protagonists in the opening few minutes of the game. I also have mixed feelings about turning the first game likeable characters into horrible broken down miserable individuals. Don't get me wrong, I get the point of us playing Abby is to show that there are always two sides to every story that people are neither necessarily good or bad, but the heavy-handed manipulating ways that they force empathy on us for her and demonize Elle through deux ex machina plot armor is downright clumsy and over the top, especially the whole pregnancy angle. Also subvert our expectation is just misleading marketing. Honestly playing as Abby would had been better if they market the game as a stand-alone spin off with Ellie and Joel as AI escorts companions that met up with her as she struggles to survive in the harsh world; with the idea of them adding to lore for the cure while she slowly finding out the dark truth that the new two friends might have a connection with her past that would lead to a dilemma to murder them or not. Instead, we got just a basic petty revenge story with unlikeable characters with no pay off. Regardless the actress Laura Bailey shouldn't have been a target of online death threats nor should people hate the sequel due to LGBT themes that the story brings. Having supporting characters like Lev (Voiced and motion captured by Ian Alexander) and Dina (Voiced and motion captured by Shannon Woodward) around has been one of the few things delightful about this game; along with playing the guitar. Nevertheless, I kinda wish the music score by composer Gustavo Santaolalla could had been used more throughout the sequel. In the end, while some people will give this game last place or a last hurrah. For me, right down the middle, the lasting impact of this sequel is how unpleasing depressing it is. I'm on my last leg by the end. So overall: it's not really fun to play. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic era when high spirits are really needed. Hopefully if Naughty Dogs make a third game and fixed all the wrongs. Until then, just stick to the original one and avoid this, at all cost. Can't recommended playing at all. It's more like a last resort.

No Man's Land

This foreign language motion picture is indeed worth getting out of the trenches for!
Although the title of this movie might make it seem like the story happened during World War 1; the truth is, the film is set more recent with the Yugoslav conflicts of the 1990s. Written and directed by Danis Tanovic, the motion picture debut from him tells the fictional account of two wounded men from different units, a Republika Srpska Serbian Combatant Nino (Rene Bitorjac) & Bosniak freedom fighter Ciki (Branko Djuric) being trapped in a large ditch between two armed forces due to a mine. Unable to move, they must work together to signal both sides to cease fire long enough for a neutral United Nation peacekeeping unit to move in and rescue them before it's too late. While the Catch-22 trench warfare events of the movie never happen in real life, the film did show real footage of the conflict in a poorly structure over exposition documentary news dump toward the end of the flick rather than the beginning. Even with that, the movie fails to mention a lot of things that led up to the war such as the communism economic collapse of Yugoslavia, the Slovenian and Croatian secessions and the religious factors. Don't get me wrong the film doesn't need to be bugged down with all the historical backstory details, but a small exchange of different opinions on these subjects could had fueled the tension between the characters more. It would certainly add more weight to who is holding the rifle fight between them. Nevertheless, the movie does capture perfectly the chaotic Babel-like confusement of the conflict and why it was so difficult to resolved by unending red tape of bureaucracy of the U.N. The scenes with Sgt. Marchand (Georges Siatidis) try to understand everybody made for a very unique watch. Both in dry humorous ways and in dramatic tragedy. The movie made great use of the local languages and many of the abroad one such as French, German and even English. However, some of the languages can get lose between the subtitles. Some of the South Slavic swearing words doesn't properly translated. Regardless of that, all the performers doing their parts very well. Even if the character played by real life singer Djuric sporting a Rolling Stones logo t-shirt was a bit of a distracting odd choice. While it's true that the Bosniak army was indeed truly made from multiple ragtag militias, I do believe that they're more uniformly than what's show in the film in real life. Even the costumes for the Serbian Army don't really match what they wore during the war. Nevertheless, that is just a nitpick. The movie had bigger flaws than that. The diegetic music choices in the film minus the opening and closing songs were not well used. One such example was the use of a brief funky psychedelic tune from head plugs while one of the men trying to get a gun. It felt so out of place. It's weird that the music was even there. For the most part, the film worked well with the silence sly motions of each individual planning their next move while waiting around rather than a silly forced music over expositing it. The director and his crew really did make great use of shooting the movie under various angles, in order to point out that there are multiple points of view when it comes to war. There is no better example of this than the scene where an aggressive reporter Jane Livingstone (Katrin Cartlidge) bribes the two men for an interview on top of the trench. Her position high up in the frame looking down on them and leveraging the conflict even worse is a near perfect visual enactment of what most news coverage did wrong when broadcasting the war. They never truly down in the trenches and truly understood the people's suffering. They looked at the fighting from aboard through grainy video lens above, take false narrative for value and exploit the real death and destruction of people for selfish means for their rating frenzy. To them a trench is a trench, they're all the same. This 98 minutes movie's message would gain further traction after it was released in France a few days after the Sept 11 attacks. By then, the world got a good glimpse what the ugliness of war could bring upon any nation. It was with no surprised that the movie went on to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001, beating the likes of acclaim works such as 'Amelie' and "Lagaan'. The motion picture is certainly worth checking out and not ditching. Don't allow this movie to be another casualty of war. It's a great watch!

The Big Sick

It's time to drop in on this film. Is it worth the watch? Truly, it's in good health.
Whenever you're feeling under the weather. This romantic comedy film written by real life couple Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani might help bring you out of it. The subject matter about an interracial couple loosely based on themselves dealing with cultural differences before, during and after one of them becomes ill; really does relate in today's climate especially post 2020. Nevertheless, some of the culture clash themes also works in the era that the actual event took place. The early 2000s. Especially semi recent post 9/11. However, I didn't think having the timeline around 2017 was a good idea for the film. It made sequences like Emily's parents asking him about the tragic terrorism attacks and the racist heckler seem a little out of place. In real life none of these events mention here with Kumail actually happened. Regardless of that, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Terry and Beth were amazing in their roles even if there were a few artistic licenses like one of them cheated on the other in the past. I didn't mind that added drama, as well as the main couple break up prior to the illness. I just wish the reason why was a little better written. After all, Kumail is supposed to be uninterested with the women that his mother Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) wants him to date. Yet it's a bit out of character and creepy for the protagonist to keep a cigar box of all the photos of them. This forced device to spark a conflict between Kumail and Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan) just doesn't work for me. In short, I would rather see one of the women just drop in out of the blue flirting with him with Emily finding out. That would had been a stronger reason to break up. Regardless of that, I do like that the love interest doesn't really forgive Kumail right away after this fight. As for her being cautious in the beginning; it's a mixed bag. The hesitated approach toward love does slow the pace of the movie to a crawl at times; to the point that it takes forever for the illness plot to kick in. Yet her wary ways toward dating makes sense once exposition is spill about her past history about being pressure by society to get into a relationship as soon as possible. After all, her parents are still doing that when they pulled an arranged marriage tactic later in the film by inviting Kumail to her welcome home party. However, all these attempts to turn away suitors does beg the question if she knew that she was sick or getting ill in the opening. There were a lot of odd scenes that point to that such as her weird lies to get coffee in the middle of the night, the wine drinking, her parents visiting and her supposedly friends suddenly leaving her alone in her hour in need. Something is up. There is more to this picture. Just saying. Nevertheless, Kazan was great in the lovely character turn sick role. The struggles in the hospital mostly felt real. The supposedly waiting for kin permission and forcing a total stranger to put a patient on a ventilator did not. ER doctors would intubate and do medically induced coma to the critically ill without consent in order to save lives. Doctors only find a next-of-kin to sign forms and make decisions when it's not a life-threatening emergency. As for Kumail's acting during all this. Not the greatest. Putting out dramatic emotional is not his best skill set. He kinda fade away in the background once Hunter and Romano come to the picture. Scenes like his character trashing a fast-food joint and being very means to other comedians was unwarranted. Those scenes should had been cut from the movie. As for Kumail finally calling out his parents about the arranged marriage plans. It was poorly delivered. He sounds like he's holding back in his coming to America speech. That spill doesn't even make sense. In truth Kumail was already 18 when he arrived in the United States from Pakistan. His parents immigrated four years later. Also, unlike the movie, the comedian didn't move to get away from them. In truth, he went to New York with Emily to get closer to them and pursue his dreams as his parents have settled in New Jersey. As for their portrayal; the acting is fine but the film doesn't spot light the mother character not that well. In truth, the real Sharmeen wasn't as mad and strict as they make her out to be. She honestly actually does care about Emily's well-being. She would often call Kumail about how she was doing. The negative side of her portrayal was a little bit over the top. As for Kumail's brother Naveed (Adeel Akhtar). I really have no idea where the filmmakers were trying to go with him. Scenes where he's playing baseball doesn't make sense with what he's preaching throughout the film. His tone was all over the place. Regardless the film really doesn't paint Islam in a good light. I know humor is subjective, but the jokes in this movie are not really that funny. As for the comedy mixed with dramatic serious illness concept. It's really not that unique. The producer Judd Apatow for this film already tackle the subject over the years with 2009 'Funny People'. Regardless this movie did manage to earn an Academy Award nomination for its Original Screenplay even with its flaws. As for the box office. This film distributed by Amazon Studios with Lionsgate was a massive hit. Certainly not comatose. Overall: While not as funny as Aziz Ansari 'Master of None' television show nor as medically compelling as Jonathan Levine's 2011 film '50/50'. The movie directed by Michael Showalter is a good enough feel-good flick that its worth checking out. A must watch.

Captain Marvel

This comic book movie felt like it was made on auto pilot. It was not marvelous
In a very strange coincidence, the original titular character from Fawcett Comics once known as Captain Marvel was released in theaters incredibly close proximity to this cosmic superheroine film in 2019. While this movie written & directed by Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck with some help from Nicole Perlman, Meg LeFauve, and Geneva Robertson-Dworet did receive a huge general blockbuster intake. DCEU 'Shazam!' won more fanfare. So, what happen here? Without spoiling it too much, well for starters, the movie didn't get their story straight. Captain Marvel AKA Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) fighting Earth invading shapeshifters aliens Skrulls in the 1990s was supposed to be amazing. Everybody was really looking forward to a Secret Invasion type storyline. Sadly, we didn't get that as the writers didn't really wanted to redo the big shocking twist from 2014 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' with most of the world's biggest organizations being infiltrated and compromised by a sinister secretly outside source. Instead, they chose to subverted expectations by having that villainous group as refugees trying to find their families and hide away from the eyes of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) & his unseen ruler Supreme Intelligence. I wouldn't mind it too much if the filmmakers also switch the roles for the Kree. I really dislike watching disordered flashbacks waiting for Carol to catch up to their clearly obvious predictable scheme. Honestly, the filmmakers should had gone with mutants like Mystique posing as aliens in order to play both sides into conquering the planet and placing her as the puppet leader. It would had been a good idea how to introduce some of the X-Men characters into the MCU. After all, everybody wants to see Danvers's big showdown with Rogue in the future. Nevertheless, seeing how none of the more sinister Skrulls were mention or used in the film's story. The aliens could play a bigger factor in future installments in a more faithful role to the source material. As for the revelation of Annette Bening's onscreen character. I kinda dig her character dual role as friend and foe. The same with Yon-Rogg (Jude Law). Shame that Ronan wasn't given the same crisis of conscience development with Carole. They hardly share any screen time. So, in the end seeing Carole fight him was not really that interesting. Nevertheless, I didn't really dig the spoon-fed subplot of the Kree repetitive telling Danvers to control her abilities and keep her emotions in check even if it's a metaphor of outdated gender stereotypes. Not only was the message heavy handed on the nose and over preachy. The montage of her getting up is really cheesy. To add onto that, that subplot also limited Brie Larson's acting chops quite a bit. Scenes where she is supposed to seem angry, sad or charming is delivered in such a robotic way that it comes off as phoning it in. It's not a good direction especially when Larson in other roles could act brilliantly complex. It's already bad enough that the character is indifferent with Goose due to Brie's allergies toward cats. It's also sad that Danvers doesn't even admire Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) enough for the Supreme Intelligence to take that form. The emotional scenes with Maria were delivered so dully. Honestly if it wasn't for the great buddy cop chemistry that she has with Samuel L. Jackson's character Nick Fury to bounce off to. Carole would had been so very unlikeable and boring vandalizing private property shrew. Still, it was a bit odd to see Fury arrived at Pancho Bar before Danvers. He really must had done unrealistic quick detective work to pull that off. Regardless as for Jackson's acting. It's great. It's still surreal to see a more chill Fury around rather than the no nonsense older version. Nevertheless, the silly manner how the character lost his eye in this, really does hurt the powerful message that Fury told in 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'. It's also weird that the attacker is able to roam free around two top-secret military bases after that and before. As for the de-aging computer effects for Fury. It was decent. However, Clark Gregg's young facial feature effects for Agent Coulsen looks awkwardly plastic. Meanwhile the CGI morphing animations for the Skrulls blend so seamlessly with the practical make up effects with Ben Mendelsohn's witty character Talos being a highlight. Sadly, the action scenes of the movie are not that impressive to look at. Having outer space fights in pitch darkness is not a good idea. The limited visuals are quite bland compare to the other Marvel cosmic movies. Then there is the earthly train foot chase. Cliches as hell. None of the battles on planet quite wow me. Actions scene like the jet dog fight only left me with jarring plot-holes such as why did Lawson even bother building a lightspeed engine if the Tesseract can create wormholes? This movie seemed somewhat shoved awkwardly in the MCU continuity and it shows. Hopefully the sequel could explain some big burning questions like Carol or Goose wasn't around during the events portray in 2012's movie 'The Avengers' and why Ronan went after the power stone rather than Danvers in 2014's 'Guardian of the Galaxy'. Also did the Asgardians and Xandarians go to war with Hala after the events of this movie. A lot of things need to be explained. Hopefully the sequel would also solve Danvers all over the place overpower issues. Being adapted from several plot elements from multiple one-shot comics that used the Captain Marvel title over the years including bits of Author Roy Thomas's 1971 "Kree-Skrull War" can cause that. Overall: While this movie has a badass 90s soundtrack full of some of that era greatest hits even if some the songs dark lyrics don't really fit the narrative and a wonderful, but confusing Stan Lee meta cameo/memoriam. Watching this movie gave me jet lag. In the end, it's not quite worth it.


Dreamcatcher was utter explosive diarrhea. A total mess.
Don't get me wrong this motion picture had potential. It could had been a cinematic masterpiece like 1982 John Carpenter's 'The Thing' with its blend of extraterrestrial body horror and suspense. Sadly the 2001 novel originally called 'Cancer' in which the film is based off, was not really Stephen King's best work. Even the author didn't like it that much; seeing that he sold the film rights for $1. Written after the car accident that almost killed King. The novel is supposed to tell the story of four friends encountering an invasion of parasitic aliens on an annual hunting trip in Maine. Yet because King's written it under the heavy influence of Oxycontin while recovering. It suffers from way too many silly vulgar toilet humor repetitions that ceased to be funny after so long. Kinda wish the author took it more seriously. After all, prostate cancer is one of the most common leading cause of death among men. So, having a novel metaphoric telling the dangers of it could been frightful. To make it worst, King change the novel title to 'Dreamcatcher'; despite the plot has little to do with apotropaic magic nor the lore of Native American cultures that much. There were hardly any dreams sequences as well. As for premonitions. I have no clue what King was going for with one of the characters having a car accident like himself. I don't feel like that is how the mind works when dealing with a near death experience or an out of body moment. Wouldn't memories be open up rather than quickly shield. Nevertheless, seeing that majority of the book deals with memories. I really do dig the whole in mind reminiscence warehouse sequences of the film version with the Ripley monster trying to gain access to. However, the cartoony split personality between Gary 'Jonesy' Jones and the alien entity Mr. Gray also played by Damian Lewis was little too much over the top in the acting department. You would think that the creature possessing the body would try to seem normal or act similar to its host. Then again none of the adult characters in this story acted their age. The friends set of pop culture catchphrases don't really match the horror tone that well. Nor does it help to the underlining the theme of teamwork between our protagonists. Each one of them were doing their own thing, barely paying attention to what being said within the group. I hardly believe that the protagonists were all buddies. Plus, the childish dialogue felt forced & awkward put; especially when actor Jason Lee as Joe "Beaver" Clarendon spill it out. To top it off, King had to put telepathic powers yet again in his story which the movie overused in series of disorganized cliches flashbacks like standing up against stereotypical bullies in Derry. Unfortunately, Henry Bowers from the 1986 novel 'It' was not one of the antagonists. Nor was there much of a connection between the Ripley monster and the alien creature from that location beside the title Mr. Gray. While both use telepathic. Neither one act alike. The power here was highly misused both in the heroes and the villains. For example, seeing actor Thomas Jane as Henry Devlin used a pistol as a telephone while Tom Sizemore as Captain Owen Underhill looks on is just bizarre. The visual humor felt confusing out of place. It sets the wrong tone, hurting the horror vibe. The telepathic powers were certainly misrepresented. Much in the same way the down syndrome character of Douglas 'Duddits' Cavell played by Donnie Wahlberg was highly misguided even if the performer was decent. Without spoiling too much of it, the twist toward the end with Doug was a bit off putting. Alienating for sure for anybody dealing with a disability. The whole fake looking CGI battle between aliens in the climax was disappointing. Honestly most of the action involving computer effects were awfully done. They overused the same quick shock value movement of a violence attack toward the crotch way too much. Meanwhile the practical gore effects, make-up work & puppetry for the creature kinda does work for what the film has. As for the pacing. The movie could had work better without the overdrawn opening credit sequence with blurry close up of things, a montage of every group member at their work and most of all the military subplot. Morgan Freeman as Colonel Abraham Curtis didn't really add much of anything. All those padding wasn't really needed. Unfortunately, screenwriter William Goldman doesn't know how to cut these parts out when doing adaptations. Most of his script tend to go on way too long. As for director Lawrence Kasdan. I really don't get why he allowed the movie to go to 134 run time. It seemed like Kasdan didn't allow editor Carol Littleton do much. Whenever he does seem to want to cut. The movie used classic vertical film wipes from the 'Star Wars' film franchise way too often. To add onto the oddities. He also wanted to used the same sound effects from those movies. A jarring example is the blast door noise whenever the villain put up his hood. What on earth was he thinking? No wonder why the director found himself out of work for 9 years after this movie. Kasdan's choices were insane. Not even the studio's last-minute attempt to tacked on an animated Matrix short 'Flight of the Osiris' as a double feature could attract audiences to see this movie. This horror flick bombed at the box office. In 2003, it really does seem like most people would rather stay home and watch the news about Iraq Invasion rather than see this escapism horror flick. I don't blame them. Overall: While 'Dreamcatcher' is not as bad as some of the 1990s adapted television mini series of Stephen King's works. It still one film not worth catching.

NXT TakeOver: Dallas

NXT Does Dallas and it was mostly a good show. Everything is bigger in Texas.
This event is known for the beginning of many things. For starters, it was the first show in the NXT TakeOver series to be broadcast live on the WWE Network during WrestleMania weekend, a tradition that continue until 2020. It was also notable for several superstar's debut matches including Shinsuke Nakamura and Austin Aries. As well as the last for Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin. I also dig that Kota Ibushi appeared on screening standing in the crowd. It's too bad that WWE rarely used him besides that year summer event: Cruiserweight Classic. I would have love to mark out for him in NXT. Nonetheless he's doing pretty damn good at New Japan Pro Wrestling as of this writing. However, NXT did make good work of the other free agent appearance that night. Wrestler Bobby Roode previous from TNA had a glorious career there. Anyways, taking place in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in front of a soul out crowd of 9,000 people. The first contest of the night saw The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder) defend the NXT Tag Team Championship against American Alpha (Jason Jordan and Chad Gable). While both teams lack personalities and promo skills. They made it up with their ring work. Love the old school ground and pound brawler mat-based amateur wrestling style from both of these teams in contrast to the more common high-flying styles of current day tag teams. No flips, just fists. They mostly kept to their promise. However, there were some awkward botch blow spots throughout the fight such the failed powerbomb attempt. Nevertheless, the fight had a lot of ring psychology with the Revival using some pretty dastardly well done heel tactics and the babyfaces trying to win legally by any means with various of different near falls pinning attempts. It was a great opening. This is followed close by the little build Baron Corbin versus Austin Aries contest. That match was highly disappointing. We didn't see Aries showcase any of his talent. Slow action with tiny amounts of methodical power moves really did hurt the match. Its ending even comes out of nowhere. It's not the debut that fans of Aries were hoping for. Sadly, it was followed up with a lot of bad decisions that cause him to be released a year later. His time was quite short in WWE. Anyways that brings us to the main reason to watch this show. The debut of Shinsuke Nakamura versus Sami Zayn. Sadly, once again this contest didn't really have any story behind it beside general manager William Regal claiming that Nakamura is coming to NXT from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Nevertheless, the fight outshined every match during this PPV. It was hard hitting strong style affair. The fans were loving it from entrance music to the sign of respect ending. The loudest pops of the night. Asuka versus title holder Bayley for the NXT Woman Championship follow this and surprising it really came close to topping Zayn and Nakamura's match. It was truly solid. Rigid kicks and tight submissions hold really does make Asuka one worth watching. While happy go lucky Bayley is just amazing in the babyface role. To add onto that, the live crowd really put this match over with their chants of 'Asuka going kill you' and their song rendition of "Hey Bayley." That brings us to the main event where NXT Champion Finn Balor looked to retain his title against the challenger powerhouse Samoa Joe. The homage to 1974's slasher horror film 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre' entrance really does work with Balor's demon make up get up. He made the right decision. The whole riding a horse idea wouldn't have work as well even if the animal didn't buckle during rehearsals. Anyways the first minutes of this match was really intense as Samoa Joe was busted open. The blood really made Joe menacing. While nobody really wants to see a wrestler get really injury. I hate that the contest was slowed down or even stopped so medical staff can continuously attempt to clean up Joe face rather than finding good times off camera to do that like rest spots. The crowd was really having none of that as F-words were scream out loud. WWE will have field day trying to censor all that in future broadcasts. Regardless the match did find its groove back and maintain its suspense for the rest of the contest. Both men looked strong in the end. Overall: The Lone Star State got a really decent show. A shining example of what NXT can bring.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Hey you cool cats and kittens! Tiger King was truly wild!
There is truly something special about the gun toting gay country singer zoo owner Joe Exotic and his feud with animal rights activist Carole Baskin that interested a lot of folks. According to Nielsen ratings, 34.3 million people watch this seven-part Netflix series directed by Eric Goode & Rebecca Chaklin over its first ten days of release. Tiger King was a roaring success during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It's perhaps that the series tells the web of betrayals and manipulations within his contacts in the wild animal collecting community both in business and in a personal level through an intricate sensationalism style. Due to that, the series felt more like surrealism reality television than true crime journalism documentary. Nevertheless, some of the things that the series brought to the table is questionable. Some people didn't like how there was an episode that focus way too much on some other eccentric zoo owner named Bhagavan "Doc" Antle. While exposing his work force polygamist like sex cult was interesting. He barely has a connection with Joe Exotic beside the surface level. Nevertheless, most people are more upset on how the series portray Carole Baskins. The whole missing person report from her past was indeed somewhat misleading narrative. After all, Carole didn't really inherit her wealth from her ex-husband's Don Lewis due to that. Baskins only gain that money after an employee try to embezzled thousands of dollars from the real estate company that the duo founded. To add onto that, having 'death or disappearance' on a will is not really that uncommon, suspicious or ominous as the makers of the documentary make it out to be. While it's true that there is wealth of theories and scenarios what could had happen to Don. With little evidence, none of them hasn't been provided true. Regardless, that diss track music video that Joe lip sync made about her feeding Lewis to the tigers despite Carole having a small meat grinder at the time had a pretty damn catchy hook. As for Baskin's non-profit business practices. It's a little more questionable especially with her selling tickets for tours and asking for volunteers over paid workers. However, the cages where the animals are stored are not as small as they appeared on screen. Some of them are quite big. Nevertheless, both episodes do seem to stray a little too far from the main subject. While those individuals were very interesting. Most of the focus should had been on the Tiger King. The filmmakers failed to investigated a lot about him such as his troublesome past as a lawman. I would have love to hear in depth what really happen to his brother. It's really puzzling that both brothers end up severely hurt in separate car accidents with one of them dying. Could it be suicide? Sadly, the series never goes into detail about the event that change Joe Exotic's life and career. Along with that, the film doesn't talk about the disturbing accounts of Joe's past relationship prior to John Finlay. There was no mention of Josh Hartpence, previous partner turn child molester/murderer that Joe threated to killed. Perhaps the biggest complain that the filmmakers left out was footage of Joe murdering animals and making outright racist claims, in order to make it easier for viewers to empathize with the titular character. Hopefully one day more of the undamaged footage from reporter Rick Kirkham's failed reality show would come into view. Until then we only got the shots that Goode's documentary crew captured and the poorly done quality ones that Joe recorded himself for his web show using cheap consumer grade camcorders with onboard microphones. Nevertheless, there are far more good footage than bad. As for editing. The series flow well despite one out of place slow motion scene of minor character James Garretson riding a jet ski to Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger'. There was a lot of moments that foreshadow future events like the birthday shootout where Carole noticed a rip-off version of her animal sanctuary logo being used by Joe. Still the documentary could had been better if there was more on a character arch structure flow between them. Show that Joe & Baskins are similar in the way as both had suffer abuse in the past, then follow it up with them falling in love with the animals despite one of them having a fear of big cats, while the other is allergic. Then show that Joe started his zoo for good intentions such as stopping breeding laws and getting the animals back into their natural habitat; while using old film of his antagonist Baskins as an advocate for private owning of animals and breeding. Then slowly portray how both of them change for better and for worst with other footage as their money grew or diminished over the years until one is a manipulative madman while the other become a rigid activist. Then end the documentary with the idea that both sides have a point. Breeding is the most effective and intuitive way to help endangered animals yet it also serves as a double edge sword as many that do it abuse that power. That's a good way to get the conservationist message across while also tacking the class issues behind them. Either way barely anybody came out of this series looking good. Following the release, many of those featured try to clean their name in a smartphone interview follow up episode. However, it was too late as many of the private estates featured here has closed up for good including the G.W Zoo. At least, their ridiculousness personalities became notorious famous due to meme culture. So, they have that going for them. In the end while some viewers found the series hard to watch due to its diverse immoral hypocritical cast full of drug abuse, misogynist and gun violence moments. The strange world of exotic pet owners is still worth getting the cat of the bag. A must watch.

Santa Claus

What the hell am I watching!? Mexican Santa Claus is out of this world weird.
Heavily lampoon on the Season 5, Episode 21 of 'Mystery Science Theater 3000', this 1959 Mexican fantasy film directed by Rene Cardona has St. Nick (José Elías Moreno) battling a demon named Pitch (José Luis Aguirre 'Trotsky') for the souls of the children of Earth. Without spoiling the movie too much, there are two versions: The original Spanish language film & a poorly edited English dubbed producer cut that was released under the direction of Ken Gordon Murray in the 1960s. Not only does the American version of the Christmas flick featured only limited production credits and no cast information. At least one brief scene of Satanic cult-like priests in white robes and hoods marching through the deserts of Hell was cut & damage. For decades, the original film was approximately three minutes longer than the 94 minutes version seen in the United States. Now with the internet, audiences can view both of them. Regardless of which version you watch, the Eastmancolor process use in this was poorly and cheaply done. The Earth-like color tones were particularly unstable, ugly looking and highly prone to fading. It was awful looking. Not in good quality. To add onto that, the film was supposed to be semi religious and dreamlike. Yet it comes across more like a semi nightmarish fuel movie with the excess visuals of white smoke and flashes of blinding bright lights. Writer Adolfo Torres Portillo was probably drunk on agave full bottles of tequila when he created this. After all, this motion picture features bloodcurdling laughing from 'Evil Dead' haunting like Christmas animatronics, offensive "It's a small world' stereotypical child slaves, and scenes of out of place Roman blacksmith god Vulcan (Ángel Di Stefani) and British wizard Merlin (Armando Arriola) cooking spells as if they were characters from 'Breaking Bad'. Furthermore, by having most of the film's location take place on three floating cloud castles full of Peeping Tom machines made with over sexualized body parts in the fifth dimension; it caused more people to freak out! It's probably more than seeing unusual children asking Santa Claus for machine guns, submarines and some Uranium-238 as Christmas gifts. Despite the creepy visuals. The movie does set an alright morality tale between two children and the temptation to do wrong. One of them Lupita (Lupita Quezadas) has nothing but the love of her family to get by, the other Billy (Antonio Díaz Conde Hijo) has everything he wants except his family's love. Seeing the movie deal heavily with them is an emotional rollercoaster; especially in moments where one of them beg his parents to stay with him and the other questions why gifts are never around. You might shed a tear regardless of the fact that the English dialogue does not match the lips of the characters at all. I just wish the flick had better solutions to those problems than Santa slipping a cocktail that cause the rich boy's parents to remember their child and a giant doll for the poor girl. I felt that both stories should had been intermingled in the climax. Have Billy's parents give Lupita's father a job after seeing how much he's willing to risk to get a doll for his own daughter. Thus, Billy's parents learn a life lesson's themselves; sending off a redemption arc to reconnect with their own son. Instead of Lupita's family still ending up dirt poor. As for humor & action. The movie's home alone booty trap comedy is a mixed bag. It's hilarious at certain parts. Yet some of the exposition parts doesn't really played much of a factor such as the case of Santa going hungry as he can only eat food from the Fifth Dimension. Nor did we saw Pitch force feed chocolate ice cream for his punishment. It was no Chekhov's gun. Regardless the interaction that the actor had with Trotsky was fun to watch. Surprising Moreno was pretty good as Santa Claus for somebody known prior as generally being cast as gang members. He really did know how to act when dealing with small children even if several of them reappear in other roles as Santa's helpers. As for K. Gordon Murray's narrative. I didn't like how he was incapable of letting scenes play out. He always has to spell things out with his commentary as if the audience was complete morons. It also doesn't help that Murray does the voice of Lucifer. It really did seem like he was talking down on people. Another problem with the film is the background music. The filmmakers overused 'Jingle Bells' way too much. It's ear worming. Overall: While the motion picture does have flaws. It's still a 'so bad, it's good' kind of a watch. To add onto that, the film is not as annoying & idiotic as other similar XMAS bottom feeder movies like 1964 'Santa Claus Conquers the Martians' and 1972 'Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny'. Still, it will be a snowball's chance in hell that I will ever revisit this film. "Santa Claus' is only good for morbid curiosity. A onetime watch.

Jingle Bell Rocks!

This documentary mostly strikes a chord with me. It was music to my ears.
Although there was no common repetitive overplayed elevator music here. The motion picture directed by Mitchell Kezin still didn't quite jazz it up enough for me in parts. Some of the songs and artists featured here are not really that obscure. A good example of that would be pianist turn singer Nat King Cole's 'The Little Boy that Santa Claus Forgot' & blues and souls musician Clarence Carter 'Back Door Santa'. While they don't get radio played as often as other tunes. They're still pretty well known that many covers came afterwards like minor celebs like female singer A Girl Named Eddy, Calypso royalty Mighty Sparrow and more well-known groups like hip hop artists RUN-DMC sample them such in the case with their rap song 'Christmas in Hollis'. Those songs were also featured in a few mainstream movies and television shows. Truth be told, I was really hoping for more music that rarely ever gets played anywhere during the holidays. The film only gave us a few like the very heavy anti-war tune from Private Charles Bowens & The Gentlemen from Tigerland called 'Christmas in Vietnam'. You probably will never hear that song ever in a grocery store these days. I do love the semi funny ironic backstory on how that so called patriotic music was produced. Another Cold War era tune was Heather Noel 'Santa Claus came on a Nuclear Missile'. What an odd poorly written surreal poem turn song! It's so abysmal and awkward. I deeply surprised the film didn't showcase more bizarre out-there tunes than this and craze filmmaker John Waters 'Fat Daddy'. I would love to listen to them at least once even if its god awful. While these samples were not really catchy. I felt that Clarence Reid 'Winter Man' & Free Design 'Close Your Mouth: It's Christmas' had mainstream appeal. It sucks, that the songs came out during a time where grand fireplace traditional tunes were the norm. Another would had been Akim & Teddy Vann 'Santa Claus Is A Black Man'. Sad that some people find that child-like lyrics controversial due to its theme. I love everything about it. Might have to seek that vinyl record like how the film capture a niches group of music collectors journey searching shops, yard sales and other places just to find something so rare and make mix tapes from them. Those scenes were so unique. Nonetheless the movie does stray a little too far into a semi unrelated character study therapy in certain sections. Hearing personal stories about father issues and mother homage's sci films kinda don't follow the overall concept that well. Along with the large feature of non-Christmas music playing the background. Despite that, I love that the documentary featured a variety of holiday hits in many different music styles even if one the biggest inputs of them all, country was rarely featured. It's a shame that we didn't get to hear any of those. It's also too bad that disco & techno was not even talk at all. I would have love to see a spotlight from that eras of music. Even more recent tunes are not show in this film in any genre. To add onto that, while the movie is willing to show the cover of foreign Christmas albums; I kinda wish the filmmakers played a few. I really did want them to show what that mysterious Korean singer record sounds like. Also, why couldn't the flick feature any religious songs!? That's really a bummer. Regardless the movie makes great use of quick animation, talking heads interviews and stock historical footage. Seeing that intercut into a juxtaposition of images split screens during certain moments was well edited. That said the film didn't quite inform us how winter imagery, mythical and tradition celebratory can caused songs to be adopted into the holidays nor how the computer age has gain people to a greater access to many types of rare or unique seasonal tunes through the use of online platform such as YouTube and I-tunes; while also hurting the music industry. Still in the end, this documentary was watchable even if parts could had been better. It mostly hit the right notes. 'Jingle Bells Rocks' is certainly deserving to be check out during this or any holiday season.

The Nutcracker in 3D

This movie was absolutely nuts!
Source Material Author E.T.A Hoffmann has to be rolling in his grave. Universally panned by critics upon its release, 'The Nutcracker: The Untold Story' is a 2010 British-Hungarian 3D film loosely adapted from the 1892 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet of the same name. It tells the story of a young girl named Mary (Elle Fanning) receiving a nutcracker toy soldier on Christmas Eve, only to be swept away from her 1920s Vienna home into a magical world ruled by evil rats. Without spoiling the movie too much, I don't mind the creepy and unnerving fascist take of the villain the Rat King (John Turturro) too much. I just wish the frame story time period and settling match what director Andrei Konchalovsky was going for. Having the events take place first in 1933 when the Nazism came to power in Germany and continue into the Anschluss of Austria and then during and post war years would have work better whenever Mary wakes up from her constant dream; only to fall back asleep into her fantasies unable to cope with the true harsh realities of her world. The dreams could had been a thematic parallel metaphor of the mentally and physical trauma that young children go through during this time period; as they try to make sense of it all. A good example of this done well on movie form has to be 2006 "Pan's Labyrinth' that deals with a child dealing with her world during the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War through fantasy. Sad to say this holiday movie doesn't reach those same levels of merit. The antagonists in this movie come across doesn't come across as a serious threat. Even with the shocking Holocaust burning of toys imagery, the swing dancing and jazz singing from them felt like its springtime for Hitler awful in not an ironic funny way. Truth be told, most of the performers in this film couldn't carry a tune. The singing in this is glass breaking. To add onto the pain, the composer Eduard Artemyev and songwriter Tim Rice felt that lyrics should be added to the ballet music even if they weren't made for it. A good example is the music numbers from fame theoretical physicist Albert Einstein (Nathan Lane). Having him sing about the theory of relativity and break the fourth wall is extremely unfaithful to the source material, but it also completely changes the plot of what made the original story/ballet such a magical tale. Even if the filmmakers truly change the settling to fit with the events of 1930s more. Having Einstein as the uncle would give lucky pebbles doesn't really make much sense. Unless the original plan was to have the family Jewish; which beg the question why are they celebrating Christmas over Hanukkah!? Also, if the film isn't about childhood's trauma then why is fame neurologist Sigmund Freud played by Richard Phillips even there? The choices of supporting characters is all over the place; ranging from talking monkey named Gielgud voice by Alan Cox but played by both Peter Elliot and Daniel Peacock to a fat middle aged clown named Tinker (Hugh Sachs) that unintentionally resembles serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Then there is Sticks (Africa Nile) a drummer that get his head ripped off. If that wasn't disturbing enough, the CGI visuals special effects for ugly looking Nutcracker (Voiced by Shirley Henderson) is creepy and unsettling with his dead eyed gaze. He also looked very sloppy and fake being composited onto the sets very poorly. Yet the same can be said with the other special effects like the pet shark and barely dancing ballet ornaments. The last-minute 3D that shelfed the film for two years really does expose how awfully unrealistic the effects for the action were. Nonetheless even the Nutcracker is standing still. His presence and interaction with the actors don't look slightly convincing. To tell you the truth, the real performers are not any better. Turturro in an Andy Warhol get up is too over the top goofy. Fanning is reservedly dull & Aaron Michael Drozin as Mary's little brother Max is directionless and too unlikeable. No wonder why upon the film released, it bombed at the box office grossing $20 million against a $90 million budget. Andrei Konchalovsky indeed turn his dream project for 20 years into a nightmare that I doubt even his kids and grandchildren would love. Overall: There is probably a good reason why this movie has the subtitled the untold story. It's not a movie worth telling. Not even it's so bad, it's good crack at it recommending. Certainly not. It hurts to watch. A pain in the nuts.

We Wish You a Turtle Christmas

This 1994 direct to video film really did flop big time. It turned turtle.
As the title of this movie suggest. This Christmas special was based off the comic book four anthropomorphic animal superheroes created by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird; which its franchise grew in popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s due to the animation television show 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles'. Directed by Larry Osbourne, this 25- minutes video VHS tape has the group searching for a gift for their sensi Splinter performed by Jack William Scott. Coming out just after the trilogy of live action features & the semi awful cheesy "Coming Out of Their Shells" concert tour; including their short stint performing in Disneyland parks. The production had plenty of costumes to used from. Yet they choose easy noticeable removable head masks that have little to no room for facial movement. The turtles are constantly grinning with open mouths throughout the whole special. As for Splinter the rat. The filmmakers reused a costume from the concert tour for that. Yet he still looks like a fat hamster who can barely open his mouth. Because of that the lip-syncing is completely way off from both of the costumes. Then there is the voice acting. The performers wholly forgot lines of dialogue and had little direction with their body movement. They really had to improvise and ab-libs during and between certain musical sequences. It especially got awkward when the undisguised turtles venture into the streets of New York and interaction with the town folks. Seeing them hang out with little poorly timed non-talent drummer childrens during the middle of the night or stealing a bell from Santa Claus in Time Square was just bizarre. It gets even weirder when they get back to their sewer hideout to find random kids dancing in the middle of their musical numbers without any introduction. There is so many questions about this. How in the hell did they find the location so easily yet the villains could not & where did they come from without their parents? I doubt their mothers and fathers would allow them to hang out in a smelly, dangerous, probably super cold urban gutter with no manholes in December with a bunch of mysterious mutants with sharp weapons. Look I get that there is a theory that says that April O'Neil brought them there, but that also begs the question why was she missing in this special. She's pretty much family to them. Even key supporting characters like Casey Jones didn't show up. I guess they couldn't find and paid any more performers with their insanely tiny budget of $5,000. While the poor production values of the special can be at least excused because of that. The music will not. Look I get that the Turtles had to used some public domain songs like 'Deck the Halls' and '12 Days of Christmas' to eat up the runtime, but they could had been a little cleverer with the repetitive change lyrics rather than the somewhat offensive stereotypical Jamaican reggae accents. Maybe perform ninja like dance stunts while singing in different location rather awkward cuts in the same area. Although that might not be the best idea as the costumes are so cheap that the visual seams and zippers could had rip and torn. After all it's disturbing enough that during the performance of the 'Gotta get a gift for Splinter' musical number, the actor Ronn K. Smith playing Leonardo, had his genitals somewhat visible hanging out of his costume. Still seeing them in action would had been a little more entertaining that way than watching Michelangelo (Voiced by James Eric Anzalone) sing New York-themed opera parody of 'Oh Little Town of Bethlehem' alone while the others stand around looking around to bully Santa. Other songs like 'Up from the Sewer' a parody of the 19th century tune of "Over the River and Through the Woods' was fairly short. Too bad the Turtles Rap was not one of them. That hip hop jam in the same vein as Run DMC "Christmas in Hollis," was not up to par. Like a pizza from CEC, it was really cheesy. As for the last song. It so long that it continues over the closing credits to the point that the now-offscreen Turtles start giving their comments regarding it. For me I found it weird that song plays there rather than the opening credits; seeing that the title of this flick is named after it. Instead, the beginning with the awful edited glowing special effects has a really odd silence tone that doesn't really give out the jolly feels of watching this movie might bring forth. The song that followed that 'We're the Turtles' didn't really have the same magic as the concert version. Overall: While some people can be entertained by the so bad it's good production quality. I sadly am not one of them. Being one of two musical live-action Ninja Turtles videos produced by Christopher Films in 1994 with the other being 'Turtle Tunes'. None of them were Cowabunga! They were more like cow dung. Not worth the watch.


Stamp and delivered. This Netflix movie was a wonderful well-made masterpiece. A jolly good time.
Very similar to that of the 1970 Rankin & Bass stop motion special 'Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town'; this motion picture tells an alternate fictional tale of the origins of the Kris Kringle myth, independent from the historical version of Saint Nicolas. Kinda glad they did that rather than digging too deep in the complex & highly complicate biblical story. That choice would bog the story down. Although I doubt diehard evangelicalism would feel the same. They probably would have love to see more of that or a mention of Jesus Christ. Anyways, set in the Far North of some unnamed Nordic country, 'Santa Claus is Comin' To Town' and this flick rotated around a postman telling the story of how a thoughtful toymaker brought joy to a gloomy isolated village. Although this movie written and produced by animator Sergio Pablos's company in his directorial debut told the tale much better. Even if the mailman named Jesper voiced by Jason Schwartzman was a bit annoying. Nonetheless, the postman did improve overtime in the movie's character development arc. However, the third act break up trope seem a bit overdramatic and harsh. Without spoiling this holiday picture too much, what he did wasn't really that awful. The other characters were doing similar things such as Alva (Voiced by Rashida Jones) a teacher turn fishmonger. It felt a bit out of character for her to get angry about his initially selfish plans when Alva was trying to leave the city at one time as well. She was really hesitant about wanting to teach the children even when they started to show up at her school. For her to turn her back on him felt like the pot calling the kettle black. It made no sense. As for Klaus (Voiced by J.K Simmons). He's no saint too. Forcing another person to break and enter houses at night rather than talking to the parents about the gifts is pretty bad enough. Yet as a woodsman who probably first arrive in the island port. He had to know that the whole town of Smeerensburg was involved in a generations old feud between two families that leads to lots of resentment. Also, I doubt he is that self-efficient. He has a lot of metal works, materials and tools in his workshop that wasn't made from his hands. He had to trade with somebody that wasn't Saami at one time for certain goods. After all his location is on the map. Regardless he still sometime in the past left the village to its own devices and selfishly move to isolate with his wife in the mountains. Because of that, he shouldn't gotta mad at Jesper too. That postman gave his life some new direction and purpose. Regardless the movie does a good job promoting moving past grudges and showing the importance of generosity, compassion, and teamwork. As the saying goes a true selfless act always sparks another. Even if the children are only acting good to get toys. As for the critics who be mad about this film deceiving children into believing falsehoods as it interferes with the development of critical thinking. Surprising for most of the runtime, the movie gives realistic explanations to a lot of the Santa Claus magical lore. Yet the ending gives into the idea that the supernatural might be in played. While the ascending to a higher plane of existence idea was well done for a children's movie. I just don't know if the film would had been stronger if Jesper took the mantle and continue the traditions that he founded with Klaus rather than waiting for his friend or not. Still the ending we got was a lot better than the delete version of them leaving everything for the North Pole. Hate for Jesper to lose everybody he grew to like. Truth be told he has more connection with the town folks rather than Klaus which kinda was a bit lacking. While I did love JK's limited voice acting in this film. The large amount of silence and grunts kinda hurt his character a bit. Schwartzman as Jesper was a little bit better as he added some child-like well balance snarky spoil brat charm with his adlibs. I don't think this would have work with the original chimney cleaner rags to riches plans. As for the mature posh English accent from the 2015 teaser. That's just jarring and doesn't fit with the younger man proving himself story that they were going for. Still the filmmakers made the right choices there along with keeping Norm McDonald as the wise cracking ship captain Mogens and having a real Saami girl Neda Margrethe Labba voiced the very cute Margu. Another thing this movie had going for it was its music. Singer Zara Larsson theme song "Invisible" was very uplifting and memorable. While composer Alfonso G. Aguilar score was emotional haunting. It was also easy on the ears. As for the visuals. The film was developed for nearly ten years, all because the studio wanted to create a new form of hand-drawn animation to keep the medium alive in the age of CGI. They got their wish as a paperless software was made that masterfully blend 2D with realistic 3D lightning and shading. The results were very crisped. It works amazing with the dark physical sardonic comedy. No wonder why this movie was nominated for Academy Award in 2020. Overall: I have to say this quirky take on Santa Claus's humble beginnings barely had anything really wrong to go postal about. In the end, it's nearly a total package. A must watch during the holidays.

Over the Top

Credit goes to this film for living up to its title. It certainly was over the top cheesy.
Having walked out on his family years ago because of mysterious means; truck driver & arm wrestler Lincoln Hawk played by Sylvester Stallone is now asked by his ex-wife Christina Cutler (Susan Blakely) to take care of their son Michael (David Mendenhall) while she goes into surgery against the will wishes of her father Jason Cutler played by Robert Loggia. This sport redemption story was panned by critics. It barely turned a profit at the box office. Yet this flick is probably best known for the extreme arm twisting to get action star Stallone to sign on. The Cannon Group offer him so much money that the studio found itself facing bankruptcy within a few years after this movie was released. Their business leader and director of this film Menahem Golan would later be forced to resigned from the company and by 1993 they ceased operations and folded. As for Stallone. He was really unhappy with this film's direction. He wanted the setting changed to an urban environment, used scored music instead of rock songs and made the finale more ominous. While he never got his way, the actor would later use some of his ideas for this movie for his screenplay for the 1990 flick 'Rocky V'. As for me while I wouldn't welcome this 1987 movie with open arms. It did meet me half way. I found most of the character development in the relationship between father and son during the road trip pretty compelling. Mendenhall surprising give his all in all those scenes. Although some parts of it was a bit off putting and semi disturbing. Especially when Lincoln asked his son to use his shoulder to sleep on during a truck stop. The dialogue written in that scene sounds pedo. Regardless of that badly written sequence. Stallone did act more fatherlike in the other moments involving his son. Even if conning a kid into an arm wrestling contest with his son is a bit questionable. Stallone still gave a decent job in that department. As for the action part. It was a mixed bag. While I can buy into the idea that Stallone can realistically passed as an arm wrestler more than original choice Don Johnson due to his muscle like frame. He was no milkshake. The tournament part was play off as a bit too gimmicky, cartoony and campy rather than serious. I never felt that second half of the film watching a man like John Grizzly (Bruce Way) down motor oil and eat cigarettes without getting severely ill mixed well with the impressive first half genuine family ties road trip concept. The ending event felt like a different movie. The filmmakers should had used more of that sport recreation documentary talking heads interview intercut with the brawls rather than playing off the comedic theatrical of the action. Not only does the rules of the double elimination tournament doesn't make sense but the idea that Lincoln can continue the event after putting a man through a glass window is bit much. I really had to turn off my brain. I doubt a winning the tournament allowed him to regained custody of Michael after ramming his truck into Jason's estate. Likewise, it is a bit weird that the child even allowed to stay with Jason after the old man's previous attempts of kidnapping him from his true father. You would think the state take the boy and put him into foster care until both men prove that they can take care of a child. Anyways by the looks of the film Michael might not need any father figure. After all he was able to drive and board an airline to Las Vegas all by himself. No wonder why one of the many writers David Engelbach was appalled at these changes made to his story and cry at the screening. Nevertheless, I thought what Engelbach wrote originally with Stirling Silliphant about the Mr. Cutler character doing all these awful things to Lincoln because he felt that it was what's best for the boy makes sense. It just sad that other writers like mediocre Gary Conway kinda took the reasonable but flawed individual and turn him into more sinister corrupt big head corporate executive trying to put the working man down. As for the arm wrestling tournament rival. Rick Zumwalt was actually the studio's third choice as Bull Hurley. They originally wanted real life arm wrestling champion Cleve Dean. That decision was problematic as he was so massive compared to Stallone. It wouldn't have looked believable that Hawk could beat him so the filmmakers went with professional wrestler Ox Baker instead with Dean served with a cameo. It wasn't until Baker pan out that the role finally went to Zumwalt. For the most part he did well. I also dig all the brief appearances of other fame wrestlers such as Scott Norton and Terry Funk. It's also weird to think that an actual arm wrestling tournament called 'Over the Top' was created for this film with a semitruck as the main prize. Many of that real life event stock footage was reused for this movie with Stallone's scenes being filmed one day after the finals with the same crowds as paid extras. As for the music. Both rock versions of 'Winner Takes It all' from Sammy Hager and the rock group Asia along with Kenny Loggin's 'Meet Me Half Way' and Larry Greene's 'Take it Higher' songs sound really dated. It's screams passe 1980s. Not really that memorable. It hasn't really escaped that decade nor aged well over the years. Composer Giorgio Moroder's score "The Fight" has more of a fighting chance. A remake of that tune could work if a reboot was ever in the works. Overall: This movie is still a ten four. Decent but could had been better. That's for sure.

The Addams Family

I'm dead serious. This movie was not quite worth dancing the Mamushka for.
Oh snap! You're probably asking yourself why. Well, it's because the film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld doesn't really hold that much value to me. The 1993 sequel told the same gold-digging plot of a woman trying to manipulate Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) a lot better. While also giving more screen time to the other family members; especially the star making performance from Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams who was given some of the best snarking deadpan morbid jokes from the series. I love her smarts jabs toward consumerism, the media, the mistreatment of Native Americans and others from the sequel. It sucks that Wednesday in the original isn't as clever as she later becomes. After all her running away to the graveyard rather than fighting back or telling her parents about the villains seem out of character. There were other ways the filmmakers could had used to get the Addams Family out of the house. Still, she far more interesting than the forgettable Pugsy character played by Jimmy Workman that always seem underwritten. As for Angelica Huston as Morticia & Raul Julia as Gomez Addams. They indeed capture the creepy and they're kooky, mysterious and spooky, they're all together ooky, the Addams Family vibe. Often with discomfort toward their eyes due to the heavy makeup. They really went all for their craft. Yet once again the sequel captured their character's love affair so much better with scenes like the tango dance. Although seeing the Mamushka sequence in this film was pretty awesome even if the stunt performers are pretty obvious seen throwing the knives around. I just didn't like how the filmmakers made Fester the straight man for most of the movie. It goes against everything that we know of the character from the comic strip by cartoonist Charles Addams and the 1960s tv show of the same title. It's hurt the overall macabre comedic approach of what made Fester popular in the first place. After all we barely go to see the strange ability that the character has on generating electricity. Another thing that I hate about the Gordon subplot is how it was resolved. The whole out of nowhere Amnesia excuse was really forced during the last few minutes of the movie. Regardless of that, Lloyd was alright as Fester. Yet I felt that the actor was much better used in the sequel. He really did capture the character's mannerisms well there. Still, I'm glad that he channeled his own voice for Fester rather than copying the annoying pitch from the 1960s television show. As for actress Elizabeth Wilson. She was wonderful as Gordon's ever so controlling mother Abigail Craven. The way she speaks reminds me of a mixer of all the actresses that voice Mrs. Bates from the 1960s horror film 'Psycho'. It's wicked wonderful. Actor Dan Hedaya was also fine as Gomez's lawyer Tully Alford but I kinda mistook him for Darrin McGavin. I also dig the cameos of Sally Jesse Raphel as herself and Mercedes McNab as some random Girl Scout who later become a bigger role in the sequel as Amanda Buckman. Their interaction with the Addams Family was really funny. As of humor. The second movie mostly works for that. Don't get me wrong there were some jokes from that film that fell flat for me like the off-putting murder attempts of a young infant. While similar dark humor is hilarious here in the original like Wednesday trying to fry her brother in an electric chair. Humor is subjective, but if I had to count how many people laugh at the sequel Thanksgiving play over the first flick bloody school show. It's leans more to the latter. Regardless this movie has more fantastic scenery sets, make up and some wonderful special effects. Most of the scenes involving Thing Addams still somewhat works. Magician and puppeteer Christopher Hart really do a good performance in the hand motion and gestures. A good example of that him trying to tell Gomez that Morticia is in danger. Yet there was a lot of visuals that might not be suitable for children even with the PG-13 warning. It really depends on the parents. As for the music. The theme song is ever so catchy. As for 'The Addams Grove' rap from McHammer, that never did make me want to jam. Overall: While this comedy is still watchable. It's probably better to let this movie rest in peace. Check out the sequel instead. Now that's a film that worth haunting.

Jasper Mall

Let's talk shop! Although this movie did capture somewhat of a year in the life of a dying mall with its patrons & employees. It's still not quite an informative watch.
Unlike the semi popular 'Dead Mall' series from the likes of Bright Sun Films and others YouTube Channels that goes into great detail the history of the titular shopping centers from its humble beginnings to its painful demise. This documentary directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb didn't really give much of any educational, scientific or historical value for the audience to look over. The documentary doesn't show much of any of the staff talking about the negative impact that online shopping has done to the mall nor was there any information about why their two anchors stores K-Mart and JC Penney left before the movie started. The filmmakers don't even give key data like where this mall is even located. It would had been nice to know that one of the reasons why the mall in Jasper, Alabama is having trouble keeping afloat is the fact that it's located on US 78 North, far away enough from big cities like Birmingham and even further east from its prime city. Furthermore, one of the main causes that the shopping center get overlooked is because after the completion of interstate 1-22. It moves much of the major traffic away from the mall. To add onto the mess, the shopping center itself sits in a predominately rural mountainous forest area with barely any locals due to the location's violent tornado patterns and borderline economic poverty problems. Another thing that the film doesn't point out is how many times, the mall went through foreclosure and who currently owns it. I assuming that Kohan Retail Investment Group still own the property, but who knows. None of these questions were answer or explained in this documentary. Truth be hold; the filmmakers only gave the viewer a few glimpses that something was a bit off about the Jasper mall. Such examples are the amazing analogically-like footage where mostly elderly customers order funeral flowers, play dominos in an empty food court, sing contradicting gospel music and unable to connect with modern technology. It really does symbolic representative, this dying mall's detachment with the more common younger online driven patrons. The absence of youth culture throughout the film is really alarming; seeing how in the 1980s & 1990s, malls would be the ultimate hangout spot for children, while older people were more interested in local ma & pa's downtown stores. The roles had changed here and it's somewhat surreal. Instead of expanding those key moments a little more to fit the overall narrative of the shopping center creeping closer to its own demise. The movie took a sharp right turn into focusing on nearly unrelated issues. One such example is the filmmaker's request in telling a teen couple's story about the struggles of starting an interracial relationship in the deep south. While their tale was somewhat interesting. Race relations doesn't really connect with the overall mall narrative at all. There weren't any signs of the shopping center being chauvinistic. If there were some underlying racism, the film didn't show it. After all the mall was alright with having children of minorities sit on Santa Claus' lap. Added to that, the couple are not really employees nor persistent shoppers at the mall. They really looked out of place. A good example of this was their appearance in the food court toward the end of the film. That moment felt awkwardly staged reenactment as they look like they secretly have no clue why they agreed to meet there rather than at home texting. It's seemed out of character for them to interact at that location. To tell you the truth, the movie would have work better if the filmmakers focus more on the life of the teenager custodian. As his story relates to what's going on with the mall. Sadly, that subplot was abandoned. Another story that seems to go nowhere was the nail saloon lady. We never did find out if she left her job and travel the world. Maybe the movie should have focus on that, rather than wasting film footage on the manager/security guard's Mike McClelland romanticizing his past job as a Tiger King type zookeeper. While this was never uttered in the film. The mall does love to host Jungle Safaris events even after they been cited numerous times by the USDA. The reasons why are because it didn't meet minimum federal standards for the care of animals in captivity that was established by the Animal Welfare Act. Because of that and other controversial events like selling hand held weapons in order to increase foot traffic. The mall is viewed as being notorious passe than modern. You can tell by the look of the shopping center. The mall had not been remodeled since it opened in 1981. The lack of people around with the incandescent lighting makes the antique layout of the location look really haunting. There are long shots where the camera lingers on shots of the empty location with nothing really going on. While some people might think of that as boring. I kinda like the petrifying nostalgia feel, those visuals give. It's surprising more riveting than watching highly staged moments where people ruin shots by staring straight at the camera as they talk to other people. That was annoying because it ruins the illusion of observation that the movie was trying to build. Nevertheless, the music that went along with the film was well used. The collection of songs by the musicians HAHA Mart, Chayse Porter and Baker Knight were easy on the ears. Overall: to close shop. This documentary is not quite good enough to be putting on your shopping list. It's only good for a quick browse.

See all reviews