Front-Row-Reviews

IMDb member since May 2016
    Lifetime Total
    250+
    Lifetime Trivia
    5+
    Lifetime Image
    75+
    Poll Taker
    100x
    IMDb Member
    4 years, 5 months

Reviews

Millennium
(1989)

CHEER! - (7 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Millennium" starring Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd is a Sci-Fi extravaganza straight out of the 80's. I remember seeing trailers for this when it first came out, and with horror/thriller movies like "Lifeforce" and "They Live" having already hit the big screen, I expected more of the same. However, it was anything but.

Bill Smith (Kristofferson), an investigator for the NTSB, is brought in to look into the strange occurrences surrounding the crash of an airliner. After listening to a recording salvaged from the wreckage of the plane, they are confused by the exclamation of the co-pilot, who had gone to check on the passengers, that they were all already dead ... burned up. However, they are not able to find any evidence that a fire had taken place before the actual crash, so Bill digs a little deeper to unravel both the mystery behind the crash and the sudden appearance of a beautiful blonde who seems to know more than she is letting on.

I was full on expecting this to be another Sci-Fi / Horror blend, but there were absolutely no Horror elements to this one. I was a bit let down, but at the same time, I loved the originality and premise of this movie. I loved Cheryl Ladd's character and she played it very well, convincingly. In fact, to buy into what was happening behind the scenes, both she and Kristofferson needed to sell their roles, which they both did. The special effects are dated, and the costumes almost laughable - yet effective.

I recommend this film. It is both entertaining and thought provoking. Not at all what I was expecting, but pleasantly so. It hasn't aged very well, but when I put it in for a repeat viewing the other night, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. There is enough going on to pull you in and keep you engaged in a well paced effort. 7 solid stars out of 10.

Curse II: The Bite
(1989)

JEER - (3 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

I was pleasantly surprised with the first movie in this franchise. Even though it wasn't anything special, it was still fun to watch. I went into this 2nd installment hoping that lightning would strike twice, but I was instead treated to one of the strangest, weirdest piece of horror movie making I think I've ever seen, next to maybe "Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation" (which left me unsettled in the worst way).

Our story picks up with a young couple driving the highway, making their way through the southwest, on their way to Albuquerque. When they decide to take an ill-advised shortcut through the Yellow Sands desert, which happens to be chock-full of radiated snakes, they pick up an unwelcome passenger (one such snake) and unknowingly bring it with them to the nearest motel where they are staying. While unloading their overnight things, the snake bites the hand of the young man and the real mayhem begins - taking us down a very perilous road into darkness, despair, and death.

This one started out pretty good, with great promise of a solid 80's horror flick. As things progressively got worse for our young protagonists, so did the movie. It really followed no line of logic, the acting was abysmal, and the premise completely distorted. This movie was just, well ... weird. And without giving anything away, I will say that it did offer up some visuals that made me recoil in horror - not because it was well made, but because it was all so preposterous and terribly executed. The final scene was fairly memorable, though not enough to salvage this wreckage of a movie.

I cannot recommend this one. It gets marks for originality, since I can't remember seeing anything like it, and I've always been a fan of Jill Schoelen. Overall though, this movie is a hot mess, overspilling with one repulsive scene after another. Why Jamie Farr picked this atrocity to cast as his horror film of choice is beyond me. This one is only a meager 3 stars out of 10.

The Curse
(1987)

JUST OKAY - (6 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

In David Keith's directorial debut, we find a young Wil Wheaton, fresh off the success of "Stand By Me", in a film adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's short story, "The Colour Out Of Space". "The Curse" is your usual 80's horror film fare and has since gained cult status. Not bad, not great, it does stand on it's own.

When a meteorite lands nearby the Crane homestead in a small Tennessee farming community, contents from inside of it finds its way into a newly dug water well effectively infecting everything that comes into contact with it. Starting first with the vegetation, it moves next to the livestock and chickens, and then eventually to the family itself. A doctor living next door, is ready to blow the whistle on everything, but his wife conspires with the town's realtor to prevent this from happening in an effort to keep the financial flow status quo. It isn't long before Zack (Wil Wheaton) and his sister are in a life and death situation, trying to survive his family who are transformed into zombie-like homicidal maniacs.

The films starts out rather stilted, with poor performances, however, as the film moves along, the pace picks up and it slightly improves with good use of make-up and special effects (for its time). It makes an effort to try and instill a sense of paranoia, but instead evokes a morbid curiosity. I was reminded of the Eli Roth directed movie, "Cabin Fever", as there are certain similarities between the two. The film ends in a chaotic scene that pits Zack and his sister, not only against his transformed family, but against the elements as well.

I don't necessarily recommend this film, but if you are an 80's horror aficionado, then this movie is built just for you. It is worth the time you invest into it. A fun departure with some dark undertones and a brooding nature. I did enjoy it, but still felt it was mediocre at its core. A solid 6 stars out of 10.

Bill & Ted Face the Music
(2020)

JUST OKAY - (6 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Be excellent to each other ... and party on dudes!"

I had mixed feelings going into this one. Could a 55-year-old Keanu Reeves and a 55-year-old Alex Winter pull this off? Being a big fan of the first two movies, I was truly hoping so. And, yes, they have both definitely noticeably aged. I was also interested in seeing how their characters aged as well. In "Bill & Ted Face The Music", we find out.

It is 25 years after the events of "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey". Both of our well-traveled, guitar slinging heroes are still married to the two princesses, each with a daughter, living in houses right next to each other, and on the down slide of their musical careers. While contemplating hanging it up, Rufus's daughter, Kelly, goes to them and tells them that they still need to write and perform the song that will unite the world and save reality as they know it. They only have 77 minutes in which to do it. Bereft of any creativity, they decide to travel forward into the future to steal the song from themselves, bring it back in time, and save the world. Well, nothing goes as they hoped leading to the film's eventual solution.

This third installment into the franchise brings back all the familiar faces from the first two movies - William Sadler as the Grim Reaper, Amy Stoch as Missy (married yet again), Hal Landon as Ted's dad, and even a nice digital replication of Rufus himself, George Carlin. This is a very busy film. It starts full throttle and keeps going until the end, moving along at a very fast pace. Though it was fun to see this movie, it left me feeling a little lost and flat. It just didn't resonate as well as the first two. It was fresh and fun in parts, and emoted a few laughs out of me, but ultimately it came off as a jumbled mess.

I cannot really recommend this one. I think that the devoted fans of Bill & Ted will probably like it, though I did consider myself to be one of those ... so, maybe not. This actually might be one of those movies where another viewing or two might heighten my appreciate for it, but as it stands right now, it was just "okay" at 6 stars out of 10.

The Invisible Man
(2020)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

This version of "The Invisible Man" is not glamorized, is not over-the-top, and doesn't have some wild, convoluted plot to support it. It is a remarkable approach to an old idea, with a modern flair and characters of substance. I have to admit, this movie took me by surprise ... in a good way.

Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) takes control of her life back one night, by leaving her abusive boyfriend behind, barely escaping his clutches. She hides out with a police detective friend and his daughter until the news comes around that her boyfriend had committed suicide. However, she is still wary and suspects that he may still be alive, when things begin to happen around her that has no logical explanation or resolution. The suspense builds, and clues are found that leads her to an inevitable final confrontation with her invisible stalker with deadly results.

The last "invisible man" movie I watched prior to this one, was "Hollow Man" with Kevin Bacon, and by its own right, was a fun piece of film-making as well. However, this newest entry, was the opposite of that one. We don't know who is really stalking her until the end, though we have our suspicions. The chills we experience are subtle and genuine. The movie doesn't rely on extravagant special effects to elicit its scares. It builds slowly and lets the paranoia settle into you as well as her. It is very clever and engaging. And Elisabeth Moss completely sells herself as the tormented victim.

I highly recommend this movie. I was completely pulled in from the opening scene and it never let me go. This is a fine movie with solid performances, and a very good ending. I certainly hope there are more of these on the horizon, and if there are, I will be among the first in line to watch it. A solid 8 stars out of 10.

The Lodge
(2019)

JEER - (3 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"The Lodge" is an example of a promise made, but never kept. Some were promoting this as "the next great horror film", and "nerve shredding" - so I had high hopes when I went into this one. But, it definitely wasn't either of those. Then I noticed that it was directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the same two that brought us the absolutely abysmal, "Goodnight Mommy" - a film that truly lacked any redeeming quality whatsoever. Next time, I will do my homework before watching any "game changing" movies.

The story starts with a man and his two children taking a trip to an out-of-the-way lodge when he wants to have his children get to know his fiance, Grace. This is a daunting task, since they blame Grace for their mother's death, who took her own life when their Dad wanted a divorce so that he and Grace could marry. To complicate things even more, he needs to leave for the city for a few days to take care of some matters at work. So, the two children and Grace are left alone in the isolated lodge in the dead of winter. Soon, things begin to disappear, they lose power, food is scarce, and emotional outbursts mount with paranoia building between them - leading to the film's final, dark eventuality.

The film started out pretty good, the scenes and cinematography were amazing. I will give this movie that much, it had some very nice visuals. I personally think that Riley Keough is amazing, and she pours everything she has into this role as well. However, there is no real depth here. Everything is only surface deep. I had the same feeling when I watched "Goodnight Mommy". Overall, this was fairly boring and you have to drag yourself along to the final reveal, which wasn't worth the time invested. And where was the Dad this whole time? What was supposed to be only a few days, was more like a few weeks. The filmmakers seemed more focused on the "idea" behind the movie, rather than just making a good movie.

I cannot recommend this film. It gets a paltry 3 stars out of 10 from me. It would have gotten only 1 star, but it gets an additional star for visuals, and another star for Riley Keough. Otherwise, I felt it was ultimately a failure on all levels. It is not a game changer, it is not the next great horror film, and it certainly was not nerve shredding. It was a waste of time.

Fantasy Island
(2020)

CHEER! - (7 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Although I was never a big fan of the television show by the same name when I was a kid, I remember watching it from time to time and enjoying it. So, based on that and the trailer to this new film, I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did. Despite all of the negative reviews for this movie, I felt that "Fantasy Island", in short, delivers a fun, entertaining hour and 49 minutes.

We are whisked away to a beautiful, tropical island setting where 5 individuals arrive by plane with the promise that they will be able to live out their own personal fantasy. They are greeted by their host, Mr. Roarke (Michael Peña), who informs them that the only rule is that they must follow their fantasy through to its natural conclusion. It all starts out innocent enough, but when things start to get a little too real, the guests of the mysterious island find themselves running for their lives. They don't know who or what they can trust, not even Mr. Roarke, since he obviously has a hidden agenda.

Serving as a prequel to the television series, this has been toted as a supernatural horror - far from it! It plays out more as a supernatural thriller with aspects of escapism thrown in. Based on that, I think many of the reviewers were critical of "Fantasy Island" for its lack of scares, which is true. However, it had a fun story, and overall, the development of the characters were good and the end result satisfying. The acting was pretty bland here, in fact, Michael Peña, didn't even seem to care. But, we did get a nice turn from Maggie Q, who's character was really the only one with true depth in the film. The strength of the movie is it's plot and cinematography.

I would recommend this film to anyone who isn't looking for perfection, and who isn't too critical. Each person's fantasy was interwoven and it was fun watching how it all came together at the end. The television series did last for 7 seasons, so there was draw and appeal, but even those weren't all that great. Perhaps it is the idea behind the movie that is the most appealing here. Even so. I enjoyed "Fantasy Island" and give it 7 stars out of 10.

Sketch Artist
(1992)

CHEER! - (7 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

This film just recently popped up on my radar, and seeing the cast, I decided to give it a try. It came out in 1992, but I just watched it for the first time a few nights ago. Better late than never, right? I came away from it feeling pretty good. It is your better-than-average thriller with an interesting concept and decent acting.

"Sketch Artist" is centered around Jack Whitfield (Jeff Fahey), a sketch artist who works for the police department who, based off of a witness description, is able to draw a likeness of persons of interest. But, when Daisy (Drew Barrymore in an early role), gives him the description of a person she saw leaving the scene of a murder, the image on the paper he is drawing is that of his wife (Sean Young). His marriage is already on the rocks, and even though he wants to save it, he can't help but wonder if she was really there. So, he changes the likeness, and begins his own investigation which leads to film's final revelation.

I actually really enjoyed watching this hidden gem. The acting was done convincingly by everyone involved. I felt that Jeff Fahey handled his role well as the conflicted police officer and tormented husband. Drew Barrymore would obviously go on to bigger and better things, but it was fun to see her in an early supportive role. The suspense wasn't overdone, and the story was easy to follow. There weren't many red herrings here, but there is enough doubt thrown in to keep you guessing until the final reveal.

I would recommend this one, and I would watch it again. It is indicative of your early 90's thriller film fare. I personally love that era of movies and this one hold's its own just fine against the movies of that time. This is a solid 7 stars out of 10. I'm glad I discovered it.

The Hunt
(2020)

CHEER! - (9 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"The Hunt" is sick, twisted, dark, fast-moving, funny, action packed, bloody, straight out of nowhere, and in-your-face ... all things I love (if done well) in a movie. I even liked the "Why" behind it all. If ever the words "guilty pleasure" applied to a film, this would be that film.

The story starts with a tight group of friends texting each other. When one of them talks about hunting "deplorables", he is quickly hushed and the chat thread is closed. Then we cut to eleven strangers waking up in the middle of nowhere, gagged, confused, and totally lost. They meet in the middle of a clearing where a large wooden crate waits for them. Before we know it, they are on the run for their lives - bullets whizzing by them, arrows searing through the air, and explosives sending chunks of earth all around. It is chaos from start to finish.

This movie was paced so well, that when the end came, I couldn't believe how fast that 90 minutes flew by. I was completely engrossed and on the edge of my seat. I had the hardest time figuring out who the main character was going to be. You don't stay with one person very long until later in the film. I had never seen Betty Gilpin in a movie before this, but I became a quick fan. I loved her character and she acted it out to the full. And, at 46, Hilary Swank has still got it goin' on. This movie did NOT hold back at all. It is unapologetic and unabashed to its core.

I highly recommend "The Hunt". All elements of this film were very well done. The acting was spot on, the EFX and make-up was perfect, the dark humor was truly funny, the story and characters (such as they were) were strong, the cinematography was perfect, and the re-watchability is very high. This, to me, is an instant classic. I will set it on the shelf right next to "Ready Or Not". The perfect double feature! 9 stars out of 10.

You Should Have Left
(2020)

JUST OKAY - (6 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Kevin Bacon is at it again in this latest thriller co-starring Amanda Seyfried. I was intrigued by this one after viewing the trailer. I'm a sucker for a good "haunted house" yarn, and that is what I was hoping for. I was hoping it would play out like "Stir Of Echoes" (which was a pleasant surprise to me), but it was somewhere in between that and "The Darkness" (which was a disappointment to me).

Bacon plays the part of Theo Conroy, an older man with a much younger wife (Seyfried), and an inquisitive, little daughter. The unorthodox family are struggling with his shaded past, her blossoming acting career, and the stress of bringing up a daughter between them. In an effort to get away from it all, and have some much needed time between them, they find themselves in a vacation home in Wales where they quickly settle in, overwhelmed with its size and modern design. However, Theo's past catches up to him and threatens to destroy everything he loves ... again.

Although I was ultimately let down with this film, I still felt it was "okay". Nothing grand, but not really that bad either. The house certainly does play a main character in the movie, but the not way I was anticipating. The final reveal was a bit lackluster, but still was able to raise an eyebrow and conjure a small smile. I give it props for it's originality, even if the delivery of it falls short of what I was hoping for. The camera work is pretty good, the cinematography well developed, and the characters were interesting and worth the time you invest into them.

I'm a bit on the fence with this one. I think someday, I could watch this one again. But, I don't think a second or third viewing would really change my opinion of it. Not a recommend necessarily, but I wouldn't dissuade you from watching it either. 6 stars out of 10.

Lady in White
(1988)

CHEER! - (7 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Lady In White" was one of the first ghost stories that I can remember ever watching. Even though I cut my teeth on "The Shining" (which is one of my favorite movies, like ever ...), this movie still had enough appeal and eye candy to keep me interested and invested. I'd remembered seeing Lukas Haas in the Harrison Ford film, "Witness", so I was anxious to see what he would do in this one - and I wasn't let down.

On Halloween, our story's main character, 9-year-old, Frankie Scarlatti (Haas) is tricked by two bully classmates (featuring Jared Rushton in an early role, another popular child actor of his time) into going into his classroom coatroom to retrieve his lost hat, where they promptly lock him inside and leave him at the mercy of the night. While he is in the dark, he sees an apparition of a young girl murdered by an unknown assailant. Moments later, a real man enters the room and attempts to pry open a vent in the floor, but discovers Frankie hiding in the corner. The man strangles Frankie and leaves him for dead, however, he is found by his father and revived. Frankie goes back to the vent in the school and finds evidence which will lead him on a supernatural trail that will expose not only the girl's murderer, his own attacker, but also the mystery behind the Lady In White who is said to roam the cliffside at night.

This movie is dated, and by today's standards for special effects, it does not hold up well. Yet, it is a well-acted story with some pretty good cinematography and use of colors, shadows, and lighting. There is some narrative that plays out like the narrator of the film "Summer Of '42", as a grown Frankie Scarlatti weaves his tale of intrigue and mystery, along with his family life, and the weightier subject of racism. There is no gore, but enough suspense to hold your attention. Not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, this plays out more like a supernatural thriller.

I watched this movie again today, after many years since my last viewing, and I was just as entertained now as I was back then. I enjoyed this movie. It's not a favorite, but one I would watch again and one that I would recommend. It gives you a taste of life in the 60's, and filmmaking in the 80's. It still stands on its own. 7 solid stars out of 10.

Scoob!
(2020)

CHEER! - (9 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

This latest entry into the Scooby Doo franchise is a winner! Yes, it strips away some of the mystique you would expect in a Scooby Doo feature. Yes, it is more action than mystery. Yes, it is more of a race-against-time film than it is a sleuthing film. But, all the elements of Scooby and the gang are here with some surprise additions from the world of Hanna-Barbera.

Our story starts with a young Shaggy and Scooby meeting for the first time and becoming instant friends ... a friendship that would later be tested in the movie. On Halloween night, they meet Fred, Daphne, and Velma while they are out trick 'r treating. When they foil a local crook's operation over a bag of candy, they decide to form Mystery, Inc. and solve more mysteries. Through the following years, they do just that until they finally reach a point where a change is obviously needed. Little did they know that a major change was soon to catch up to them that involved a sinister plot by Dick Dasterdly to open the gates to the Otherworld. Shaggy and Scoob team up with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt in an adventure that would cross paths with other Hanna-Barbera favorites such as Captain Caveman and Muttley, the laughing dog.

After reading some of the reviews in here, good and bad, it is easy to see the points on both sides. I, for one, really enjoyed this film. The animation was second-to-none, the characters strong and well voiced, the story original and engaging, and the dynamics between Shaggy and Scooby were spot on. This isn't just a reboot of the Scooby films, it is a reboot of the entire Hanna-Barbera universe. And, I can hardly wait to see what is waiting for us around the corner!

I recommend this one without hesitation. It is no longer enough to just have a movie these days ... you have to have an entire universe of them. Welcome to the latest one. Bring us more! More Blue Falcon, more Captain Caveman, more Scooby! Bring us Tom & Jerry, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and Yogi Bear! I'm ready and on board for the ride.

Past Midnight
(1991)

JEER - (3 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Past Midnight" had all the earmarks of being a worthy entry in its genre, a sleeper, a hidden gem. However, despite Natasha Richardson's undeniable onscreen charm, and some pretty good cinematography, this thriller came off as a lost opportunity.

Richardson plays the part of a social services worker, Laura Matthews, who is assigned the task of helping a parolee, Ben Jordan (Rutger Hauer), find employment upon being released from prison. Jordan was tried and convicted for the murder of his pregnant wife, yet after meeting with Ben, Laura is not entirely convinced that he did it. Despite warnings from her well-meaning co-worker and ex-lover, Laura takes it upon herself to investigate the events of that night which eventually leads to the revelation of the truth behind a man who she is beginning to fall in love with.

The movie actually started out really good. The characters were strong, the acting fairly decent, and, as I mentioned before, the cinematography was spot on. They even threw in a joke to get you smiling, no doubt the influence of Quentin Tarantino. But, about halfway through, the movie starts to lose itself. The screenplay was pretty weak, which surprises me, since Tarantino had a hand in it. The love scene between Richardson and Hauer had no chemistry, and in fact, it seemed like they were only doing that scene because they had to. I didn't buy any of the dynamics between them. And the story and final reveal was pretty absurd by movie's end.

I cannot recommend this one. I saw it late night, and as something to do when there is nothing else to do, it will fill the void. However, you would be better served watching an old favorite than taking a chance on this lost dud. It is easy to see why it wasn't a hit back in the day. 3 stars out of 10.

Lock Up
(1989)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Lock Up" wasn't one of Sylvester Stallone's better known or reviewed movies, but it was one of his best ones. It finds Sly in his prime in one of his best roles as an unjustly incarcerated inmate under the influence of a bitter warden bent on breaking his spirit. Even though he doesn't believe it, Stallone gives one of his best performances here in an underrated and lost film gem.

With only 6 months left on his prison sentence, Frank Leone (Stallone), is transferred from a low security prison to Gateway, one of the most brutal maximum security prisons in the system. Behind the scenes, maneuvering the strings, is Warden Drumgoole (Donald Sutherland), a very embittered man who only wants to do one thing - completely break Frank down and make him a lifer. Frank broke out of prison while under the Warden's care from before, and the Warden is exacting his own measure of payback. Things finally come to a head in this struggle of what's wrong and what's right.

I know that overall, this film was panned and canned as being inferior and ridiculous at its core. Even Stallone commented to the effect that it wasn't enough to make a significant impact on the audience or his career. I beg to differ. This films shows a good deal of human spirit and compassion on a deceptive level. What a man can do and how he can rise against impossible odds once he's been forced into a corner. It is a very good movie.

I highly recommend "Lock Up". I've given it a very strong 8 stars out of 10 and it is worth every bit of that. Sutherland also gives a fine performance as the wicked and cruel Warden. The film highlights many memorable scenes, perhaps none as memorable as the football game in the mud. I love this movie. I own it, watched it several times and will be watching it again. If you haven't seen it, don't pay attention to the negative reviews. Plug it in and enjoy.

Charlie's Angels
(2019)

JUST OKAY - (6 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

After all these years, since their start in 1974, Charlie's Angels have gone international. And now, there's more than 3. In fact, there's even more than one Bosley. Yeah ... we've come a long way baby. Unfortunately, those are the only changes worth mentioning in this rather plain and uninspired piece of filmmaking.

The Angels are at it again, doing their best to save the world from the latest threat - an energy conservation device called Calisto, if in the wrong hands, can be weaponized to kill. Aided by an engineer who helped to design and build the device, the Angels are thrown into one predicament after another in their pursuit of the prototypes before they are discovered by the bad guys. And the bad guys are not who you think they might be. Then again, they never are. There is action galore leading up the film's final confrontation and climactic finish.

Sounds good, right? Eh ... not so much. This is just another yawner of an action fest. Nothing here is new or worth mentioning. There are some cool scenes, some witty banter, and a few over-the-top moments - and as such, it isn't necessarily bad. But, it isn't great either. It was just okay. It might even be worth a watch, if there is nothing else better to do.

I can't recommend this one. The infusion of new blood is nice, and it was fun to see Patrick Stewart with a prominent role again. There is plenty of eye candy here, including the Angels themselves. It's obvious they have a chip on their shoulders this time around, which in the long run served to be more of a distraction than a statement. I might watch this one again someday, but if I don't, no matter. 6 stars out of 10.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
(2019)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Anybody who's anybody knows who Mr. Rogers is. We've all watched his shows, and if we haven't, we all know the song that the title to this movie is based on. And if you don't know even that, then believe me ... you are in the minority. I can't really say I grew up on Mr. Rogers. I remember watching his show as a kid, but he never really was a personal favorite of mine. I wasn't really into Sesame Street either. My show of choice back in those days was Electric Company. "Hey - you - guys!".

And yet, here comes this documentary on Fred Rogers. It isn't his life story, but rather, it showcases Mr. Rogers during the time when Esquire magazine was doing a piece on heroes, and Fred Rogers was one of those interviewed. To be honest, the movie really isn't about Mr. Rogers at all. It is more about the impact that he had on real life reporter, Tom Junod (represented by the fictional character of Lloyd Vogel), his family, and his life. At first, when Lloyd is given the assignment, he regards it as "fluff" and below him. This turns out to be the most difficult assignment of his career.

I remember the simplicity of Mr. Rogers and his television show. In fact, it was almost borderline "uncomfortable" for me to watch. It moved extremely slow and felt stilted, unnatural. After having seen this movie though, I've gained a deeper appreciation for the man and what he was trying to do for kids, and ultimately, what he did do. It really is amazing that his show ran for so long and everything he accomplished in his lifetime. But, like I said, this movie was more about Lloyd and his family. Mr. Rogers never had quite that affect in my life, but I can appreciate what he's done over the years.

Tom Hanks was excellent in the role, as were all the supporting actors. The movie really does capture the man and his legacy. The approach the film takes as being one large episode on the show was brilliant. The movie moves along at a deliberate pace, but then again, that's how he was. Yet, it does not lose its viewer and it will make you smile and admire what he did. I highly recommend this movie. 8 stars out of 10.

Black Christmas
(2019)

JEER - (2 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Black Christmas" has been receiving some bad reviews, and a couple of my friends told me not to waste my time on it. I should have listened to them. Yeah, this movie is pretty bad. It's the ultimate exercise in Girls vs Boys with less than satisfactory results. Why, oh why, do movies like this even have to be made in the first place? I guess if we didn't have underachieving movies, we wouldn't appreciate the truly good ones as much.

The story centers around our main character, Riley Stone (Imogen Poots), the silent type ... a recluse who would rather sit in the corner unnoticed than take any chances. As the story develops, we find out that Riley wasn't always this way. In fact, she was quite the opposite until she fell victim to a local frat boy, who took advantage of her in the worst possible way. While this is going on, a killer begins to pick off sorority girls one by one until it becomes obvious that there is some sort of strange conspiracy going on. Riley and her sorority sisters are all in danger and need to find out the reasons before it's too late.

Well, where do I start? To begin with, the production values are very low here. It felt like someone was walking around filming the scenes with their smart phone and then it was cut later with no success. This, in turn, gave us below par cinematography and editing. The direction was okay, but the acting didn't measure up - except for Imogen Poots, who really seemed to care about her part in the movie. Even Cary Elwes drops the ball here. And the premise behind it all was absurd.

This movie is an atrocity. The only reason it gets a 2 star rating instead of the lowest 1 star, is because of Imogen Poots. She made a few scenes interesting and worth watching - but seriously, that's it. This is a pass. Believe me, if you never see this movie, you aren't missing out on anything. It was a waste of my time. 2 stars out of 10.

Blink
(1993)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"I can't see things that are right in front of me, and I can see things that couldn't possibly be there!"

"Blink", starring Aidan Quinn and Madeleine Stowe, isn't one of the best of it's genre, but it's a solid thriller with strong performances. This is another one of those films that flew under the radar for me. I saw it on the shelf in the video store (way back in the day), and since I'm a Madeleine Stowe fan, I thought I'd give it a chance. I'm very glad I did.

Emma Brody (Stowe) is a musician who's been blind for the last 20 years of her life. She's single, lives alone, except for her dog, and she's the violin player in a local Irish influenced rock band called The Drovers. However, when she is told she can receive an eye transplant because a donor became available, she gets different eyes and soon she can see again. The only problem is, she experiences delayed reaction in her vision. Something, or somebody she may have seen won't register until a day later. When her upstairs neighbor is murdered, she doesn't realize she has seen the killer until later - until it might be too late.

From start to finish, this was a well made movie. Madeleine Stowe had a difficult role to play. As a recovering eye surgery patient, she was amazing in her emotional range. As a recluse learning to trust and love an impulsive cop, she was completely believable. As a woman trying to survive a deadly stalker, she had me on the edge. Aidan Quinn was solid in his role as the cop trying to protect her, and as her love interest.

I highly recommend this film. It moves along at a good pace, and the direction is tight. It is a good blend of thrills, mystery, and and even love. I love the camera work here as well - with enough CG to keep you in the feel of what she is going through with her vision. The use of light and colors was excellent. I own this one, and have watched it more than once. 8 stars out of 10.

Tremors
(1990)

STANDING OVATION! - (10 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Every once in a while, a movie will come along that strikes the perfect balance between action, comedy, and horror. "Tremors" is one such movie. It became an immediate classic. Rarely have I enjoyed a movie so much during the initial viewing. I watched it again several times since and have enjoyed it just as much each time. It is easily one of my all time favorite movies ever made.

In the small town of Perfection, nothing ever happens. It's one of those sleepy towns when driving through, if you blink, you miss it. Everybody knows everybody else. They are really like family. But when two handymen, and friends, Val (Kevin Bacon) and Earl (Fred Ward) decide to leave Perfection for good, they come across a dead body. It isn't long before they find that there are creatures that live underground ... creatures that they have labeled as "Graboids" that key in on their victim's location by the sound they make. Suddenly, Perfection is not just a no-where place - it's a death trap.

This movie works on every level. The characters are strong with warm, yet eccentric personalities. The chemistry between Val and Earl is perfect. You are immediately drawn in by them. There are plenty of humorous situations that turn into "watch out" moments, and vice versa. Every dynamic works here. Reba McEntire and Michael Gross as the gun toting Gummers were also excellent in their roles.

I highly recommend "Tremors". It will make you laugh, it'll make you cringe, it'll even make you cheer. You'll enjoy your trip to Perfection every single time. If you haven't seen it yet, don't hesitate. Get a copy and you'll see what I'm talking about. It's a classic. It rates the highest possible rating at a perfect 10 stars out of 10.

Bad Moon
(1996)

CHEER! - (7 stars of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

To be honest, back in the day when this one first came out, I only rented it because I thought it had a cool poster. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, who was starring in it or what it was about. But, when I walked into the video store that night and saw it sitting on the shelf, I loved the cover ... so I rented it. And I was not disappointed. A long forgotten hidden gem.

When Janet (Mariel Hemingway) and her son, Brett, receive a surprise visit from her brother, Ted, little did they know what terrible secret he was keeping - a secret that only their dog, Thor, is able to see. Because, at night, by the light of the moon, Ted becomes a werewolf - killing anything that crosses his path. At first, Ted is apprehensive about moving closer to the family, but with heightened police activity in the area, investigating the deaths of hikers found in the nearby woods, he accepts, figuring there is safety in numbers. It isn't long before Janet and Brett are in danger, but Thor, protective as he should be, saves the day.

This was a fun slice of werewolf film-making. I really liked the characters. The story was engaging, and the pacing keeps you moving right along. There really are no lulls in the film. It sort of has become a classic in my home, a movie I have seen numerous times. I also enjoyed the angle of their dog, Thor, being a spotlight character himself. It was a nice slant on an old tale. And the cinematography was well done with the film being set in the trees.

I give this one a recommend. It scores a solid 7 stars out of 10. It will keep the average horror fan entertained. And, if you like dogs, then this is a good one for you too. The dynamics between Ted and the dog were filmed well and you believe the tension is real. I love "Bad Moon", and will be sure to see it again and again.

Body Parts
(1991)

CHEER! - (7 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

What do you get when you cross modern day horror and science fiction with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein? I imagine it would be a movie like "Body Parts" starring Jeff Fahey and Brad Dourif. Up until this point, Jeff Fahey flew under the radar taking mostly supporting roles. And even though "Body Parts" didn't fare well at the box office, it served to be the vehicle that brought Fahey to the forefront and finds him in his prime.

Bill Chrushank (Fahey) is a psychologist on his way to work when he is involved in a terrible car accident which results in the loss of his arm. When he wakes up, however, he finds that he has been given a new arm under an experimental surgery process which his wife signed off on. At first, he learns to adjust to it and in time things begin to work out fine ... until his arm begins to do things on its own. Before he knows it, the arm's original owner comes looking for him, leading to shocking revelation that could completely tear his world apart.

Despite the bad reviews, I really enjoyed this one which has sort of become a cult classic over the years. It is definitely a guilty pleasure, and it's one of mine. Until this one came out, I'd never heard of Jeff Fahey. But then I saw this one and the following effort, "The Lawnmower Man", and suddenly, Fahey was on my movie map. Unfortunately, he is one of those actors that never really made it to the big time. And yet, I still have enjoyed seeing him in different films over the years.

I would recommend this one. It comes across as a bumbling mess towards the end, but then again, the whole concept behind this movie is way over the top anyway. "Body Parts" is one of those movies where you have to let go and just enjoy it for what it is - 90 minutes of unadulterated horror fun. Though it isn't necessarily a favorite of mine, I have it in my collection and I get it out from time to time. A solid 7 stars out of 10.

Commando
(1985)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Fresh off the successes of the Conan movies and the first Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger comes back as John Matrix, a retired Special Forces Colonel who is trying to settle down into a normal life with his daughter. This is a nice slice of 80's action with memorable moments despite its misgivings and cheese factor.

When members of his former unit are killed off one by one, Matrix is found at his mountain cabin and his daughter is kidnapped. Matrix himself is subdued and told that if he doesn't help a crooked dictator assassinate the new leader of a south american country, his daughter's life will be forfeit. Under the gun and with time ticking away, Matrix escapes their clutches and recruits the help of an airline stewardess. Together, they begin their relentless pursuit of his daughter's captors, killing anybody who gets in the way.

This is one of Arnold's best films. There is plenty of over-the-top action, over-the-top acting, and over-the-top carnage to keep even the most critical action fan happy. There are a lot of memorable moments as well - for example when they are in a shopping mall and Matrix swings from a second level balcony across to the other side to land neatly on top of an elevator. The characters are strong and worth following. And the fight scenes are well done as well - there are plenty of bad guys who bite it in this one.

I highly recommend "Commando". It demands your attention from start to finish, and when it's all done, you wanna just start over and watch it again. In short, Schwarzenegger delivers the goods and is at his physical best. I love this movie and it has gotten more than a few viewings in my house. A solid 8 stars out of 10 - if you are an action fan, this is right up your alley.

Point Break
(1991)

CHEER! - (9 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

"Point Break" is one of the best movies to emerge from the year 1991 and served to be a coming out party for Keanu Reeves in an action role. Until this film, he took mainly supporting roles or comedic leads such a Ted "Theodore" Logan from the Bill & Ted movies. Here, he tackles a much more serious role and delivers.

Newly assigned FBI Agent, Johnny Utah (Reeves), a former college football star, pairs up with a veteran agent (Gary Busey) to investigate a series of bank robberies who he believes is being enforced by a tight band of surfers. Utah is chomping at the bit for some action, so he buys into this theory, and together they infiltrate a close knit group of friends surrounding a man named Bodhi (Swayze). Before he knows it, Utah is in too deep and he feels torn between the two sides.

I absolutely love this movie. In 2015, a remake was released, and quite frankly, it should never have been made. I was sorely disappointed in it. This original film, however, is one of my personal favorites. Keanu Reeves more than proved his acting range here, solidifying him as a viable action star - a feat he would repeat three years later in the movie, "Speed", and then of course, later in the Matrix and John Wick movies.

This is a very high recommend to not only watch, but to own. The chemistry is spot on here between the movie's hero and villain. Reeves and Swayze play off of each other perfectly. Everything works here on all levels. Lori Petty was also excellent in her role as Utah's love interest and provides that extra spark to make this a movie worth watching. A very strong 9 stars out of 10, this is good movie making.

Beverly Hills Cop
(1984)

STANDING OVATION! - (10 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Back in 1984, I was a teenager just finding his love for music. The soundtrack to this movie was brimming with great songs, and it was because of "Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer, that it became the first ever album (on cassette tape) that I bought. And Eddie Murphy? I'd heard of him and knew who he was ... but it was this movie that really put him on the Hollywood map.

Axel Foley (Murphy) is a Detroit detective who has a penchant for trouble and is constantly on his captain's bad side. When an old acquaintance of his comes visiting, two hitmen follow him into town and rub him out. The clues lead to Beverly Hills, so Axel takes his vacation time, packs his bags, and heads to California in his beat up, blue Chevy Nova. Axel is soon hot on the trail of a crooked local art dealer, and with the help of two Beverly Hills police officers, he systematically breaks him down.

This action comedy is a classic to say the least. It was Eddie Murphy's breakthrough role and it spawned 2 sequels (with perhaps even more on the horizon). It has stood the test of time and is still just as viable and enjoyable today as it was back in 1984 - after 35+ years, that's saying something. This was the perfect role for Eddie Murphy. Everything works here, even his signature 80's laugh.

I highly recommend this film. Every once in a while a movie will come along that is perfect - one for the ages. This is one of those films. It helped to influence other movies in the genre over the years and became a blueprint for action comedies. I love "Beverly Hills Cop" and give it a perfect 10 stars out of 10. This is "must see" material, and every movie collection should have this one included.

Zombieland: Double Tap
(2019)

CHEER! - (8 stars out of 10)
The stage curtains open ...

Ten years after the first "Zombieland" comes this long overdue sequel. The problem with waiting so long to release a sequel is that, after a decade of waiting, the initial sting is gone. Would that be the case with "Double Tap"? At first, yes. But then as the movie continued along, I found myself having fun all over again.

Our foursome of zombie vanquishers are now living in the White House, having settled into a semblance of a semi-normal life. Columbus and Wichita are flirting with the idea of marriage, Tallahassee is his usual off-the-wall self, and Little Rock is all grown up now. However, when Little Rock decides to carve out her own slice of life and leave with Berkeley (who is from Berkeley), a guitar strumming pacifist - Tallahassee and crew hit the road to find her, leading them to a place of refuge known only as Babylon. Along the way, they meet up with Madison, a truly clueless blonde who's managed to survive (lord knows how) all this time. Once more, they are plagued with zombies leading to the film's memorable finish.

This movie works, despite the lengthy wait. Woody Harrelson is finally starting to show his age, yet he delivers another fun performance. The overall story was well made and filmed. I had a lot of fun with this newest installment. The humor is witty and genuinely funny. Zoey Deutch puts in a great turn as the hapless, blonde. It was probably her character that really made this movie worth watching.

I highly recommend "Zombieland - Double Tap". Even though the original and this sequel are so far apart, they still play side by side very well. The filmmakers did a fine job of keeping cohesion and consistency. I liked the film and am happy to have it in my own personal collection. This one rates 8 stars out of 10. A worthy sequel. I just wish they hadn't of taken so long to get it done.

See all reviews