Category: Movie Reviews


The Taking of Deborah Logan

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My husband and I watched this 2014 movie last night as an afterthought. It was something to watch when we otherwise had nothing particular to catch up on. I wasn’t expecting much. Hell at first I wasn’t even sure if I would really watch it. I figured I would half assedley pay attention and then pass out snuggled under my blanket. Contrary to my presumptions I stayed awake and paid attention for the entire 90 minutes.

This is one of those movies following in the footsteps of “The Blair Witch Project”; hand-held cameras from people who are supposedly making a documentary, but we all know it’s just a movie. When I saw this was the basis of the film I rolled my eyes and thought, “Here we go again.” This seems to be the formula for so many horror flicks of late. It starts out kinda cheesy, but it gets better!

The plot begins with a group of 3 college kids making a documentary about Alzheimer’s. They are staying with an elderly woman and her daughter in a big, old house in a tiny town in Virginia, hey that’s where I live! The whole time I was watching this movie I kept thinking I knew the old lady from something, but couldn’t place her. She is the soap-opera actress, Jill Larson, whom spent the majority of her career playing Opal on “All my Children.” This was my Mom’s show when I was a kid. I spent every summer afternoon and sick day at home watching that show after lunch while my Mom folded clothes or something. I had seen her for most of my childhood and I couldn’t remember who the hell she was. I was kinda excited when I saw it was Opal.

Anyhoo, back to the movie, it turns out this lady doesn’t just have Alzheimer’s. The craziness starts pretty early on. I think one of the scariest things about this movie is the fact that it is an old woman who plays the spooky part. There is something really terrifying about seeing what should be a sweet old lady standing with her back to you in a dark room for a couple of minutes and then doing some crazy stuff after all the suspense.

The plot is decent, not really believable and sometimes a tad bit hard to follow, but decent. There is some not so good dialogue and acting. There are way too many scenes where the cast is running around in the dark with flashlights when you know damn well the lights in the house work. The gory bits that make you squirm, the suspenseful spooky scenes with Opal walking around in the dark or being somewhere unexpected and the crazy stuff that happens at the end make this a pretty good horror film. It is the first film written and directed by the new comer, Adam Robitel. I hope we see more form him in the future. I give this one a 3.9 out of 5. It is worth watching if you want a scare or are a fan of horror.

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Now that the summer is here, for me at least, I have taken up my age old tradition of going to the library on a regular basis. If you didn’t know that your local library has movies for you to check out for freeeeee, than you are missing out. I checked this one out and watched it last night. A few years back I watched An American Werewolf in London and loved it! When I saw this one on the library shelf I knew it wasn’t the same just by reading the back of the DVD case. It basically said that this is a badass movie because of its contemporary soundtrack. What? Who bases the badassery of a movie on the soundtrack alone? I was immediately skeptical, but I checked it out anyway.  

This film came out in 1997 and is supposedly a sequel to the London film from 1981. It couldn’t be any different. About the only things that are similar are the fact that there are werewolves, there is Americans in Europe and the main character looks similar to the main character in the London film. The plot, acting and dialogue are all pretty poor. The CGI is a atrocious! It is comparable to the CGI in Ghostbusters that came out more than 10 years earlier! Even the makeup was bad. An American Werewolf in London was nominated for a makeup Oscar, can’t say the same for this mess. The music was pretty good, if you enjoy 90’s rock. Unfortunately it took up the whole movie. Bungee jumping was obviously the lastest, greatest, most awesome thing ever, since there were 2 bungee jumping scenes. Just laughable.
Overall there were some decent parts, but as a whole it was pretty crappy. I’m giving this flop a 1.5 out of 5.

Oz the Great and Powerful

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I recently watched this movie with my family. I had been interested to see it in the theater and we almost did see it then, but it didn’t work out. If you are expecting to see a prequel that is equal in greatness to the masterpiece that is The Wizard of Oz you will be greatly disappointed. Once again Disney has let us all down. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good movie, it just means that Disney’s standards have been in the toilet for such a long time there doesn’t seem to be any going back. If they held themselves to the high standards of the old days this movie would have been something great, instead it was just something ok.

It came out this year, 2013 and was directed by Sam Raimi. Yes, that Sam Raimi, the horror guy. I’m still trying to figure that one out. Just because he is a big name director, doesn’t necessarily mean he is the right guy for this film. I have a feeling that someone else could have done a better job. It has a “star” studded cast; James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. Personally I think James Franco is one of the worse actors out there right now. The dude has no range, he barely can change facial expressions. I feel like every time I see him he is high as a kite and he hasn’t slept in about three days. On the other hand I love Mila Kunis and the other two ladies are fine actresses.

One of the biggest problems I had with this film, other than Franco, is that 95% of all the scenery was CGI. I realize that is “the thing” in this day and age. I also realize that the other “thing” right now is 3D and I know this film came out as a 3D film, BUT there is something that gets lost when every single thing in the film is a computer graphic. Some of the plants and what not were so cartoonish that it really was distracting. I feel like we lose something human about all the talent it takes to create a stage set made by hand that can still boggle the mind. Not saying that creating CGI and any other type of computer art isn’t talented. Many fantastic artists do it and do it well. I just miss the real thing sometimes. With that being said, it wasn’t all bad. There was some really awesome visuals in this film. I think the costumes were pretty awesome. The Wicked Witch’s black dress was badass.

I feel like it moved too fast, was missing some vital parts and had some not-so-well-thought-through ideas. It was entertaining and seeing how everyone came to be who they are was pretty interesting. Whenever we get a family movie from Netflix I usually keep it for a while so my kids can watch it again. When I went to put the disc back in the envelope I accidentally sealed it up. I wasn’t too upset about it, if that tells you anything. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. It’s worth seeing, but it is not going to hold up over time and is nothing compared to The Wizard of Oz.

Barb Wire

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My husband and I were attempting to do something “different” last night. We decided to find a crappy and/or cheesy movie and make up a drinking game to go along with it. I made the drinks and he looked on Comcast’s On Demand and found the 1996 Pam Anderson gem Barb Wire. We each made up 2 rules each. Rule #1: Drink whenever there is a gratuitous boob shot. (This is about 75% of the movie.) Rule #2: Drink anytime there is sexual innuendo. (About 25%.) Rule #3: Drink whenever someone gets shot. Rule #4: Drink anytime there is a car chase. Needless to say he finished his first drink about 15 minutes into the movie.

This film is based on a short lived mid-90’s comic book from Dark Horse Comics. It was directed by some dude named Brad Wyman, who went on to direct a short list of films I’ve never heard of before. I take that back he did produce the amazing movie with Charlize Theron, Monster. Have to give credit where credit is due. If you are offended by breasts do not watch this movie. The first scene is Pam getting sprayed with water and her hooters are hanging out. (Hence our drinks disappearing so quickly.) This is a pretty action packed film, not surprisingly. There are some surprise actors in it, like the dude who plays Jango Fett in the Star Wars films. There is tons of bad dialogue and terrible breathy voice overs from Ms. Anderson. The wig they gave the stunt woman to wear is absolutely atrocious.

 The plot is a bit interesting, I am a sucker for apocalyptic future films. Although the “future” is in 2017, man that is coming up soon. It was a bit Mad Maxish, which just made me want to watch that series again. Barb is a badass character and Pam does a decent acting job. I can’t see her winning an Oscar, but I’ve seen “better” actresses and actors do much worse. Overall, I have to say that I did enjoy this film, perhaps it was the alcohol, I’m not sure. I’m only giving this one a 2.5 out of 5. A pretty mediocre flick, but if you need a good laugh, need to kill 98 minutes or want to see some scantly-clad women go ahead and watch it.

Jersey Girl

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I put off watching this movie, well since it came out in 2004. I had loved everything Kevin Smith until I saw the previews for this one. I am not a Ben Affleck fan. I’m not really sure what it is about him, he could totally be an awesome, nice guy, but something about him really bothers me. So when I saw that he was the main character and Jennifer Lopez was in it too, that made me cringe. I don’t really have anything against her either, but at the time she was all over everything. I do think she is a better actress than musician. Then when it came out and the critics ripped it a new one I said, “Yup don’t want to see that.” After all these years I saw it was coming on TV, on one of those Stars channels, so I recorded it.

This drama-comedy was much different than all of Smith’s previous films. It still had some of the quirky dialogue, cameos from some of his well used actors, and tons of his usual jokes. There is no Jay and Silent Bob, which made some people upset, but didn’t bother me. This was a different type of movie in a different setting. If Jay and Silent Bob would have been in this one, I don’t think it would have fit. Kevin Smith was obviously trying to create a more serious film and if you watch it all the way through you find out why. The film is dedicated to his “Pop”, whom I am assuming was his Grandfather. When I saw that I knew why it was different and it made everything ok. People have to deal with grief in their own ways. Creative people usually create something that helps them get through it. I have a feeling this movie was his way of not only dealing with his loss, but creating something that his Pop would have been proud of. That meant leaving out the beloved Jay and Silent Bob.

That being said this movie wasn’t the greatest. One of the beginning scenes is what should have been a very emotional monologue from Affleck. His acting was so shotty that it was painful to watch. It was by far one of the worse scenes in the movie. He was suppose to be crying, hurt and having a revelation about his life. Instead it was minutes of excruciating fake tears and lines delivered with no conviction. There was also some not-so-well-thought-through plot twists. There was some cheesy lighting, close-ups, music and editing. You could tell it was Smith’s first time trying to make a more serious movie. He used so many typical film tricks that it really brought the movie down.

One of the upsides to this movie is that George Carlin is in it! Especially now that he has passed from this realm it was great to see him and hear his voice. He was an amazing man and if you love him as much as I do you should watch this movie just because he has a decent part in it. Liv Tyler is super cute. This film was shot before she hit super stardom and she does a great job. It is still a Kevin Smith movie so it has throw backs to older films, like one of the main settings being a video store. There is plenty of great comedy in it, which Affleck does much better with. One of the best things about this film is there is an amazing cameo in it. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it for you. The cameo really makes the movie. Overall I would give this movie a 3 out of 5 stars. Some of the really great things make up for some of the really bad stuff. Plus he did it for his Pop. Gotta give the man some credit, he has a heart.

Taken 2

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My husband picked this movie as his choice to get from Netflix. We get the DVD service and we take turns picking movies, 1 for me, 1 for him and 1 for the kids. Taken 2 was his first pick. I had not seen the first Taken. I like Liam Neeson and had no real idea what it was about. Man was I in for a total waste of 91 minutes. This nothing but action flick was directed my Olivier Megaton, known for other action films like Colombiana and Transporter 3 ( there is a third one?). This film was beaten down by critics, but earned more than the first one in the box office.

It has no real plot other than the family of the dead dudes that kidnapped his daughter in the first movie want revenge. So what do they do? They kidnap the Mom this time. The rest of the movie is an unbelievable bunch of killings throughout Istanbul, Turkey. Oh, there is some family drama at the beginning that makes a sloppy attempt at some character development. It does a bad job, as there is no connection felt to the characters what-so-ever. I never understood action movies where at the end the “hero” has killed enough people to be considered a mass murderer and there is never any consequences for his actions. He can sit down and have a milkshake with his family and they can all fake laugh like nothing happened. This movie blows! It gets 1 out of 5 stars and that is only because I still like Liam Neeson.

Cloud Atlas

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It took my husband and I three times to make it through this film, I kept falling asleep. I wasn’t falling asleep because it was boring, just because we wouldn’t start watching it until late at night. I would already be exhausted from getting up before 6 every morning for work. I saw the preview for this film while watching Looper in the theater. The preview gave me goose bumps and I knew I wanted to see it. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it in the theater, although my husband did.

It is a film developed from a novel by David Mitchell. The film was written, directed and produced for the screen by some German folks, Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. It took four years to get enough backers to fund the film. It cost $102 million, making the record for most money ever spent on an independent film. It is extremely difficult to follow. It takes place in six different time periods, in six different places, with six different story lines. These story lines do not go in chronological order, but rather flip and skip around with little to long snippets from each; all muddled up together. The stunning cast plays different characters throughout the six different plots.  (You can’t go wrong with Tom Hanks, another great reason to see this movie.) The acting and make up are amazing. Even at the end you are still trying to figure out which actor played which part in which time.

At the end of the film my husband and I had a long discussion about what it all meant. Was it past and future lives? Were they all happening at once? What exactly was going on? Why did this person change? Why did this person become a certain way? I can personally say that the main reason I wanted to see this movie is because I thought it dealt with the past and future lives of the same souls; I am very interested in the topic. I can not say if that is all that was going on in this film. I feel that there was much more that I may not even be understanding. I think that is what is great about it. It leaves you thinking and for absolute certain it has rewatchablitly. My husband saw it for the 2nd time with me and he said he picked up on new things that he missed the first time. I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars. It losses a point only because it was so hard to follow. If you feel like watching a film that is going to make you think, question your reality and tickle your visual taste buds don’t miss out on Cloud Atlas.

The Possession

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My husband and I watched The Possession a couple nights ago. This 2012 horror film was directed by Ole Bornedal, a Danish film maker whom also directed the 2007 thriller Nightwatch with the fabulous Ewan McGregor. It was produced by the cult classic creator of Evil Dead, Sam Raimi. This a pretty typical demonic possession movie, hence the title. It involves a separated family with two teenish girls. The younger child buys a creepy box from a yard sale and the craziness begins. Contrary to every other demon movie the Catholic church is not involved. This movie brings in the Hasidic Jews for some assistance. I enjoyed that aspect of the film. It was a nice change from the usual Jesus and crosses and holy water bit. There was plenty of creepy, looking with one eye closed, wriggling in your chair scenes. There was also some terrible editing. At once point the fade from one scene to the other was so long my husband turned to me and said, “Was that for a commercial break?” The acting from Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the father, was pretty good; not to mention he’s not bad to look at for 92 minutes. On the other hand, Kyra Sedgwick, whom I usually love, was mediocre. I was slightly disappointed with her acting in this film. The story line was decent, but there was some pretty choppy parts that made it feel a bit disjointed. Overall I would give this flick a 3 out of 5. Worth seeing if you really love horror, thrillers, and demonic possession themes. If you don’t then maybe you shouldn’t waste your time.

Hugo

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My family and I recently watched Hugo one and a half times. One and half times you ask? Yes, one and a half times, because my husband stopped watching and then had to leave half way through the first time. This award winning film was directed by the man himself, Martin Scorsese, known for his darker adult works like Taxi Driver and Goodfellas. Something you may not know about him is that he has one of the largest private collections of old films. I once had a film professor in college that had worked for Scorsese. His job was to keep up with the massive film collection that Scorsese has protected and preserved. So as I watched this film which has an underlying film history story I was not surprised in the slightest.

The movie is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. The movie starts out with an enduring story about an orphaned French boy whom lives within the clockworks of a train station. He has to keep his occupation of said clockworks a secret from the train station guard. He steals bits of machinery from a toy shop owner and becomes friends with a bookworm girl. Most of whom are recognizable British actors and actresses. Without giving up too much of the plot, about half way through the film you find out some vital information about one of the characters. This is when the film history lesson rolls out in a beautiful array of scenes. Some original film clips are used from turn of the century movies, some of which I can only assume come from Scorsese’s own collection. This was his first film shot in 3D. Considering that I watched this at home two years after it was released I did not get to watch it in 3D. I can only imagine how it must have looked on the big screen through those black glasses. It is a remarkably gorgeous film. You will be swept away in the details of every scene. It won 5 Oscars and a Golden Globe. Like most Scorsese films, it can be a bit disjointed and a little long winded; however, it is a fantastic movie. A must see for any film enthusiast, film student or film maker, plus it’s a fun family movie. 4.5 out of 5 stars from this chica.

Born into Brothels

When I first starting working for Ritz Camera in 2005, we sold this movie on the counter and I never really knew why. I read the back of the DVD more than once and knew that I wanted to watch it, but never did. I found it on Netflix in 2009 and still never watched it. A year later I watched it! It was amazing! Released in 2004, this touching documentary is about a group of children in a Calutta, India brothel. It all started when photographer Zana Briski began living and documenting the women of the brothel. It turned into a massive journey and effort for the children of the brothel instead. Zana became very close to the children and began to teach them photography. The film shows a wide variety of subjects and events from their lives. It is disturbing, heart-wrenching, yet filled with laughter and excitement. The children are brilliant and beyond their years in wisdom. This film is a must-see if you think you can handle it. I barely made it through! I would defintely recommend it to any photographer.  5 stars!

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