Friday, January 24, 2014

Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust (2008) Review:

The first Gingerdead man film from 2005 wasn't a good movie. With elements that were barely passable, it was hard to like anything about it. The acting wasn't believable, the special effects were cheap and the villain was wasted. Plus, the only main attraction for watching the movie was to see Gary Busey act as himself and voice the chunky funny gingerdead cookie man. But apparently, either there was a small fan base that demanded a sequel or the release of the 60-minute film gained enough money to render a sequel. Not sure which is the case but here we are the next installment - and it doesn't improve much at all.

Kelvin Cheatum (Kevan Moezzi) & his poorly
developed character written girlfriend
This next chapter of the wisecracking serial killer cookie brings us to a troubled film studio that can't cut a break in problems. Its whole crew is a bunch of misfits that don't cooperate and could care less who they're working with. Leading this poor operation is director Kelvin Cheatum (Kevan Moezzi), who smiles like he's never heard of bankruptcy being a bad thing. However, it's not until a package of baked goods come on set and inside lies the dangerous gingerdead man. So my question is, how did he come back to life? How did he get all the way to this set? It was clear to why the gingerdead man needed victims, but why was it necessary to get his victims from this specific studio set? Viewers won't understand.

As for acting goes, Moezzi isn't a good actor at all and perhaps that's how his character was supposed to be written, but I found the first movie better because at least the actors tried to make their characters seem real. And they knew fear when problems arose, but here Kelvin is just a grinning emotionless shell of a character. The new voice actor behind the gingerdead man is okay but Gary Busey at least would've still been more appreciated. However, viewers may enjoy Joseph Porter's performance as Tommy. He gives his character a unique spin that even I was not expecting. That is one plus.

The new gingerdead man
And the last two pluses are the special effects and violence. Considering the first film had bad special effects and a very small amount of violence, the improvement is noticed and it looks better to be honest. Sadly this doesn't help improve its overall score. The overall writing isn't good either. In fact, the title to the film only ties into the story at the very end. It's cheap, lazy and insulting to think that's how a story is told. There has to be a lead up to this kind of result, but instead it's just inserted last minute to stay true to the title. Not even the music helped this time around. Just another cash in is all it is.

This sequel has extremely loose continuity and bad acting. Even with improved special and practical effects, the character development is feeble and its plot is hardly even there.

Points Earned --> 3:10

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Last House on the Left (1972) Review:

Mr. Wes Craven is known for making a lot of controversial and inventive films. His most popular is A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). And of course, like most famous directors, they start out somewhere. Majority of the time, their first attempt is either considered their best and most popular. Here, I don't know why or even how this film gained a remote following. There's nothing artful about this piece. It has no style or class and it makes you wonder how would this ever be considered entertainment.

The two innocent girls
The story is about two girls who head out to celebrate one of their birthdays at a live concert. Little do they realize that along their journey they'll run into some very bad people. These people are described as jail breakers who have no sympathy for anyone. Unfortunately, when these two girls have their run in with these crooks, everything heads south from there. And that's for every aspect of the film too. First and foremost the actors who play the crooks in this movie are extremely frustrating to enjoy. They give no charm to their roles, but I will give credit where it's needed, audiences will hate these villains. That's not to say they were likable though - far from it.

The actors who plays the girls and parents of one of the girl's are ok and will make the audience feel bad for them but that's it. They too don't give their respective characters something to really enjoy about. Perhaps by the final act some viewers may like how the characters react to various situations but by then it's too late. By the way, the actor who plays Junior Stillo (Marc Sheffler) looks like a 70s afro Shia LaBeouf. What similarities - not that I truly care for either actor.

Then there's the whole violent element to the film. Is it full of gore? No. Is it heavy? Yes. Are the scenes kept classy? Absolutely not. In fact, many of the scenes are to the point of complete and utter filth. The main cause for this specific description is for the rape scene. Anything involving the action of rape is a serious downgrade in cinematic entertainment. It's one thing to imply it off screen or cutting to another scene, but it's crossing the line to show the action. It wasn't graphic but it's still wrong. Acting or not - that's not entertainment. I made this statement for both Evil Dead (1981) and its remake of 2013. It's not necessary. To see scumbags have their way with a girl will make audiences hate the movie more. Not appreciate it.

The scumbag >______<
Also, the cops in this film are lame. They show no wit or integrity either. Their job as officers are as lazy as their characterizations. Even stranger is how the title has nothing to do with anything. The title to this sounds like the story revolves around something inside the last house on the left. Not even, it's just the setting of where the final act takes place. Dumb. Lastly, the music is awful. David Hess the composer (also the scumbag rapist) couldn't even create one memorable tune. Most of the time, the music sounded like a video game. This made Joseph LoDuca's score to the original Evil Dead (1981) sound like a masterpiece. Along with that were horribly insertions of other songs from the time that sounded like hillbilly redneck music. It nowhere matched the tone of anything. Not even the trailer to the movie. Just terrible.

The characters are not likable or intelligent, complete with a terrible story, trashy perverted violence and incomprehensible music. Avoid.

Points Earned --> 1:10

Prince of the City (1981) Review:

Everybody has something to hide. We all have secrets we don't want anyone to know about. Its personal information that is only given out to the most trusted of people - mainly close family and friends. But there's a difference when that secret crosses the line on ethics and morals. When it comes to this, people lie, and lying is never a good thing. The act of lying will always catch up somewhere and somehow. Everyone has a conscious, it's the device that let's the person know what they're doing wrong. And if the individual cannot justify to themselves why the secret they're keeping is for the right reason, their conscious will eat them alive. Almost like a self-destruct button. Some can repress this feeling while many others crack under pressure.

Danny Ciello (Treat Williams)
This reflects on the story of Danny Ciello (Treat Williams), a New York cop who joined the force to make a difference and be a good person for society. However, it's not until he’s is asked by a commission of investigators to spy on the system that he works at for possible corruption. Originally, Ciello is skeptical about the matter because he doesn't want to stab his fellow cops in the back, but he is convinced otherwise. And to his dismay, the longer he stayed in the business, the scarier the information became. Thus leading to an investigation brought onto himself.

This kind of plot is very serious in nature because of how it focuses on morals and how people with even the kindest of hearts can fall. This is also the kind of drama that audiences should have the patience to sit through. The running time is almost three hours long because it carefully follows the path of the human struggle between knowing what is the right and wrong thing to do when it comes to telling the truth. The length may annoy some but the story should be powerful enough to keep people focused. And the writing not only covers the story of one man, but several people involved with the lies and how they deal with the stress they induce on themselves. Family life is also included although by the finale the closure isn't as strong as the rest. That also may upset some.

The cast is very large in this movie. Treat Williams as the main character gives a memorable performance as the troubled cop. His reactions to many situations closely resemble to how anyone would react if they were in his shoes. It’s a very human performance. Even a very young Lance Henriksen has a number of his own scenes. There's also a character named Gus Levy played by Jerry Obach, he would later voice Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast (1991) ten years later. Cool. Although the rating is R, it's more for language and a few beatings nothing gruesome or over the top.

Starting to be investigated
The music composed by Paul Chihara is unique too. It’s certainly one the most absent of scores I’ve ever heard but it also helps make the story feel more realistic. This is one of the few times where the music doesn't need to be present to give emotion because the actors themselves give a lot as it is already. There is also a main theme, which is carried out by a saxophone that is good. But the one thing I liked most about this movie was how audience should feel at the end credits. In a court trial, no matter if one walks away guilty or innocent, the past will always be there to haunt them. People will always remember the bad and never your good deeds. And from that day on, the individual must constantly fight to uphold the respect they lost. That's the human struggle and it can be so terrifying. It's a movie that should been seen and understood at least once.

The acting led by Treat Williams is very good. Its running time may be lengthy but its story richly consists of powerful emotions and life lessons that demand to be seen just for that.

Points Earned --> 8:10

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Conjuring (2013) Review:

Demonic possessions and hauntings are real and happen all the time – at least that's what the Warren family says. Here's the strange thing, it's not clear to whether the purpose of this movie was to terrify / entertain us or to make us believe that ghosts are real. Majority would say that the intention was for both reasons but that depends on one's experiences now doesn't it? Bring in someone who's not used to the horror genre and they'll believe anything you say,....but bring in regular gore hounds and nothing will phase them. I guess the whole concept is what you (the viewer) make it out to be.

Nothing is safe to look at......
Anyway, this is the story of two famous paranormal investigators of the last quarter of the 20th century, Lorraine and Ed Warren. When a family named the Perrons' move into a farmhouse, they begin to experience some very strange things about the house. Once noticed, they become terrified and call on the Warrens to help them find out if there really are ghosts in their house. That's where things become high strung. And in some cases too much for even the Warrens. Unfortunately that's because they took on a case they didn't see coming. Yes, even ghost hunters have their off days.

Acting wise, all the characterizations are believable; even for the no name actors who play the Perron family. But the two actors who do show that they were the right actors for the job was Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the Warren couple respectively. It's not that they gave their characters charm, but more on a human characteristic level. Although they could communicate with spirits, audiences will be able to feel that even with their special abilities, the risk is still high. That's the scary part that’s what makes it dangerous. Both of their performances were the most memorable.

What may surprise viewers and fans alike is how little the violence appears throughout the running time. And although it's directed by James Wan, the guy behind the brutal Saw (2004) franchise, the basis of this movie's horror is in the suspense - not gore. That's the goal; suspense equals terror. This is how one makes a scary horror film. But, that doesn't mean the scenes that were set up to be terrifying, were as terrifying as it was said to be. A lot the scare scenes involve the derivative action of sudden loud noises and long pauses of silence that lead up to the sudden loud noises. The typical scream tactic. It does work in some areas though but most events are predictable. I only jumped twice and I honestly was expecting a much stronger, scarier presentation.

Don't even turn around.......O___O
However, the scenes although typical in scares, did manage to pull off some very creepy imagery. Some of the sounds are really skin crawling - like old rickety wood cracking because it hasn't been moved in years. Or a door slowly opening with a very light creaking noise - oooh boy. The makeup looked good too. It some ways it resembled that of the Evil Dead (2013) possessed victims. The location of filming also helped with the imagery element. The house looked worn and petrified of dead souls to begin with. And lastly, Joseph Bishara's score to the film has a middling to effective listening experience. He definitely creates a dreaded theme with elongated counter string chords but it lacks the polish of other accomplished horror scores. Bishara's score is more bare bones than it is filling. It is an effective horror film but it's not as terrifying as it is said to be.

The musical score and scares lack the terrifying trait that fans may want, but the acting by the main leads are solid and the imagery is downright cringe worthy.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Knowing (2009) Review:

There are people who believe that things happen for a reason and then there are people who believe things happen out of randomness. As if there is no order to how the universe works - it just happens by chance. But what if there was an actual systematic method to knowing (ergo the title) when such major tragic events would occur? This is what happens when John Koestler (Nicolas Cage) gets his hands on a note that was put into a time capsule fifty years in the past. The note contains a map of numbers that specifically says when the next tragic disaster will be. That's some premise.

The list of numbers
In some ways, it mixes the ideas of The Number 23 (2007), 2012 (2009) and Final Destination (2000) all into one big question. What is the purpose of this list of numbers? Why was it written and who knew of such dates? It really is an interesting premise. The idea digs into the psyche of the human mind and makes viewers wonder if things do happen just randomly or calculated already or brought on by belief. But that is one of the far few things that make this movie any good. In fact the only other commendable components about this movie are its special effects and realistic images. The acting isn't bad but that's a must anyway because that's what a movie should have, decent acting.

Back to writing. First is the idea of making this a supernatural genre film. It wasn't needed nor was it a smart move. By doing this, it takes away the whole mystery of where the paper with all the numbers came from. Why ruin that? The script also contains little to no explanation about anything besides what is currently happening . It's not even funny. For example, there is a character that doesn't speak in this film and it is never explained to why this is. Another moment is when the same character gives out these black smooth rocks to one of the main characters. Even by the end, it is never explained to what the significance of these rocks were for. It's just baffling to why these kinds of things aren't explained.

When disaster hits
Glad to know the guy behind this story, Ryne Douglas Pearson isn't doing any future projects yet. His writing needs more work. Amazing as this is though, the film was directed by Alex Proyas. The man behind The Crow (1994), Dark City (1998) and I, Robot (2004). Why couldn't Mr. Proyas see the flaws in the script? Lastly, of all things to look forward to, not even composer Marco Beltrami's score to the film truly helped. It did contain the creepy feel and even some emotional tunes but there were some scenes even then that didn't match the mood. There was no theme either making it stuck just to the background.

Some scenes were helped by CGI in the film though. That at least was a positive although audiences may be surprised by the realistic nature of the film. In fact, it may be too graphic for the MPAA to call it PG-13. Some of the disaster scenes were very intense. There's no guts but there is blood. I was shocked to see how one scene was treated though. It was a scene where some person was hit and the audience will here a WILHELM SCREAM. It's even stated in the trivia! Was that supposed to be taken seriously or comically? But who would want to take that kind of situation comical? I don't understand. It's not worth the time to try and figure out.

The special effects are decent as well as the mysterious plot but they can't overcome the bad story telling along with unexplained subplots. A very frustrating sit.

Points Earned --> 3:10

Lady and the Tramp (1955) Review:

There have been plenty of Dog films made in the history of movies but there is only one that truly captures what it's like between the pampered and stray collarless life of man's best friend. Of course, during the middle of the 20th century, Disney had already a well established reputation of making wonderfully animated feature family films so it's obvious that the mouse house would tackle a story dealing with the pets we have loved and cared about for centuries.

Baby lady
The story follows lady, a dog who is given as a Christmas gift between a couple. Of course, like any newborn, they have no idea how to take care of themselves and what their limits are, but that is all established at the beginning. As time passes, we see the growth of Lady as she lives her normal life. That is, until the couple who own her decide to have a baby. This is where things become confusing. Lady begins to receive less and less attention allowing her to believe that she isn't loved anymore. But then, a stray dog comes into her life and gives her an experience she wouldn't expect. What's it like to be free without a collar.

Viewers will enjoy the contrast to how these two dogs live their lives because it's easily relatable. What's even more interesting is to see how both parties are content with what they have. It's not like one was longing for the other - not at all. It just so happened they met at the right time and that's where the magic lies. I do have to knit pick at some of human characters though. Their behavior is so easily turned on and off that it seems inhuman. There are also some subplots like the dogs in the pound. What happened to them at the end? It didn't have closure.

Grown Lady
But the voice actors do an excellent job at their characters. The animation is still great too. Lady's structure with her ears make her look so lovable it's difficult to resist. But my favorite actor was Dal McKennon who played a few roles. Just remember, he's the man who voiced Gumby. He's the man! Also Oliver Wallace's soundtrack to the film was well performed too. It carried a main theme for the characters and even had Lady sing one of her own songs. That's rare for an early Disney film. But it was nice none the less.

Disney's story of when two dogs from different worlds collide is cute and contains a lot of charm. The animation and music also work well. The human counterparts are a little weird though.

Points Earned --> 8:10

Bicentennial Man (1999) Review:

Robin Williams is the funnyman. He's the guy most people enjoy on screen when they want a good laugh. In fact, he's done a good job at being versatile as well. Williams has also shown that he can play very serious roles that involve a lot of emotion. And this Chris Columbus film is probably one of his most emotional performances. Here, Robin Williams plays a robot named Andrew whose original purpose was to serve mankind. Soon, he becomes self-aware and wants to understand more about what it's like to be human.

While an a robot
This triggers a switch in Andrew's mind and from then on, he makes it his goal to do anything he can to be human. It's a very sweet plot that really tugs at the heartstrings. Unfortunately, this is where people may draw the line because the screenplay can get very sappy at times and very emotional. If a viewer likes that kind of material than there should be no problem but because this is about a robot who wants to become human, he's going to have to go through many significant events that many of us regular people have to go through everyday. This will have viewers feel like the story drags on forever. That's the downside to the writing - it can be very sappy and drawn out at times.

Becoming Human
But for the cast, Robin Williams is very solid. He includes his mix of humor and emotion and performs well. His struggle to understand how to be human is very intimate because many of us can relate to such scenes that involve pain, love and joy. Sadly, he's also the only reason why people would want to go see this because through the running time, new characters come into play every scene which can be tiresome because the audience has to get to know a whole new set of faces. The special effects are good though. So much of it is well blended that it’s hard to know what is real and what is CGI. But by far, the most effective element to this movie is James Horner's score. Every scene containing his music is to the point of magical and childlike simultaneously. Extremely emotional music. I would say it's for the true Robin Williams sappy story fans.

It has good special effects, excellent music and a performance many Robin Williams fans would love. However, the plot can be drawn out and overly sappy.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Fast and the Furious (2001) Review:

Upon first reading the title, viewers would get the first impression that this film involves just racing cars. In a sense, it does but in a different way than your standard track race of 99 laps. It involves much more than that and to demonstrate this, a cast of actors were chosen for this franchise that have taken the genre of driving cars to the next level. This is the movie that brought several no name actors to the spotlight. The most obvious is Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. And what almost seemed like would be a strange mashup of racing and detective work, turned out to be a fairly solid film.

Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker)
Paul Walker plays Brian O'Conner, an undercover cop who is trying to help the FBI capture a group of road bandits who end up plundering innocent truck drivers traveling down highways. To do this, he digs deep into the underworld of street racing where racers of different backgrounds and revved up cars come together for a common cause. The thrill of the ride and all the benefits that come with it; sex, drugs, respect and money. As he slowly assimilates with his surroundings, he befriends a man named Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family members. There he begins to investigate who is behind the truck jackings.

This is actually not a bad plot at all. The writing does have its weak points, which will be touched upon but let's start with the positive. I enjoyed  how O'Conner has to come to grips with himself and who he's going to support. This shows that he's a human being and has a conscious. The same goes for Dominic Toretto, in a different way though. Toretto must come to grips with himself knowing he wasn't the person he once was. Both characters are from very different worlds yet they share a struggle that resembles each other. That struggle is being human and knowing who you are as a person. Sure it's not believable in every aspect but at least it lets the audience know that these characters do have a mind of their own.

The weak part to the film is the final scene. All there is to say is that it is too abrupt. It completely detours from what the plot was centered on, along with leaving a few subplots open for interpretation. But was it needed - no. It would be nice to see some closure on more than one subplot. Surely if this franchise didn't earn a sequel then where would the conclusion to this story be? Hard to say. But if there's one thing that helps make up for that are the racing sequences to this movie. Even if you're not a racing fan, the action scenes should entertain. I mean, who doesn't want to (or enjoys already) driving over the speed limit for fun? Driving at high speeds gets the adrenaline pumping and makes every action much more intense. So if you don't enjoy that kind of thing, this movie isn't for you.

Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
The editing by Peter Honess who also did The Shadow (1994), L.A. Confidential (1997) and Highlander (1986) did a good job here as well. The shots are well connected and will keep the attention of the audience quite easily. The score produced by BT isn't anything to praise over though. Some action scenes didn't even contain music, which was odd because you'd think one would want to make that scene more intense by adding music. And although he doesn't create a theme for the franchise, his music does match the tone and attitude of the film. And for this kind of film, as long as it maintains that, that's all that matters. Because there is also contemporary music inserted in various scenes, BT's music transitions well into the contemporary music. It's good.

It lacks logic in a few areas and has a loose ending but the car scenes and actors help them overcome that. Plus it has some unexpected character development that helps give the main characters a good amount of charm.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Halloween II (1981) Review:

Like many low budget films that achieved a strong following, a lot of popularity and financial success, a sequel was made to bring the viewers back another time for part two of whatever franchise had struck such a memorable chord. Halloween II (1981) is no different. After receiving such strong acclaim it was decided to whip out a continuation of the William Shatner mask wearing serial killer. And to be honest, it's one of the most tightly knit horror sequels viewers may see in a while.

Jaime Lee Curtis
Compared to many other sequels, it doesn't start a year, month or even day later. It starts right at the ending of the Halloween (1978) movie and picks up right where it left off. It literally bookends the first movie and starts chugging along again with Michael's violent killing spree. There's not much of a change at all in this story. After the traumatizing experience of the night Michael Myers came to his hometown, Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) is rushed to the local hospital where she is prepped to be taken care of. Little does she realize that Michael is still on the loose looking for her even after Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) loaded six slugs into him.

This basically sets up the whole plot for the rest of the movie. Michael Myers makes his way to find Laurie, killing people in his path while Dr. Loomis and the police trail behind him, trying to find where he plans to be next. Interestingly enough, that's all this sequel needed. Fans enjoyed Myers so much in the first movie that they couldn't resist to pass up another feature involving him. John Carpenter (who decided no to direct this time) and Debra Hill's writing pretty much stays the same in this installment. But here's where audiences may get frustrated - the character of Laurie Strode still is of main focus but her character doesn't do much this time. For the most part she lies around in the hospital until the third act hits.

Michael Myers vs Dr. Loomis
But the writing also includes a little more explanation to why Michael Myers is so determined to kill Laurie, which does make it nice to get a little more background. However, it's still not enough to cover why he can withstand so many bullet wounds. That's utterly insane to imagine. The gore is also a little stronger here and that's understandable since the franchise was competing with several other horror films as well. Lastly, it's appreciated that John Carpenter's score sticks to the same theme and motifs that was created from in first but this time, more synths were used. Unfortunately this also removes the eerie atmosphere that was established from the first movie with piano keys. It's a different sound but not as effective. It's still a very strong sequel.

For most horror sequels, the story is not this closely knit but it is done very competently here. With minor changes, the story of Michael Myers continues once more like it did in the first movie.

Points Earned --> 8:10

Avenging Angelo (2002) Review:

Sylvester Stallone isn't the actor to make many comedies. It's been proven in the past that he's tried many a time to shed his action star image by taking on a role that is full out comedy. It seems like though the only kind of comedic role he can play is either a role that involves action or is a parody of an action role. Stallone's best performance is from Tango & Cash (1989) where he partnered up with Kurt Russell as two professional cops who do things completely opposite but team up to take down a common enemy. That's his comedic action role. This movie is his parody of an action role.

Frankie & Jennifer
In this what is of sorts, a comedy revenge film, Stallone plays a bodyguard named Frankie, who is assigned the job of protecting his boss' daughter, Jennifer played by Madeleine Stowe. The catch is, Frankie's boss, Angelo (the late Anthony Quinn) did not tell Jennifer that he is in fact her biological father and would only know when Angelo passed on. Thus creating complications. At first, Jennifer denies such a claim but soon learns that Frankie knows more than she ever could, making her come to grips with the reality and wanting revenge of Angelo's death. The film is directed and written by some not so well known people that will have viewers leery about deciding to watch it - that's understandable.

But to be honest, it really isn't all that bad. It's by no means the next biggest laugh out loud film but it does have its moments. First off, here's why this movie is more or less an action parody; how the Italian language is perceived. There is a mob boss called Malatesta - mala is the word for bad and testa is the word for head in Italian. In other words, he's a headache. Of course, if you don't know Italian, that's not the viewer's fault but the point is that the writers did incorporate some sense of humor into the language.

The majority of the action that goes on here is all shootings since the plot revolves around mobs, bosses and hits. That's about it, there's one fight scene but it isn't anything being too excited over. But here's the films strongest point, the characters. The way Stallone's character was written has a very good memory and it's funny to watch him ramble off a bunch of information that Jennifer didn't know about or to prove someone else wrong because they were lying. Frankie is that good of a bodyguard. What's also enjoyable is how Frankie disposes of the hitmen that try to kill Jennifer. It's done so nonchalantly that it helps make that scene, that much more comical. But in all honesty, not every scene does its job. A lot of the comedy is hit or miss and that's where the film falls flat.

Mi Querido Asesino (TV show)  A scene from the Franchise Pictures release "Avenging Angelo."
Angelo (Anthony Quinn)
Madeleine Stowe does an alright job playing Jennifer because she has no clue how to deal with the mafia. But her character also lacks intelligence on some very well known things – things that involve common sense. It's insulting. As Anthony Quinn's last film, his performance is appropriate since he's Italian he plays what is famously known as the "God father" portrayal. And for what it's worth, it seems like he went out with a smile, which is good, since this film is dedicated to him. Lastly, Bill Conti’s music to the film is good too. It has some very sweet piano tunes and goofy Italian related themes. However, the insertion of contemporary music wasn't always needed. It felt too much like the movie was being directed as another genre. For a comedy starring Stallone, it's alright.

It is by far from being an excellent comedy but it does work in a number of scenes. It is more of a revenge parody than it is an actual comedy.

Points Earned --> 6:10

The Thing (2011) Review:

John W. Campbell Jr.'s short story "Who Goes There?" has been adapted to the screen several times. According to many, people consider John Carpenter's version, The Thing (1982), to be the best rendition. And of course, it's not just because it was directed by John Carpenter himself, but also because of the actors who played their roles (which many people credit the most to Kurt Russell), the practical creature effects by Stan Winston and the haunting score provided Ennio Morricone. I'm pretty sure it was obvious to the crew of this movie that making any film anywhere related to Carpenter's masterpiece would be an uphill battle. The question is, how well does this hold up - fairly decent actually.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead & Joel Edgerton
The film, although labeled with the same title as the 1982 classic, is a prequel and not a sequel. And if there's one thing that this movie does extremely well, is the continuity. Outstanding. Eric Heisserer's writing is spot on with how the events of the Norwegian camp led into the events of Carpenter's film. However, this kind of story telling may also disrupt the fans of the original because they wanted to keep the mystery of what happened at the camp a total mystery and left untouched. But there are millions of ways to explain one mystery isn't there? I think one interpretation shouldn't be bashed especially if its explanation is plausible.

But that's not to say all the writing is good. The are a few key points in the writing that make it good (like the continuity) but because John Carpenter's film had already established the destruction of the Norwegian camp, leaves barely any wiggle room for a different story. That's where the writing isn’t the best. It may be a prequel, but the execution is almost exactly the same. This will give fans a big head case of dejavu, and some will enjoy the nostalgia, while others won't enjoy what seems to be a re-run. But for newcomers, the plot should entertain because it entertained the viewers who first saw John Carpenter's film.

The casting is done well too. To make the setting as authentic as possible the casting department reeled in a bunch Scandinavian actors. But to make sure the viewers had characters to connect with, they also cast Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joel Edgerton and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the main leads. And as stated in the trivia, Winstead’s character was written to resemble more of a shell to Ellen Ripley from the Alien (1979) franchise. Are these characters truly anything special? Unfortunately not. They don't stand out anymore than their Scandinavian co-stars. This is due to the limited execution of how the story plays out. They do act well, but mention a character's name like Kate Lloyd some decade later and it'll be guaranteed no one will remember.

The Thing
Finally helping make this prequel as entertaining as possible is the special effects and music. It's apparent when the CGI kicks in, but its still professional looking. The thing "creature" here is much more agile and destructive during the running time. What's also good is that it keeps its grotesqueness even when used with practical effects. It is just one hulking mishmash of a messy creature. Talk about a face-lift. Musically speaking, Marco Beltrami's score has well-developed horror motifs and has a main theme as well with blaring horns and extended string chords. It may annoy fans that he doesn't stick to Morricone's theme from the 1982 film, but Beltrami does give a nod to it so give him credit for that. Fans should enjoy this, it's a noble tribute.

For a prequel, its continuity is excellent in explaining events along with some great special effects and a well-developed score. However, the execution too closely resembles the classic 1982 film and the characters aren't too interesting.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Friday, January 10, 2014

Lionheart (1990) Review:

With the successful releases of Bloodsport (1988) & Kickboxer (1989), Jean-Claude Van Damme was on his way to be a big martial arts star attraction. A year later Van Damme would return to one of his friends that helped him make it to stardom. That man is Sheldon Lettich, the screenwriter for Bloodsport (1988). Here Lettich is the screenwriter along with Van Damme and also directs the film in which Van Damme stars in. Does it all play out though, not exactly to what some may want or expect. For most Van Damme fans it will please, but for others it'll annoy beyond belief.

Lyon (Van Damme) & Joshua (Page)
Van Damme plays French Foreign Legion deserter named Lyon who takes it upon himself to travel to L.A. at whatever cost to help out his brother and sister-in-law who are in need of financial help. For him deserting the Foreign Legion, his captain sends out two spies to try and find him. I'm beginning to see a pattern where Van Damme plays a character that is so devoted to his family that he'll travel half way around the world to see them. He did that for Bloodsport (1988) & Kickboxer (1989). I hope he starts to play some other kinds of characters because this is starting to get too typical for him. Upon getting to L.A., he befriends a bum named Joshua (Harrison Page) who helps him earn a load of money by doing local fights for him.

Through Joshua, he then meets Cynthia (Deborah Rennard), the head of some big coporation that sets up these fights. It is here that Lyon acquires his name Lionheart and where he must choose to fight for himself or his family. Now this is an ok plot if it were executed in the right way but that isn't accomplished here. There is not one shred of a background on any character until about some ways into the running time and that's agitating because what does the audience have to connect with? They won't have anyone to sympathize for because no one knows what they're going through except that someone was hurt.

The character development is another flaw. It's not that its absent but more of badly placed timing. There are some characters that will all of a sudden change their mind within a split second and expect the audience to be ok with their decision. It doesn't work like that. The characters themselves are nothing to be fond of either. The only two likable individuals are Lyon and Joshua. That is it. The character of Joshua actually has the most character development, which helps make him likable for audiences. Van Damme also shows good emotion but it’s hard to watch him and Joshua alone to expect entertainment.

Cynthia (Deborah Rennard) -_________-
None of the other characters stand out or make themselves worth standing out. And some viewers will loathe the Cynthia character. She's mean spirited, two faced and poorly acted by Ms. Deborah Rennard. The choreographed fight scenes are nothing great either. In fact, with every fight, Van Damme's opponents and fight sets get stranger and stranger. For example, an arena made of cars? Why would anyone want to risk their car being damaged in the fight? Or an arena made from a dry pool? Can these people be any cheaper? And the music by John Scott isn't good either. Some of it so out of place it feels like it doesn't belong at all. A hard watch to enjoy.

Van Damme and only one of his co-stars are the only things worth watching here. The rest of the cast is forgettable along with silly fight scenes, bad music and extremely schlocky writing.

Points Earned --> 2:10

Child's Play 2 (1990) Review:

After the success of the Child's Play (1988), writer and creator Don Mancini knew that a sequel would be on its way. And of course, the smart thing to do would be to continue the story from the first movie. And for the most part, the sequel stays faithful to the story line. It does have a few areas that need to be addressed but all around it pretty much matches its parent. After the torturous event of Charles Lee Ray (The Lakeshore Strangler) attacking the Barclay home, it was time to move on. Sadly things didn't get better for Andy Barclay.

Andy (Alex Vincent) & his new foster parents
Andy's mother is sent to a psych ward for help and Andy is put into a foster home. Making matters worse, is the Good Guy Doll company somehow acquired the burnt dismembered parts of Chucky and decided to clean him off and put him back together. Unbeknownst to them, once re-assembled, Chucky comes back to life and begins his rampage of violence to find Andy again. And that's all there is to this. It is just another set up to have Chucky (voice by Brad Dourif) killing people to get to the boy that he told his secret to. Is it bad? No, it actually can hold its own as a good sequel.

The weakest area is Mr. Mancini's writing. For example, very few audiences are familiar with voodoo and it’s never explained to why Chucky came back to life after being re-assembled. Was that apart of the voodoo spell? Besides, in the first movie, wasn't it shooting Chucky in the heart the only way to kill him? That's a big loophole. However, it's also forgivable because a lot of people like Chucky, so it's obvious a lot of people will not care too much. It's crazy though how similar this sequel is like Hellraiser II: Hellbound (1988).

The director of Hellbound was a crewmember for Hellraiser (1987) and then directed the sequel. Same goes for John Lafia, the director of this film. He too was apart of Child's Play (1988) and then went on to direct the sequel to this franchise. And both sequels are decent and have good continuity but suffer from weak reasoning for the logic behind the continuity. A very similar parallel that is interesting to think about.

Chucky (Brad Dourif) & Kyle (Christine Elise)
As for actors, it’s obvious that Brad Dourif is needed to play Chucky and his performance is always the best. Next is Alex Vincent whom fans should be happy to see because he's a key part of why Chucky exists and his performance is just as likable as he was from the first movie. Lastly is Christine Elise who plays another foster child named Kyle who befriends Andy. At a point she develops a strong will to fight and it's good that she wasn't written in as a scream and do nothing girl. But as for the rest of the cast, they aren't much to talk about. The foster parents and every other individual are the same. They don't believe a killer doll exists (and right fully so, IF this were a reality). Oh well, their loss.

The last couple of elements that viewers should enjoy is the cinematography by Stefan Czapsky and music. Unlike the first movie, which contained grittier and darker colors, this movie has brighter more elementary colors, which give something new for fans to look at. Plus, the music produced by upcoming composer at the time, Graeme Revell, did a much better job than the score from the first movie by Joe Renzetti. Here Revell actually uses an orchestra and not just synths. And, Revell even gives the Child's Play franchise a motif theme and some creepy tunes. A well developed horror score. Does it top its predecessor - no. Is it a good sequel - yes.

Like other horror sequels, it lacks clarification on logic but it still amounts to a decent sequel. The score has improved as well allowing to sound more like a horror film.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Heartbreakers (2001) Review:

When it comes to comedy films that involves lying, there has to be a clear line drawn of when and where the conscious of the person who is lying begins to work. Unfortunately, this movie can't decide on that. The story follows a mother and daughter who professionalize in being con artists. Their specialty - seducing, marrying and divorcing men into giving them the majority of their money. This would be funny if the film's main characters had focused on a man they had dealt with in the past but no. They decide to take on the everyday guy just for the sake of getting quick money. This is not how it should be done. This should be a revenge comedy against one man, not the entire gender universally.

Ray Liotta
What's even more astonishing is the wide scale range that the casting department chose for their actors. The mother and daughter are played by Sigourney Weaver (the Alien (1979) franchise) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)) respectively. There's Ray Liotta (Unlawful Entry (1992)), Jason Lee (who would later play Syndrome in The Incredibles (2004)), Jeffrey Jones from Beetlejuice (1988), Gene Hackman from Superman (1978), Zach Galifianakis (from the Hangover (2009) franchise) and even Carrie Fisher from Star Wars (1977) is acting in here. How could such a large cast of good actors still make such an average film?

In fact, a lot of these actors' scenes are wasted because they are similar to other characters they have played. Weaver is probably the most complex but also the character with the on-off conscious. Hewitt plays the confused girl not knowing what to think of her emotions. Liotta continues to play his usual violent egomaniac, although there is a scene where he even grows a conscious (briefly); that scene I enjoyed the most. And Jason Lee just plays the clueless cutie boy who has no idea what's going on around him. As for the rest of the cast mentioned before, they really do have wasted scenes. None of them are funny scenes either.

It just doesn't make sense. You have director David Mirkin, who has worked with comedies before like The Simpsons (1989) and the same name titled movie of 2007. Maybe it's his lack of directing features that pass 30 minutes. He's only released one other theatrical film, maybe he wasn't ready? And how come three writers couldn't form a more consistent plot. So much of it is back and forth between what is right and wrong which becomes tiresome. It will make people want to tell the characters to make a decision already. And it's not like they couldn't make a good script. Two of these writers were apart of Liar Liar (1997) which many people consider a good movie (speaking of which that that movie was also related to lying). Hmmm.

Jason Lee & Jennifer Love Hewitt
Anyway, so it's not easy to say who is the weak link here. John Debney's music was ok. It had goofy tunes, which did alright in helping the scenes, but still didn't help the consistency of the tone. The comedy was also very bland. The main actors don't give much charm to their characters. Sure they dress up and talk like other people but that doesn't always make them funny. Some viewers may also find it sexist of how it portrays both genders. Men are lustful and dumb, while women are seductive and calculative. Then again, it can also be taken as an empowering portrayal. It really depends on what the audience wants to see. I for one found nothing of either side except an average comedy that had a little promise but didn't accomplish much.

For a comedy with such a strong cast, it seems like this could have audiences laugh a lot. Sadly, the characters are too cliche and the tone flip flops making it just an average movie.

Points Earned --> 5:10

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bambi (1942) Review:

The story of Bambi is one of Disney's movies that families praise to this day for its cute characters and sentimental story. This is true but it's hard to say whether the story of Bambi is one only intended for children. It involves childlike characters and experiences yet the story arc as time continues tends to become more adult related and a slight bit one sided. It's not to say children shouldn't watch it; it's Disney. There just happens to be more to the life of the main character than just living in the forest. By the end of the movie, a message far deeper than its premise will leave a stain of a memory.

Bambi & his mother
The movie is basically a cycle of how the animals live in the forest and how they deal with the seasons and man itself. It's a satisfying cycle although cliche none the less. For this specific time line, no age bracket is skipped. The stages of becoming a toddler, young adolescent and adult are all covered which gives each age group that views this, something to relate to. The segment of becoming an adult and finding romance is where it gets a bit one sided. This particular segment makes the female animals look like they manipulate and end up making the male animal putty in their hands. This doesn't happen in real life for animals or humans as easily as it’s made out to be.

There are two other things that might turn off viewers. Next is the music; Frank Churchill did an excellent job at the score but the choir in the background in most of the music may come off as obnoxious. It's good the way they were used to represent the weather, but it still may get on viewers’ nerves. And then there are the dark elements to this film such as "man", Bambi's mother's death and the final chase scene. These can be quite intense and almost leaps over the line of the family friendly to adult animated feature genre. Especially the hunters, these faceless dangers are the ones who speak the message of how dangerous humans can be. If Disney didn't own the rights, one could assume an animal rights activists group produced this. That's how strong the writers to this movie wanted us to feel for these forest animals.
Thumper, Bambi & Flower

But credit should be given where is needed. The animation is great for its time. It still has the classic Disney feature feel and still holds up great today. Also the characters are very amiable. The voices to every character are very soft, mellow and calm. There are only a few times when a voice is elevated to excitement or terror. The child voice-actors that portray young Bambi, Thumper and Flower have the most adorable voices. The best voice of the rest of the cast is Bambi's mother's voice. That voice has the most gentle sound one could ever hear. Overall it's a decent Disney film; it just needs to be shown to a mature audience.

The story of Bambi is cute along with his friends Thumper and Flower, and the music is done well too. Sadly, the audience that this movie is directed to can be a little heavy at some points, especially for Disney.

Points Earned --> 7:10

Rocky (1976) Review:

How many times does an individual get the chance to make it big? Very few. And it's even less when the thing that makes you, comes knocking on your door. It's extremely rare. And if it were to come, what would you choose? To be where you have been or take the risk and grab at the opportunity and maybe lose everything? This is that story of the down on his luck boxer, Rocky Balboa, who gets to fight the heavy weight champion for the title. A drama that consists of realistic dreams and goals involving authentic emotion and struggle.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa
Amazing as this story may be, what will astound audiences even more is when they discover that this story reflects the life of its main star, Sylvester Stallone. Before this movie, Stallone was also down on his luck too. He needed a break in a career and this is the film that shot him to the top. Stallone had been in a few other movies before hand but none that truly focused on him or propelled him to popularity. That was his chance to make it big. What helps make the story feel even more authentic is the fact that Stallone had wrote the story. This is why it reflects as a parallel to his past.

Talia Shire as Adrian
In the writing, Stallone also includes a love interest with a girl named Adrian played by Talia Shire. As the movie plays out, viewers will see her character transform thanks to the charm of Rocky. Together their chemistry blooms into something greater and it's the sweetest and most innocent thing. What’s also great about Stallone's writing is that Rocky has a very large antagonist. It's not the heavy weight champion that Carl Weathers plays - Apollo Creed, it's much bigger. That antagonist is called LIFE. Life is one of those things where it can seem like nothing will ever straighten out. And that's real, for everyone because everyone goes through a struggle in his or her life. Very few have it easy all the time.

The cinematography and editing is well put together too. James Crabe as the director of photography took some very large shots that helped emphasize the magnitude of this match. Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad's editing is cut appropriately so that each sequence has a consistent flow. And as for music, Bill Conti's score to the film is so emotionally attached to the story it's hard to let go of the feelings that it evokes. Either when it comes to Rocky being alone with a light tread on the piano keys or when he's training with all the string instruments playing, the right emotion is emitted. All around and excellent drama.

This sports drama works extraordinarily well because of how relatable it is when it comes to the struggle of life; how to deal with its ups and downs. And the moral is to never, ever give up. Every element works here.

Points Earned --> 10:10

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hellboy (2004) Review:

If there is one Dark Horse comic book property that many people enjoy and respect, its this adaptation. It's obvious that a lot of work and effort went into this to make it as good as it is. Apparently this was also director Guillermo del Toro's dream project way back when he first started directing. But that's not the only reason why everything comes together here. Every element of the film has something to contribute.

Ron Perlman as Hellboy
Let's begin with what’s the most easy to notice - the casting. It's spot on. Ron Perlman as Hellboy was the perfect choice and it's great that del Toro stuck with his gut instinct and ran with it. Perlman has the voice, he has the chops and has the wit to give Hellboy just the right amount of charm and machoness. The rest of the cast were accurate choices as well. John Hurt is an older actor so it's fits that he would play Dr. Broom. Selma Blair as Liz Sherman is beautiful in her own way because of her troubled past. And Abe Sapien physically played by Doug Jones and voiced by Daivd Hyde Pierce was a great mix.

Hyde Pierce was the same man who voiced Slim in A Bug's Life (1998), Drix in Osmosis Jones (2001) and Dr. Doppler from Treasure Planet (2002). Then there's the strangest villain of all, Karl Kroenen played by Ladislav Beran. What a creepy character! Beran's movements actually reminded me of a mix between Ray Park's Snake Eyes from the G.I. Joe franchise and Anis Cheurfa's Rinzler from Tron Legacy (2010). Then there's the special effects. Much of which look practical - solid or liquid elements. Certainly the creatures are practical because that is Guillermo del Toro's specialty.

Unfortunately, like most superhero / blockbuster films, the protagonist is set to battle for all of humanity. It's cliche but there's one part to the writing that tops that. Just like many other films, a key plot point involves a magic key to fulfill a prophecy. This kind of plot point is really overused. Thankfully this is covered up for most of the time until the third act. Plus there's one last element that helps this movie excel - Marco Beltrami's musical score. Beltrami's music hits the right note on all angles. His score has a main theme for our hero and also mixes horror tones with action cues and emotional motifs throughout the running time. A fun film piece.

Its writing contains the usual superhero cliches but every other aspect of the film hits as hard as Hellboy's rock hand. The actors represent their characters accurately, the action is great with lasting special effects and a memorable score.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Monday, January 6, 2014

The 13th Warrior (1999) Review:

By the late 90s, Mr. Antonio Banderas had gained a name for himself. He was a foreign actor until Desperado (1995) and The Mask of Zorro (1998) had thrown him into the limelight. It almost seemed like he wouldn't ever produce a film where people wouldn't flock to go see. But as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. Sadly, from what is now known, this movie is one of his biggest belly flops in his career. There's good reason to understand why.

Vladimir Kulich & Antonio Banderas
The story is about an Arab named Ahmed (Banderas) that is banished from his homeland to end up joining a group of Norsemen to fight a common enemy. That's it. The simplest of all plots. Loosely based on the epic poem Beowulf, many of the characters' names resemble the poems' counterparts. So for anyone who has read the story, some may have a better time figuring out what story arc will follow which character. It's an interesting parallel but it isn't special. Possibly one of the worst aspects of the film is the main antagonist. Reason being, there isn't a main antagonist.

The common enemy is a tribe or clan of what come off as cannibalistic bear people. They have no rhyme, reason or motive to why they do what they do. The only dialog heard by them is yelling and chanting, that's it. There is a point where the warriors maneuver to kill the root of the clan but it is so weakly established that the it feels rushed to begin with. Also, the pacing is slow which makes it difficult for audiences to really feel like this is an adventure film. This is all understandable since this movie went through several reshoots and having a screenplay written by William Wisher Jr. I can't understand why his works for the last half of 90sdecade is mediocre. In 1991 he wrote for James Cameron's Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991). What happened?

Dennis Storhøi
There are some good elements though. Antonio Banderas is a big one, although perhaps this is another reason why this movie didn't gather much attention. Antonio Banderas is cast into a film with a bunch of no name actors - is there a possibility of the movie performing well? Slim to none. Anyway, along with Banderas is Vladimir Kulich and Dennis Storhøi who also give the most memorable of performances in this movie. They both have their own charm - Kulich is like the early Chris Hemsworth before Thor (2011) and Storhøi is like a blond Johnny Depp with the same charisma. Those are the only two main characters besides Banderas that stood out to me.

Credit should be given to Pat McCorkle for casting these actors though because a lot of Scandinavian actors were picked for these roles. As for action scenes go, when they finally do hit the screen, they are pretty exciting. The carnage and sword fights are always blood pumping which helps make the tense scenes that much more intense. Finally assisting these action scenes is Jerry Goldsmith's score to the film. It is the usual Goldsmith sound but it's still fun. Goldsmith even adds a bit of a middle-eastern theme into the music to cover Mr. Banderas' role. It's an ok watch but the story doesn't carry much water.

For action film, the pace is slow and the plot is bone dry. However, the actors do give their characters charm, along with some decent battles and appropriate music.

Points Earned --> 6:10

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jack Frost (1997) Review:

Ever since slasher flicks became popular with the release of films like John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), many films have been produced that have been influenced from ones of the past. But then there came another wave of slasher films that occurred during the holiday season. The one's that viewers thought that no one would ever desecrate. This movie is apart of that family and it was released at a peculiar time as well. The title is the exact same as the Michael Keaton family holiday film a year later. However, this is the exact opposite of a family film.

Scott MacDonald human form.....
This horror slasher film is about a serial killer named Jack Frost who is caught by a town sheriff and sent off to death row where his transport crashes into a chemical truck. The chemicals are then absorbed by Frost and his surroundings (the snow) and become a mutant killer snowman, ergo his moniker. Is this the least bit scary? If you don't like evil looking snowmen I guess. Its genre is in horror but there truly isn't anything to be terrified of. Unfortunately, the film suffers from an over the top villain and too much campiness. I feel like director/writer Michael Cooney had intended this but think about it, who could take a killer snowman seriously? And Cooney has made better works, Identity (2003) is his best.

However, this isn't to say that the villain isn't good. The actor who is originally on screen and then voices his evil counterpart, Scott MacDonald, is enjoyable as the antagonist. MacDonald's voice is dark, gruff and can sound very sinister and it makes that much more enjoyable when it comes out of an evil snowman. Sad to say, this is the only redeeming character of the cast. Christopher Allport as the troubled sheriff takes second place, but after him is hard to tell. The rest of the characters are so flat in dimension that it will be difficult for the viewers to feel anything for them.

.............& Scott MacDonald snowman form
The violence and gore would also be more appreciated if it wasn't so quickly edited. That's not to say it was bad, and I understand the budget was low, but some of the kills were off screen and only the aftermath was shown which will disappoint the gore hounds. Also, the continuity isn't great - sometimes even the sounds are not properly aligned with the movements of the characters. For shame. The music on the other hand was good. Chris Anderson and Carl Schurtz produced a well-rounded creepy Christmas score that at least helped make this horror slasher film feel a bit better than its other average production elements. It's an ok film, just don't expect any bit of brilliance.

The slasher version of Michael Keaton's family friendly film is fun trash thanks to the actor playing the villain, some good violence and appropriate music. Everything else however could have been improved upon greatly.

Points Earned --> 5:10

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Despicable Me 2 (2013) Review:

I'm not sure if anyone saw the first Despicable Me (2010) being the success that many people remember it as today. It certainly had a lot going for it considering its clever plot, funny characters and unique slapstick. And once the box office reports were in, it was obvious that a sequel would be on its way at some point - although I'm not certain if people thought it would arrive three years later. But it's important to understand that for the past three years, the producers must have put in a lot of work to make sure this next chapter in Gru's life was just as entertaining as the first and it did just that.

Gru & Lucy
This time, fans find Gru as a new man, making jam and jelly products with his goofy minions and three adopted children. Little does he realize that another evil villain is planning to take over the world. So in order to stop this from happening, Gru is given an offer from the Anti-Villain League (AVL) to stop this new threat. And as the plot continues, he begins to learn even more things about himself he didn't think he would overcome. Along with that are some new characters like El Macho (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and agent of AVL who partners up with Gru. Oh and let's not forget the new purple minion - what personality, ha!

The minions still being themselves
What's great about this sequel is that it feels like nothing was changed at all; which is great. The continuity is clung onto tightly like the first film, the characters all still have their respective voices, the tone is still the same as well as the musical score. Even though it's been three years, it honestly feels like the first one ended literally a year before. That's how close these two match each other and that proves that the time was worth the wait. There isn't much else to say other than if you enjoyed the first one, watching this will be just as enjoyable.

The sequel to the 2010 hit replicates the formula so well that it may feel more like an extension of the day after the events of the first movie. Either way, it still is just as fun.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Despicable Me (2010) Review:

After such a wide success with a couple of animated films in the mid 90s and early 21rst century, a boom occurred in the full CGI animated family films and it hasn't stopped. Several productions have came into play and flourished and or fizzled. Recalling a couple franchises that fizzled was Shark Tale (2004) & Hop (2011). Unfortunately, along with the power of the technology, came the abuse of it. But just like Pixar, Illumination Entertainment put in a lot of effort and time into a family film that packs a punch for all ages.

Gru & the three girls
Despicable Me is the story of a troubled genius named Gru. Gru isn't truly evil, he just doesn't have much of anyone to care for. And like many other troubled characters, it is because of a rough childhood. Thus leading to hard times as an adult trying to connect with the outside world. Thankfully, with the help of three little girls, Gru learns more about himself than he ever thought he knew before. A good thing to note is that the writers to this movie have the experience. Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio have written screenplays for various animated films and directors. And along with the story come some very entertaining characters.

And I think we all know what those characters are - the yellow skinned minions. As many know now, the minions are the mascot to the famed "Despicable" franchise. With their innocent yet reckless nature and garbled language, the minions are the ones that'll have audiences rolling over the floors. But these aren't the only characters that make the movie fun. The main voice actors do a great job as well filling in their roles. Steve Carell as Gru was a perfect casting choice. Gru's assistant, Dr. Nefario voiced by Russell Brand was also a great achievement. I didn't even realize it was him until the credits rolled.

The Minions XD
Along with them are Jason Segel who plays another villain named Vector, Will Arnett voices the head of bank and many others. It's interesting to try and figure out who voices who because the characters are masked so well. The animation and score to the film produced by Heitor Pereira and Pharrell Williams is well executed too. Each scene represented the right emotion and had a consistent tone. Though I would have preferred to hear a main theme. It probably would have made  the film even more memorable.

The voice cast is awesome which makes the characters likable allowing the comedic moments to bring out the fun in the movie. Many people will consider the minions to be the best part.

Points Earned --> 9:10

Turbulence (1997) Review:

Airplane thrillers - it's a common plot line. Whether it's a hijacking by a villain or simple mechanical malfunction, there have been several types of films that run in a similar fashion. Airport (1970) or Executive Decision (1996), just to name a couple, all take place on a plane with the possibility of it crashing and killing a ton of lives. Unfortunately, there are only so many ways something can be done. And as for this production, nothing really stands out.

Lauren Holly as the flight attendant
This story is about a female flight attendant who gets caught in the crossfire on a moving plane that's transporting two dangerous criminals to another city jail. Problem is, she's the only person left alive to fly the plane. It would be ok if this was the only focus but the writer, Jonathan Brett decided to include another subplot - the plane is headed into a level six storm. Thus the name of the title. Not impressive. I'm sure a better title could've been created even if the subplot of the storm wasn't included.

The writer, Jonathan Brett isn't a truly established professional. None of his work is well known and for the films he is given credit for, isn't considered to be even mediocre. For example, why would anyone have two licensed criminals board a passenger airplane? And, when they do get on the plane, there are only 10 passengers,….so why is it so empty? What kind of writing is this? That's not a good sign and it shows throughout the film. The cast may surprise people though. Ray Liotta, Hector Elizondo, Rachel Ticotin [Melina from Total Recall (1990)], Catherine Hicks and John Finn all have number of scenes long enough for viewers to appreciate their presence. However, this doesn't mean their performances are good or even close to being any different than their past roles in films.

Ray Liotta & Catherine Hicks
One of the criminals who is the main antagonist is played by Ray Liotta.  This isn't a surprise. Liotta proved he could play a scary character in Unlawful Entry (1992) and it was much more realistic. Here, Liotta still can be scary but his performance is either underdone or overdone. Almost like he has a split personality. That would've been more entertaining if that had been written into the screenplay. As for the other actors mentioned, they just play minor characters which is nice when they're on screen but when they aren't, the plot runs extremely slow. Lauren Holly, who plays Teri, the flight attendant isn't entertaining either. Her fear looks real but her voice is irritating and can make it hard for people to sympathize with the character.

I'm honestly surprised that the direction wasn't better. The movie is directed by Robert Butler who has 3 Primetime Emmys and a few other awards. The special effects aren't bad either, they at least matched the era of the decade. At least that worked as well as Shirley Walker's score to the film. It wasn't memorable and didn't have a theme but at least it corresponded at all the right moments of each scene. There definitely was the right emotion for each particular segment. But that is it.

For a thriller with a B list cast of actors from the small and big screens, one would think this would turn out at least somewhat watchable. It has ok music and special effects but the writing isn't special or even close to being a little different and the acting is poor.

Points Earned --> 2:10