Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Trials of Ted Haggard

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Trials of Ted Haggard - 4 out of 5

Let me be honest...I'm an atheist. I don't believe in God and you may find that strange considering I'm an ordained Reverend. Yes, I know it's odd but even though I'm an atheist, that doesn't stop me from being interested in why people have a belief in God and subscribe to whatever faith they find themselves apart of. This interest is why I read a lot of books on religions and watch many documentaries on the subject as well. That's why I decided to check out The Trials of Ted Haggard.

The fall of Ted Haggard isn't a secret as he was caught buying drugs from a male prostitute and admitted to having a relationship with the man. This act went against everything he stood for and preached about in the church he created. This documentary focuses on the aftermath and Haggard's exile from both the state he lived in and the church he started. Going into the HBO documentary, I already had a preconcieved notions about the guy being your stereotypical closeted self-loathing homosexual who has been conditioned to hate himself through the teachings of religion BUT after watching this movie and seeing what he went through, I actually found myself feeling sorry for him. Haggard tries to keep a positive spin on things but you can see the sadness in his eyes as he was thrown out of the church he clearly loves very much for being exactly who he is--it gets even worse when you realize that he himself won't even admit that he is gay. Watching the events of Ted Haggard's exile, I came away with both a sense of pity and a respect for him and his perseverance. This short but powerful documentary is worth seeking out on the internet and checking out.

Black Swan

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Black Swan - 4 out of 5

I will be honest, I was very skeptical going into this film. A movie about ballet that is a thriller? How is that even possible? Even worse, I'm not a fan of Natalie Portman and I've never seen Mila Kunis do a role where she ISN'T a piece of eye candy. However, the critics loved it and I had a lot of friends tell me it was great. So, since I never pass up a recommendation, I gave it a shot and it was quite awesome.

It took me awhile to get into the story but once you see Portman's character start to lose her mind as the weight of the role she won in "Swan Lake" bears down upon her, the film gets going like a roller coaster. Director Darren Aronofsky does an amazing job of creating the tension and the insanity the ballerina starts to go through. The music, cinematography and even the amazing special effects that I wasn't prepared for really sold the story. But the film's excellence didn't stop at just the story and technical elements. The acting was incredible! Like I said, I'm not a fan of either Kunis and Portman but they both were excellent. Not to mention the man who's married to uber-hottie Monica Bellucci; Vincent Cassel, is in it.

Despite going in skeptical, I came out floored by how cool Black Swan really was. Just goes to show you, never count out those thrillers about ballets!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mazes and Monsters

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Mazes and Monsters - 2 out of 5

Believe it or not, in the early 80's people actually believed that playing Dungeons & Dragons was dangerous. Christians claimed it promoted worshiping the devil and parents were told by the media that it can cause delusions as kids playing them would start to believe in the fantasy world they created. That's right, in the early 80's people believed that using your imagination was dangerous.

Of course, we all know this is wrong but in an effort to scare the world, a made-for-TV movie was produced starring Tom Hanks that shows how an impressionable mind can be impacted by those evil Role Playing Games. And by impressionable minds...I mean college students.

Mazes and Monsters follows four college friends who are united by one thing: A love for the RPG Mazes and Monsters (basically Dungeons and Dragons). But in their efforts to level up the game, they decide to bring the game into the "real world" or making it a Live Action RPG. They hit some caves for atmosphere but Tom Hanks' character flips out and starts to believe he's really in the game. With his mind turned to mush, he disappears and it's up to his friends to find him.

The premise is just ridiculous and can bring out a lot of geek rage in people like myself who play D&D. However, my fellow geeks and nerds can easily find this film amusing due to the absurdity of it all. And when you add in shitty acting to its silly story, you can easily find a lot to mock in this lame film. I give this movie a 2 out of 5 because, at it's heart it's a shitty film but it's more deserving of a 5 out of 5 from the unintentional humor it delivers. So, in that sense, it saves...and only takes half damage.

Sorority House Massacre II

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Sorority House Massacre II - 3 out of 5

This movie has taught me one thing (and since it was in a movie, I will sarcastically say that it must be true). And that one thing is that hot women, when spending the night together, are more than comfortable showing each other their breasts and will inevitably put on skimpy lingerie and undergarments to sleep in.

Sorority House Massacre II has no real connection to the first film except for the fact it involves sorority girls (who actually look more like college girls than the ladies in the first one except for the fact they all seem to have breasts implants). The film also has about as much of a massacre as the last one did--in the fact it's not really one at all. Sure there's more blood but the low body count doesn't really qualify as a massacre.

The story surrounds a group of busty young ladies who purchase a new sorority house. They're able to get it cheap because a man once slaughtered a bunch of people in it. The girls are forced to stay the night in the house because the movers are coming the next day so, to keep themselves busy, they get some alcohol and, after showering and changing into some sexy nighties, they decide they want to contact the evil spirit of the man who killed all those people 5 years earlier on a Ouija board they found in the attic. Because, as we all know, a board game made by Milton Bradley is capable of reaching the other side. After this...the nightmare starts.

Of course, I am being ironic when I call the actions in this movie a 'nightmare' because this movie is far from scary. I mean Roger Corman produced it for crying out loud. The primary reason for this film's existence is to show some tits, ass and blood. However, the movie's attempt at a story, piss poor acting and all the movie cliches (like all girls sleep in sexy underwear) makes this movie enjoyable to watch--even more so than the whole lot of breasts it throws at you. Yes, the gratuitous nudity is cool but the overall low quality of the movie makes it worth the time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Day of the Dolphin

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Day of the Dolphin - 1 out of 5

Imagine that General Patton is a scientist and discovers that you can teach dolphins to talk and understand a human language. Now imagine that some dangerous people learn about these super-smart dolphins and try to use them to assassinate the President. Now...imagine this was made into a movie based on a book! All that I described to you is true.

In 1973, this film was made starring George C. Scott. I never heard of it until I was browsing a website that had old science fiction and horror film posters on it. This one (along with many others) caught my eye and I was instantly intrigued. Why did it interest me? It had talking dolphins for crying out loud. So, after some painstaking searching, I found a copy of the film and was greatly disappointed.

The movie is just boring and, despite its claims to be science fiction, the fact the dolphins are talking is the only thing really science fiction about it. The story doesn't offer much tension--even with an assassination plot within its story. To make matters worse, the music is strangely upbeat to the point its nearly whimsical. If you have music that would make a elf start to dance when you're dealing with aquatic mammals being fooled in order to kill the President, you know your science fiction film is doomed.

If it wasn't for the decent acting done by George C. Scott, this movie would be a total wash. However, the man who was Patton's acting aside, this film still sinks in at a 1 out of 5.

Get Low

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Get Low - 3 out of 5

Don't let the title fool you, this film has absolutely NOTHING to do with the Lil Jon club hit of the same name. In fact, it couldn't be any farther from the hip/hop lifestyle as the movie centers around a hermit in the 1930's who decides he wants to throw a funeral party before he actually goes through with the real deal funeral. I guess he's trying to put the FUN in FUNeral!!! Ha ha ha...Don't worry, I'll hit myself later for that bad pun.

The concept sounds a little crazy but the movie instead is very emotional and down to earth. Robert Duvall plays the hermit and is able to portray someone who is both gruff and hard to love but charming at the same time (it's not the first time we've seen him do this, so this just goes to show you they picked the right guy for the part.) Bill Murray co-stars as the funeral director who works with Duvall's character alongside his assistant played by Lucas Black. Murray was very enjoyable in this picture as he played a happy medium of the goofball we remember from the 70's and 80's to the depressed character he got typecast into lately.

The movie is touching and entertaining but there's not enough going on that will make me ever revisit this film. The film is mildly amusing but never laugh out loud. It's sweet and tender but doesn't pull too hard on the heartstrings. This movie isn't the best but it isn't terrible either. It is the perfect middle of the road film. Just good enough to watch once and that's about it.

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth - 2 out of 5

Continuity is NOT something horror film franchises are known for. Most of them are stand alone stories that just have the same killer in it or, you could be like the Halloween franchise and complete disavow events that take place in three different movies when you do a sequel that takes place 20 years after the original--but for some reason, a sequel with Busta Rhymes is considered to be canon. Occasionally, horror film franchises have sequels that are connected pretty tightly to the previous one (the Saw franchise comes to mind) and, surprisingly, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth is actually connected to the last one.

The creator of the series takes a backseat as Clive Baker neither directed or wrote this film's story. Maybe that's a good thing after the confused mess the 2nd film's story was. However this one builds on the end of Hellbound: Hellraiser II. I didn't mention it in my review of that film, but the end finds Pinhead and the puzzle box trapped in a large pillar--creatively called the Pillar of Souls. However, after Kirsty forced Pinhead to remember he was once a human, he becomes torn in two--the evil side; Pinhead, and his human side trapped in limbo. But everything is cool though, right? The evil side is trapped in the Pillar of Souls, correct? Well, yes but all it takes is some blood to free him and, apparently, in this reality where this story takes place, getting a person to bleed and have the blood shot ridiculously through the air to hit the pillar isn't difficult at all. So, after some events, the evil Pinhead is unleashed back on earth with no human side to control him. He is now free to kill without any rules holding him back. Meanwhile, the human side is reaching out to a young reporter and showing her how to stop his darker half...

The story is interesting, I'll give the movie that but the usual horror film cliches hurts this movie bad. The acting is terrible and it's quite possible everyone in the film suffers from a learning disability. For example, Pinhead creates new Cenobites to assist him in bringing hell to the world and, while they're terrorizing the streets, the cops show up (this shouldn't be a surprise) but one of the Cenobites tosses some gasoline at them. One of the cops comments how it's gas and they have at least 30 seconds to run before the same Cenobite spits fire at them. Do the cops run? No, instead, they stand still and scream while they wait for the fire to come at them. And then there's a scene of things blowing up down a city street and you can clearly see two extras walking down the sidewalk, not concerned at all about the explosions. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?

The simplicity of the people of this film is a point of humor that can be collected from the film and the story is kinda cool but with some weak acting and a bad habit of lacking action and a dragging narrative, Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth fails to deliver what the title promises. Instead, it's more of hell on a single street.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Hellbound: Hellraiser II - 2 out of 5

There's a lot of unspoken rules when it comes to a horror film's sequels and one above all others is that the body count MUST be higher. This is very apparent in Hellbound: Hellraiser II and it's probably the only thing the film has going for it.

The story takes place after the first film and follows the survivor of the horrible incident with Pinhead and the other Cenobites; Kirsty. However, and not surprisingly, she is committed to a mental facility because--well, let's face it--who would really believe her when she said that her stepmother and her Uncle who came back from the dead and possessed her father were trying to open the gates to hell. That would be a tough pill to swallow for even the craziest this world has to offer. So, the young Kirsty is put in a straight jacket and is screaming that the mattress her stepmommy was killed on must be destroyed or there's a chance she could be resurrected like her Uncle was. Not surprisingly, no one listens to her story except the facility's administrator and he develops a morbid curiosity and begins to find out if he could both bring stepmother dearest back and solve the puzzle box and open the gates to eternal torment. Why is he curious about this? I don't know because the movie doesn't really go into that but it seems he's been fascinated by the box for quite some time--again, why anyone would be interested in a box that's only means of existing is to punish the person who solves it is beyond me. So, the dear doctor opens the gates to hell with some help of some of his patients and its up to Kirsty and the patient Tiffany to stop the sadomasochistic doctor who teams up with the resurrected stepmom.

Does the story sound complicated? A little bit and much of this has to do with a flurry of rewrites that had to be done to the script over the course of making this film. It's because of these rewrites and the muddy nature of the story that hurts this film more than the weak special effects. In fact, it could also explain the major emphasis on the gore--it hides the story.

The film becomes partially interesting when you get to see the human form of Pinhead and how he ended up becoming this nightmare of a creature but there's really no depth to his story. Basically he was some sort of Captain, got the puzzle box, solved it and had nails put in his head. Further interest can become invested in the film when we see a slightly softer side to the evil Cenobites as they help Kirsty in her battle against the evil doctor. We even see that despite the fact they are sick and evil, they are far from dumb and Pinhead doesn't just go after the person with the puzzle box in their hands but sees through the doctor's deception and goes after the man with the desire to open the box. So, that's worth the viewing of the film, right? Seeing that being evil doesn't ALWAYS mean being dumb.

Eh, who am I kidding? The only real reason to watch this movie is because you either love horror films or, you're like me, and have decided to go through the entire series because once you start something, you see it to the end--no matter how bad it gets. I sure hope the series picks up a little bit...I'm only on part 2.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sorority House Massacre

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Sorority House Massacre - 1 out of 5

Ah, the sorority house. A staple for the horror film and porn industry. In the fictional world, these establishments are places where beautiful women go to explore their sexuality, barely wear any clothes and...well, die--if it's a slasher film. And that's what Sorority House Massacre kinda gives to you. The problem however is that the film doesn't really deliver on ANYTHING in the title. Okay, sure it gives us a sorority house but it's filled with girls who look too old to be in a sorority and should be working in an office building but mainly this film doesn't deliver on the whole massacre part--but I'll get to that later.

Despite the film being a giant Halloween rip-off, the movie tries to create a deep, psychological story (please read that as sarcasm). The film centers around a girl who survives her brother murdering the whole family. The years pass and she's buried the memories to the point they're forgotten. Entering college, the women gets involved with a sorority that also happens to be her childhood home (what are the odds?!?). So, she starts to have dreams and develops a seemingly psychic connection to the brother she doesn't remember as he escapes his mental facility and comes to finish the job.

Now, let's get back to the way the film fails to deliver on it's whole massacre promise. The brother kills all the sorority girls and their boyfriends in very, VERY, boring ways with little blood and absolutely no mayhem. Let's also enter into the evidence that the body count is very low for a horror film. The film tries to make you forget this fact like our film's star forgets that she survived her family being slaughtered and forgets that the sorority house she's now in use to be her home by giving you some pointless nudity in a *facepalm* dress up sequence. That's right, the film has a sequence where the sorority girls sit around and try on outfits. I wish this film was worse because then you could make fun of it but the movie just sits at the point where it's bad enough to not be watchable at all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Just One of the Guys

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Just One of the Guys - 3 out of 5

After revisiting Tootsie a few days back, I decided I need to watch a film about a person disguising themselves as the opposite gender from the other perspective. Instead of watching a movie about a guy pretending to be a woman, I wanted to watch a movie about a girl pretending to be a guy and the first one that popped into my head was the 1985 comedy, Just One of the Guys.

The film's about a popular girl (played by Joyce Hyser) who aspires to be a professional reporter but believes that they fact she's of the feminine persuasion is holding her back in a testosterone-fueled man dominated society, so she decides to disguise herself as a man in order to win a competition to get a internship with her local newspaper. This makes sense, doesn't it? Anyone would do this right?

This movie is never really laugh out loud funny despite being billed as a comedy. However, you will find amusement watching it now as this is one of those films that perfectly embodies the 80's. You'll laugh at the stupid fashions that were considered hip or the hairstyles that the actors are sporting but what's the funniest part of this film is the one-dimensional, cliche high school characters that fill up the screen. You got your typical stuff: The Jock/Douche Bag/Bully (played by William Zabka, the bully from The Karate Kid), the Nerds, the Prom Queen, etc. And, also like your typical cliche high school film, everyone finds their soul mate in their graduating class and everyone is happy at the end.

However, there were two things I found EXTREMELY disturbing about this movie. Number 1) Joyce Hyser's character Terry has an uncomfortably close relationship with her brother (played by Billy Jayne). Not only are there scenes of them clinging to each other, there's also scenes where they openly talk about sex and Terry doesn't ask her brother (Buddy) to close his robe as he's dancing around the living room in boxer shorts. First off, sex ISN'T something I talk about with family because it's uncomfortable and none of their business and secondly, if I spotted a sibling or any other family member dancing around the living room in their underpants, I would immediately yell at them to put some clothes on before I cleaned my eyes out with soap and water. Their disturbingly close relationship was grossly unnecessary for the film.

Secondly, Number 2) Terry dressing as a man is disturbing. Not because of it's an experiment in gender roles or because I find the act of women dressing as men to be deviant but rather it's unsettling because despite her terrible impression of a man, characters in the film buy it--They believe that she's a dude. I realize it's just a movie but can I get a little dose of reality here? The voice the character chooses to go with sounds so much like a woman pretending to be a man, that it boggles the mind that there isn't a single character in the film asking, "Hey man, why do you sound like a chick impersonating a dude?" or even just blurt it out, "Are you a girl?" Combine that with the spastic walk Terry decides is "manly," it's clear that this act could only work in the world of movies. Either that or Terry attends a special needs school for the learning disabled.

While the story and jokes of the film aren't particularly funny, the fact it's a perfect example of an 80's film that makes this movie entertaining--especially when you realize this has a PG-13 rating despite a single shot--clear shot--of boobies, man the 80's were pretty lenient on nudity. In this day and age, a single boob shot can get you an R-rating.

Legend: U.S. Theatrical Cut and Director's Cut

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Legend: U.S. Theatrical Cut - 4 out of 5
Legend: Director's Cut - 3 out of 5

Legend not only has the honor of being a kick-ass fantasy film but also has the honor of being one of the only Tom Cruise films that I will watch (the other being Tropic Thunder). The fantastic story and, more importantly, Tim Curry's awesome performance as Darkness (his awesome makeup doesn't hurt either) makes this one of my favorite fantasy films that came out in the 80's...even with the no talent Cruise in it.

Recently, I picked up the Special Edition DVD that contains both the U.S. Theatrical Cut of the film and director Ridley Scott's original cut. Rumors state that while the film was shown at a test screening, a couple of stoners in the audience told Scott that they had some complains. The story goes that Scott took their complaints to heart and edited it down to what we saw in the theater. Honestly, after sitting through both of them, I have to say that I want to find these stoners and thank them.

Through both cuts, the story still remains the same: Light dominates the world and the evil being known as Darkness wishes to return the world to the shadows from whence it came. To do this, he must kill the two remaining Unicorns. If these creatures are destroyed, then the sun will never rise again and night will rule. The only thing stopping Darkness from completing his plan is a young forest dweller (the man who thinks acting is having 101 different smiles; Tom Cruise). This young man named Jack not only has the responsibility of saving the world but the woman he loves as well, the lovely Princess Lily (played by Mia Sara). It's your basic story of good versus evil, light vs dark. The simplicity of it all is what makes it so endearing and why I give the original theatrical cut a 4 out of 5.

The Director's Cut however, earns a slightly lower score of 3 out of 5 due to a few changes made to the film. First off, the original score was put back into the film (a score that the studio believed made the film too dark for children) and what occurs with this replacement is an entirely different feel for the film. It becomes darker and moodier, losing much of its--dare I say it?--whimsy that made it charming. It ceases being its own fairly tale and feels more like a Tolkien rip off. Furthermore, the film changes the opening and ending. I won't give away the change to the end but the opening of the film loses the scroll that opens the story. While this isn't too bad because it allows the audience to gather a feel for the world on their own without the film explaining it to you, this change to the beginning saw the lost of the establishment of Darkness. Through very poor editing (clumsy even) the film works around showing you this epic character as you only see his hand as he instructs his minion to kill the Unicorns. I understand why Scott would do this because it makes Darkness' reveal even bigger later in the film but Tim Curry's performance and the amazing makeup job done to him to create this larger-than-life character is too grand to pass up. Finally, these changes to the beginning make the film seem amateurish as, in an effort to keep the camera off Tim Curry, the shots will remain static on some random piece of set decoration at Darkness' palace. The shots will stay for such an extended period of time, it gives the film a direct-to-video from an unknown director feel other than a new epic from the guy who brought us Blade Runner and Alien.

In the end, after experiencing both versions of the film (and knowing Ridley Scott, there's probably at least another dozen versions out there) I feel that the original theatrical version is the one I want to stick with. Maybe it's just me but Scott's track record of Director's Cut remains at zero as I have yet to see one he's done that has been better than what was unleashed on the cinemas.

The King's Speech

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The King's Speech - 5 out of 5

As the credits rolled on The King's Speech, I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it. I didn't really have many reservations going into the film nor did I have expectations of it coming out bad but whenever I watch a film that has been nominated for Best Picture (in this case, it was nominated and it won) I always go at it with a sense of caution because sometimes, I just don't know what the fuck The Academy is thinking. Case in point The Kids Are All Right. If there weren't lesbians in that bland, forgettable film, it never would have been nominated--nominating it just reeked of The Academy being PC and not nominating a film more deserving. In fact, as a year progresses, you can easily see which films will be nominated, for example, it's no surprise this film was chosen because it deals with British history and, for some reason, The Academy loves movies about British history.

The film follows the real events of King George VI as he inherits the throne and tries to overcome his nearly debilitating stammer. The soon-to-be-King enlists the help of a speech therapist played by the always awesome Geoffrey Rush (who was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role). The story, being historical, automatically makes it interesting because, let's face it, reality is much cooler than fantasy sometimes but the story quickly becomes even deeper and more meaningful for the viewer. King George's stammer aside, every person knows what it's like to battle against a personal flaw and the mountain one has to climb in order to achieve victory. Director Tom Hooper (who won Best Director for the film) and Colin Firth (King George and winner of Best Actor for this one) bring to life this struggle perfectly as Hooper's work with the camera and composition with music and Firth's amazing talent really pulls you into the story and sympathizes with King George's struggle. This complete submersion into the story is only made complete as you watch Rush and Firth play amazingly off each other. Also, as an added treat, Timothy Spall does an excellent--sadly short--role as Winston Churchill.

The only real downside this film had was the inclusion into the cast of Tim Burton's domestic partner--and no, I'm not talking about Johnny Depp. That's right, the other love of Tim Burton's life; Helena Bonham Carter stars as King George's wife; Queen Elizabeth. At first, I was surprised by the restraint this scene chewer had as it seemed she was trying to play a real person and not a caricature like she usually does but as I watched her performance, I notice that she only toned down her hamming ways and was still playing a caricature, just not as severe as she usually does.

Carter aside, this movie was fantastic. The acting was tremendous, the story fascinating and simple at the same time and the technical work done on the film was awesome. It's not often I agree with The Academy but this movie deserved all the acolytes it received.

Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Family Guy: Partial Terms of Endearment - 4 out of 5

Although this Family Guy episode that centers around the controversial topic of abortion aired, it was declared by the higher ups that the episode would never see the light of TV again. This, of course, stems from the bunch of whiny Pro-Lifers who complained about the episode. However, if the episode featured more jokes about Pro-Choicers, this episode would still be airing in syndication, me thinks. But in the end, it worked out for Seth McFarlane and Fox as they are probably making more money by releasing this episode on DVD than they would re-airing it on Cartoon Network or TBS.

So, the episode revolves around Lois deciding to rent out her womb to a friend from her old days but after the couple dies, she's left to decide if she keeps the baby or aborts it. In true Seth McFarlane style, he takes a lot of jabs at the right. My favorite joke is when the family is trying to convince Peter (who was brain-washed by Pro-Life propaganda) that they need to have the abortion and Lois tells him that if he thinks life is so sacred, why doesn't he just go down to an orphanage and adopt a baby. To which Peter replies that all he cares about is when the babies are in the womb, after that they can fuck off. No sequence has better illustrated the hypocrisy of Pro-Lifers! Thank you for that, Seth!

However, after watching this episode, I don't know why an uproar was even started--especially when you consider that Family Guy has done much, much, MUCH more offensive episodes that are still aired in syndication. But I guess Seth just stepped on the Lifers toes too hard and made them look like too much the fool.

The DVD would be quite weak if it only carried this one episode, so it was also packed with Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show. Both this special and the episode provide some good laughs but I've seen Family Guy funnier. Which is why I'm still boggled by the idea that this episode is now banned from syndication. It's very clear that they could have been more offensive but they weren't. In the end, it's Family Guy, so I don't know what these blowhards were expecting. After all is said and done, the fans won as this episode was released (uncensored) on DVD where they can watch it any freakin' time they want and not wait for it to air--and Fox and Seth are still getting money from it. So, who really won this battle?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tootsie

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Tootsie - 4 out of 5

It's been a long time since I've seen this delightful little 1982 comedy about a desperate actor who decides to dress up as a woman in order to get a part on a soap opera and, let me tell ya this...it's still funny as hell.

Dudes dressing up as women is nothing new in the world of comedy, in fact, many black comedies have careers built upon it--isn't that right, Tyler Perry and Martin Lawrence? But unlike the fat, sassy jive talking grandmas, Tootsie character of Dorothy is an average 80's woman--strong, independent and not afraid to speak her mind even if it gives the appearance that doing so isn't feminine. Dustin Hoffman brings the character wonderfully to life and he's back up perfectly by the ever talented Bill Murray and Teri Garr. The movie is witty, charming, sweet and all around funny and has stood the test of time quite well with its nearly perfectly executed sense of comedic timing. However, I always had one problem with the film. I had this problem the first time I watched it and I still have it revisiting it over 20 years later...Why do men in the movie find Dustin Hoffman as a woman attractive?

Skyline

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Skyline - 1 out of 5

The alien invasion film has been a staple of Hollywood for decades. Ever since it first became a marketable concept, movies about invading forces from creatures beyond the stars have made their way to our cinemas and sometimes they're absolutely fantastic but an overwhelming majority of them are films that just copy what the successful ones have done--or they just suck completely. Skyline is a mixture of the last two.

It's clear from the start of this film that all the money went into the special effects--leaving very little for big name (or even B-list) actors to fill the cast and absolutely no cash for original creature design. Created by The Brother Strause--the A-holes who gave us AVPR: Aliens vs Predator: Requiem and also directed numerous Nickelback videos (these facts alone can tell you how bad this film will be)--Skyline is your typical alien invasion film except the aliens are out for human brains. I guess the Strause brothers thought that having only zombies crave human brains was xenophobic. What follows is more typical alien invasion cliches as the film follows a small group of people trying to get away from the terror--complete with nameless characters who get killed off moments after they're introduced.

As I stated early, it's clear the film spent all it's budget on special effects because the cast you get is C-list (if they're lucky) level televisions stars who are grossly out of their element. You know your science fiction/alien invasion special effects orgy is fucked from the get-go when you can only afford to get Batista from Dexter and Scrubs' Turk. Things get even worse when your hero is Eric Balfour. The film tries really hard to convince you that Balfour's character is a nice guy--too hard even as the film stops short of showing him help an old woman cross the road. The problem is that Balfour always plays douche bag characters and when your hero of your alien movie has a douche bag hair cut, douche bag microtrimmed goatee and dresses like a douche bag, you can't help but look at him like a douche bag. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck than Eric Balfour is playing a douche bag. So, every time the film tries to portray him as a hero, I just found myself either laughing or shaking my head at the nonsense of it all. Now as far as David Zayas (Batista from Dexter), his performance was so flat that I nearly found myself weeping and pleading for him to return to Miami and portray the lovable cop along side the serial killer. And finally, you got Donald Faison (Turk from Scrubs)...let's just say that it would have been better for his post-Scrubs career to never be seen again than do this film.

And then you have the horrible aliens...The creature designer of this film should not be allowed to work in movies again as all he did was steal from other films in order to come up with the invasion force. For example, image if the squids from The Matrix mated with the aliens from Independence Day...that's what this film delivered to you--complete with a giant vagina on the front of it. I guess he stole that from Starship Troopers.

The acting is terrible, the concept is inane and, for the most part, seen before and the film offers very few redeeming qualities. In fact, you can't even watch this for a laugh because it is so boring and drags for no reason in the middle--it didn't even drag for story purposes, it just dragged because, apparently, The Brothers Strause felt the film was moving too fast for you. This would be true is you had a lobotomy. In fact, the only thing this movie has going for it is a couple humorous moments that were completely unintentional by the filmmakers. For example, Balfour's love interest is constantly referred to in the film as "very attractive" despite the fact the actress playing her (Scottie Thompson) looks like an alien herself. It's like the film is trying to fool the viewer and pull a Jedi Mind Trick on us and convince us that she's good looking because they couldn't find a model desperate enough for an acting career to fill the shoes. However, nothing is funnier than the incredibly lame ending. If the film wasn't a danger to a person's sanity, I would recommend this just to see the appalling end but the film is bad on such a epic scale that if accidentally viewed, immediately induce vomiting and watch a better alien invasion film like Independence Day.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Paul Is Really Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison - 1 out of 5

Back during Beatlemania, a rumor began to circulate that Paul McCartney was dead. Of course, this theory was bullocks despite all the claims of "evidence." Whether the majority of this evidence was something people were desperate to believe and found patterns where patterns didn't exist or if some of it was just John Lennon's sick (but delightful) sense of humor egging them on, we'll never know but there is a group of people--possible the same ones who believe we faked the moon landing and wear foil on their heads to stop aliens from reading their thoughts--believe that Paul McCartney died in a car accident in 1966 and was replaced by a doppelganger.

This documentary (if you can call it that) follows these "clues" that can be found on album covers, song lyrics and "facts" in reality--all in conjunction with a pair of tapes that have George Harrison's voice going over the events and stating that Paul is really dead. If you can stop from laughing at the absurdity of it all and pull your palm away from your forehead that will find itself drawn like a magnet (those fuckin' magnets, how do they work?) as you will facepalm every two seconds, you will find a film that has most of its facts wrong and you will hope that no one takes this seriously.

On the IMDb boards, it's been argued that this "documentary" is a spoof--a joke playing off the conspiracy theory that some foolish people believe. I sure hope it is because it is appalling that they even unleashed this onto the world. First off, the film looses all credibility within the first three seconds because the company that produced it (Highway 61 Entertainment) shows a large office building with their logo badly photoshopped on. How can I take this film seriously when you've already lied to me, movie? The "documentary" continues by showing the director of the film stating that they received a package from England with no return address that has a tape recorder and two cassettes in it claiming to be the voice of George Harrison. The director explains that despite their forensic testing, they couldn't verify that it was, or wasn't, Harrison. Right there screams "bullshit" but once you hear the recording and notice it sounds nothing like George and that the English accent will strengthen, weaken or even disappear at times is all the forensic evidence I need to declare the tapes are something Penn & Teller love to say...BULLSHIT! It gets even worse when "George" says he recording these tapes in his hospital bed as he recovers from the attack he suffered (remember when he was attacked by a crazed fan in his own home?). Here's the problem with that...the audio is pristine and studio quality without a single shred of ambient or background noise. Little tape recorders don't have noise canceling microphones, so did this "George" get out of his bed to record his last testament in a studio before transferring it to mini-cassettes and sending it out to a production company that no one has ever heard of? Why didn't he send it to ABC, the BBC or even *shudder* Fox?

Bullshit becomes the word of the day as the film shows its "evidence" and screws up historical facts. For example, the film claims John Lennon started seeing Yoko after The Beatles broke up and that the fake Paul was involved in the recording of "Rubber Soul" despite the album came out in 1965 when the real Paul would have been alive. The "documentary" also claims there was one witness to Paul's death, a woman named Rita (Lovely Rita) and that MI6 gave her money and plastic surgery but when she was about to go public because Paul wouldn't marry her, they tried to have her killed and she ended up losing a leg but gaining a new identity...Heather Mills. The problem with that theory: Heather Mills was born two years AFTER Paul supposedly died.

That's just the beginning of the factual errors this film makes (believe me, it makes many more) so, deep down, I have to believe this was a spoof because if it wasn't, it's just a disgrace to documentary filmmakers everywhere. If this was real and the director believes the crap facts he placed before you and believes the man doing the bad impression is the real George Harrison, he should be committed to a facility because he clearly lacks the basic skills to even wipe his own ass. If this film was real and Highway 61 Entertainment was trying to convince people that this sludge is true, then every single freakin' copy of this DVD should immediately be destroyed with fire.

Even though this movie made me laugh with the sheer stupidity of it all, I am glad--NO PROUD!--to say that I did not pay a single dime to watch this hunk of excrement. If you are curious to see this dingle-berry of a documentary than I urge you to illegally download it. I would never EVER openly advocate the theft of copyright material in my blog but this horrible excuse for a movie must only be viewed that way. Highway 61 Entertainment and the director (Joel Gilbert) don't deserve a single penny. And if it was indeed a spoof...still illegally download it because it is that horrible. Then, after downloading it, delete the files and burn an effigy of Highway 61 Entertainment. My suggestion: Screencap the horrible photoshop picture of their "building," print it off and then burn it. Trust me, you'll feel better after watching this.

Brain Dead

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Brain Dead - 2 out of 5

Let's face it, in this day and age, the motto seems to be: When in doubt, make a zombie movie. Zombie film and zombie media in general, have become quite popular. It's just too bad that the quality people like George Romero (mostly his first three Dead films), Max Brooks and Robert Kirkman created can't be seen in all these other zombie stories.

99% of all zombie related media is just plain awful. They focus on all the wrong things--like the gore and killing. Those items are the icing on the cake and a good zombie story needs substance like great characters making up the living people that are forced to fight for survival. The primal need to live and the primal fear of having the mundane life we're all used to uprooted, destroyed and replaced with something new and terrible is what makes zombie fiction truly addicting. George Romero did this with some great commentary on race relations in America in Night of the Living Dead and he did it with commentary on consumerism in Dawn of the Dead. Max Brooks gave us this with his work on World War Z and he educated us with The Zombie Survival Guide. Finally, Robert Kirkman achieved this with his amazing comic series (as well as the live action series adapted by Frank Darabont) The Walking Dead. Other than those (and very few others) most zombie related fiction is mindless killing with no plot, character or substance that can keep the attention of a person who is have-way literate and intelligent. Brain Dead falls in the very large percentile of being a mindless zombie film with only a few gags that give it some redeeming factors.

The story centers around a group of people (don't worry, none of them are well written and are a bunch of cliches. For example, there's a criminal and he's dumb--WOW, they really created something dynamic there.) but this unusual group, through circumstances they can't control, end up in an abandoned cabin with a alien/zombie/parasite/amoeba creature that eats humans' brains coming after them. Along the way, the movie tries to make some gags and jokes that are mildly amusing and it also treats the viewer to some of the most forced nudity EVER in the history of gratuitous nudity before the brain eating begins. In fact, the nudity is more forced than the constant F-bombs the actors push out of their word holes or the weak pithy one-liners the writers interjected.

As far as zombie films go, Brain Dead is terrible because it tries to combine every zombie movie attempt and blend it into one film, regurgitating and delivering a bland, tasteless sludge. It gets even more cliche as they try to have a anti-hero for a protagonist but the actor just comes off as an annoying asshole and not a smart, tough asshole that is required for an anti-hero. But all these complaints equal what makes the movie watchable. Sure you have pointless boobs, blood and a shot of a slug shooting out of a woman's fun slot (yes, that really happens) but the bad acting, nonsense story and plot and overall facepalming nature of the film makes it pretty fun to watch as you don't even need to make fun of the action going on to laugh. This is one of those bad movies that is good because of its badness.

Humanoids from the Deep (1996)

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Humanoids from the Deep (1996) - 2 out of 5

What happens when you take away the all the gratuitous nudity and raping fishmen from Roger Corman's cult hit Humanoids from the Deep? Why you get an even cheesier remake that tries wayyyyy too hard to be serious. And taking this film seriously is almost impossible when you have Louis Skolnick as the hero.

Unleashed during the final half of the 90's, director Jeff Yonis (don't worry, I haven't heard of him either) took the reins and remade Roger Corman's ridiculous original film--However, it was decided that this film wouldn't be silly and fun but rather serious. Due to the film trying to take itself seriously, it ends up becoming a hilarious film to watch as, for one, you have the star of Revenge of the Nerds, Robert Carradine as the lead hero. That fact alone makes it impossible for me to take seriously as visions the Tri-Lambs dance in my head. The film takes it a step further in destroying its credibility as it host a supporting cast of people either just phoning it in or working for just the paycheck. And let's not forget how the film recycles footage from the original...or was I just suppose to believe that the city the movie takes place in just magically time traveled back to the 80's?

Despite this movie being utter crap on the surface, there is a warm, gooey center of entertainment that can be found because of its bad acting, plot holes and factual errors and its use of recycle footage. I suggest you watch both the original and this remake back-to-back and laugh yourself into a coma because these are just two of those great, hilarious bad movies that entertains you on a level the filmmakers weren't expecting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Student Bodies

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Student Bodies - 1 out of 5

In the late 70's and early 80's, the teen slasher film was at its height. We got such greats as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th and Halloween. It's not surprising that when these films were at their most popular that a movie studio would release a satirical film based on this genre. In 1981, long before such films as Scary Movie or the less comedic but very witty send up of the horror genre; Scream (this doesn't included the formulaic sequels this movie produced however), there was Paramount's Student Bodies.

The story is your typical teen slasher film and before Jamie Kennedy's character in Scream was stuttering the warnings about how teens that have sex will die in horror films, Student Bodies decides to make this the main focus of the film as the feature's killer (named The Breather--hence making fun of both the breathing sound from Jason's P.O.V. and the murder of his sister through the eyes of the young boy in a clown costume, Michael Myers) uses this motive to kill the teens.

The film tries and constantly fails at being witty as it parodies a genre that has become one giant cliche. In fact, this film tries so often and fails so much, it reminds me of Tom Cruise's constant efforts to make the public not realize he's gay by dating beautiful woman (yeah, that was a low blow and kinda hacky but he's a shitty actor). Occasionally, the movie pulls out a mildly amusing joke but the film's constant failures makes these moments easily forgettable.

In the end, Student Bodies is the open mic of horror film spoofs. It had the guts to get up on stage and try something but it didn't work. However, it's failure ultimately got others to take what they did and improve on it and make it work. Although the series progressively got worse as it tried to cram in too many fart and penis jokes as it tried to parody every freakin' horror film ever made, the Scary Movie franchise had some decent and entertaining moments and despite being written an absolutely terrible writer; Kevin Williamson and filmed by an extremely over-rated and mediocre horror film director; Wes Craven, gave us Scream. If, however, you are interested in a great horror film spoof that is absolutely brilliant from beginning to end and you don't have to suffer with David Arquette being in it, I highly suggest you check out Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. The film is a mockumentary about a camera crew following a slasher as he's about to make his big return. So, if you're in the mood for a spoof, catch that one and leave Student Bodies writhing on the floor in agony, lest you share its fate if you watch it.