Friday, February 28, 2020

Frozen 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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Letting go like nobody's business!



Frozen II – 4 out of 5

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Frozen when it came out in 2013…and, to be honest, I think I judged the film too harshly.  The film was a relentless machine and it was everywhere.  People loved it!  Everywhere I went I saw Anna and Elsa and was constantly bombarded by the song “Let It Go.”  I think that jaded my view of it—that and I wasn’t really into the “LOL, I’m awkward” character attribute of Anna, it didn’t amuse me because she was basically 99% of the internet at the time.  Still, I did praise the film for its animation and how it felt like a legit musical rather than the usual Disney story that has some songs to it.  A big reason I had this change of perspective, though, is I watched its sequel; Frozen II, and really dug it.

"And I'm as free as a bird now...and this bird you cannot change!"

The Fire Spirit comes in the form of a small lizard and I
love it!
When Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) were little, their parents told them about a tribe that lived in the nearby Enchanted Forest but after relations between the tribe and their homeland of Arendelle broke down, the elemental spirits of Earth, Fire, Water and Air created a vast mist wall that enclosed and cut off the forest.  Years after becoming the leader of Arendelle, Elsa starts to hear a mysterious voice calling her and she accidentally awakens the vengeful elemental spirits and they take out their anger on the kingdom.  Now, with the help of Anna and her boyfriend Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Kristoff’s reindeer Sven, and the magical snowman Olaf (Josh Gad), Elsa sets out to the enchanted forest in order to find out who is calling her and bring peace to the spirits.

Has there ever been a time where heavy mists were covering something good and not dangerous?

Why not freeze the entire body of water?
Frozen II does a lot of what I felt the first one nailed.  The animation looks amazing, the cast is terrific, and the movie really nails the musical vibe.  Additionally, the songs in the film are tremendous—Kristoff has one that is particularly choice and leans on some heavy 70s and 80s rock for inspiration.  The film also does what a decent sequel needs to do and that is not feeling like it is just repeating itself or just doing the same thing all over again.  Essentially, the story feels like a new adventure for the characters.  It’s not really continuing the tale from before beyond showing some new growth and development from the characters and that’s what I really enjoyed about the film.  It was a new journey.  That isn’t to say that the first adventure didn’t leave an impact.  We get to see Anna and Elsa take on a new conflict but the past events have left a mark on them (especially Anna) and we get to see how they deal with this while on a new tale.

"My hand...don't let it go!"
(I'm sorry.  That will be the last "Let It Go" joke.)

Olaf has the look of someone who put too much trust
in a fart.
I really didn’t see much in the form of drawbacks for this one beyond some minor complaints here and there.  I know Olaf and Josh Gad are very polarizing for people and I will admit that there are times where I don’t find Olaf that endearing or amusing and there are roles and features where I’m not the biggest fan of Gad but, for the most part, I really don’t have that strong of an opinion on either.  Sometimes I find Gad excellent and sometimes I found Olaf charming and amusing.  Additionally, Anna still comes off a little too “LOL, I’m so awkward” as a character and that got a tad grating for me.  Too often she feels like a meme that someone on Facebook shares and says “It me” and it sorta robs her of being interesting and engaging for me.  Finally, the conflict felt like it was resolved very quickly and the final act of the film definitely feels a touch rushed.

"Are you ready to rock?"

 Frozen II was a pretty fun ride with just some minor drawbacks.  I loved the animation and story, the cast is fantastic, and the songs are incredible and moving.  The tale made me tear up, it made me chuckle and giggle, and it has some surprisingly killer action.  In fact, I ended up enjoying it so much that it made me rethink my experience with the first film and has me considering doing a re-watch and a re-review of that one.  Heck, I think I’m gonna do it.  Keep an eye out for another look at Frozen!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ready or Not

***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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Come out, come out, wherever you are!



Ready or Not – 4 out of 5

I was almost prepared to overlook Ready or Not because the marketing just didn’t grab me.  Sure, the trailer looked interesting but it just wasn’t a high priority to watch.  That is until friends and family started to tell me they really enjoyed it and found it fun.  Well, I checked it out and they were not wrong.  This is one great movie!

Game Over, amirite?  Actually, the real game hasn't started yet.  Bwaa-ha-ha!

Alex (Mark O’Brien) has a very strange family.  Strange and a bit scary as his newlywed wife Grace (Samara Weaving) soon learns.  On the night of their wedding, Alex’s father (Henry Czerny), his mother (Andie MacDowell), his Aunt with a killer hair cut (Nicky Guadagni) and the rest of his siblings and their spouses gather up to play a game to celebrate the union.  Alex’s father claims this has been a tradition in his family and one that has dated back to their ancestors (and one that has some underlying, particularly sinister undertones).  Grace is asked to draw a card and gets one that states they will play “Hide and Seek.”  It’s all fun and games at first until she realizes the family isn’t just trying to find her but also trying to kill her.

"Alright, let's do this!  And I think there's leftover cake for afterwards!" 

Ready or Not has a very simple and extremely effective premise—but with a few little adjustments.  This film could have easily just been about a deadly game of “Hide and Seek” and stopped there and it still could have the potential to be entertaining.  However, the film has a wrinkle to it that adds a little depth to the motive behind the game, gives additionally dimensions to the family, and results in an incredibly memorable and fun ending.  I won’t give away any details but this added element works not only for storytelling purposes but helps make the film a lot of fun.

Jeez, it's like she's never had to deal with a family tradition that could potentially
result in murder before.

Another element that adds to the enjoyment of this film is a tone that is both thrilling and funny.  The atmosphere is perfectly balance to be either a thriller or a comedy and it is capable of achieving both without feeling like the tone is in constant flow.  The story terrifically showcases Grace being in mortal danger (and you are damn worried about her) but also has a lot of darkly amusing moments.  When you add in some gore to the laughs it results in a movie that is capable of being those fun horror movies.  And this one gets really gory!

That's the look one should have when covered in blood.

This feature doesn’t end up being a gore porn/torture feature but it doesn’t end up getting surprisingly gory.  This one is also able to deliver its gore in ways that helps the story and the horror Grace is experiencing but it also uses it for comedic purposes.  The gore definitely highlights the dark comedy aspects and is used to make that ending that is so awesome and satisfying and hysterical so much more awesome and satisfying and hysterical.

An arrow to the mouth.  Something that is only funny in a very, very specific situation.

When the film first came out, I initially mistook Weaving for
Margot Robbie.
The performances in the film are great because everyone knew how to ride the right line.  Samara Weaving did a tremendous job of evolving from a happy newlywed who thought she was in a silly family tradition to a woman terrified for her life and doing whatever is necessary to live.  Adam Brody definitely stuck out as a fun performer as he was this alcoholic brother who was clearly “over” the whole tradition due to past experiences and, finally, the older members of the family were incredibly fun.  Henry Czerny, Andie MacDowell, and Nicky Guadagni were all incredibly amusing, and even slightly threatening, as the “elders” of the house and all made for great reactions to how the game was progressing.  The rest of the cast was also very good and I don’t want to make it sound like I am excluding them but these performers were just the highlights and some of the most entertaining for me.

Yes, she's evil but, hot damn, that hair is awesome!

I was sorta prepared to write-off Ready or Not and watch it down the line at some point (possibly years); however, I’m glad I got some good word of mouth for this one and decided against my initial plan because I really enjoyed the feature.  It really showcased an excellent marriage (pun not intended…well, maybe a little intended) of comedy and horror and used that to make its concept really attention-grabbing.  Add in some great performances and some gore acting as the cherry on the top and it resulted in a very entertaining feature.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Jigsaw

***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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Start with the corners and go from there.



Jigsaw – 2 out of 5

I was in my waning years of college in 2004 when Saw came out.  I would graduate the next year but on that Halloween my friends and I went and saw the horror film in the theaters (went and saw Saw).  I’ll always remember the experience because I had a great time.  The film was crazy spooky and utterly unsettling.  I loved it!  The ensuing sequels, however, weren’t the best.  I will admit that there is some entertainment value in it.  I’m not the biggest fan of gore porn but there is a cringe-y kinda of fun to the gore and pain.  It makes you wince, giggle, and constantly look away from the screen and that gets kinda fun in its own unique way.  After seeing the new trailer for the latest film that features both Chris Rock and Sam Jackson (literally those two and their involvement is all I needed to know to be sold on the film) I realized I hadn’t seen the eighth film in the franchise, Jigsaw.  So, I decided to sit down and check it out.  I wasn’t very impressed with it.

"I wanna play a game--" *tricycle hits rock, puppet falls over*

"Okay, I'll just make an incision here on his chest..."
"Sir, that's his crotch."
It’s been 10 years since John Kramer (Tobin Bell), the Jigsaw Killer, died; however, bodies start showing up that are very reminiscent of his style.  Detective Halloran (Callum Keith Rennie) and his partner are at the center of the investigation and he believes that pathologist Logan Nelson (Matt Passmore) and Jigsaw enthusiast Eleanor Bonneville (Hannah Emily Anderson) might be at the center of it all and are Jigsaw copycats.  As the investigation dives deeper, five people are trapped in a barn facing Jigsaw traps and they apparently are the victims showing up around the city.

"I'll just...hang around!  I'll be here all week...or at least until the authorities cut me down."

Jigsaw very much has a generic, Direct-to-Video sequel vibe to it.  It hits all the predictable notes some of the other sequels have as it tells its story by being sly about what timeline is being presented and the end reveal feels overtly familiar.  Overall, the story feels like it is just retelling beats, plot points, and surprises that have already been done before so there really is no feeling that this film was fresh or new.  Even worse, the Jigsaw traps all feel very mundane and phoned in.  Never do they bring the insane level of tension, suspense, and terror that other traps have had.  They often feel rushed and haphazardly created and rarely offer any twist to them that feels “smart.”  Even worse, one of them feels really silly as the story takes place in the “not too distant future” and there is a deadly laser trap that just feels too futuristic for a series that usually came off very grounded and even a touch steam punkish in the past.

How did he afford these traps and be bankrupted by our shitty health care system?
Did I miss the detail somewhere in the franchise where we learn that Kramer
is ridiculously wealthy?


The performances in Jigsaw are decent but few are truly remarkable.  Tobin Bell is back as John Kramer and the guy is just really good at being unsettling and extremely cold.  Matt Passmore as Logan the pathologist and potential suspect is pretty good and I genuinely enjoyed the arrogance that Callum Keith Rennie brought as Detective Halloran (also, I love Battlestar Galactica so seeing him in this just made me happy).  Hannah Emily Anderson is a tad over-the-top as the pathologist who has this secret love of Jigsaw but it ultimately works and the newest victims of Jigsaw’s traps are, for the most part, fine for what the characters are—read that as they are kinda one-note shitty people who are now terrified for their crummy lives.  The only performance I wasn’t a fan of was the Jigsaw victim named Ryan, played by Paul Braunstein.  While Braunstein’s performance isn’t bad (and I reinforce the idea that there really is no bad performances in this, just ones that didn’t really grab me) he just played him in a way that seemed to rob the overall tone of the film.  There were some comedic leanings his performance took and it didn’t really feel like it was complimenting the horror or the story.

I know we all deal with stress in our own ways but snarky commentary while facing
torture traps feels out-of-place.

"Um...shotguns.  Sure.  That's the next trap.  I don't know
and I don't care anymore." - Jigsaw
Now, concerning the thing that makes this franchise what it is (the gore), it was…eh, serviceable.  As I stated previously, the traps weren’t that memorable or inventive so the gory parts really weren’t that interesting or shocking.  They felt like they were a mundane requirement rather than an element that is used to make the audience get that visceral response to the carnage they are witnessing.  The only time it really got interesting (and gross) for me was, amusingly enough, in the silliest trap the film has to offer.  When the laser cutter trap comes into play I initially laughed at the idea because it felt too “high-tech” and a little too fantastic for the franchise but the end result is quite graphic and gross.  It was undeniably memorable and memorable from a few different perspectives.

He's a Cylon.  He'll just download to the nearest resurrection ship after you kill him.

Jigsaw definitely feels cheap and like a farted out sequel for the sake of keeping the franchise alive and in the public eye.  It also feels a little bit like a by-gone era considering the gore porn age of horror films are now basically dead.  Some of the performances are good and the laser trap (albeit silly) is shocking and entertaining in the gory sense.  Overall, the film is entertaining to a very definitive extent but it still feels pretty “meh.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Sea Beast

***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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Do you see the sea beast?



Sea Beast – 1 out of 5

Sometimes when I have the hankering for a bad low-budget monster movie covered in cheese, I always look for features that involve sea-based creatures.  When this hunger recently struck me, I found the 2008 film Sea Beast.  The poster for the film shows a bikini clad woman in some water with some angler fish-look monsters coming up from under her Jaws style.  I knew looking at this that I would get nothing like this with the final product but I was hoping for some laughs.  Sadly, this wasn’t an example of a bad movie that is so bad it isn't good and, instead, it was an example of a bad movie that is just plain bad.

So dumb.  She is out swimming and there is clearly
a storm coming in.

The weather was rough for the SS Playstation One Graphics.
After a crew member dies mysteriously on a fishing trip, commercial fisherman Will McKenna (Corin Nemec) starts to suspect that this was something more than an accident.  He soon finds a mysterious goo on the boat and the deck they docked at and it isn’t long before more bodies start piling up.  It seems some mysterious monster had attached itself to the underside of his boat and is now attacking the small fishing village.  Matters are made worse when it is realized the creature is laying eggs and hatching offspring…and those babies need to eat!

"You know where I can get some formula?"

Sea Beast is the 16th film in the Maneater Series.  That sounds impressive but, realistically, none of the films are related.  It was just a bunch of made-for-television horror films produced by the same company and all deal with natural horror.  There’s no overarching story or anything of that nature.  They are just a bunch of cheap horror stories that are usually reserved for being aired on the Syfy Channel.  Another nine films were produced after this one and the Maneater Series went until 2015.  That being said, if this movie is a prime example of the features produced, this is one boring series.

I wish this film just stuck with puppets.  It would have been way more entertaining!

I know the creature paralyzed him but could he at least
show fear in his eyes rather than boredom?
This feature has all the makings of a decent low-budget film.  The acting is bad (for the most part but I’ll get to that later), the CG monsters look cartoony and have absolutely no threat-level to them, and the story is barebones and works really hard to stretch itself out to a feature length.  The problems that keep it from being a fun low-budget film is the fact the story moves slowly and the kills from the monster are repetitive (the thing literally does the same kill twice in a row—same approach, same animation and everything).  I can overlook that the characters are one-dimensional and one of the actors when they were “dead” clearly blinked in the shot and it was kept in the film—hell, this and the bad acting and the shitty looking monster is part of the charm that makes features like this fun to watch—but the slow moving story and repetitive nature of the narrative really made this one more yawn-inducing than riff-worthy.
The "dead" guy literally blinks in this scene.  How bad were the other takes that they
just went with the blinking one?

One thing that legit surprised me about this film was how great Corin Nemec’s performance was in the film.  I’ve seen Nemec in various features and he’s usually playing everything with a more comedic leaning.  I’ve never seen him do something straight and serious before and that’s what I saw in him in this movie.  He was actually really good and gave a tremendous performance.  It was a very strange diamond in the rough that was Sea Beast.

*Insert a Parker Lewis Can't Lose reference that few will understand here*

I had hoped that Sea Beast would be a fun shitty monster movie with some bad acting, terrible special effects and a story that is easy to tease and make fun of.  I got some of that.  It has bad acting, terrible special effects but the story wasn’t easy to tease and make fun of due to it moving very slowly.  In the end, the film was just boring.

Tammy and the T-Rex

***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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  This is one of those movies that had me saying, "They really made this?"



Tammy and the T-Rex – 2 out of 5

I never heard of this movie when it came out in the mid-90s but, for some reason, I’ve been reading a lot about Tammy and the T-Rex in the past few years.  The premise sounded like this is a must watch for someone who loves bad movies so I finally decided to seek out a copy (the R-rated original version, not the edited one to make it PG-13) and, I gotta say, it certain was something.

What the hell is this shit?!?

I paid to see Tammy!  Not some store-brand Tanny!
Tanny Tammy (Denise Richards) is a popular gal in school and has the best boyfriend anyone could ask for named Michael (Paul Walker).  However, her ex (George Pilgrim) still thinks Tammy is his girl and decides he needs to get Michael out of the picture.  Meanwhile, a mad scientist named Dr. Gunther Wachenstein (Terry Kiser) got his hands on a “state-of-the-art” robotic Tyrannosaurus rex and plans to put a human brain in it and then use it for things (maybe vacuum his place, I don't know).  In order to get Michael away from Tammy, Billy takes him and throws him in a wildlife preserve where he is attacked by big cats and left for dead.  Wachenstein steals Michael’s body and puts his brain in his robot T-Rex but quickly loses control of it and Michael uses it to enact revenge on Billy and his cohorts.  Hopefully, Michael can convince Tammy it is him in the animatronic dinosaur and get her to help him get his brain into a new body before Wachenstein or the local police stop him.

Leaving a rival to die in a wildlife preserve.
Totally normal thing to do when you are trying to break up a couple.

Such a life-like dummy!
I know this movie is strange but typing out the synopsis really hits home just how effed up the idea.  What it doesn’t do, however, is actually illustrate just how crummy this film is.  Sure, it is fun with how bad it is but there is no escaping that this is a pure shit movie.  To give you an idea just how shitty this film is, director/writer Stewart Raffill wrote the story in about a week and the only reason he was motivated to write the story is because he knew a guy who own an animatronic T-Rex.  That would be like someone with a sheet saying, “Hey, we can make a horror film about a ghost because we have this sheet” and then they write a movie in a week.  In a way, though, I’m a little jealous because Raffill was able to make this awful film that was inspired just because of access to a robo T-Rex and no matter what ideas or access to props I come across I’ll never have the means, the tech, or the money to make an equally shitty film.

Yes!  With a clunky, clumsy machine such as this the world is ripe for the taking!

Ah yes, the ancient art of grabbing dicks to show
dominance.
So, it sounds like I’m ragging pretty hard on Tammy and the T-Rex and, well, I kinda am because it is worth it.  The story feels like it was the byproduct of a huge cocaine binge (and considering it was written in a week that is probably true).  Honestly, to call it a story is being very generous because the film really just feels like an outline filled with a bunch of loose ideas taken from a brainstorming session…and all the ideas are of the WTF variety.  Since the film is 26 years old as of writing this I’m not going to try and hide Spoilers as I list off this film’s insanity but these moments include Dr. Wachenstein stimulating Michael’s brain to give his corpse an erection, people somehow unable to outrun a clunky robot T-Rex, the arms of said T-Rex somehow constantly growing in length so it can do routine things like pick up a flower and make phone calls, and then there’s the end sequence where Tammy is doing a striptease for Michael’s brain.  There’s no confirmation drugs were involved when writing this but there is no way they weren’t involved.

I wasn't joking about her dancing for Michael's brain.

In all honesty, however, it is in these WTF moments that make the film enjoyable to watch.  Granted, it is enjoyable in a “so bad it is good” sort of way because it isn’t entertaining on its own merits but rather the ineptitude of its own merits and the sheer wackiness and novelty of said oddity.  This movie isn’t cool because it is a story about a boy having his brain put in an animatronic dinosaur and is trying to get back with his girlfriend, it is cool because someone actually made this stupid idea and it is a trip to watch.  You also won’t hear me say that this film is filled with amazing performances because they are not good but it is in these terrible performances that enhance the “so bad it’s good” angle.  This film is one of the best examples of a film that is entertaining to watch despite the fact it so greatly lacks in elements that can make it legitimately entertaining.

Let's be honest, there is definitely a draft of the script that contains a sex scene between
these two.

Byron is surprised that himself and everyone else somehow
can't outrun an animatronic dinosaur with very limited
mobility.
There are some legit drawbacks, however, that don’t add to the fun from its inherent badness.  There is some underlying homophobia in the film that just screams 90s.  I know 90s Kids love their nostalgia for this decade and think it was the greatest time to be alive but, Holy Tomatoes, that decade was homophobic AF!  In this film, Tammy has a best friend by the name of Byron (played by Theo Forsett).  On one hand, Byron is a bit progressive as he is a gay friend to Tammy without being the stereotypical gay friend.  He essentially isn’t a joke for her and isn’t around just to help her with fashion tips or life advice—which was prevalent in the gay friend trope at the time.  On the other hand, he is the butt of a lot of jokes—especially the hacky “don’t bend over in front of him” gag.  The character is well performed by Forsett even though he is played in a wholly stereotypical way and he legit has some amusing moments that aren’t born out of him being said gay stereotype but, for the most part, he is just around so the production can make a bunch of punching down homophobic jokes and that is cringe-y to watch…even in a film that has a scene where a mad scientist literally stimulates a cadaver’s brain in order to give it an erection.

We reached peak cinema during this scene.  Everything else is hot garbage.

Tammy and the T-Rex is pretty bad and that’s just the R-rated version.  I can’t imagine how choppy, sloppy, and incoherent the PG-13 version was after it was edited.  However, despite how bad this movie is, it is undeniably memorable and fun in just how terrible it is.  It’s easy to laugh at and riff on and that ultimately makes it an entertaining watch.

Fun Fact:  Efren Ramírez's first role was in this film.  He would go on to achieve
pop culture icon status as Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite.
Vote for him.  He can make all your dreams come true.

Ghost Team

***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 (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  The title sounds like a Tom Clancy novel.



Ghost Team – 2 out of 5

I’m not sure how I heard about Ghost Team but I would be willing to put money down that the reason I put it on my Watch List was because Jon Heder is in it.  I love Napoleon Dynamite and have even had the opportunity to meet Heder at a convention.  I think he is very funny and this film felt like it should have been a win because it is a concept that seems entertaining in theory.  Well, it had its moments but was mostly forgettable for me.

"Nice jacket.  Sweet!"

Louis (Heder) is living the typical mundane American life.  He spends his day at an unfulfilling job and his nights watching his favorite TV show called Ghost Getters with his best (but depressed) friend Stan (David Krumholtz).  That is until a customer comes in to his copy shop asking for copies of a “No Trespassing” sign for a secluded property he owns.  The customer makes an offhand comment that he thinks the place might be haunted and that gets Louis’ noodle moving and he gets the idea to go and do some paranormal investigating on the site.  With the help of Stan, Louis puts together a unique team for the investigation; Louis' aggressive computer expert nephew Zak (Paul W. Downs), a cheap TV psychic named Victoria (Amy Sedaris), a beautician that works in the same strip mall as Louis named Ellie (Melonie Diaz), and a very ambitious security guard named Ross (Justin Long).  However, it isn’t long after arriving that they soon learn there is definitely something going bump in the night at the property.

Some "real" ghost hunters are in the film.  I guess that appeals to some people.
Probably people who actually believe in ghosts or watch ghost hunting shows ironically.

Heder really captures the look of a person who is completely
beaten by work.
Ghost Team isn’t a bad movie because it has its fair share of moments.  There’s actually quite a bit working in the film’s favor.  One thing this movie does well is craft an atmosphere that is conducive to the thriller genre but is still capable of leaning towards the humorous without feeling like it is bouncing back and forth between the two.  Another aspect that worked in this film is having a very effective and interesting twist that occurs during the investigation and, finally, the film explores the monotony of an unfulfilling life during its first act perfectly.  Seeing Louis get up, go to work, go to the bar after closing up shop for a drink and then going home to relax before the entire process is repeated is explored so thoroughly that it was easy to sympathize with the ordeal that the character was going through—because it was too damn relatable.  Hell, the film even has some amusing moments and the performances are decent but the film just didn’t have that extra umph to make it memorable.

While not wholly scary, the film does have some surprisingly creepy moments.

Despite the strengths the story is showcasing, it does falter when it concerns development and pacing.  The story moves too slowly and doesn’t build to anything that is strong enough in substance to warrant a slow burn.  Too often I found myself tuning out of the film because it was just going too slowly on its very predictable path.  Also, despite this slow approach, the story and characters never really feel developed.  Beyond the fact that characters are doing something beyond their usual routine, none of them really felt much different towards the end.  There is some growth to them that is undeniable but all the film really showed me was this growth of some minor character attributes to give me a touch of depth—but that was only on some of them.  Some of the characters pretty much were the same one-note summary the entire tale. 

"The ghost is mooning us!"

"We need a jock character...get me the Mac Guy!"
For the most part, the performances aren’t terrible.  Most of them are serviceable at best but there is definitely some concerns with the writing of characters and casting issues that hindered the film more than they helped.  First off, Justin Long felt miscast in the feature.  While his performance isn’t bad at all and he has some funny moments, he ultimately didn’t feel right for role of a militaristic, kinda jock-y security guard.  Ultimately, however, the biggest hindrance in this film was the character of Zak.  Paul W. Downs’ performance isn’t bad but the writing of the character is awful.  Essentially, he is a bully character who is constantly mocking Ross the security guard in ever-growing problematic ways.  Borderline homophobic statements and even using the R-word (that word just makes me cringe) to debase Ross made the character of Zak very unlikeable but also was a touch confusing because I couldn’t tell if the movie was trying to act like he was a snarky cool guy that was made cooler by mocking another character or if he was just supposed to be an unlikable asshole.  To me, he was a total asshole who I would have been okay with not existing in the story at all but sometimes it felt like the production was trying really hard to convince the viewers that he was both funny and cool.  The problem was he wasn’t either of these.  Punching down isn’t funny, unwarranted bullying isn’t funny, and the idea of him being “cool” felt outdated as it seemed like Zak was a 90s throwback, both in style and writing approach.

No knock on the performer but, Holy Mackerel, this character was rough.

Ghost Team has its moments and highlights but it’s just not enough.  It’s quickly undone due to a story that drags too much and a character that is obnoxiously bad but feeling like the product wants you to desperately like him that it made the whole movie a pretty forgettable ride.  Still, I won’t deny the potential this film had and the fact its twist is really that good.  I just wish it achieved this potential because it definitely could have been a really great and entertaining film.