Thursday, December 30, 2010

If you don’t believe in Santa – take a ride on…

The Polar Express.

Children who are getting too old to believe in Santa get a chance to ride a magical train to the north pole to meet Santa, yes, he’s the Coke Santa, but what can you do. The ride to the north pole is filled with excitement and danger. It’s actually really cool and this entire movie is really well done. The story is great, the effects are cool and the entire feel of it was very nice. A good Christmas movie that the entire family can watch and enjoy.



Monday, December 20, 2010

Top 10 of 2010.

2010 is over. Seems like only yesterday we were celebrating 2001 – looks like nothing Kubrick/Clarke thought would happen, actually happened – but hey, they figured humanity would’ve have evolved more by now. Next up is 2060 I should still be around then, so Ill let you know!

You all know the rules of the top 10? If not, here they are:

1. It has to be a 2010 movie – not one that came out in December 2009 but that I didn’t see till 2010. I had to see in the THEATRE in 2010 – dvds and rentals don’t count.

2. It has to be a 2010 RELEASE – not some foreign movie that came out in Oct 2009 but North America didn’t get it till April 2010.

So if you think something is missing, then it could fall under one of those rules.

Some that would’ve made top 10 but violated the rules were: Resident Evil Afterlife, Saw 7 or Narnia.

I am seeing Narnia in Jan, so even though it was a 2010 movie, I wont count it this year, and I wont count it next year either cause it wont be a 2011 movie. You get the idea.

Anyway, this year was pretty good, some of the movies that didn’t make the top 10 were actually really really good. So all in all not so bad. I have reviewed all of these movies on the blog, so you can find the details there, Ill just give a brief break down – electric boogaloo style.

My Name is Khan.

I am not numbering this film because it really is the best movie of the year as far as what movies should do. It’s about a man on a mission to tell the president of the United States that his name is Khan and he is NOT a terrorist. Referring to the fact that “Khan” is a Muslim name and the prejudice that all Muslims are terrorists. I have some Muslim friends and they are not terrorists. This film is really inspirational and actually very sad at times. So sad that I will probably not be watching this film again anytime soon. I get too worked up over it. It’s similar to a Schindler’s List (which I haven’t seen, but suspect it to be similar). It’s very emotionally overwhelming but I suggest that all who read this blog (both of you!) should see this remarkable movie.

On with the top ten!

10. Book of Eli.

This is a controversial one – some hate it, some love it. I really like it. I got the blu-ray on this and it looks great. I like the story and Denzel is just great as Eli. He has a sacred book (guess which one) and he has to take it west – he’s not sure where he is heading, but he just knows he has to get there. Gary Oldman is after the book – he wants to use it for power, the two men clash in a few great action sequences and you have yourself a good movie with a twist ending thrown in.

9. The American.

Clooney is an assassin who is on assignment in Italy. But someone is after him and it could be anyone. It could be me! It’s not me, but finding out who it is, is exciting. This movie is a bit slow, but I liked the pacing for the simple reason that the suspense was always present. Every day simple sounds would scare you. This had the most jumps in a non-horror movie ever!

8. Wolfman.

This movie is all about atmosphere and characters. This is a great update to the old universal flick about Lawrence Talbot – who after being bit by a werewolf becomes one. I really enjoyed this a lot and actually thought it was equal to the old one and in some ways better! Good job to the film makers!

7. Inception.

Chris Nolan brings us a non-Batman movie and again it’s a hit. I loved Memento – which is his best movie and I like the 2 Batmans, but this was a nice change back to the old Nolan.

Leo has the ability to enter your dreams and mess with you. The idea is usually to steal someone’s thoughts, or ideas, but in this film they have to plant an idea – inception. Excellent story and good cast make this a really exciting movie! Not as smart as everyone seems to suggest, but smarter than 90% of films that are out now, so there you go. It’s a must buy on DVD for Nolan fans, and film fans!

6. Expendables.

Do I even have to explain this one? Dolph Lundgren is so huge he takes up an entire doorway when he enters a room, and bad guys get mowed down with a gun that turns human beings into mush. If you didn’t like this movie, then you must be someone who pees sitting down.

5. Kick-Ass.

Better than the comic, which is even more gritty and sadistic than the film – if you can believe that! Kick-Ass just wants to help people and I like him for it. I believe in what he is doing and it makes the movie much better than you’d think. Hit Girl is a riot and Big Daddy (Nic Cage doing Adam West) is wicked too. This is just a fun –er- Kick Ass movie!

4. Predators.

I loved Predator and I liked Predator 2 even more, and this third film in the series truly delivers. This has great action, awesome characters and the Predators are just sick. This time around a bunch of humans are dropped on the Predators hunting planet and have to survive. It’s like your average survival movie but with Predators! This is a big big step above the AVP films.

3. Scott Pilgrim VS The World.

Canadian comic book turned movie is a super hit in my eyes and the funniest, most enjoyable film I have seen in years. Scott meets Ramona Flowers (the girl of his dreams) but in order to date her he has to fight and defeat her 7 evil ex-boyfriends. Well the fights are right out of a video game and the humour is the perfect mix of silly and fun – this isn’t for everyone, but I feel it will be a cult hit.

2. Fubar 2

I loved Fubar and I liked this one just as much. Terry and Dean are back along with their buddy Tron – who has dumped his whiney girlfriend from the first movie and is now working on the pipe line in Fort McMurray. Terry and Dean need jobs so Tron offers to get them jobs, little does he know they will actually take him up on the offer.

This continues from the first film and shows the boys getting jobs and learning responsibility. It’s also hilarious and very intelligent in it’s non-intelligent humour, if that makes any sense? While en route to Fort Mc. they pick up a hitchhiker who comments that oil companies ruin the environment and pollute the water, which in turn hurts ducks – Dean replies, in what is the best line of the year – I DON’T NEED A DUCK! It doesn’t get funnier than that!

1. Tron Legacy.

See my review below.

Thanks for reading my 2 cents. Comments are welcome.


The Legacy Continues...

Tron Legacy.

The original Tron is one of my faves of all time. I own all the toys from it (and I own all the figures from legacy too) and I always thought it was a great fantasy adventure film. Tron Legacy is the same. It continues from part one and you are expected to remember what happened in Tron – which I like. You cant go watch Terminator 3 and say it sucks cause you don’t know what happened in Terminator 2. Same here.

You can still enjoy TL if you didn’t see Tron, but you will get very little explanation of the first film.

This is a great action adventure picture! Really exciting from the first moment in the computer world to the last! Some have said the storyline isn’t much. Well first off, there is a story and characters and character development – which is where one character starts off a certain way, then changes by the end. Is the story equal to 12 Angry Men, well not really cause its not about a big story. Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the greatest films ever made and its just Indiana Jones searching for the Ark. Is that a bad movie because it’s an action adventure? NO. Tron Legacy delivers some neat ideas, a lot of nods to the first film, great spectacle and effects and the best soundtrack in a decade. I will be buying this movie on blu-ray in one second and will probably see it a few more times in the theatre!!!

Best movie of the year, NO QUESTION! – yes I am biased cause I love Tron, well I also love Transformers and Superman, and I hated Superman Returns and the Michael Bay movies, so there you go.

NOTE – 3D – I am not a fan of it, and this movie was more about depth perception, than things popping out at you, so that in mind, I don’t think 3D really helped – regular Imax would be perfect for this movie.

And yes, it was better than Avatar – way better.



Chinese Superman.

The Super Inframan.

I don’t even know where to start with this movie. It’s Shaw Brothers (famous for Kung Fu flicks in the 70s – Tarantino used their logo in Kill Bill), so there is super action and great fights and there are monsters (Power Rangers style) and Inframan fights one of these about every 10 mins. There are like 7 or so monsters in this movie and its all action!

I have the region 3 version (soon to be changed when I ordered the region one last night) and I don’t have English subtitles – disappointing – for like a minute – you don’t even need the subs! This movie is all action man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot even review this normally, it’s like it was made on Mars or something.

The sensibilities of the movie are such that anything Inframan attacks or hits explodes! I mean everything. He kicks a monster into the water and there is an explosion. Ok, the monster is just flesh, not a robot, so what part of him exploded? Inframan can shoot lasers from any part of his body and he can grow to Ultraman/Godzilla height – but only does so when needed. He fights endless skeleton guards and at one point cuts off a monsters head 6 times (it keeps growing back) before he tries a different tactic!

This movie is pure entertainment and should be ranked in the top 10 most entertaining films of all time. I am serious. It is ridiculous. I cannot believe that more weren’t made? I’d love to continue the story and make more of these!



Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good cop, dumb cop.

Cops and Robbersons.

Chevy Chase is a fan of old cop shows like Hawaii 5-0, Police Woman, Columbo etc. and he gets the chance to meet a real tough cop in Jack Palance who is trying to bust Robert Davi, Chase’s next door neighbour. They set up a stakeout and of course Chase gets in the way with his usual brand of comedy.

I really like Chevy Chase – just in general. I don’t know, I just find him funny. Whenever he has trouble with an object or place I laugh. Like when his head got stuck in the chandelier in Fletch. Here he has trouble scraping off cream cheese from a bagel.

Anyway, this wasn’t as funny as Funny Farm, Fletch or the Vacation films, but it was enjoyable enough.



Monday, December 6, 2010

It Could Have Been Stopped!


I hate movies "based on" or "inspired by" a true story. Most of the type, it's over-dramatized garbage. I'm also not a big fan of disaster movies, man-made disasters, or natural disasters. Usually, you're just waiting around for the disaster to hit, twiddling your thumbs...

So, why did I go see this movie again?

I like Denzel. That's basically it. Oh, and my Dad wanted to go, and my Mother wouldn't go with him, yadda, yadda, yadda. So, I went and saw this flick. Guess what? It's actually, really, really GOOD! I kid you not.

See, the guy behind this, Tony Scott, was smart. He didn't make us wait around for the action to start. Within 10 minutes, that train is barrelling down the track, unmanned, and with no one with any idea how to stop it. Denzel and Chris Pine do go after the train, but they find out about it when we were already about 60 percent into the movie, so you have a lot of the supporting characters trying to stop it.

So okay, the plot is simple, and we know how it's going to end. Why is it good? The editing is really good. It doesn't relent and keeps the focus on that train, and the efforts to stop it. That's all it's about, stop the train, stop the train, STOP THE TRAIN! I also liked the use of news footage style shooting, there was a lot of dynamic angles, and it just really kept you in the excitement of the moment. Then there's the soundtrack. It reminded me a bit of Bangkok Dangerous, it was very fast, very duh-duh-duh-duh duh-duh, it accented the action nicely. You would think that with the ending pretty obvious, and bound to one straight path, the action would not be that exciting, but trust me, the suspense and the action was pretty darned good.

Then there's the suits. In the movie, when the suits for the railway are contacted about the calamity unfolding, they worry about the potential cost of of de-railing it, and how much the stock would drop, not the people. Now, 10 years ago, I would have scoffed at this as being ridiculous. However,'s not only possible, it's likely! I have worked for a major corporation for the last nine years, and trust me friends and folks, they DO NOT care one ounce about you. It is all cost, and stock depreciation, and all that garbage. I actually had something come up that could be harmful to customers, and had a manager say to me "well, it's only going to affect 10 percent of the people, so that's not bad." Only 10 percent. Yeah, only 10 percent of the population will get AIDS, that's not so bad, is it? When it gets to 25, call me. That's why these big telefons and charities tell you 10,000,000 are affected by this disease, or this social problem...if they told you the percentage, you wouldn't care! Also, like in real life, everything the suits try to stop the train doesn't work. Why? Because they know jack about the employees...just like real life. Oh, P.S...I hate suits, so anytime they look stupid, I'm happy.

This movie had a lot of jargon, which is sometimes bad. Bad because the average layman doesn't understand the terms, and the ones who do, call out the inaccuracies. It's also stupid to add too much jargon. This movie had too much jargon in my opinion...and didn't really need all the inside terms stuff. Really, did I need the term "riptrack" thrown at me? It didn't matter, did it? The train's out of the control, that's all that matters! So, half a star off for jargon for jargon's sake.

As for the actors, Denzel was Denzel. I didn't like Chris Pine for the first half of the movie, because he seemed to be channelling Captain Kirk, but after that, he was alright. I'll give him a pass in this one, but I don't think he's going to be nearly as good as they're making him out to be. Everyone else was fine.

All in all, this was one enjoyable ride. Yes it's predictable, and yes, it's nothing new, but it was a tight, well-paced, well-shot, well-scored action/thriller, that kept me engrossed throughout the entire film. At the end of the day, what more could I want?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

- Stephenstein

Who watches the ...

Watchman The Ultimate Cut.

Everyone knows I loved the Watchmen movie. I own all the books, figures, kubricks (tiny figures) and even have the Comedian’s Smiley Button. I also have the limited Rorschach doll and I have all versions of the film on dvd and the extended cut on blu-ray. My shelf/shrine dedicated to watchmen is right beneath my Conan shrine/shelf, so that tells you where I’m at. Watchmen is my third favourite film of all time (after Conan and 2001).

So I finally watched the ultimate cut – for those who came in late, Watchmen (the graphic novel/12 issue series) has a comic within a comic called Tales of the Black Freighter. There is also excerpts from a novel written by one of the characters, the first Nite Owl, included in Watchmen. Well to make the film complete, Zack Synder made Nite Owl’s book into a documentary, which is available on dvd and acts as an intro to the film. The doc is about 30 mins, which if watched before the film would make the entire experience 3.5 hours. However, the Black Freighter stuff wasn’t included – how are you going to make a comic within a comic part of a live action film? Well, make it a cartoon – brilliant. So whenever Bernard (the boy who reads the comic in Watchmen) is shown reading the comic in the film, the film transitions into a cartoon and we get to see what Bernard is reading in an animated short. This cartoon, together with the Documentary “Under the Hood” can be purchased on dvd.

But now, finally, in its full form, you get Watchmen The Ultimate Cut – which has the Black Freighter footage woven into the film making it 3 hours and 35 minutes. The Under the Hood documentary is still separate – because it doesn’t play a big part in the Watchmen story, it was mostly for back-story.

So how does this all go together – very well I should say. At first you may think it makes to the movie too long, I don’t. The characters and story are so amazing that a 5 hour Watchmen movie would be cool with me! I think viewers who know about Black Freighter would welcome it being woven into the film and consider Watchmen not complete without it.

The Black Freighter cartoon/comic was meant to parallel the story of Ozymandias, who believes he is saving the world while committing the worst atrocity of all time. The story in the Black Freighter comic is very disturbing – there is one lone survivor from an attack by the Freighter (a pirate ship made up of evil souls) has to travel back to his home village to save his wife and children from the Freighter, which is heading their way. Along the way his world view becomes skewed and morbid. He eats birds, kill’s sharks, and uses his dead crewmates bodies as a raft. Once he makes it home he believes that Freighter has already taken over the village and he kills a man believing his is a crewman of the Black Freighter. He then makes it home and discovers an intruder in his home and murders him, only to find that it was his wife he killed. When he realizes what he has done, he goes insane and runs to the ocean to find the Black Freighter waiting for him. He was the one they wanted all along and his soul now belongs to them. Thus ending the story.

The story on it’s own is really interesting and the animation is wicked. Plus Gerard Butler provides the voice, which is cool cause he was the lead in 300 – Synder’s previous film. Butler is also added to the opening credits of Watchmen, which is really neat I think, since his Black Freighter role was essentially cut from the theatrical release.

All in all, this is the REAL WATCHMEN MOVIE. It will be the one that I show people who haven’t seen it.

It adds to the story and makes the film complete.

Get it.



Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Harry Pot---------

I cannot review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because I haven’t finished watching it yet.

With each Potter movie there was plot that had some kind of closure by the end of it. You didn’t have to read the books to enjoy the films and follow them. I never read the books and I liked them all!

I think I will like this movie too, once I see it. But I cannot review half a book, or half a movie. I cannot read 2 chapters of Dune and then review it.

Even though each Potter movie continues it still has a structure that completes a big portion of the larger story. By the end of the first film they found the Philosopher’s Stone and learned about Harry’s importance. There is something happening in each film that concludes itself before the next one continues.

This didn’t happen here, so I am left being confused and wondering what will happen next – I hope I still care about it by July.

As it is, I find the series hard to recall – which is I guess my problem, not the film makers – or is it. I recalled everything from Narnia and Lord of the Rings.

Oh well, see you in July for my official review.


Monday, November 29, 2010

G.I. Joe: Renegades episodes 1 and 2 review

I managed to catch G.I. Joe: Renegades, one of the many flagship shows that premiered on Hasbro's new TV network "The Hub" this past weekend. Of this and Transformers: Prime, I preferred Renegades. It was truer to the feel of the old Joe comics and cartoons, truer to the characters (at least the Joes), and as a show, it was really solid. As a G.I. Joe show attached to merchandise – not so much.

G.I. Joe: Renegades, judging by the first two episodes I saw, is about Joe soldiers Duke, Roadblock, Snake Eyes, Tunnel Rat and Ripcord being recruited by Scarlett for a mission to uncover popular pharmaceutical, multi-national corporation Cobra as the terrorist front operation they are. Cobra troops capture the Joes, blow up one of their plants and frame the Joes for it (oh, and ripcord dies in the blast). Now Duke, Scarlet and the boys are being chased by the government as loose-cannon fugitives with a possible terrorist agenda. Back at headquarters, Lady Jay still works for the government, but sympathises with Duke's crew and tries to help them secretly as best she can. Flint is assigned by the White House to hunt down Duke and the fugitives and bring them to justice. So Duke and the gang travel the land trying to clear their names and expose Cobra for the ruthless terrorist organization they are. In the second episode, Duke’s gang are trapped in Springfield (the Cobra-owned town from the comics) and defend the town from a Dr. Mindbender spawned bio-monster. The townspeople are wary of Dukes renegades at first, but hail them as heroes when they save the town. Flint almost catches them in the end, but is secretly thwarted by Lady Jay.

I really like this show in an A-Team sort of way. I get the impression with these Hub shows that Hasbro isn’t really trying to sell toys with these shows. They’re just shows, and as scatter-brained and tired as Transformers: Prime is, G.I. Joe: Renegades seems more focused and better able to tell a decent story. It’s much more mature than the old 80’s series, and as a result I foresee little kids not caring about this show. But if you’re above the age of 18, you’ll really dig this, and if you remember these characters from your cildhood, you’ll really love it. It’s a nice, fresh take on things (you hear that Transformers: Prime??).

I’m not a big fan of the designs of the Cobra guys in this show, but then again we really don’t see much of them in these pilot episodes. The troops look more like security guards, which I guess is the point. Baroness is Baroness – I mean, how do you screw her up? Dr. Mind-bender is just some geek kid in a white doctor’s jacket. That’s it. You do glimpse what I guess is the new Cobra Commander (referred to as “The Commander”) at the end of the second episode. It’s an interesting design. His face looks like the Spider-Man villain The Chameleon, but half of it is covered diagonally with a cloth wrap covering his left eye and diagonally across so that his entire mouth is covered. I like that there’s still some mystery to what his entire face possibly looks like. But, those are all of the Cobra characters that appeared in those two episodes. Unless I missed something, there was no Destro, Zartan, Tomax and Xamot, etc.

So, I liked G.I. Joe: Renegades. The toys will be boring as all hell (the vehicle designs looked like the usual stuff – nothing to write home about), but the show is neat.

G.I. Joe: Renegades – pilot



P.S. Now that Hasbro has their own network and is turning their toy properties into TV series, it's time to bring back The Inhumanoids! Who's with me?

Transformers: Prime - episodes 1 and 2 review

I managed to check out a few of the flagship shows for Hasbro’s new television network The Hub. Mostly, the first two episodes of Transformers: Prime, and the first two episodes of G.I. Joe: Renegades.

I’ll talk about Joe in a later post, but I’ll begin with Transformers: Prime. I’m a huge Transformers fan. Now, I know people say this in this day and age and they’ve only ever seen the new crappy Michael Bay movies or something. No – I’m a huuuuge Transformers fan. I own every G1 show, both American and Japanese (and almsit all of the commercials), I’m trying to complete the Unicron trilogy (I just need Transformers: Cybertron now), I loved Transformers: Animated and I was eagerly anticipating Transformers: Prime.

Transformers: Prime is all CGI and is basically Optimus Prime leading a rag-tag group of about four or so Autobots against Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave and a slew of Decepticon “drones” on Earth. Nobody knows about the Transformers yet, so the Autobots have to keep everything a secret. Three kids happen across the robots, so know they’re the only ones, aside from the government who know about the Transformers. Anyways, Megatron was exiled in space somehow and happens upon a substance known as “the blood of Unicron” which can raise the dead. The DEcepticons kill Cliffjumper (a new version of him, basically a red mustang) and revive him – but he’s a mindless, vicious zombie who kills anything in his path. The second episode ends with Cliffjumper beign destroyed again and Megatron stabbing himself in his spark with a knife full of the blood of Unicron to change somehow. Will he change into Galvatron so soon? Who knows?

I want to like this series, I really do. But there’s nothing fresh about this at all. It’s written by the two guys who wrote the last two Michael Bay Transformers movies and that kinda shows. There’s not a lot that’s their idea, other than turning Cliffjumperr into a zombie, and I don’t know how I feel about that (okay, I do know -- it's stupid!). Bumblebee is back to being a Camero who can’t talk (he communicates in beeps and boops), Optimus is the movie version and voiced by Peter Cullen (cool!), RC is a bike who is voiced by original RC voice Susan Blu (double cool!), and Bulkhead is recycled exactly from Transformers: Animated, as is this show’s version of Ratchet. On the Decepticon’s side, Megatron is voiced by Frank Welker (finally! And hearing him now, I’m really resentful of Michael Bay and Shia LeBeuf saying in interviews that he sounded too old to play Megatron in the first movie – they were obviously lying. Why lie when you know you will eventually be caught??), Starscream (who wants to take over the Decepticons, naturally), and Soundwave (voiced and super-processed by Frank Welker again). The rest of the Decepticon ranks are just mindless drones.

As with most TF series, there will be more characters later, I guess. But what is here feels tired and done before. At least with, say, Transformers: Armada, the TF’s fought for control of mini-cons that could enhance their powers. Or with Transformers: Cybertron, they needed to collect cyber-keys to awaken Cybertron to transform into Primus to stave off a black hole that threatens to destroy the galaxy. In this one, I’m not sure what’s happening that hasn’t been done before. What’s worse is that this show could have been a direct sequel to Transformers: Animated, seeing as how they rip off characters and design ideas from that show, if it didn’t take place in the present day (Transformers: Animated took place in the future sometime).

I’ll have to wait and see what this show does (as with most Transformers shows – I thought Beast Wars was going to suck, but it just got better and better). But judging by the first two episodes, it’s just alright. It doesn’t really grab me. And that's a little sad.

Transformers: Prime - pilot


Yes to No.

Dr. No.

The first real Bond film. Sean Connery was James Bond in this one and I have to say I was really surprised at how good it was.

There is no action. Say what now? NO ACTION – you read me. No action – it was all about Bond figuring stuff out and him just being cool. But he is not being obviously cool, he is just doing his job and I loved watching him do it, and how smart he was.

He secured his room by placing items around it so that he would know if someone searched it, he would speak to characters and in one second figure out they were bad, and a lot more. He was kind of like an audience member watching the movie. Let me explain.

Bond did everything you would want him too, as an audience member watching the film. When you watch a movie and find yourself yelling at the screen – DON’T DRINK THAT, or BE CAREFUL THEY ARE REALLY THE BAD GUYS, or DON’T TURN AROUND etc, well in this film Bond knew all that and didn’t fall for anything!

They couldn’t trick him at all. Every time someone tried anything funny, Bond was on to them, and nailed them.

I really liked that part of the character. Bond is smart man, a planner, and he’s cool and he gets the girls – this is what Bond is really about.

I am looking forward to seeing the next one! (next as in the next Connery one)



The BeeGees hit.

Stay Alive

If you die in the video game you die in real life. There is this sub-genre of horror – if you ___ you die. If you watch this video, answer this phone, enter this house, see death’s plan etc you die.

I have to say that besides Final Destination (the best of these types) this is probably the best one of these.

It sounds kinda dumb and I didn’t see it in theatres and even after watching the film it doesn’t really make sense – like how did the game designer make this game? Whatever, the point is, that if you die in the game you die in real. The game is about Elizabeth Bathory – one of my fave old school folk tales.

She is a real person of course and she was placed under house arrest for having supposedly killed 80-650 women. Accounts vary, but her accomplices were convicted for 80 deaths. The popular tale is that she bathed in the blood of her victims – which may have been true by accounts, and of course torture etc are part of the story (thank you wikipedia).

Anyway, the game starts by forcing you to recite a spell that awakens her blah blah blah, you get the drift.

I have to say that Bathory looked WICKED in this movie and a cubee is sure to follow, and I really liked the 2 leads in the film! The main guy was smart and was likeable, the main girl was cool too. There was of course the bastard character who gets killed, and all the typical horror movie stuff.

But bottom line, this was a really fun movie that I really liked. Good hero, good villain and pretty good story – minus the dumb video game angle – see the movie Brainscan for a much better portrayal of a killer video game story, that actually makes sense when it ends.

But whatever, this was a solid horror movie that was original for once (not a remake) that had good leads a fantastic villain that is actually attached to a real story – again, makes it more believable.

Check this out on dvd, ill be buying it for sure.



The Man.

My Man Godfrey

William Powell is fantastic in this farce about a wacky family that accepts him as a butler. He was once a well off man, but lost it all and became homeless.

Well a young girl finds him in a dump and decides to hire him as the family butler.

I actually don’t want to give too much away, you kind of have to see this movie to get it. He just does his job, but there are a lot of shenanigans going on.

It was a really fun movie with a lot of thought, and heart.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Harry Potter and the Draggy Plot

Far be it for someone with my humble life to criticize a juggernaut like the Harry Potter franchise. I've read all the books and liked them, saw all the movies and liked them, to varying degrees. I wasn't a huge fan of #5, but still found it okay. Liked the others one a lot. I own all the movies, but I was still surprised when I heard #7 was going to be shown in 2 parts. Firstly, the book was huge, but quite a few of the later ones are too, so that didn't make sense. Secondly, the story really didn't need to be told in 2 parts. It wasn't that action-packed, or anything....or right! [hitting forehead] They're just doing it for the money! Duh!

So, what did I think of this Harry Potter? It was alright, good, but not great. Why? Same problem I gave above. It dragged. There was a lot of scenes in the woods. A lot of contemplating one's circumstances. A lot of what should we do? I don't know, what should we do? A lot of wandering, without knowing what to do. That's all well and good...if this was the first story. Unfortunately, it's not. Voldemort has taken over the Ministry of Magic, he's coming for Harry and his loved ones, and he's also going after the most powerful weapons in the magic world...we don't have time for this.

Not to mention, it makes no sense. In every movie, Harry has had some mystery to solve, some danger to avert. The Philosopher's Stone (say it with me, Americans...phil-os-oph-er's stone), the Chamber of Secrets, unravelling the secret of Sirius Black, surviving the tournament, surviving...whatever happened in book 5, finding out who the half-blood prince is...and also, I thought it was esablished in the last film he was going after the horcruxes? So, does he think that the horcruxes are going to magically appear in front of him? No! He, and Ron and Hermione have to find them! Geez, is that so hard to figure out?

Oh yeah, and I got shaky-cam in this film. Even though it's not long, and it's not like Harry Potter is noted for its action, we still got shaky-cam. I was not happy. It pulls me out of the movie. I shudder to think that other country's are going to adopt the shaky-cam.

That all being said, the movie's not bad, but I have a feeling the next one will be much better. This was a lead-up to movie 2, but in all honestly, they could have edited out some of the crap in this film, edited out some of the crap guaranteed to be in the 2nd film, and boom, we would have had a perfectly good Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 1 movie, 3 hours, and this post's tone would have been different...but then again, they wouldn't have got me paying for 2 movies this way, would they?

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

- Stephenstein

Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes

One of the taglines for this movie was "the movie Hitchcock would have made". You know, that sort of thing annoys me to no end. First of all, Hitchcock was probably, the best director of all-time, he made a ton of movies, and oops, he didn't make this one. So, he probably had the chance to make this film, and didn't. Secondly, how dare you cheapen the film by being tacky and try and draw comparisons that don't exist. Hitchcock was in his time, Buried is in its. It's like comparing Casablanca to Avatar. Avatar: the movie Humphrey Bogart would have starred in! What? What nonsense is this? So yeah, after watching the movie, maybe Hitchcock would have made a movie similar if he felt like it, maybe not. The bottom line is he didn't, so there's nothing more to talk about, in that regard.

Now, as for the movie: it was good. Not great, but good. Ryan Reynolds will probably be Oscar-nominated, his role is basically award-bait, and he runs the gamut of emotions from terror, to sadness, to acceptance, to panic. He does it all, and yes, he does it well.

The movie also has some interesting parts. I was really interested in Reynolds' conversation with the "terrorist" over the use of the term, and how quickly Americans are eager to label people who opose them terrorists, even though the foreign countries they're "helping" (i.e. invading) probably look at Americans in the same light (though the Americans don't see it like that). Also, the conversation Reynolds has with the Personnel Manager for the company he works for is simply chilling. The idea that large corporations don't care about their employees, really, and they will do anything to cheat their employees, isn't something new, but also isn't something I ever get tired of. The corporation is really portrayed as a bunch of bastards, and honestly, the actions they take in the movie to screw Reynolds out of his rightful insurance money, could actually happen in real life. If there's anything sadder that exemplifies the human condition today, I don't know what it is.

Anyhow, the real problem with this movie is that it's just Ryan Reynolds in a box for 90 minutes. In Evil Dead 2, we were alone with Bruce Campbell for a long time...but he's Bruce Campbell, and there's all sorts of weird stuff going on. In 1408, we're alone with John Cusack for most of the movie, but once again, the hotel room is pretty big, there's a lot of weird stuff happening, it keeps things interesting. There's only so much Reynolds can do in that box. He battles a snake, he talks on the phone, he cries, he makes his will, he makes a video...yes, he does stuff, but it loses steam when he realize that other than interacting with the phone, there's not much he can do.

The other thing is, even though they left it open-ended, it's pretty evident from the start Reynolds isn't going to make it. He's buried somewhere in the Iraqi desert, 6 feet under, with 90 minutes of oxygen. I don't care how good your GPS is, you're not going to make it. Since he's not going to make it, there's only so much you're going to invest in his character, because he's just going to die at the end, anyway. That's a major flaw with this sort of movie.

So, it was good, and if you're curious, you can check it out. For me personally, being locked in a box with Ryan Reynolds for 90 minutes was enough of a experience the first time without repeating it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

The Final Saw?

I refuse to call this film Saw 3D, just because actually saying 3D pisses me off. So, I'll be refering to this as Saw 7. I saw this yesterday, NOT in 3D, and here are my thoughts, as the series wraps up, supposedly.

First of all, and saying this will make people laugh, but I consider the Saw series to be a real landmark in movie-making. Why? Can you name me another movie series that lasted 7 movies, had the same actors play the same characters, referenced all the previous films, kept the same tone, the same story structure, and delivered the same amount of enjoyment, year after year, movie after movie? Can you name the another series that has lasted this amount of time, and delivered the same amount of quality, every single movie? Even the vaunted Harry Potter had a mis-step at 5 (in my opinion), and the Harry Potter 7.1 wasn't as good as some of the other ones, either.

It's just a really, really solid series, up and down, front to back, year after year, I looked forward to the next Saw. I looked forward to the traps, the staggering leaps in logic, how it was all tied together, what the twist was...all of it was awesome. Except for this 3D crap, I watched all the movies in the theatre...and p.s., I had a friend tell me there was hardly any 3D in the film, and he saw it in the theatre, so even that's a rip.

I'm not reviewing the movie's storyline. There's a few games, a few traps. Someone thinks they have the upper-hand, they don't, Sean Patrick Flannery is the guy who has to go through the gaunlets of traps this time, there's some cameos from the past, there's some twists, and traps, and gore and more traps. Look, you know Saw, you know what you're going to get. It was one of the few franchises these days I could rely on to really please me, every single year. Spider-Man, Superman, Bourne, Pirates of the Caribbean, even Batman...have all disappointed me, in some way. Not Saw though. From beginning to end, this franchise has delivered the goods, and despite it not getting the recognition it deserves, I'm sure the fans of the Saw series are more passionate and die-hard than the "fans" who supposedly loved something like Iron Man since "day 1. "

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating of series: 5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A new Sherlock.


Sherlock Holmes, starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr, came out last year – a Hollywood version of the beloved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character. That movie made Holmes into an action star in order to bring him up to date and make him cool for the modern day dumb-asses that pass for an audience these days.

I thought the movie was ok. A lot more faithful than I would have thought, although there was no mystery in it. We all knew who the bad guy was and what he was doing, we just got to see Holmes explain it to us. BIG DEAL.

This is sloppy writing. The film makers didn’t have to come up with a mystery to solve, so what’s point? Plus Holmes was this fighting machine who was just too silly for his own good. Well here comes the BBC to save us.

Sherlock Season 1 is comprised of three 90 minute films that are set in the modern day. That’s right, MODERN DAY – that’s how you bring Holmes to a new audience. Now normally this would send me up the wall, but after watching this fantastic show I can tell you that this is a great portrayal of Sherlock Holmes and it’s one of the best new shows on TV right now. I own the COMPLETE DOYLE HOLMES collection in hardback and own ALL the episodes and movies with Jeremy Brett – aka the REAL SHERLOCK HOLMES. The Brett series is the ONLY live action Sherlock thing I own or care too. He was the ONLY ACTOR to play the role EXACTLY as Doyle intended. Every episode was SPOT ON.

Well this new series is so amazing that I bought it after only viewing the last 45 mins of episode one. I have since watched all 3 and can safely say that this is a MUST OWN for Sherlock fans.

If you can get past the contemporary setting (even a hardcore Sherlock guy like me did) then you will LOVE this series.

The actor who plays Sherlock is just so damn good I don’t know what to do with myself. And Watson is the guy from Hitchhikers Guide (he played Arthur Dent), and he is great too!

Both do a fantastic job and the writers have a great respect for Doyle and have really re-invented Sherlock in a faithful way and true to what his creator intended. The only example I can give for you guys to understand is referencing the new He-man cartoon.

I know it’s got nothing to do with Holmes, but they way the new He-man cartoon mirrored the old one, but just making things a bit more up to date, you get me?

Anyway, this is A MUST BUY GUYS!!!!



Mind over muscle.


2 babies are sent out from their home planets before they explode (like Superman) and both land on Earth.

Megamind lands in a prison while Metro Man ends up with a rich family. Everyone loves Metro Man cause he looks human and everyone hates Megamind (cause he’s blue and he’s a bit of an outcast), so Megamind becomes a villain, even though he didn’t really want to.

Long story short, they have been fighting it out for years when one day Megamind kills Metro Man and takes over the world. And much like General Zod in Superman 2, he gets bored. He enjoyed the challenge of fighting Metro Man and now that’s gone.

So he decides to make a new hero, Tighten, but he turns out to be a bigger villain than Megamind, so now Megamind must become the hero.

That’s the premise behind the film and it’s wicked. The movie makes a good deal of references to other superhero stuff, but it never gets too silly, in fact, I really liked the message of the movie and thought it was a lot of fun.

If you want to know the comparison, I actually liked this better than Incredibles.

Ill be buying the DVD and toys on this one large and hoping for sequels.



22 years of love.


Shahrukh Khan stars as Veer – a man imprisoned for 22 years. Why? – well this isn’t imdb, go look it up! Ok fine, ill give you a hint, he met a girl named Zaara (ah, now you get the title) and they fall in love. Problem, she is arranged to marry this other guy and Veer didn’t know that – what happens next? A lot of stuff you wouldn’t figure on.

This film isn’t so much about the plot – it’s a love story for sure, and simple in its meaning, but not simple in the questions it asks of its characters and ultimately its audience.

Would you die for the person you love? If the answer is yes, then the next question is, would you spend 22 years in jail for them? You see dying implies you don’t have to live with pain, or hunger, or sorrow, but being imprisoned for 22 years means you have to deal with a lot more, it’s not an easy escape – so that sacrifice is worse than death, now how much do you love your wife?

Watch this film for the answers and you may find that you are asking yourself these questions, and you may be shocked by your answers.



Look up, it's ok!


Skyline is what Cloverfield should have been. A simple monster movie with good effects and a fun story. I am not sure why people love Cloverfield and hate this movie.

It stars the guy from Clueless and Scrubs and Britney Daniel (from Sweet Valley High), as they try to survive while alien monsters attack Earth.

It starts a bit slow 10-20 minutes – depending on who you talk to, but then it never stops. Monsters attack in DAYLIGHT and you can see them CLEARLY. I loved the gore in the movie and the no-nonsense approach.

There is no happy ending, and this movie has real balls. The aliens are not simply destroyed by some cheap method and you get to see what happens to the humans that are sucked into the ship.

This was a fun, old school 80’s monster flick and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

Ill bet getting this one on DVD.



More Avatar.

Avatar Extended.

I liked Avatar, and don’t think it was over-hyped. Sure the story was simple, but the visual effects were wicked. No magazine article, internet blog or website hyped Avatar as the Citizen Kane of plot or anything, they hyped it as a visual experience that will blow you away, and it did.

Anyway, I held out buying this until the extended edition came out and it’s kinda pointless. In fact, I prefer the theatrical one.

Look the story is not improved in the extra 16 minutes and it’s actually worse. The opening of Avatar was Jake Sully opening his eyes, and it ended with him opening his eyes in his Avatar body, but now there is this 6 minute intro about his life before the Avatar program. Well that’s a big chunk of who gives a crap.

You lost the bookend opening/ending by adding stuff NO ONE cares about.

The good thing about this release though is that it’s only 20 bucks and you get all versions in it, so it’s worth the money for sure, cause you get 3 versions of the film anyway for a good price.


Monday, November 15, 2010

It's been 30 years since they struck.

The Empire Strikes Back.

I watched empire on the weekend - no reason I was just getting the figures for the 30th anniversary. Star wars is the only toyline I never stopped collecting - BUT I only get classic guys that I like.

Anyway, I made a Chewbacca and Lando cubee to celebrate the event and am working on some of the bounty hunters.

Anyway, I thought I would comment on the only Special Edition Star Wars movie I like.

What I like in the SE:

I like having the real emperor do the holographic thingie – it was a different actor in the original one.

I like the re-mastered look and sound.

Hoth looks great, and so does Bespin.

So basically this is the ONLY good Special Edition Star Wars movie. The others, A New Hope – has Greedo shooting first – the worst thing to happen in film, and that crappy Jabba the Hutt sequence in which Jabba is cgi – hello – he’s a puppet 2 movies later??? Actually the puppet looks better!

Take Yoda – when watching Empire you NEVER think – oh, Luke is talking to a puppet. Yoda is super believable and even better than ET!

And the whole Greedo thing, just to get back to that for a second – if it had been filmed that Greedo shot first then I wouldn’t care, but the edit they did for the SE was terrible – they chop-cut Han’s head so that it jerks like some rusty bobble head or something, plus Greedo is now the worst shot in the universe!

Anyway, Greedo and Jabba suck in Star Wars SE.

Jedi – the WORST. That stupid Hayden Christiansoninsison – whatever his stupid name is, is the ghost at the end replacing that old guy who was Vader. TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that dumbass new song that replaced the Ewok song with. Hello – they were on the forest moon of Endor, why is the song super advanced now???????

Anyway, this is the dream.

Star Wars – Empire – Jedi – re-mastered, anamorphic, 5.1 (or better) with improved effects (what I mean is taking out the white clouds around the ships when they move in the first one) – maybe add some new backgrounds – MAYBE – very sparingly.

Take out ALL REFERENCES to the prequels, and even take out the “episode” numbering too.

I would even settle for re-mastered, anamorphic, 5.1 of the old movies and that’s it. Don’t add anything, just make them the same – clean up the clouding effect – and that’s it.

Is it so bloody hard to do?

PS - the poster above is the ONLY Star Wars poster I own.


Friday, November 12, 2010

American Bean.


Mr. Bean’s first American movie and it’s what you think. Bean shines as he is funny, but the American style of comedy is to make fun of people and they do. Bean to me was just a funny eccentric man who was the victim of bizarre circumstances, and coincidental accidents (say that 3 times fast – that that that). But this movie is more about showing how utterly stupid Bean is. The plot focuses on Bean coming to America and everyone confusing him with a Doctor (of art, not medical – although he does become a surgeon at one point).

He moves in with an American family, they hate him, but will soon learn to like him, he screws up, he destroys stuff but makes it good in the end – although the famous painting of Whistler’s Mother is totally destroyed and never recovered???? Oh well, so much for art and so much for Bean having a good Bean movie – this was more for people who have heard of Bean but never saw any of the skits. In fact, most of the famous skits were redone here – the typical Hollywood style.

This movie had its moments for sure, and would’ve gotten a higher rating if I hadn’t seen Mr. Bean’s Holiday right after – more that below.

As it stands, the rating of 3/5 is the pure result of Rowan Atkinson’s talents to entertain. Otherwise as a movie on its own its about 2.5. Everything was predictable and very basic.



Disaster gets a passport.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday.

This is the Mr. Bean movie I have been waiting for. It is basically an extended skit with Bean running amok in Paris and at the Cannes Film Fest. He doesn’t speak – he normally doesn’t, but he did in the previous movie (????), he is just a guy, who is clumsy, but not a totally idiot or ass or anything. He doesn’t destroy priceless artefacts either.

This is a fun, NICE, good spirited movie with a lot of adventuring. Bean really gets around in this film and its fun to watch and I just had a good feeling after seeing it.

One other point of reference is Willem Dafoe. He plays a film maker named Carson Clay and he makes this really artsy fartsy picture that is so bad and so funny I would actually purchase that movie on dvd! Its basically like THE ROOM (imdb it if you never heard of it) with that style of acting and the entire film consists of Dafoe’s face and a voice over about how he lost his love.

Other shots include Dafoe running in slow-mo to the camera and all the credits of the film have his name on them. A Carson Clay film, a Carson Clay production, Starring Carson Clay etc.

So funny!!!!!!!!!!

This movie has heart and a lot great comedy. I didn’t laugh out loud at everything, but I felt good while watching it and I always had a smile on my face.

Good work.



English 86

Johnny English.

Rowan Atkinson plays a character other than Mr. Bean. A nice change as he is a talented comedian and this material really suits his talents.

It’s really just Get Smart - British edition, but it was a better Get Smart than the new Get Smart movie – which I also liked.

This was just a fun comedy with Rowan doing what he does best.

He plays Johnny English – an agent – but currently just handing out assignments, when all the other agents are killed, he is put into action. The one agent he admired would always enter a room and throw his jacket across it and it would hit the hanger perfectly. So when English enters the room he throws his jacket and it goes out the window! Classic!

This film is filled with moments like these and they are pretty funny. It is what you expect and it didn’t disappoint.

Fun movie.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Retired Extremely Dangerous.


So Bruce Willis is a retired CIA agent, who knows too much and has to be killed, along with Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich (Helen Miren joins up later). We are not sure why they must be killed and it doesn’t really matter, I guess it does, but even now I don’t remember why – something about the VP and some rich guy.

Whatever, the story isn’t the big point of this movie – based on a DC comic that I never read (or heard of) – it’s kind of like The Losers, its more about cool characters that do cool things. Unlike The Losers, these characters are retired, which is kind of neat and introducing all the characters was the best part of the film.

John Malkovich was the best by far, his paranoid, gun-crazy attitude was like a retired Murdoch (from A-Team), but it isn’t paranoia cause they really are after him!

This was a fun and enjoyable movie if nothing else. The story was predictable and didn’t really do anything interesting, they are good, the others are bad and that’s it. Karl Urban plays the CIA agent who is after them and you just know he will turn good in the end – this isn’t even a give-a-away, unless you have never seen an action film in your life.

The other problem is that besides Willis and Malkovich the others are just “old CIA agents” – they are not very distinct from each other. I mean any of their dialogue could have been spoken by any of them and it would still make sense. Like in A-Team if BA said “I love it when a plan comes together,” we know it wouldn’t make sense cause he is not the planner, that was Hannibal. In Red any of them could have said any of the lines cause they were not distinct enough from each other (except Willis and Malkovich).

Anyway it was a fun movie, a possible buy on dvd – if I get the urge to see it again, check it out for a few laughs.



Saturday, October 16, 2010

The one you know

M. Night didn't direct this one, he just came up with the story and produced it. The guy who directed Quarantine directed this one. So, the question is, does this one continue M. Night's descent towards Uwe Boll territory, or what?

So, in case you don't know, Devil is about these 5 people trapped on an elevator, and one is the devil. We learn that there's this old legend that the devil will come down to Earth in human guise, torture people, and then kill them. Only people who deserve it though, and that's where our trouble begins.

Firstly, the movie has a nice concept, but it's flawed. Due to the fact that we are not to find out who the devil is until the end of the film, then the devil can't kill in broad daylight in the elevator. That leads to all the kills happening in the dark, complete with the gruesome sound effects. The lights come back on, and someone is dead. Now, like I said, for the movie, that makes sense, but it doesn't make much sense if you think about it. If you're the devil, don't you want to take out everyone as soon as possible? If the devil had, he might have got away with all the souls! (more on that later...)

Oh right though, it's because he's psychologically torturing his prey! Right? Err, wrong. This is the laziest devil in history. Other than giving a woman a scratch in the side, this devil does nothing. All the torment they go through is stuff they caused themselves. I guess the devil was tormenting them by trapping them in an elevator? But that's pretty weak. I want a vicious devil, not a lackadasical one!

At the end, one of the guys repents for his sins (they're all bad, but not murderer or rapist bad...more like insurance fraud obviously, the devil couldn't get more souls more worthy of punishment, like say, death row), and the devil then can't take his soul. Wha? So that's it, you just have to apologize for your sins and the devil can't do anything? Okay, I'm sorry I ever hurt anyone in the my life. Okay, now the devil can never get me! WHAT? Who thought of this? To make it worse, the crime this guy perpetrated (and it was an accident, not pre-meditated) was against this cop (he killed the cop's wife and son), and the cop, after 5 years of drinking, and almost ending his own life, finally finds the guy who offs his family...and he forgives the guy, too! Wow! Everyone seems to be in a forgiving mood for a movie called DEVIL!!!!!!

And what was with that guard? The narrator of the movie? One guy dies in the elevator, and he starts telling the cop "It's the Devil!!!" What? Who does that? I mean, I know M. Night is Mr. Exposition now in his movies, but c'mon, you expect me to believe one person dies in the movie, and he's like "It's the Devil, my Mother told me this tale!"???

I didn't hate the movie, though. There was good spookiness in the film, and it is interesting to try and pick the devil out of the suspects, though I singled out the culprit pretty easily. You're also sort of wondering who is going to die outside the elevator, and some people do die. The concept, like I said, is neat, and the filmmaker was smart enough to keep the movie short, so as to not expand the existing plot holes.

That said, this movie was ok. There's problems with the storyline, and the devil is too easily recognized for it to work effectively as a mystery, especially to people who have watched tons of mysteries and plot twists. I will say it was a nice attempt at a claustrophobic horror movie, but at the end of the day, it didn't quite live up to it's promise.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

- Stephenstein

The Mummy (1959)

From the back of the DVD box: “In Hammer Studio’s vivid 1959 Technicolor reincarnation of The Mummy, screen horror icon Christopher Lee wraps on the moldy gauze bandages and emerges as the tormented Kharis, an avenger stalking the hills and bogs of Victorian England to track down archeologist John Banning (Peter Cushing) and other desecrators of his beloved Princess Ananka’s Egyptian tomb.”

Another great Hammer rejuvenation of a classic franchise. I love mummy movies, and this is pretty much what I think of when I think of Mummy flicks. This ain’t some cheap normal guy devoid of bandages. Lee sports the bandages through out the movie. He’s a friggin’ juggernaut too, an unstoppable force in all of his door busting, metal bending, crushing strangulation glory. Cushing is as good as ever as an archeologist slowly realizing that the curse of the tomb is real.

I was never bored with this one. It’s the classic definition of creature feature. And the colours are vibrant and pop off the screen, especially during the ancient Egypt flashbacks. This is what Mummy movies should be. I was always disappointed that the newer Brendan Fraser flicks were so adventure-oriented. When the hell did Mummy movies turn into Indiana Jones rip-offs?? Hollywood should make more Mummy movies like this one. They won’t, but they should.

After this, Hammer made three sequels, almost having nothing to do with each other: The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), The Mummy’s Shroud (1967), and Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) (which didn’t have a traditional wrapped-up mummy in it).

4 out of 5.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Horror of Dracula (1958)

From the DVD box: “Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, Britain’s Premier masters of the macabre, bring the Horror of Dracula to vivid, full-colour death in this retelling of Bram Stoker’s spellbinding vampire tale. Dracula (Lee), a centuries-old nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, travels from his native Transylvania to London. In the lurid nightlife of his adopted city, he finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count’s implacable foe in a deadly game of bat-and-mouse.”

This is the first of Hammer’s successful Dracula movies, teaming Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as Dracula and Van Helsing respectively. Batman fans will also recognize Michael Gough (Alfred in WB’s 1989 to 1997 Batman films) as the brother of vampire victim Lucy. Christopher Lee starts out charming when he welcomes Jonathan Harker into his castle, but pours on the menace when he is revealed to be the vampire scourge Count Dracula. I love when Dracula is choking Van Helsing toward the end of the movie and a vague smile begins to slowly creep across the Count’s face when he realizes he’s winning the fight. Cushing is terrific as Van Helsing. He has a cool, calm demeanor compared to the panicked victims around him since the character has studied vampirism all his life and is intimately familiar with the creatures to the point of clinical coldness.

Dracula looks his best when ample amounts of blood are dipping from his mouth, complete with bloodshot eyes. It’s a classic look and is best done with Christopher Lee. Dracula’s defeat in the end is spectacular and very graphic. Note that I said “defeat” as, even though it looks like a death, we all know there are eight (count ‘em – EIGHT!!) Hammer Dracula films after this one.

Zippy pacing, great gory effects, terrific cinematography, and cool characters (like Van Helsing and Gogh’s character Arthur that you want to root for, and Dracula who is undeniably evil and terrifying) make Horror of Dracula a real treat.

4 out of 5.


The Hand (1981)

Michael Cain stars as Jon Lansdale, a comic strip artist who creates the weekly exploits of a Conan-ish character called Mandro. He loses his hand in a gory accident (the scene doesn’t skimp on the gore), and the hand is never found. Jon’s shaky marriage results in separation with Jon’s wife taking their daughter away for a bit. Jon gets a metal hand to replace his old one (it has the crushing force of Bruce Campbell’s hand from Army of Darkness), he gets increasingly depressed about losing his old hand, gets a job teaching at a University and has an affair with one of his students. Jon also experiences black-outs and murders start happening around him. Could it be the disembodied hand? Could Jon be murdering people without knowing it?

I enjoyed this movie. Being written and directed by Oliver Stone, this shows a very playful side to the director who went on to do stuff like JFK and Nixon. There’s a great scene where Michael Cain argues with the replacement writer of Mandro that Mandro is an action character, after seeing the changes the writer has brought to the character such as introspection and angst. “You don’t cut the balls off of Superman!” Cain yells. With this scene, Oliver Stone predicted the shape of things to come 20 years later with audiences demanding realistic, watered down fantasy with an emphasis on “themes” and “massages” rather than actual fun.

As for the movie itself, the disembodied hand is depicted as killing the victims in the movie (including Oliver Stone himself as a homeless man). You’re supposed to be left wondering if we’re watching Cain’s version of events from his head, or if the hand really is going around killing people that Cain’s character secretly hates. By the end, it’s still not really clear, but I vote that the disembodied hand is real. If it’s not, Cain’s character also has that super-strong metal hand that’s thrown in for good measure.

By the end of the movie, I felt like I witnessed the birth of a new franchise character. Had the film been successful, I’m sure we would have seen the countless sequels that accompanied stuff like Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween at the time. Michael Cain would have been one of the horror heroes of the period and Oliver Stone’s career would have probably been very different. But alas, it was not meant to be.

4 out of 5. Really good movie. Well written, well shot, well acted (especially Michael Cain), great Stan Winston special effects.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Deadly Friend (1986)

Continuing on my horror movie binge, I dug out Deadly Friend out of my shelf. This was directed by Wes Craven in a time where he claimed his bitter divorce was affecting his work, resulting in a shoddy movie (I can’t remember where I saw this, it was on some show about horror movies). Deadly Friend took forever to come onto DVD, which it did a couple years ago. Before that, it was destined to be the long lost Wes Craven movie.

Well, despite what Craven himself might say, I really like this film. It has its flaws, but it’s not shit. Paul and his mother are new to some suburb somewhere. Paul’s a whiz kid who has built a robot with artificial intelligence. Anyway, Paul befriends a girl next door, Samantha (Kristy Swanson), whose father regularly abuses her. Paul encounters other denizens of his neighborhood, like the crazy lady who barricades her house and brandishes a shot gun, Elvira Parker (Anne Ramsey of Goonies and Throw Mama From The Train fame), and the local, snot-nosed biker toughs. Elvira destroys Pauls robot when they trespass on her lawn, and later Samantha is killed by her abusive father. So, Paul decides to rebuild his robot with Samantha’s body(!). Bloody revenge, Kristy Swanson looking as hot as she can in frumpy 80’s clothes, and awkward robot movement/acting ensue.

I really like the typical 80’s movie version of suburbia that was so pervasive in that decade. Everyone knows each other, kids play outside, there’s a golden hue to everything somehow – I like all of that. The robot itself is really cool for its time. Kinda looks like a 5 foot version of the TOMY robot toys of the period. Seeing Anne Ramsey is always cool. That voice and face cannot be matched. Her death in the movie is the infamous basketball to the head death, for which this movie was known on the internet for some time before the DVD was finally released. Her head explodes with the force of the ball and she runs around literally like a chicken with its head cut off. The father’s death is pretty damn good too, as far as these kinds of movies go.

On the down side, there are long drawn-out scenes that seemed unnecessary and could have been trimmed (like Paul and his friend retrieving Sam’s body from the hospital which you can fast forward through – we get it, they have to sneak in and get the body, we know they’ll succeed otherwise there would be no movie). Other than that, Kristy Swanson should sue her “mime coach” (as its credited in the end credits) for her laughable, arms outstretch, robot acting. It’s horrible. And what’s more, her hands are in the Vulcan “live long and prosper” symbol for the whole movie, supposedly mimicking the original robot’s pincers.

Anyhoo, this movie is worth checking out, especially if you like horror.

3.5 out of 5


The Reptile (1966)

AMC has taken to showing old Hammer horror movies on Friday nights, sometimes stringing four or five together in one night. I’ve tried to catch as much as I can. The other night they played The Reptile, a unique film in that the main monster was female (Hammer sometimes tried to stray away from the all-male sausage factory the world of monsters can sometimes be) and the monster wasn’t a vampire or other traditional beast.

The film opens with a man being attacked and killed (complete with puffy face, fothing mouth and blackened skin) by . . . something. His brother Harry Spalding and Harry’s wife Valerie arrive at the house of the dead brother sometime later. Harry is intent on finding out what really happened to his brother as other mysterious murders take place in the small village. Eventually, Harry finds out that the next door neighbors, Dr. Franklin and his daughter Anna, are prisoners of their own Indian servant who worships a snake cult and turns Anna into a half woman, half snake, determined to bring pain and chaos into the world.

As with most Hammer movies, the film unfolds as a mystery which eventually leads to the pay-off of seeing the monster, and then follows through for another 30 minutes with the story. I found this one kinda slow in the beginning (save for the kill in the beginning), introducing lots of characters that will eventually be fodder for the snake woman. When we finally do see the snake man (because there's another snake dude before we see the snake lady), it’s pretty pumped. The hideous face and flexible, realistic monster make-up come out of left field. The monster looks so good, it almost looks like it belongs in another movie. I don’t think they made any more Reptile movies beyond this one, which is a shame. The misty, secret, underground cave where rituals are performed to create the snake lady, images of cages full of bunnies, kittens and puppies on which the snake lady feeds, and the snake lady herself were enough to carry the film and make it a welcome change of pace from the usual vampire fare. But it takes a while to get to these things.

3 out of 5.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Not in 3D

Well, I refused to see this one in theatres, just because of the 3D garbage. I hate 3D. It's a gimmick, and I hate gimmicks, especially lame gimmicks, and 3D is in my opinion, a lame gimmick. So I waited, and caught this one elsewhere. I like the Resident Evil franchise, I own all the movies, so I wanted to see this one. Just not in 3D.

So what's new? Well, let's start with what's old. Alice and her clones are back (the clones don't last too long, unfortunately). Claire is back, and is joined by her brother, Chris (and you fans of the game franchise know who he is). K-Mart is back in a small role, as well. The zombies are still there, and Albert Wesker is back (he's the main villain now, and yeah, it only took 4 films to make him the main villain, but then again, they were too busy dealing with the various freaks).

This one starts off where the last one left off. Alice storms Umbrella's Tokyo base, and then heads to Alaska for a less than hopeful discovery. Then she ends in Los Angeles with Claire, where there's a bunch of new people to run into (including Chris), zombies to fight (including an Axeman who is a dead ringer for the terrifying Ax guy in Silent Hill), humans to fight with (Kim Coates is the resident jerk in this one), and at the end, when the credits are rolling, an old face returns, setting up who the main villain would be in the next movie (hint: this character was last seen in the 2nd film).

So how was it? Good. I wouldn't say I liked it more than part 3, but that's for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I was disappointed that the clones were wiped out fairly quickly. Okay, I know logistically, they can't have multiple Alice's running around the entire film. Okay, fine. Then why even introduce the idea? Then right at the beginning, they have Alice lose all her powers. Once again, this is because she can basically just create an earthquake, and wipe out everything, and it really doesn't matter in the rest of the film if she has the powers or not (Milla is still badass), but once again, then why bother? I'm not a fan of people losing powers, especially characters who are the main heroes.

I was disappointed by the last fight in the film, too. They set up Wesker as this unstoppable, superhuman guy, who took out both Claire and Chris, after fighting them both at the same time. Milla, though? De-powered Milla? She doesn't fight Wesker, the final boss. She just shoots him a couple of times in the head. That's it. That's the extent of the final confrontation between him and her. Big deal. They could have got anyone to do that. I wanted a big superhuman fight, not Kill Bill 2! Now, it's set up he can return in the next film as well, but if that's the extent their going to use him, then he might as well have stayed dead.

I did still like the movie, though. The action is pretty good (and you can see it all, so that's a plus). Milla uses a variety of weapons (swords, explosives, machine guns), and she's the same, Milla is the rock of this franchise, and as long as they have her, you're going to do okay in these films. The supporting cast is the usual assortment of stock types (the arrogant schmuck, the buff, but logical dude, the guy whose good with machinery), and the majority of fighting is relegated to enclosed spaces again (Umbrella's Tokyo Base, a Los Angeles prison), so if you're a fan of action taking place in small, enclosed locations, than you'll like this movie.

That's about it. It's Resident Evil, so you all know what to expect. It was a decent effort in the series, and I am curious to how 5 will play out.

Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

Better than a Gladiator


Well, I've liked every Neil Marshall film I've seen to date (Dog Soldiers, Descent, Doomsday). I also own every Neil Marshall film to date. Why? Because Neill Marshall likes movies, and he knows what audiences like about movies: great characters, intense scenes, good action, interesting premises, and cool storylines. He came out with this little film here, and no one saw it because it got a limited release. For shame Hollywood. For shame.

For those who don't know what this movie is about, it's about the Romans and the Picts. The Romans had this vast empire, but were having problems in Northern Britain, where the Picts were located. They were fighting back against the Empire, so they had to do something about it. Cue the 9th Legion, their most feared battalion. Led by Dominic West's General, and sent by Paul Freeman (Rene Belloc from Indiana Jones), these guys run into resistance. Eventually, Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) tries to lead the survivors of the massacre back to freedom, and that's where the fun really begins.

Now, let's take what we know about most war films. Let's say Steven Spielberg is directing a war film. The Americans are the good guys, and the Nazi's are the bad guys. The Americans are noble, altruistic apple pie types, who fight for liberty, justice and the American Way. The Nazis are evil, child-murdering, remorseless bastards who would kill their own mother for a dime. Sound familiar? Yeah, this movie isn't that. It's war as it really is. There's no good guys, and there's no bad guys...there's just brutality, and in this film, there is a LOT of brutality and gore.

I guess Fassbender is the one true good guy in the movie, even though he's on the side of the Romans, who aren't so good. I'm talking about stabbing your friend and leaving him to die to the wolves so you can survive bad. Then again, the Picts aren't much better, and actually display similar behaviour to the Romans. They decapitate their quarry, they scare and outcast their own people, they fight the Romans, but the odd thing is, they are the Romans in some twisted way. It's neat stuff, and definitely not your run of the mill war movie.

I have to touch on Olga Kurylenko. She was in Quantum of Solace (or Quantum of Sol-ass, if you will), and really didn't show much in the film. In this movie, she's probably the most feared and fearsome character in the film. She's a mute Pict tracker and hunter, and whoo-boy, is she lethal. Ask the poor guy who tried to assassinate Paul Freeman who scary she is. The thing is, you hate her through the film, because she's just so brutal, and so relentless, but her back story is so terrible, you kind of feel sorry for her, even though you want her dead at the same time. It's a really unique feeling.

Be warned though, there's gore galore in this film, and it doesn't flinch from showing you the gruesome details. I can see a lot of people not being able to stomach some of what they see, but hey, Neill Marshall has already demonstrated he has an unflinching mondus operandi in all things bloody, so just know who you're getting into.

Problems with the movie? I guess the only thing I can say is, because all the characters are real, and not completely good or bad, you're kind of left on the fence about who you're really rooting for in this film. Fassbender is the most likeable character, but even he has his flaws -- you get the sense that he can be just as brutal and unforgiving to his opponents as the rest. While this is a fresh take on this sort of film, it also compells the viewer to ever so slightly not give a damn who ends up dead. That's a small critique though, considering how really good this movie is.

Rating 4 out of 5 stars.

- Stephenstein

The Social Network

My wife and I saw the much hyped The Social Network last night. The two others on this blog were instantly pissed at this movie the first time they ever saw the trailer. I was indifferent. I knew what kind of movie it was going to be. It was never going to be “The Facebook Movie” with enterprising young men making a web site while encountering funny, endearing high jinks along the way. I knew it was going to be how this Mark Zuckerberg guy, “founder” of Facebook, is a douche-bag who steamrollered over his friends to become famous, rich and successful.

Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) is a wunderkind, who along with his roommates and best friend Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield – the next Spider-Man, don’t ya know), all go to school at Harvard. Zuckerberg (with help from Saverin) shows his prowess at the internet by creating an offensive site that garners 24000 hits in a few hours, catching the attention of two enterprising students, the Winklevoss brothers (both apparently played by Armie Hammer, who was to be Batman in WB’s now dead JLA movie). The Winklevosses (Winklevi as Zuckerberg calls them) have an idea to make a site similar to Freindster and MySpace but more exclusive and they need Zuckerberg’s help in building it. Zuckerberg agrees, but then goes off and embellishes the concept, creating the site himself and blowing off the Winklevosses whenever they want to meet with him to discuss the site. They get pissed when it’s launched without them and becomes instantly popular. That’s lawsuit #1. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg uses Eduardo Saverin’s help to bankroll the site, spending his money on servers, staff, etc. Enter Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake), the man who brought the music industry to its knees with Napster before being deluged by lawsuits. He sees potential in Facebook, bedazzles Zuckerberg with visions of how rich and famous the site can make him, and convinces Zuckerberg to axe Saverin (Zuckerberg’s one true friend in the world) and disavow any knowledge of Saverin being a co-founder. That’s lawsuit #2.

I actually liked this movie. I didn’t think I would. Let’s get into what’s good about it. First, it’s pretty slick looking. They got an actual good director, David Fincher, to helm the project and it’s got a style and rhythm all its own. Characters are introduced with clever scenes that show exactly what their personalities are, and the film moves at a brisk pace. The soundtrack is wicked too. It sounds like a cross between a horror movie score and Tron. You’d have to hear it to see what I’m talking about.

As well, the acting is very, very good. Jesse Eisenberg creates a vile, sometimes sympathetic character in Mark Zuckerberg. He so desperately wants to be “in” and liked. Facebook is totally an extension of this guy. Timberlake is good as emperor of douche-bags Sean Parker. He plays the character like the tempting devil it is. Andrew Garfield’s Eduardo Saverin is set up as the most likable character. I don’t know if that’s true to real life or not, but it works here. But the two characters I really loved were the Winklevoss bros. Holy crap, man! Are these dudes based on real life people? They’re these two 6 foot 5, blond, muscular jocks who regularly compete in rowing competitions and constantly wear suits and ties and talk in restrained tones and eloquent language befitting a Harvard student, which flies in the face of the expectation that these guys would be tough, muscle-head jocks that punch first and ask questions later. They have some of the best lines in the movie. When one of the Winklevosses wants to go to Zuckerberg and confront him directly as to why he’s blowing them off, he’s asked why by a friend, to which he responds “I’m muscular, athletic, 6’5, and there’s two of me!” Later, when the Winklevosses are being persuaded by a friend to fight Zuckerberg in the media for control over Facebook, one of the brothers says that would look bad. When asked how bad, he says “Like dressing up in skeleton costumes and chasing the Karate Kid bad!” I couldn’t stop laughing. These dudes are the best, and I can’t imagine that the real guys are as pumped as this.

Now for the bad. First off, when the movie ended, my Wife said, “That’s it??” When all was said and done, it didn’t seem like a worthwhile story to tell. It’s your typical “dude steps on everyone dear to him on the way to the top and is left with no one, living with regret and pining for companionship.” Yep, that’s basically it. It’s a good thing they got Fincher to direct and Aaron Sorkin to write in order to make all this at least entertaining. As well, there are two simultaneous lawsuits being shown throughout with the events leading up to Facebook and the two lawsuits told as the bulk of the movie in flashbacks. At first, this is actually a little confusing, but once you get used to the people involved with each lawsuit, you can tell those scenes apart.

Beyond all of that, it’s still decent entertainment. I loved the first and last scenes. They really sum up the character of Mark Zuckerberg (at least, according to the film). In the first scene, Zuckerberg is condescending to his then girlfriend, implying that she’s stupid and isn’t popular enough, and she breaks up with him, saying that he will probably go through life thinking girls don’t like him because he’s too nerdy, but it’s really because he’s an asshole. In the final scene, Zuckerberg talks to a lawyer (played by Rashida Jones) and as she leaves, she tells Zuckerberg that she doesn’t think he’s an asshole, she just thinks he tries really hard to be an asshole. Zuckerberg's a little stunned by this and, on Facebook, attempts to “friend request” the girl from the first scene. She never responds. That’s probably what I liked best about this movie. Through the Zuckerberg character, The Social Network is really making fun of the insecure, teeny-boppers who make up the bulk of Facebook’s membership.

3 out of 5. Watch only if you’re curious. And for the Winklevoss brothers. They're frickin' awesome.