29 January 2010

Fantastic Dinosaurs of the Movies

Back in July, the always fun to read Freddy in Space set in motion a plan to watch all the films listed on a recently watched DVD he'd seen: 'The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made'. So, in between his horror blogging duties, he set out to locate, watch, and review all the titles on that list. Well, ladies and gents, I find that I, too, have a calling to do something just like that.

This morning, I woke up with the strange sensation to watch a VHS that I haven't watched in many, many years. (The exact number eludes me at the moment, but it's overall not all that important) This particular VHS, a replacement of a older edition that I had lost, was a Goodtimes release of the 75-minute trailer compilation feature, Fantastic Dinosaurs of the Movies. As a wee little lad, I drove my grandma crazy watching that title over, and over, and over, and over again. That and the Neil Diamond Jazz Singer (don't get me started...it was a dark time...).

I love dinosaur movies, and I really, really, really wanna watch all the titles listed here. At least the majority of them are more readily available than the titles on Freddy's list, so that's a high plus. And let's not forget the enormous satisfactions for myself that when I watch that VHS again, I will know that I saw each and every film featured in it (at the moment, I'm probably only watched 35%, which I guess counts as cheating, but I'm giddy enough about the project I just don't care; plus, it sorta counts because I'm re-watching, and thus refreshing my memory).

Included on the list:

01. Journey to the Beginning of Time
02. The Lost World (1960)
03. King Dinosaur
04. The Giant Behemoth
05. The Spider
06. The Giant Gila Monster
07. The Loch Ness Horror
08. The Land that Time Forgot
09. Jack the Giant Killer
10. It Came from Beneath the Sea
11. Them!
12. Valley of the Dragons
13. Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
14. The Giant Claw
15. King Kong (1933)
16. The Valley of Gwangi
17. Tarantula
18. 20 Million Miles to Earth
19. Godzilla vs. The Thing
20. Journey to the Center of the Earth
21. The Crater Lake Monster
22. Seventh Voyage of Sinbad
23. Rodan
24. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
25. Reptilicus
26. The Land Unknown
27. Jason and the Argonauts
28. Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster
29. At the Earth's Core
30. Gorgo
31. Son of Kong
32. King Kong vs. Godzilla
33. One Million Years B.C.
34. When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

When will I have time to watch and review each and every one of these, especially with some of these not having official DVD releases? Good question. With school kicking my arse (seriously, Basic Math absolutely sucks - throw a 10,000 word paper my direction any day of the week, don't make me do fractions!), reviews will probably be sporadic, along with reviews of other 2010 releases, etc., etc. But keep checking back for a new review, 'cuz I'm not going to give up on this project. And if it goes as well as I hope it does, perhaps I'll make a attempt at Freddy's '50 Worst Movies Ever Made', a list which features far less films that I've actually seen (heard of a lot of 'em).

Anyone else feeling a little bit giddy about this?

21 January 2010


Cast: Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Asher Book, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Collins Pennie, Kelsey Gramme, Kherington Payne, Kristy Flores, Debbie Allen
Writer: Allison Burnett

Director: Kevin Tancharoen

Release: 25 September 2009

MGM, 122 mins. [Extended], Rated PG

Another case of a deceptive trailer. See, the trailer was really well cut, showing off all of the flick's cool visuals against the backdrop of the really cool rendition of the world renowned "Fame" theme song. It looked cool, looked interesting, looked like it could really be something.

Silly, silly me.

Fame follows a dozen or so students through their four years at a Performing Arts school in New York City. Success, failure, angst, mis-communication, and betrayal ensues. Cheer up moment with a nice little song diddy. The End.

It wouldn't be remotely exaggerated as to say that I can't remember a single one of these characters' names, and what they want to do with their life. Well, there is that one kid who wants to become a famous Spielbergean movie director, and his plotline is by far one of the most predictable. Then there's that Zac Efron looked weirdo who wants to be a dancer, and when that doesn't follow through, he goes totally O.C. and resorts to drastic, dramatic measures. But that's about it. There's a singer girl, a drama girl, and another dancer girl. They all sorta look the same, what with the same clothing and hair styles, and lacking any sort of individualistic personality to separate them from the next person. In fact, there's two people I think I have mixed up but may not actually be: there's this kid who is all "Grrr, my mom sucks! Life - woe!" one minute, and happy go-lucky-dude with his passe the next. Not sure if it's the same character, but it might be.

Point is, the characters are completely not worth remembering, and if that's the case, than it's obvious that they're not well written, and that's there's no emotional connection to any of them or their storyline. And I even put on the Extended Cut! [There did appear to be plenty of Deleted Scenes, but aside from a few interesting ones, I didn't bother] I completely understand that the writers were forced to cover a wide range of characters through four years of high school in a two hour running time; a nearly impossible task. Well, this isn't how one does it. I give kudos, absolutely, to writer Burnett, as she definitely tries her best to make her characters rich and their dilemmas interesting, but it all feels very 'been there, done that.' And that unoriginality, along with the lack of connection to the characters, ruined the movie for me than anything else.

Direction-wise, Tancharoen goes documentary style, fully utilizing hand-held cinematography to a more annoying extent than anything Paul Greengrass can offer. The style didn't suck me into their lives; instead, it left me wondering if anyone was even operating the camera what with all the random zooms. Tancharoen also brings in slow motion in some dance sequences, and it's actually a well used effect, definitely during the graduation ceremony. Cool.

Dance sequences, few that there were, didn't really spice up the atmosphere, either. And that's regrettable, 'cuz I'm sure if there were some cool songs and choreography I'd probably be 'woah'd' enough to enjoy it a bit more. And as far as actors - eh. The most real performance, and this is coming from a scene that felt entirely contrived/forced, is when one of the teachers is coaxed by a student to get up in sing. It's a fun sequence that actually did accomplish sucking you in, but still felt rather fakey. There's just nothing noteworthy.

Bottom line, Fame is underwhelming. Style over substance, you could say. Perhaps it's just bad timing on the movie's part, with the movie's I've seen lately being quite good, this one just appeared lackluster. But none of them left me as detached and, frankly, a little bored as this musical did. My apologies to the writer, director, and producers. Good attempt, I'll give you that, but the script needed a little bit more ironing and the actors needed a little bit more coaching. I'm gonna pop me in some High School Musical 3 now. Or maybe give the 1980 Fame a chance?

20 January 2010

Bang Bang, You're Dead

Cast: Ben Foster, Tom Cavanaugh
Writer: William Mastrosimone
Director: Guy Ferland
Broadcast: 13 October 2002
Showtime, 2002, 93 mins., Unrated

Thank Goodness for End of the Decade lists. Some reviewer will include a title on their list that you had no inkling even existed. Nick over at Random Ramblings of a Demented Doorknob had such comprehensive Decade lists; one of said lists included this little known gem, Bang Bang, You're Dead, a movie that's as gripping and intense and perfectly acted as you can imagine.

We're immediately introduced to Trevor Adams (Foster), a social outcast and subject of much gossip and anger amongst the community. Months before, Trevor made a bomb threat towards the football team; as it is, the bomb was non-functional, with no explosive inside. With his integration back into high school, the source of many a parents grievances, Trevor must endure anger management therapy, periodic bag & locker searches, and is the source of blame for any and all things. The only teacher who seems to have his back is Head of Drama Department Val Duncan (Cavanaugh), who casts Trevor as the lead shooter in the school's production of Bang Bang, You're Dead. Suffice it to say, the play faces some obstacles from the community, and Trevor is the prime target. Meanwhile, he finds himself entangled with Trogs, the school outsiders, who set their sights on completing what Trevor started.

Best drama of the decade? Not sure, but it sure as hell was dramatic. The phone rang several times, and if wasn't for my needing to find job #2, I probably wouldn't have picked it up; this movie is not only dramatic, but it's so intense hardly a distraction can cause you to turn away. I was constantly engrossed in the situation, the dialogue, the acting nuances, formulating miscellaneous ways this flick could end (FYI, it didn't conclude remotely how I thought it would), what things could possibly go wrong, etc., etc. There were several scenes that caused me some rather cold chills: as Nick mentioned, a sequence where faculty, police officers, and parents watch a video Trevor shot of all the bullying and teasing around the school - it's chilling, beautifully edited together to evoke just the right sucker punch emotion. It really hits you in the chest. Another scene, near the end, where Trevor has to make a choice, and by that point, I certainty didn't know what that choice would be. The drama and tension of watching him struggle with right and wrong. Similarly, a scene where Mr. Duncan urges Trevor to get to the foundation of the Josh character (the shooter in the play), and Trevor is forced to confront his own dark soul.

From a acting standpoint, this movie is a solid goldmine. Every single actor, from a role large to small, brought their A game. In fact, I would argue that this was no more a movie than a documentary. It was as if a camera crew followed Foster around - who wanted to take a unprecedented leap of method acting - in a high school, and filmed all the shenanigans and crap that goes on their [coming out of high school myself, I can vouch for about 75% of everything that happened in this movie; nearly identical to my school years at White Bear]. If there was just one negative aspect I could grudge out of it, it's that Foster was a little difficult to read from time to time. I couldn't quite get a fix of who Trevor was, where he was mentally, things of that nature; but for all I know, it was a deliberate and calculated performance agreed upon by Foster and director Ferland.

Another performance that deserves high praise is that of the nearly-always-fantastic Tom Cavanaugh. I can't think of a production with him in it that I haven't liked, or at least his performance. I still recall that show he was on about a record label, Love Monkey or something like that? It was on ABC. I know, irrelevent, but point is: Tom Cavanaugh is 'da bomb! And finally, the Principal (of all people!), played to perfection by Gillian Barber, deserves quite the amount of accolades. The above mentioned sequence involving parents, faculty, and police alike watching Trevor's video, what the principal does and says after that is heart crushing but simultaneously satisfying; I was rooting for her character, a character who we're supposed to not love so much.

Aside from performances, kudos must be given for making the most realistic replica of high school life, dialogue, and mannerisms that I've ever seen on film (next to actual documentaries, of course, but those sometimes even seem like the teens are catering to the camera). The community responded to Trevor's re-enrollment exactly as I expect a community would; the parents of both Trevor and other high schoolers did their roles authentic justice; there's even a recurring teen character that gets bullied at several parts of the movie, and it's a little freaky how close that is to reality.

There's been plenty of movies and TV shows centering on 'troubled' students and their potential threat level to the community and students. Three seasons ago The WB's One Tree Hill tackled this subject. And on the non-film related spectrum, acclaimed novelist Jodi Piccult came out with Nineteen Minutes, a book dealing with the aftermath of the shooting while revealing bit by bit, via flashbacks, what happened in those 19 minutes. One thing that Bang Bang has that none of these or other unmentioned writings features, is the sense of jeopardy. Another testament to great performances and equally magnificent writing, I firmly believed that anything can happen, and inevitably would happen. That's another beautiful feature about the movie: it's entirely happy staying in the gray area of morality; there's no Christian 'right and wrong', there's just the messed up reality we live in.

The film's last minutes is a dramatization of the Bang Bang, You're Dead play, which originated back in '99, and it's as gripping as the movie itself. The dialogue, the chanting of the deceased students circling the alive and maddening shooter, the stage direction - it's great stuff, and I'm immensely pleased that it found it's way into the movie. In fact, a double surprise awaited me at the End Credits: actual performances of the play at school productions were shown to the left as the credits rolled. That was quite interesting to watch.

Bang Bang, You're Dead is drop-dead drama; the only comedy to come out of it are a few snide comments from teens in response to annoying parents or faculty members. I don't know how receptive schools would be to this flick, or the play itself (although a reported 10,000 schools have adapted this play for the screen), with such subject matter I'm sure they would argue would be more damaging to a threat's psychology. If my word means anything, and you're reading this so I presume it does (a little), this movie is highly recommended, and I'd suggest placing it the top of your Netflix Que ASAP.

13 January 2010

EDITORIAL - 2009 Musings & Looking Forward

School just started back up again, and thankfully, this being the first day and all, I have today and tomorrow (probably) to write and write and write for this blog. Here's hoping that goes over well.

So...2009...well, it was a OK year. More than anything, I would call this "the year of surprises." There were so many films that came out that surprised the frak out of me with how well they were. First and foremost, J.J. Abrams and his Star Trek movie; I freakin' LOVED it (as you can tell from my not very subtle review), and this is coming from a bloke who isn't all that fond of the series, except for three of the other movie installments. And then in August, first time director Neil Blomkamp delivered District 9, a flick shot in documentary style that completely blew me away with stellar performances and jaw-dropping visual effects in the department of fully animated character renderings. The only other movie this year to match that movie's effects would be the years-in-development Avatar. And Push, a superhero movie that made me fall head over shoes in love. The beauty of the visual eye, the actors, etc. all converged to make a fun, absolutely re-watchable action movie.

The horror genre surprised the hell out of me with My Bloody Valentine back in January (while at the same time going over old ground with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), and Orphan in the summer, a movie that was far more intense and sophisticated than it had any right to be. There were falters (Friday the 13th, Sorority Row, The Fourth Kind; I hear The Unborn was pretty bad, but I still have yet to have the pleasure), as there always are. But overall, it really seemed like studios were trying to improve their products with more intelligent-ish scripts, sorta three-dimensional characters, and impressive direction (the key to any scare in cinematography, which results in atmosphere). And let's not forget, Paranormal Activity, a movie that perfectly echoes the chillingness of The Blair Witch Project...but is better!

2009 brought about a lot of diverse titles, it seems. My top films of the year (thus far) range from fantasy, sci-fi, horror, comedy, and action. There's only one superhero movie on my list (Watchmen), which is surprisingly, but in retrospect, superheroes weren't the craze last year.

There's still a good chunk of movies I need to see from 2009 before I can make official judgments, and the sad part is that, out of necessity, I'm probably going to have to watch 'em online. With the exception of one on this list, none have hit DVD and Imaginarium is the only one in the St. Paul/White Bear area (I hate buses, so there ain't any way I'm going to the Minneapolis Uptown theater).

1. Antichrist
2. The Road
3. The Hurt Locker

4. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans

5. A Serious Man

6. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Out of all of them,
Antichrist is the one I'm looking forward to the most; Eric at Cannelton Critic found himself unable to recommend it, but still 'liked it'; and most of the reviews I've read support the general idea that it's a dark movie that will make you think, but disturbing on enough levels you're not sure what you just saw. So, me + movie = excited! The next film on my list of Must Sees is The Road, the long delayed-to-theaters adaptation of said novel. It had a one week theatrical release in my area, and thanks to finals at school, I was never able to catch it, and to hell if I'm waiting for DVD. Next up, a lot of good press for Nic Cage's Bad Lieutenant, so I'm psyched to see it. Doctor Parnassus is a intriguing film on my list, mainly because the premise sounds delicious and, of course, the whole bucketload of obstacles director Terry Gilliam had to overcome - one wants to see the final product. I don't particularly enjoy war movies, but The Hurt Locker has gotten some unanimously positive praise, so I figured that's worth a shot; and finally, never been a fans of the Coens, either, but I wager it's my duty. Oh, and I would also quite like to see the animated flick 9 and Fame before I make a year-end wrap up.

Now that 2009 is behind us, it's time to look to the future, because, after all, "it's where you and I will be living" (Plan 9 from Outer Space). Surprisingly, this year looks like it's going to have plenty of good titles to choose from, which is a nice change of pace from the unspectacular selection this year (aside from Star Trek & District 9, of course). What's coming up in 2010 I'm really super-duper-looking forward to:

The Book of Eli (15 January)
Comes out this Friday, and I will rush from school to see this post-apocalyptic action/adventure starring the always awesome Denzel Washington (Training Day), the drop-dead-gorgeous Mila Kunis (let's forget Max Payne, shall we?), and the spectacularly diverse Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, one of his finest). The premise sounds absolutely enticing: something about a mystical book that holds the key to survival, and only Eli can be in possession of it; Oldman's character doesn't seem to fond of that, and wants it for himself. Awesome, beautiful action ensues. Who doesn't like a good action movie, and furthermore, who doesn't like a film with Mila Kunis (again, Max Payne aside)? Good or bad, review-wise when the movie comes out, this is one ticket that's already been bought, and there ain't anything that's gonna stop me from seeing this beauty.

The Wolfman (12 February)
Poor Wolf Man. This re-imagining, by Jurassic Park III director Joe Johnston has been in post-production Hell for awhile. First reshoots were necessary for key parts of the movie, or character beats, what have you; and then there was a big thing about composer Danny Elfman being replaced by the guy who did the music for Underworld; and then something about editors - one thing after another. But finally - absolutely and truly finally - the movie's getting a release in a month, and I for sure will be one of the (probably few) people in the world who will see it, let alone really extremely excited for it. Granted, the action heavy trailer didn't make me have a viewer orgasm, but I'm still interested enough in this beauty and think it could actually end up being quite good. Or else I'm just a really optimistic person when it comes to monster movies.

A Couple of Dicks (26 February)
I refuse to call it Cop Out; I dig the title, but this is A Couple of Dicks, and it's meant to be that. Truth be told, the movie doesn't interest me that much. The very mention of Tracy Morgan irritates me, and when coupled with the audio clipping of his excruciatingly obnoxious voice, I trimmer. But this is also a Kevin Smith movie, and I'm a loyal fan to whatever he writes or directs (I even own Jersey Girl, mates), so my ticket was sold the moment his named was attached as director. Besides, it's also worth seeing to see how Smith as grown over the last 15 years or so as a director. And if nothing else, the almighty Bruce Willis (Live Free or Die Hard) is quite capable of delivering hilarious dialogue perfectly, so he'd, at least, be entertaining. (Trailer)

Piranha 3-D (19 March)
Looks like a blast. Honestly, it does. Plus, I'm starting to really get into this whole 3-D gimmick. My Bloody Valentine 3-D was extremely fun, and the 3-D was well utilized; The Final Destination was a horrid movie and the three dimensional effects majorly sucked; Avatar, well - unparalleled as far as 3-D technology is concerned. The movie looks like corny, slapstick fun; Airplane but with Piranhas. And additionally, how can any bloke in the world possibly deny seeing all the beautiful bikini-clad ladies onscreen - in 3 freakin' D? Richard Dreyfuss, famous for Jaws but not-so-famous for Poseidon, appears in this flick with a bunch of other unknowns, so that's a plus. Honestly, not much to say, other than that it looks like fun, and the final moments of the trailer are just horribly fan-freakin'tastic. So, yeah, I'll be in attendance. (Trailer)

Clash of the Titans (26 March)
Most anticipated movie of the year, by far. There's been about three trailers released, and every single one of 'em look amazing. Throw the everywhere-I-look-there-you-are Sam Worthington into the mix, and you're assured at least decent acting and kickassery. And then the massive amounts of monsters and battles that make up most of the trailers...boy gee wizz, do I feel like a kid in a candy store. I blame Avatar; my thrist to see giant monsters back on the big screen getting their desturctive habits displayed in the giant silver screen is just reaching gigantic proportions. For all I know, this might be extremely lame and boast a crappy story with crappy characters and its sole existence is to display above average visual effects, a la 10,000 B.C. But I don't think this. It looks like it has something resembling a half-decent story, and the action scenes look as awesome as every exhilerating moment of Live Free or Die Hard. Plus, this just might make make Greek myths cool again (at least moreso than Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief), and generate more interest not only in the old Harry Hamlin Clash of the Titans but mythology as well.

Iron Man 2 (7 May)
"I am Iron Man." Totally didn't expect that coming. Anyone else see that? No. Well, ladies and gents, that's some amazing writing. Co-written by director Favreau, and apparently actor Robert Downey, Iron Man 2 follows Tony Stark in the public eye after his shocking announcement, to the praise and the lawsuits that come with it. Meanwhile, there's a unpleasant Russian by the name of Whiplash (the overpraised Mickey Rourke) who is going to cause some trouble for Tony. In truth, I enjoyed Iron Man, but it doesn't lend itself for repeat viewings as well as other flicks, I believe - which is weird, because it was exceptionally written, directed, and acted. So I'm approaching Iron Man 2 with interest and respect (because of the first), but I simultaneously have trepidations that it may follow 'sequelitis' and be kinda crappy. I guess we'll see how it goes...

Robin Hood (14 May)
There's been plenty of Robin Hood movies, plenty of interpretations, and even a three-series run as a BBC show with moderate success. Now Ridley Scott & Russel Crowe are teaming up (again) to (hopefully) breath new life into the franchise, and make the definitive Robin Hood flick. I'm guessing no, but it's worth the hope.

The Last Airbender (2 July)
M. Night taking a crack at a production he not only didn't write himself, but is also a existing, established mega franchise. Kudos to the man, 'cuz he's got balls. I can't recall the specific movie, but sometime during the summer a trailer for The Last Airbender was attached (probably Revenge of the Fallen), and I can tell you right then, I was salivating. I needed to see this movie. It was so epic in scope. The music was awesome and got you pumped up. And then the long single shot coming from inside the little hut of his, going outside, and revealing the battalion of battleships firing on the monastery with a bunch of guys climbing the mountain. Simple in trailer presentation, but that little thinger made me fall in love instantaneously. I sure as hell will be seeing this gem on its first day of release. Looks freakin' awesome. And M. Night might be able to redeem himself for the piss-poor script & direction of The Happening.

Inception (16 July)
Christopher Nolan's follow up to The Dark Knight is shaping to be his next masterpiece. Tons of really cool sci-fi moments in the trailer, Leonardo DiCaprio looking as intense as he ever has, and really cool shots of a hallway fight that sorta reminds me of Neo vs. Smith in the first Matrix back in '99. Neither heaven or hell will prevent me from attending the midnight screening for this baby, which is really, really shrouded in secrecy. The details of Dark Knight and Revenge of the Sith were more forthcoming than this. I honestly haven't a clue what to expect. But I think this is going to be gargantuan. Let's just hope I have the necessary brain cells to understand what Nolan is saying with this flick.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (20 November)
I've followed the Potter franchise since it's inception in the U.S., from book to screen, and there's no way in freakin' Hell that I would skip/possibly miss out on this first installment of Harry's final adventure. Deathly Hallows, the book, was spectacular; especially the last 200 pages or so - and I can't wait to see how it's translated to screen. I'm still unsure of the 2-movie split; it makes sense, but at the same time, it sorta doesn't feel right. Perhaps the dramatic momentum will deplete - if not a lot, then it will, at least, impede a little bit. And after Half-Blood Prince, my faith in writer Steven Kloves has been shaken; it's hardly a secret that Order of the Phoenix (the movie) is arguably the best written installment of the franchise, and that featured a different writer. I understand that Kloves has written 7/8 of the Potter films, but if Half-Blood was any indication of what he chooses to be worthwhile plots and insignificant plots, than Deathly Hallows just might be in trouble. Nevertheless, I'll be there opening night.

12 January 2010

Halloween II

Cast: Scout Taylor-Compton, Brad Dourif, Danielle Harris, Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Tyler Mane. Writer & Director: Rob Zombie Release: 28 August 2009 Dimension Films, 101 mins., Rated R

The DVD release is finally upon is, and now I can look at the film objectively and analytically, knowing what to expect going in. Back in late August, when this little gem first came out, I, similar to many other fans and casual moviegoers, was disappointed with this second installment, and ‘final’ piece of Rob Zombie’s ‘vision’ (as the trailer said). Most people went in expecting garbage, but I’m part of the minority that appreciates Zombie’s 2007 remake (yes, this is indeed coming from a Halloween fan), so I was hoping for the best. Sadly, what I got was something a little less than what I would have liked, with an unsatisfying abnormal psychological disorder listed as the root of Michael’s insanity, mask issues, and a conclusion that I found interesting but simultaneously had some qualms about. So I just rented and watched it again (theatrical cut; I wished to see it in its original version before I could adequately judge the unrated, which I might post about later when I pick it up), and is it any better the second time around?

Surprisingly, yes. Halloween II opens minutes after the first, with a bloodied, distraught, emotionally and psychologically fragmented Laurie Strode wandering the Halloween decorated streets of Haddonfield, gun in hand. Beautifully shot, using the locations and lighting to create a moody atmosphere; it’s easily one of my favorite scenes from the film. Laurie is found by Sheriff Brackett, and sent to the hospital. Back at the Myers house, Samuel Loomis is rolled out and Michael’s body is put in a van on a one-way ticket out of town. Suffice it to say, Michael – and the drivers – don’t make it to their destination (cue a moment where a character mutters ‘fuck’ about 26 times in all sorts of mannerisms before finally dying). Michael tracks Laurie to the hospital (in homage, of sorts, to the original 1981’s Halloween II, directed by Rick Rosenthal) in a gripping, edge-of-your-seat sequence that escalates and escalates until it explodes in a highly disappointing cop-out.

It’s October 29, a year later, and Laurie is having bad dreams. She sees a therapist (Margot Kidder in a one-scene cameo), lives at the Brackett house with her friend Anne (Harris in her fourth Halloween adventure), and is completely psychologically messed up. She’s a tad rebellious, her room is paradoxically made up of posters of Marilyn Manson, serial killers, and Jesus Christ, and her taste in clothing style has really gone downhill. While her life is in the shitter, Loomis is making a profit. On the 31st, his Myers biography The Devil’s Eyes hits bookstores and he’s making the rounds with press. Time after time, he cites no responsibility for the victims of Michael’s rampage, and publicly declares Myers D-E-A-D (he was nice enough to spell it out for them). Meanwhile, Michael walks the countryside.

Dressed up in his normal black jumpsuit with a hoodie and jacket, Myers still finds time to kill some people, all the while getting visions of his dead mother, dressed all in white. See, before the movie even begins its first frame, Zombie brings up ‘The White Horse’, which, according the opening text, is a ‘drive of the physical body to release powerful and emotional forces, like rage with ensuing chaos and destruction’ (as from The Subconscious Psychosis of Dreams). So I’m assuming the White Horse is his pathway to his need to kill people, but I’m still a little fuzzy about why he needs to kill everyone to get to Laurie (and eventually kill her, I assume). If he took the time to shave, dress nicely, and show up at her doorstep and say, ‘Hey sis, I’m your bro! Is it by any chance OK that we, y’know, be a family again?’ But then again, that would be logical, and Michael’s a bit on the insane side. Anyhow, his albino mother says it’s time to go back to Haddonfield, and away he goes. Unfortunately, this storyline sounds a little too reminiscent to Jason Voorhees and his mother issues; however, considering that he didn’t exactly have a stable relationship with his stepfather (let alone biological father), I doubt that would be his delirium.

What follows for the next thirty minutes is non-stop brutality. Michael makes his way home, and claims a couple of lives in the process (even stopping by his mom’s old strip joint); Laurie finds out a devastating fact of her life that completely shatters her, only to come home and find her life take a turn for the even worse when she finds Michael waiting for her. Chaos ensues, and it all climaxes in a shotgun/helicopter convergence on a small little shack. Quite honestly, I don’t know why a conclusion like this has never been thought of before. What better way to get Michael off one’s back then to call the entire police force with every gun on Michael? To my utter and delightful surprise, things end in a unexpected way.

First time I saw Halloween II, the whole White Horse thing threw me for a loop; it’s taken a while to get used it, but I finally accept it. However, I still maintain that some of these problems with Laurie is unnecessary and could be completely cut (more on that later). Another disappointing element – and this is coming from a bloke who doesn’t get all that high of a joy from seeing the creative ways cast members are discarded – is that Michael kills several folks in the exact same fashion. I understand that he predominantly uses a big knife, and isn’t as inventive as Jason, but I was a little underwhelmed by all the head bashing.

Scout leads the film as Laurie, a woman who is fractured to her core. She even ventures further down the rabbit hole of despair as a deep dark secret gets revealed, and she completely loses it. Kudos to Scout for delivering her A-game with the role; she brought the right note to everything, and easily overcame my uneasiness with her from the first film. Returning actors McDowell and Dourif are surprisingly given more to do. McDowell delights in his bastarderly ways, and Dourif showcases compassion and pain like never before. Tyler Mane – well, he stands and broods; I don’t like the giant beard, sir. Newcomers get the short end of the stick, appearing in no more than two scenes (not counting their death sequence). However, the cameo of Weird Al (“Nice to meet you, Mr. Weird” was priceless) was quite funny, if a bit short.

As a director, I quite love Rob Zombie. Out of his four movies, House of 1,000 Corpses is the only one I haven’t seen. Zombie’s movies extensively use hand held shots to convey intensity and to really get into the meat of the characters, action, story, etc. Not to mention it also adds a nice documentary feel to it. Zombie best utilized this technique with 2007’s re-imagining, making a gripping final battle between Laurie and Michael that continues to suck me in no matter how many times I’ve seen it. His constant usage of trailer trash and hippie people, hairstyle, and locale is getting a little thin in toleration; I wish the guy would get out of this obsession he has and not make everything seem out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake. But his positives far outweigh any faults; aerial shots of Myers walking through the countryside are both ominous and beautiful; slow motion is splendidly and sparsely used to convey really dramatic moments (such as Michael's I'M BACK, BITCH! moment at the Brackett house).

For his skill as a writer, Zombie sorta comes off as Tarantino-esque with his dialogue. I know, I know, this assertion may come off as blasphemy, but I find that he has the rare touch to make conversations in scenes come off as something real, something that any group of people would casually speak about, instead of being artificially constructed to create character beats and fill running time. I just appreciate his writing style. Zombie even has the foresight to include really good, powerful emotional moments, such as when Laurie thinks about her deceased ‘parents’, and later finds out about her true lineage, she breaks down in her car. It’s a beautiful beat that I wildly appreciate was included. On the negative spectrum, the dreams that Laurie has are so bizarre and simply nutty that it feels like an entirely different movie, and seems inappropriate for a Halloween installment. There's religious apparitions, ghouls of Samhain, and a Gothic funeral lead by her biological mother. It doesn't make sense and I would much rather it be left out. Additionally, the new characters this time around are quite flat, given virtually no dimension or personality aside from two scenes to establish who they are to her and what type of girls they are. A little sad, but here's hoping the Director's Cut might remedy it (plus, I still have yet to delve into the Deleted Scenes). Another aspect I like is how Loomis’ character is written (which I know many would disagree), as he walks the path of a sympathetic and sometimes jackassey old fart. I especially love the book signing scene, where Loomis is confronted by the father of one of Michael’s victims; it’s a awesome scene that pulls a lot of weight to the situation, and it’s simply a nice emotional moment that somehow tags its way into a slasher movie.

And that’s the interesting thing about Rob Zombie’s Halloween & Halloween II; they’re a little bit more than just slasher films. Zombie invests deeply into the psychology of Michael, touching on it a little in the first, but delving head-long in the second. This White Horse thing, the fuel of Michael’s rage and explanation for his desire to kill; but Zombie still, unsatisfying, is unable to make me understand his rationale in targeting Laurie. In the visions of his mom, both of them urge to be ‘a family again’; so does this mean killing Laurie, then presumably himself, would make this happen? As many reviews have said, Zombie presents big ideas that he’s simply unable to really get into, because he doesn’t seem to know what to do with them either. I will always appreciate Zombie for attempting to write something more than he delivers, but it is a little disheartening.

Halloween II came and went when it was released 28 August 2009, barely making any dough box office wise, and quickly left theaters within two or three weeks. The Weinsteins made the surprise announcement of a Halloween III – not only would it not be directed by Rob Zombie (yippie!), but it would be getting a 3-D treatment (a la My Bloody Valentine and The Final Destination). Considering the lack of success and enthusiasm generated by Halloween II, this project was a questionable move. In October, the Weinsteins re-released Halloween II in the midst of horror movie time (i.e., Saw VI) for a limited one-week engagement. Numbers were in, and the Weinsteins balked at a third film [though, after what happened with Zombie’s movies and the conclusion of Halloween: Resurrection, I’m not so much sure how they could possibly direct the franchise somewhere interesting enough to warrant a eleventh movie].

It's not as bad as I first thought it was, but it doesn't match up to his 2007 outing, either. H2 is just one of those movies that when it comes to boiling it all right down to its core, I dunno whether to recommend it or urge you to run far, far away. It's interestingly written and directed to be sure, but at the same time, there's many elements that kinda make this into a strange genre-crossing picture. I'm anxious to get a hold of Zombie's Director's Cut, as it apparently follows Laurie and her despair more closely than the theatrical cut. More character moments that would give us more info on the newbies and expound a little more with our principal leads, as well as fleshing out some psychological aspects and completely doing away with the trailer trash stuff - that would make Halloween II rather awesome. I'm well aware there's probably people thinking I'm nutters or don't know what a good movie in general is for halfway liking and defending this movie - and it's quite possible - but H2 isn't as bad as one would think. Give it a chance.

07 January 2010


Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang
Writer & Director: James Cameron
Release: 18 December 2009
FOX, 162 mins., PG-13

This is what it must have felt like for a young Ray Harryhausen, sitting in the darkened theater in 1933 watching Willis O'Brien's majestic special effects create a window into a new world in Merian C. Cooper's King Kong. Avatar, the much-hyped about, $300/$500 million projected budget, and 12-year old brainchild of Titanic director James Cameron, is not a movie – it’s an experience, a journey to another world with nine-foot tall blue folk and beasts right out of a giant monster movie. It is, down to its bare essence, a movie of wonder that captivated me from the moment Jake Sully landed on Pandora. I went there; I breathed (or not breathed, more like it) the Pandoran air; I fought the beasts as Jake Sully did; I climbed on the trees and touched strange alien life-forms that represent, for lack of a better relative, ‘maya.’ Forget the budget, forget the classical story, Avatar achieved something for me no movie has ever done before: it absolutely brought me into a fantasy world where I flew with the characters and lived out their adventure. And for that, James Cameron, you have my absolute gratitude.

Not only that, but it was positively delightful to see monsters onscreen again. [Okay, maybe using the term ‘monsters’ may be inappropriate in relation to these creatures] To see the detail in their skin, eyes, movements, structure, stance, attack formation, roars and bellows – it was marvelous. And again, this must be what it felt like seeing O’Brien’s giant 30-meter ape terrorizing New York City. Pure beauty and awe at the same time. I am a giant monster fan (in case that fact remained unnoticed), and it was nothing but gigantic wish fulfillment to see movie studios and a writer/director put all their energies and effort into realizing a monster in this day ‘n age [a feat only a high-profile director like Cameron, Jackson, or Spielberg would probably be able to pull off]. And I can’t finish celebrating this category without giving mention to the designs of all the creatures – big and small – throughout this picture. In one word, they’re beautiful to look at, and one can’t help but admire and sorta envy James Cameron’s imagination.

There’s probably 1,000 Avatar reviews circulating the internet as we speak, so it makes little sense to get into specifics someone else delved into book-length. What I will say is this: the storyline, which has received a bruising for its familiar, not-so-originalness, is exactly what was needed for this type of movie. Not overly complicated, and not entirely something completely brand-spankin’-new. It's a classic plot that's been used many times over, and there's a reason it's a classic: it's nearly always moving, entertaining, epic in scope, and allows a writer to delve into the characters moreso than concentrating entirely on the plot. I can't say if Cameron specifically succeeds in that area of scriptwriting - whether or not the characters are anything more than your average fill-ins for this type of flick, but I can say I care enough about each and every one of them. Even Colonel Miles Quaritch (Lang), the 'antagonist', is lovable. And Sigourney Weaver redeems herself for The Village, so that's a giant plus.

Regular Cameron collaborator James Horner (Titanic, Aliens) turns in a score that's mighty entertaining, but a little disappointing with its callbacks to earlier works, like Troy and The Mask of Zorro. Taking full use of orchestral chants and shouts that are either entirely random or the language of the Na'vi, it nonetheless fulfills the epic scope quota the makes every situation as intense as it can get. The CGI is at the top of its game, as one would expect with a budget like this. Even presented in 2-D, the level of detail in every single frame is indisputable. There has never been a more realistic, three-dimensional character, creature, or
landscape ever depicted on film. Some have come close (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, King Kong), but this takes the cake. What's presented here in nothing short of a thing of absolute beauty.

In short, I can forgive a majority of Avatar's for the simple reason that James Cameron made me feel like a giddy child again, mesmerized by Godzilla attacking Japan for the 27th time while simultaneously fighting some new threat to the world (other than him, of course). He gave me a journey that I'm not about to forget - a journey to another world with strange but fascinating creatures. He gave me back the gift of wonder and daydreaming of what's up in the stars. This review could seem to stem mainly from emotion, and that's mostly true; after all, isn't that the primary goal of 3-D cinema? To sweep you up and feel like you're in the environment as our actors? James Cameron, you have accomplished this like no other. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now excuse me, I'm gonna go and play with my Megazords and T-Rex toys...

05 January 2010

EDITORIAL - Favorites of the Decade: Horror

Confession: I don't watch enough horror movies to made a fully adequate list that would do justice to the horror films of the 2000s. There's still plenty big-timers I haven't seen, like 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later, Quarantine, Dog Soldiers, or The Orphanage. I know, bad me. So this list may not be favorable to many, but I know these horror flicks are the ones that I consult if I'm feeling in the horror-movie-watching mode. Enjoy and discuss!


HALLOWEEN (Rob Zombie - 2007)
You'll either love it or hate it. I just happen to be one of those that love it. For all two hours of its running time, Zombie's take on Michael Meyers grabbed me and wouldn't let go. From the first thirty minutes of a young Michael not taking crap from bullies to his spontaneous murder of three people on Halloween night, all the way to the exciting, intense, never-let-up adrenaline right of a chase between him and Laurie, writer/director Rob Zombie made quite the damn good movie. Now that I've complimented it, I just want to complain about Zombie's constant use of hippies and vulgarity; his word usage is worse than Kevin Smith's. There's plenty of times it's unnecessary and adds nothing to the character(s). Anyway, now that that's sidenote's kaput, I'll go back into lovin' gushy mode: young Mikie was as freaky as his adult counterpart, and was chillingly played; Malcolm McDowell may not have been at his A game, but I can't think of anyone else taking the Dr. Loomis mantel (BTW, didn't very much like everyone addressing him as "Samuel"); and the last forty minutes as Michael is out stalking Laurie and her friends, and eventually gets a little knife heavy - well, that was some intense stuff right there. Michael was a brute force - not unlike Jason - and he could hardly be stopped. Rob Zombie made Michael Meyers frightening again (not too difficult of a task after H20 and Resurrection). Now, unfortunately, Zombie ruined all my lovin' with 2009's quite bad Halloween II. Here's hoping that Zombie's 'vision' has henceforth concluded in Halloweenville.

FEAST (John Gulager - 2005)
For once, a horror flick that lived up to its hype. Most of my thoughts on the Feast franchise can be found here, but I'll just give a quick overview. Basically, I dug it (obviously). There were some awesome moments, some brilliant gut-burstin' sequences (such as the death of a young child, right after the equally brilliant 'life expectancy' card pops up), and the design of the monsters (when they were actually visible and easy to make out) was quite impressive. Sadly, the direct-to-DVD sequels really, really sucked, and became a parody of itself by the third installment, which attempted to go all Dead Man's Chest on us and tell a ever-expanding story in two connected movies. One of the rare horror movies that invokes fun, horror, and the apparently much-needed blood & guts, Feast is definitely deserves a spot as one of my favorite horror flicks of the decade.

SAW III (Darren Lynn Bousman - 2006)
Indeed, the first SAW movie was one of those horror thrillers that left you with your jaw straight down on the floor as the final moments passed you by, and when the 'Directed by' credit rises, you're all "No freakin way!!!" You just saw one of the more original, intense, and truly disturbing horror movies in a while. SAW II was more of a procedural action film with a serial killer at the heart of it; SAW III, for me, is just emotionally draining. All the stories - from the affair-having doctor Lynn, the grief-stricken father Jeff, Jigsaw's apprentice Amanda, and John Kramer's final hours - it's absolute thrilling stuff, and that's just one of the reasons why I love this movie. Not only is it fueled by characters more than, I argue, the other installments, but it also features one of those endings that totally and completely leave you speechless. Sadly, the following trilogy of post-Jigsaw wasn't nearly as spectacular as the first, er, 'prequel' trilogy (haha, haha, hahah [?]). SAW III is the Saw franchise at it's absolute best.

PLANET TERROR (Robert Rodriguez - 2007)
Arguably the superior movie in the Grindhouse double feature (Death Proof, written & directed by Quentin Tarantino), Planet Terror is so 'out there', it's just one of those 'I can't believe what I'm watching' flicks that will leave you either totally head-over-heels in love or just wondering, 'WTF, mate?' Luckily for me, I dug it. Writer/director Rodriguez mixes high-adrenaline action sequences, Rose McGowan's beautiful body, and a lot of mutant zombie-like people and creates a highly entertaining movie. And how can one possibly not mention the BRILLIANT missing reels gag? (used at the best not-best moment)

DAWN OF THE DEAD (Zack Snyder - 2004)
Going against the general horror population, I don't like zombie movies. I don't find them remotely interesting. That said, Zack Snyder's update of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead grabbed me before the opening credits. Having that creepy little, zombie-fied, watching from the hallway, and then spontaneously attacking - gave me chills...and possibly nightmares (don't remember, five years later). Additionally, this was my first experience watching zombies run. To me, that made all the difference in the world. Zombies were scary. Zombies were actual, honest-to-God threats. There was jeopardy. And no character was safe. The ending was entirely appropriate, and instantly left me hoping Snyder would take the reigns for some sort of sequel, that hasn't materialized, and probably never will. The only other zombie movie I love is 2009's Zombieland, mostly for the characters but not for the zombies. That's another thing Dawn '04 has: awesome, real characters that make their own choices, ones that weren't dictated by the paint-by-the-numbers story, and let me tell yah - that makes a lot of difference as opposed to crappy, cardboard characters with a A-B-C story. So to get back to the original point - Snyder did a phenomenal job with Dawn of the Dead, and is one of the best remakes out there.

THE DESCENT (Neil Marshall - 2005)
It wasn't until '09 that I finally saw this much-talked about British horror movie. The day after I saw it (after rewinding and watching the ending 10 times over), I immediately ran to work and bought the Blu-Ray. There was no way it wasn't going to be in my collection. The first fifty minutes of the movie is pretty intense, as you're literally sucked into our main characters plight; and when strange things start happening and weird, unnatural sounds echo throughout the cave, your heart begins to quicken, quicken, and then....BAM! A strange creature, dubbed Crawlers, bursts onto the screen and you jump in fear. The main lead character, who has endured the death of those dear to her - friends and family - turns into freakin' Xena Warrior Princess and kicks some Crawler ass. Claustrophobic, beautifully filmed, edited, and scored - The Descent is quite the accomplishment in this day of horror filmmaking [in regards to its ability to make you jump and thrill you simultaneously]. And the ending - oh boy, do I love it. Beautiful, tragical, appropriate.

DRACULA 2000 (Patrick Lussier - 2000)
Chalk it up to a guilty pleasure, but Dracula 2000 is one of my favorite Dracula movies, and one of my favorite of the decade. Of course, it doesn't follow Dracula lore or the history of Vlad at all, but it does present an intriguing alternative that I wager many were displeased or even outraged over. The notion that Dracula is the ultimate betrayer (if one believes in religion) and was cast out of both Heaven and Hell, doomed to walk the earth, immortal, on the blood of the living - it's infinitely intriguing, and I would love to see the concept pursued [I didn't bother with the two direct-to-DVD sequels; Legacy & Ascension]. Gerard Butler, pre-300 days, gives a phenomenally eerie performance as Dracula, conveying both the threat and the attraction with relative ease. The only other part of Dracula lore, aside from the whole being a vampire thing and having three maids, that makes it into the movie is the presence of Van Helsing, who is also given an interesting story as well. It's a fun ride that has a bit more sense than your average vampire movie (especially in this day 'n age).

It's a remake! How dare I have it on ANY sort of list that doesn't have the word 'bad' in the title? Or 'terrible idea'? Actually, strangley enough, this is the third remake I have on this list. Truth is, New Line's Texas Chainsaw remake isn't all that bad. Creepy as hell, and as intense as The Descent, Chainsaw was a experience (not unlike Descent). It definitely follows that saying where once it takes you, it "doesn't let go." Obstacle after obstacle, I was right there with Jessica Biel and her bouncing boobs as she faced each and every one and ended up alive - miraculously. Throw in some genuinely creepy hillbillies (as creepy as the cannibals from Wrong Turn), and a maniac chainsaw-wielding big guy who can also run as well as a skinny, tall chick, and there's the recipe for a damn good horror movie.

I don't have much to say other than that it was a original take at the horror genre that was entertaining, surprising, and at the same time paying homage to horror films of old (a la Hatchet, but in a much better way).

TRICK 'R TREAT (Michael Dougherty - 2008)
Again. Hype. Gotta love it. I knew next to nothing about this movie other than it had been in the can for a while, was the directorial debut of X-2 writer Michael Doughtery, and featured several cast members from movies and TV shows I quite love (Battlestar Galactica, Kyle XY, Popular, X-Men). When the DVD/Blu-Ray hit shelves, it was literally gone within a day. So, finally, when shipment came, I blindly splurged $25 on this flick, and boy was it worth every little penny. Trick 'r Treat is awesome stuff; awesome indeed. I won't go around spoiling any of its awesomeness or its actually well done twists, nor gush about it endlessly (there's more than enough reviews for it), but if you haven't already seen it, do yourself a service and do so. It may not be the 'masterpiece' at it's been heralded as, but it certainty is the next best Halloween movie since John Carpenter's 1978 original.

03 January 2010

EDITORIAL - Not So Favorites of the Decade

I actually found it harder to suss out the decade's unspectacular movies from the good ones. There were, of course, no brainers, but others were a little bit more difficult to classify. Also, I thought it worth noting, that horror remakes - like Black Christmas and Prom Night - are absent from the list, although they mightly deserve a spot here. I guess I just didn't think they were worth delving into, since more often than not, the very announcement of a studio 'remake' or 'reimagining' of a horror movie already solidifies its crappiness. Also absent from my list that were toppers on others: Dragonball Evolution and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, both 2009 releases and both adaptations of some kind. Evolution was, for me, a guilty pleasure; and Street Fighter was simply wasn't bad enough to makes it's mark. So, without further ado...

The Not-So-Much Favorites of the Decade

Syriana (2005) - The only movie where I seriously considered leaving the theater. Just getting up and going. Splitting. Skidaddle. Vamanos. I think it was my 15 year old brain and my desire to see a action movie that probably impeded my ability to get into Syriana, but I just hated every second of it. I will say that George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Amanda Peet gave wonderful performances, and they were undoubtedly very strong positives of the movie. But every other conceivable aspect of the movie just...sucked, I guess would be the term. I haven't watched it since that day, and I have no intention of re-watching it so see if my opinion will stick. But for right now, crappiest film of the decade. No other really, really, really bad movie made me want to leave the theater.

Miss March (2009) - Dreadful comedy. Time away hasn't done it a service. First time seeing it, I realized it's awfulness, but I enjoyed myself too much to let it fully impede my viewing pleasure. But seeing it for the second time just recently - ugh, is all I can say about it. Ugh. The much dissed Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li is 10x better than this, ladies and gents. Stay away. Stay far away. Watch some Fired Up! instead.

There Will Be Blood (2008) - I'm gonna be frank: I didn't like this movie. Praise after praise after praise for this Paul T. Anderson flick, and I still down to watch it, and I'm already bored eight minutes in. It was a literal chore to sit through. The only other boring flick I could remember that got this much praise was Brokeback Mountain. As a film to analyze, as a character study, as a film showcasing a outstanding performances, Blood works fine; but for me, it failed entirely in its presentation. It moved too slowly, focused on some aspects that needn't the attention (the brother thing), and the moments that were genuinely spectacular were far and in-between. There were two things There Will Be Blood had for it: the eerie, spine-tingling music, and Daniel Day-Lewis' tour de force performance. I guess, in simple black & white, Blood just didn't hit my interest because it failed to make me care. Sure, Daniel Plainview wasn't a guy you're supposed to invite for drinks, but one must at least be enthralled and grabbed by the lead in order to be persuaded to watch this harrowing story for nearly three hours. For me, that didn't happen. Obviously, a large population of critics disagree, which prompts me to consider a third viewing to finally cement my opinion.

The Spirit (2008) - I honestly don't know what to feel about this movie. As far as I can tell, it's not very faithful to the Eisner source material; and there's so many horrible, horrible 'performances' in this movie that make John Cena in The Marine look nearly Oscar worthy. The worst offender is that director Frank Miller took this vigilante series and turned it into his own Sin City installment, and for that I'm severely disappointed in this flick and respect it less. The idea of making a black & white-ish movie with color interwoven throughout is cool, indeed, but that was already done, and rightly so, with Miller's own Sin City, and didn't need to be reused here nor was it remotely necessary. The idea of The Spirit, being resurrected by some sort of Goddess, is really freakin' cool, but the execution is so terrible, one really must wonder what Miller was even thinking when he directed this flick. There's very few redeemable values. Well, on the brightside, Sam Jackson does go absolutely bonkers; he probably hadn't had this much fun making a movie since Snakes on a Plane. Oh, and another horrible offense: how do they manage to make Scarlett Johansson not look hot? At least Miller sorta made up for it with the sensual Eva Mendes (thank you, sir). But still, atrocious movie.

Eragon (2006) - 'Creatively' and oh-so-originally birthed from the creative ingeniousness of 15-year old Christopher Paolini, his book Eragon got the big screen treatment thanks to FOX, hoping to cash-in on the success of Harry Potter and create their own lucrative franchise. Turns out, Eragon sucked hardcore, and equally sucked as far as box office gold is concerned, and thus, no more installments were filmed or are even in the development pipeline. There's so much bad in this movie, from John Malkovich to the really rushed and uninspired story/book/script. Surprisingly, the best aspects of the movie are the visual effects and Jeremy Irons as Brom, the Obi-Wan Kenobi character of the film. There's just something about that guy I just dig, and I completely forgive him for Dungeons & Dragons, which I'd actually call a superior film to this. Malkovich plays the baddie, Galbatorix, who sits in his chair all day long and hollers orders. Y'know, I've never really understood those times of baddies; once they accomplish what they set out to do, what then? At least Big Bads who want to obliterate the entire universe make a little bit more sense. What does Galby does all day other than pick his nose or shift uncomfortably in his big fancy throne? The other actors all feel like Twilight rejects, what with their oily hair that's meant to look 'cool'. However, gotta say one more big positive: the climatic battle was actually pretty spiffy. Simply said, Eragon has so many 'been there, done that' elements that doesn't offer anything unique to keep the viewer interested, and therefore isn't worth ones time.

Rush Hour 3 (2007) - The ultimate paycheck movie, Rush Hour 3 was such a huge, huge disappointment. The near epitome of unoriginality, not even Jackie Chan's martial arts were up to par and failed to elicit interest. I've had the opportunity to complete my Rush Hour collection with the 2-Disc release for less than $5 multiple occasions - and I passed it up every time. I just can't seem to muss up the ability to spend even more than the $10 I already did on this piece of garbage. For shame, New Line, Ratner, Chan, and Tucker - this was the poorest excuse of any filmmaker or writer to get a gang back together again for another movie. No effort went into this whatsoever.

Napoleon Dynamite (2004) - Oh, I hate this movie. I can't stand it. I don't enjoy it. I don't find it funny. I find it excruciatingly annoying, painfully acted, and loooooooooooooonnnngggg. I'm probably in the minority here with this one, but I just frakkin' hate this 'comedy.' Luckily, I saw it for free, so I didn't feel robbed of my money; but I'm pretty sure some brain cells and my oh-so-important time could have been spent elsewhere.

Walking Tall (2004) -Not sure what I expected, but given the theatrical poster, one would wisely expect a lot of ass kicking. Well, the movie sort of delivered on that one. Honestly, it's been awhile, and I catch a few snippets here and there on the tube. But there's just something extremely fake about this movie. It feels like it should have been re-witten and handled by different people entirely (and no, I have no intentions of watching the two direct-to-DVD installments starring Kevin Sorbo). Walking Tall falls into the category of not living up to my standards, but could very well be a really awesome, much-loved Dwayne Johnson flick for many.

The Dukes of Hazzard (2005) - "I love Sean William Scott. I love Sean William Scott. I love Sean William Scott," I said, gritting my teeth. All 106 minutes were painful and downright unbearable. Not even the sight of Jessica Simpson and scantly clad outfits could make this comedy worth my time. It was just bad, plain and simple.

Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) - How could they possibly frak up the concept TWICE? When it comes to a movie with "vs." in the title, I don't expect quality writing and acting, just some frakking awesome ass-kicking sequences between Aliens and Predator(s)! And the filmmakers couldn't even deliver on that - TWICE! Before Requiem's release, it got some buzz for being a improvement of the first one (I'll give it that, sorta), and far more edgier and violent. Sure, it may be, but it was filmed so ridiculously that I couldn't make out what the hell was going on 80% of the time! And let's not forget that it seemed they deliberately scouted the earth for some of the worst 'talent' out there right now. God, what were they thinking? And now thanks to this sucktacular film, the franchise is dead at Fox, and probably won't be revived for a third chance. Somebody, PLEASE make a good AVP movie, PLEASE!