Movie Reviews: 01/2013
Movies seen this month: 10
Page # 1
  Title: Good Against Evil
Genre: Horror  Year: 1977  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Dack Rambo, Elyssa Davalos, Richard Lynch, Dan O'Herlihy, John Harkins  Director: Paul Wendkos

My Review: Another 70s horror movie that lacks the horror, lacks tension, lacks a cohesive plot, lacks editing, lacks an ending and looks like crap. Thankfully, this is just on of fifteen movies on a 'horror' compilation that I bought at Wal-Mart. The story - A group of Satanists is convinced that Jessica Gordon (played by Elyssa Davalos) is defined to be Satan's bride. They work to protect her and make sure that her life choices go according to their plan. Andy Stuart (playing Dack Rambo) stars as Linday's prospective husband. When a suspicious priest tries to convince Dack to postpone the marriage, he ends up questioning their relationship and the odd goings on surrounding his chosen one. Eventually he's spurned by Jessica and she's abducted and whisked away to parts unknown by the cultists. Suddenly the movie takes an abrupt turn into a completely unrelated subplot involving a demon fighting priest and a possessed demon child. How Dack got sidetracked by this subplot is beyond me... The movie is a wacky, disjointed, Omen meets Exorcist made for TV disaster. The production work was absolutely horrible. The acting lacked conviction, the editing was atrocious and the ending made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I give this movie a 1 out of 5.

Summary: ABC-TV pilot about a writer, Andy Stuart, teaming up with an exorcist, Father Kemschler, to battle Satan, and a group of Devil worshipers led by Mr. Rimmin.

  Title: The Matrix
Genre: Action  Year: 1999  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster  Director: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski

My Review: An amazing film, written and directed by the Wachowski brothers (Andy and Larry). This movie had a great cast - Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and many others. The story is truly mind-bending. Neo (played by Keanu Reeves) wakes up one day to take a trip down the rabbit hole. He is contacted by Morpheus (played by Fishburne), the leader of a rebellious underground group. Are they just hackers? or is their something more to their odd, alluring cult of personality? As Neo chooses the 'Red Pill', the wool is pulled away from his eyes - The truth revealed. A Truth so amazing, so mind blowing that it forms the framework for an entire trilogy. Three movies that explore some heavy duty philosophical questions. The well balanced cast provided some outstanding acting. The action sequences, choreography, special effects and use of cgi (bullet time being most notable) were all outstanding. The lighting, camera work and color composition was excellent. The green tinted 'Matrix' vs the blue 'Reality' made a subtle but notable difference. The music was a perfect companion to this pulse pounding thriller. One of my favorite scenes occurs near the end of the film, when Neo comes to a realization. He flexes his new found 'muscles' and the walls and floors around him ripple. The movie compels you to question everything you think you know. Bending the concepts of time, space and humanity. What does it really mean to be 'Free'. The story is thrilling and fun to watch on one level, while it simultaneously presents the viewer with an entirely different layer of subtle and complex philosophical questions. Rich with symbolism and artistic style, this movie solidifies a cyber-punk genre, while simultaneously creating a new high-water mark for those who follow. 5 out of 5.

Summary: A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against the controllers of it.

  Title: The Amazing Spider-Man
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy  Year: 2012  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Martin Sheen  Director: Marc Webb

My Review: The Amazing Spider-Man is another remake of the Spider Man story - Based upon the Marvel comics character. Slightly darker than the origins movie directed by Sam Raimi, this version is directed by Marc Webb (his feature length debut). In my opinion, the casting was better. I thought Andrew Garfield made a better Peter Parker than Tobby Maguire, and his acting was much better. Emma Stone playing Peter Parker's love interest also did a better job than Kirsten Dunst. Dr. Curt Connors/The lizard creature (played by Rhys Ifans) was well done. The cgi was slightly comic like; the cgi seemed purposely less real than they could have made it. There were times however, when the cgi disappointed. The story was the same as any other Spider-Man movie. The plot having been laid out long ago in the Marvel comic books. Peter Parker's parents are long gone, having 'abandoned' him when he was very young. He's living with his aunt and uncle. When his uncle is killed by a common criminal, Peter swears vengeance on behalf of his uncle. Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider, which induces an evolutionary change in his body. He becomes the 'Spider-Man', dons a mask, and takes up crime-fighting on behalf of the downtrodden innocents of his beloved city. The story continues when his identity is disclosed to his girlfriend and her safety is threatened because of his secret identity. He's forced to make a decision. Continue fighting to keep the residents safe from the agents of evil, or give up his crime-fighting to be a normal teenager. The story telling aspects of the movie are impressive; with the drama and character development being better than the action and cgi. Far less campy than previous Spider-Man movies, this reboot deserves more credit than some other origins movies. Despite the fact that the origin was slightly different, and the first villain switched up, the story is still a repeat. The rating drops a bit as the outcome is already pre-ordained, and everyone knows that Spider-Man can't fail when he's most needed. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Summary: Like most teenagers, Peter is trying to figure out who he is and how he got to be the person he is today. Peter is also finding his way with his first high school crush, Gwen Stacy, and together, they struggle with love, commitment, and secrets. As Peter discovers a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, he begins a quest to understand his parents' disappearance - leading him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr Curt Connors, his father's former partner. As Spider-Man is set on a collision course with Connors' alter-ego, The Lizard, Peter will make life-altering choices to use his powers and shape his destiny to become a hero.

  Title: The Thirteenth Floor
Genre: Mystery  Year: 1999  Country: Germany  Rating: Starring: Craig Bierko, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Gretchen Mol, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dennis Haysbert  Director: Josef Rusnak

My Review: Released the same year as The Matrix (1999), this movie was completely overshadowed by the much larger budget, advertising campaign and star power of Keanu Reeves. Despite that, the story works as well, if not better. It's often compared to the Matrix, but it's flavor is far different. Here is an intellectual, thought provoking film. An engaging film that keeps asking its viewer to discern reality from fantasy, to continually challenge our preconceived notions and broaden our view. Directed by Josef Rusnak (also co-wrote the screenplay), starring Craig Bierko (as Douglas Hall), Gretchen Mol (as Jane Fuller), Armin Mueller-Stahl (as Hannon Fuller), Vincent D'Onofrio (as Jason Whitney), Dennis Haysbert (as Det. Larry McBain) and others. The direction was a bit stiff, the acting pretty good, and the sets outstanding. The editing was fairly linear and that's a shame. Some additional effort in the editing could have made this movie far more competitive. The story (without spoiling the movie): Corporate manager Douglas Hall is implicated in a murder when a coworker ends up dead under mysterious circumstances. The two were involved with the development of a virtual reality simulation of Los Angeles in the 30s. They were preparing to release there simulation as a breakthrough form of entertainment, if only they could work out the last of the bugs. The film has a film noir detective angle, a sci-fi premise, and a humanistic approach. The characters are well developed and believable. The tension and plot take some time to build, but the pay-off is shocking brilliant. If you enjoy thinking sci-fi with more drama than action, you'll love this twisted sci-fi tale of love, deception, murder and mind-blowing revelations. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He's about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall, but knowing someone is after him, the old man leaves a letter in his computer generated parallel world that's just like the 30's with seemingly real people with real emotions. Fuller is murdered in our real world the same night, and his colleague is suspected. Douglas discovers a bloody shirt in his bathroom and he cannot recall what he was doing the night Fuller was murdered. He logs into the system in order to find the letter, but has to confront the unexpected. The truth is harsher than he could ever imagine...

  Title: The Possession
Genre: Horror, Thriller  Year: 2012  Country: USA, Canada  Rating: Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwick, Jay Brazeau, Madison Davenport  Director: Ole Bornedal

My Review: A supernatural horror flick; supposedly based upon a true story - It features possession by a 'Demon' and an exorcism - Yes, it's been done a thousand times. You'd think that hollywood had already said everything that ever needed saying in regards to this theme. The only reason to watch this movie? The direction (by Ole Bornedal - Nattevagten 1994, remade as Nightwatch (with Ewan McGregor & Nick Nolte in 1997), the acting by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Natasha Calis, Kyra Sedgwich, Madison Davenport, Matisyahu (Yes the musician), and others. The story: Em (played by Natasha Calis) convinces Dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) to purchase an antique wooden box at a yard sale. When the box is opened Em and her entire family are attacked by an evil spirit. It takes control of Em and won't let go… Like I said, it's a stale, overused plot that nearly destroys this movie. The editing is slow and uninspired. The sound track works well; holding the suspense for just the right amount of time, breaking to create palpable fear. The lighting and other technical aspects were well done. The director did a good job of creating an atmosphere of dread and fear. The cgi (for the most part) was well done, and some elements helped differentiate this movie from all the other 'demonic possession' movies. I give it a 3 out of 5.

Summary: A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.

  Title: Office Space
Genre: Comedy  Year: 1999  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Mike Judge  Director: Mike Judge

My Review: Based on animated short stories by the director, Mike Judge (Idiocracy, King of the Hill (tv), Beavis & Butthead (tv))- This feature length movie is a fantastic gem. Starring Ron Livingston (as Peter Gibbons), Jennifer Aniston (as Joanna), David Herman (as Michael Bolton), Ajay Naidu (as Samir Nagheenanajar), Diedrich Bader (as Lawrence), Stephen Root (as Milton Waddams), Gary Cole (as Bill Lumbergh). Life as an office worker - Working in a cubicle can get you down. This movie is full of fantastic characters (especially the boss), some great acting, the actors were the characters. The acting was truly fantastic. The movie is a funny as hell telling of revenge against the system. After a trip to an occupational hypnotist, Peter could care less about his nagging girlfriend or the stress at his job. He actually starts enjoying life. When management starts a round of layoffs at work, Peter and his homey's decide to stick it to 'The Man'. The direction, editing and music were fantastic. I've seen this movie many times, and I never grow tired of it. Despite the fact that this movie flopped at the box office, it's become a cult classic by way of mouth. If you enjoy the comic strip Dilbert, you'll connect with this movie. I give it an enthusiastic 5 out of 5.

Summary: Comedic tale of company workers who hate their jobs and decide to rebel against their greedy boss.

  Title: The Cat o' Nine Tails / Il gatto a nove code
Genre: Mystery, Thriller  Year: 1971  Country: Italy, France, West Germany  Rating: Starring: James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, Pier Paolo Capponi, Horst Frank  Director: Dario Argento

My Review: Here's another movie from a recent compilation purchase (Night of Horror - Do not watch Alone!): Some of the movies on this 15 film compilation are late night gems, this one would have been, if it wasn't for the extremely bad transfer and the poor dubbing. Directed by Dario Argento (has written and directed nearly a hundred titles - thrillers, mysteries and horror since the mid 60s), music by Ennio Morricone, starring James Franciscus, Karl Malden, Catherine Spaak, and others. The story - Franco Arno (played by Karl Malden) is a blind retired detective who's mind is like a steel trap. On a walk with his niece, he overhears a conversation about black-mail, and his instincts take over. A series of murders occur with a common theme. They're all related to some classified research being conducted at a pharmaceutical company. Franco involves himself and begins leading the investigation with the help of police and a helpful reporter (played by James Franciscus). It's an excellent murder mystery, thriller, with excellent pacing, direction and acting. Unfortunately, the transfer to DVD was terrible. The colors and lighting were totally destroyed by this poor quality transfer. In addition to the poor reproduction, this version was missing a key scene. The lack of this scene left me wondering whether I had fallen asleep, and it would have helped explain some additional details. The loss of that scene made me lose track of the story and hurt the overall experience. The dubbing was also quite poor, with much of the dialog missing; apparent with moving lips and no dialog. The music by Ennio Morricone was another bonus. Unfortunately, due to technical reasons (missing footage, poor transfer, lack of the original Italian dialogue) I can't give this version more than a 3 out of 5.

Summary: Franco Arno is a blind man that lives with his young niece and makes a living writing crossword puzzles. One night, while walking on the street, he overhears a weird conversation between two man sitting in a car parked in front of a medical institute where genetic experiments are performed. The same night someone breaks in the institute and kills a guard. Arno decides to investigate with the help of reporter Carlo Giordani.

  Title: Invasion of the Bee Girls
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi  Year: 1973  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: William Smith, Anitra Ford, Victoria Vetri, Cliff Osmond, Wright King  Director: Denis Sanders

My Review: Another cheesy sci-fi thriller from a recent compilation purchase (Night of Horror - Do not watch Alone!): Some of the movies on this 15 film compilation are late night gems, this one… Not so much. Here is classic 70s sci-fi schlock with plenty of T&A to keep your interest 'up'. Direction by Denis Sanders was terrible, as was the acting; with one small exception. William Smith plays Neil Agar, a government investigator called in to investigate a series of mysterious murders at a government research lab. Apparently his isn't the only death be 'Sexual Exhaustion'. What is mutating earth's finest women into bug-eyed 'Bee' girls? That's all you really need to know about the plot. To keep you interested there's a lot of T&A action with a bevy of girls disrobing throughout the movie. The special effects of 'Bee-Vision' and the droning hum of attacking 'Bee' girls was ridiculous. The dialogue, premise (what was the premise again?), plot, acting and production value were horrid. So bad that it occasionally made me laugh/strike that, 'Groan' would be a more appropriate term for what this movie made me do. I give it a 2 out of 5.

Summary: In the small town of Peckham, California, many men die for excessive effort during sexual intercourse. When a scientist from the Brandt research laboratory is found dead in a motel, the government sends Agent Neil Agar (William Smith) to investigate the mysterious deaths. He suspects that the deaths may be related to some experiments of Dr. Susan Harris (Anitra Ford), who is researching bees in the Brandt facility.

  Title: The Imposter
Genre: Documentary, Biography  Year: 2012  Country: UK  Rating: Starring: Frédéric Bourdin, Adam O'Brian, Carey Gibson, Anna Ruben, Beverly Dollarhide  Director: Bart Layton

My Review: I didn't know that this was a documentary until the movie opened. The previews made it look like a thriller. I think it would have worked better as a 'Based on True Events' thriller. The chilling effect of knowing the ultimate outcome (from the very beginning) detracted greatly from the movie. I wasn't aware of the 'True Life' circumstances surrounding this story, but I still think a 'Dramatic' approach would have been much better. The story - 1994 San Antonio Texas. A 13 year-old boy disappears from his suburban home with no clues to his disappearance. The family puts out flyers, frantically searches, goes to the media and hold out hope. Days, weeks, months and years pass. Hope is all but lost - Until… An unexpected phone call from Spain brings hope back to the hearts of this small town family. Their boy has been found - Alive! Unfortunately for this family, there's a dark lining to this story. Their son looks much older, has physical and mental scars, but they accept him back willingly. It's time to heal, or is it? The story is great, but the documentary style used to tell this story (using the participants and character actors) basically gave away all the secrets in a running commentary and innuendo laced exposition. The movie mixed actual real-life participants with character actors, and that was the best part of the movie. Based on the performances, it was impossible to tell what the outcome was going to be… If only it wasn't for that nagging narration that constantly destroyed the sense of suspense built by the characters. Mixing in a lot of archive footage helped establish the authenticity of the story, but once again the documentary suffered at its own hands in the telling of this fantastic story. I give it 3 out of 5.

Summary: A documentary centered on a young Frenchman who claims to a grieving Texas family that he is their 16-year-old son who has been missing for 3 years.

  Title: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Genre: Comedy  Year: 1997  Country: USA  Rating: Starring: Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Mimi Rogers, Robert Wagner  Director: Jay Roach

My Review: Mike Myers stars in this James Bond send-up. Written by Mike Myers, this comedic spoof pulls out all the stops. A laugh-in of immense proportions. Featuring a great cast - Mike Myers, Elizabeth Hurley, Michael York, Robert Wagner, Seth Green, Fabiana Udenio, Mindy Sterling, Will Ferrell, Burt Bacharach, Tom Arnold, and many others. This movie has some fantastic lines, a preposterous plot (Austin Powers is re-animated after the cryogenically suspended villain - Dr. Evil returns to rain chaos down upon man-kind. Holding the world ransom for One Million dollars! Only Austin Powers can save us from the FemBots), and the results are a non-stop laugh fest. Not only was the movie extremely funny, it also had some excellent camera work, a groovy soundtrack, and Mike Myers at the top of his game. I dig it baby, and so will you. This comedy was responsible for years worth of recycled slang - Shagadellic baby. Mike Myers' writing was exceptional. Switching between ridiculously funny spy-thriller plot, and staged comedy inserts, this movie was light on plot, heavy on laughs and a huge favorite for audiences everywhere. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Summary: A 1960's hipster secret agent is brought out of cryofreeze to oppose his greatest enemy into the 1990's where his social attitudes are glaringly out of place.


Created using DVDpedia