Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Martial Arts August: Revenge of the Ninja

Revenge of the Ninja is one of those films that you either understand or you hate. If you can grasp the decade in which it was made and understand what martial arts had become, you will actually enjoy the campy nature, funny one-liners, and bad post-production dialogue editing. The fact MGM rolled the dice and funded such a film was a surprise, but made sense giving that no major production houses were getting involved in what are essentially exploitation films. They just wanted a fair grab at some money in a niche market, and who can blame them for that? The other companies were staying out of it for the most part, perhaps even for good reason.

After the seventies, people wanted more and more, and these kind of kung-fu, bloody, rated-R films were going to small theaters, matinees in the cities, and drive-ins. These were never critically acclaimed films, but were tons of fun. You go to see films like these to enjoy insanity, and basically say “No way!” or “What was that?” to your friends every five minutes. This is one of those films that is so bad, it’s good. It’s also truly violent and gritty in a way we don’t really get anymore in modern action films.

First of all, you need to have a certain kind of humor when watching this film. Made in 1983, Revenge of the Ninja stars Sho Kosugi who was in over 15 martial arts films, hilariously, most of them have “death”, “ninja”, or “kill” in the title. Go figure. Are you surprised? This film was shot on the West Coast, under Philippine influence, about the way of the Chinese. Besides this film, which he is known best for, he also starred in 1985’s Pray for Death and more recently, 2009’s Ninja Assassin.

If you enjoy ridiculous murders and fights which are actually very well choreographed, these films are must sees if you’re looking for a 90-minute romp of entertainment. These movies are not total crap. All these movies are meant to be exactly what they are: envelope-pushing entertainment. Rarely will you get creative camera angles, original stories, or good special effects. That’s not what these kinds of films are about. They are about shock, awe, fighting, and over-the-top deaths.

Produced by Canon Films in 1983, Revenge of the Ninja ran 90 minutes in length and made a pathetic $509,000 on just 93 screens in its opening weekend. It’s scattered run that year — jumping from venue to venue — collected just over $13,100,000. It’s available in DVD and as of this writing (August 2011) is available on Netflix’s instant view and streaming service.

I’m going to know run through a list of what is featured in this movie and I will leave it up to you whether or not you see it. But you have to admit, no other movie on the planet has all of these things. Trust me:

  1. Stereotypes Italians, gays, blacks, Chinese.
  2. Breasts. Through wet t-shirts and just completely out. All fake, btw.
  3. Random rip-off of first-person slasher scene from Halloween for no reason.
  4. Old, balding men with mustaches in very short gym shorts wrestling in a hall where there is definitely not enough room by a brick wall.
  5. Forced, out-of-place conversations after a sparring match to keep the plot moving with exposition.
  6. A Native American hired thug dressed in Indian attire with braided hair. He wields axes and tries to scalp our protagonist.
  7. Huge 9-foot jumps over walls – clearly off of trampolines.
  8. Rich, white guy is the antagonist, trained as super ninja.
  9. Grandmother who can kick some serious ass. Impossible considering her age. But funny to watch.
  10. A fight scene that immediately has you laughing as Sho Kosugi approaches a make-shift, rip-off of the Village People for information. Stereotypes include a gay cowboy with a mustache and cowboy hat. A Spanish biker with a jean jacket, a black dude with short shorts wearing a headphone radio with antennae and mustache wearing roller skates, yes, roller skates, and a Japanese, fat skinhead wearing a leather jacket with a huge red and white rising star on his t-shirt, just in case you didn’t understand his stereotype. This group of four men are met for the first time by the protagonist and the audience at a children’s playground where they are all sitting on a picnic table laughing and drinking beer. Real hardcore.
  11. Characters, many of them, having no common sense or lapses in judgment due to a poorly written script.
  12. A pint-sized child fighting a full-grown woman and winning.
  13. People’s hands getting cut off. Great effects.
  14. Ninja’s spitting out spikes and blades into baddie’s faces. Actually kind of sick thanks to the gratuitous zoom ins.
  15. The bad ninja apparently carries around two, yes, two mannequins of himself in case he needs a diversion on a roof. Where he keeps these is anyone’s guess. Maybe his ass.
  16. Kid distracting a bad guy by pointing up and saying “Hey! Look! Superman!” and that shit actually works.
  17. Holding breath in hot tub for two minutes in full ninja hear and knowing exactly when to pop out.
  18. Joe Pesci wannabe.
  19. Actually good stunt work, especially when Sho is chasing down the van!
  20. Streams of blood spraying 15-feet in final kill scene.

 

So there you have it. Without a doubt, boys may enjoy this more than girls and you really gotta watch it in groups.

 

MH

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“We Need To Talk About Kevin”: a film review

This movie is scary and unforgettable. Top 10 of 2011. A rare instance where the film is more haunting and affecting than the novel (by Lionel Shriver).

Gripping, heavy, sad, anxious, horrifying film. Incredibly well-planned and executed. Not entertaining to watch — psychologically brutal involving a f***ed up kid and a school shooting — but a prodigy of making film into true, devestating art. The pacing, the soundtrack, the flashback tool, the imagery and metaphors, the layers slowly peeled away, what is shown and what is not shown. Amazing.

Again, I’m not saying I liked this film’s content, and will probably never watch it again, but it does what film does very, very well, and it will be with me for a long, long time. I hated the first few minutes, then understood something about it, and was trapped in the film for almost two hours. You could talk about this film or book with a friend or a group for hours.

I can say no more. If you want a deeply unsettling story with masterfully crafted writing and photography and flow, watch this now. You’ve never seen anything like this: a family and social drama that is almost part of the horror genre.

Freaking Disturbing.

9.5/10

MH

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Prometheus: a movie review

If you saw “Prometheus” and were let down, the link below delivers a few reasons why that could have been:

Click this if you want the movie spoiled or you’ve seen it already: Red Letter Media on YouTube

I gave it a charitable 7/10. I’m being generous, though you might twist my arm to a 6.75. Initially, when I just finished it, I liked it. But the more I thought about it, the bruises started to show. My 8 went to a 7 in the last third of the film. I did like it that the film was not paced like an action/fantasy, but more like a genuine sci-fi. I will likely continue to second guess my thoughts about how smart or not smart it was, but here are my thoughts right now.

I can understand people giving it a 6 or an 8, but anything higher or lower is too critical or too rewarding. There are problems on the most basic level of tension building and story-telling.

First the good: some amazing scenes are in here, and this is better than many films I’ve seen this year. It is the best shot Sci-Fi ever. Also, you don’t have to know or like the original Alien to enjoy this. But the trailer was so good, and I’m not a fan boy, and I still say this didn’t deliver how it “said” it would.

This movie was average at best, and the idiot writer from “LOST” the TV show should have never been hired to write this. It could have been legendary. It is forgettable. Beautifully rendered, but substantively illusive. The “LOST” screenwriter is not that smart, and delivered a faux-intellectual, psuedo-philosophical cheap gangbang.

The logic was weak, the likability of characters hollow, and general satisfaction was lacking. Very little was answered, and you can’t just say “well, there moght be a sequel.” F*** that argument. Give me a single good movie before you rope me into a long string of ’em I have to commit to just to get to the “real” ending. There were plot holes you couldn’t ignore, and simply put: while a few loose ends are great for sci-fi, too many leaves the audience mad and leaves the film directionless.

Thematically schizophrenic, “Prometheus” can honestly blame nearly all of its problems on the WRITING: direction, photography, special visual effects, costuming, make-up, and set design and acting where all great or better than great. The characters, motivations, and logic are all the writers fault. Ridley Scott, your biggest mistake was who you hired to write the screenplay. It is a movie that thinks it is brilliant while everyone watching knows it’s barely in its “Honors Classes.” It’s no genius.

Did not deliever on medium to medium-high expectations. More a thriller than a horror, not that it mattered to me, but it might to you. Just give me a good sci-fi. Please.
7/10
MH

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“Snow White and the Huntsman”: a response to the film

Considering how much was done right in this film, the few things that were mishandled, poorly written, or ill-executed really hurt my ability to recommend “Snow White & the Huntsman.” At times, one could argue that more could have been accomplished if they dropped the “Snow White” angle in the title and really went out there to create something new and special in the “Good-vs.-Evil-Kings-and-Princesses” genre”, especially considering how much artistic license was already taken to change many things. Despite these liberties, certain elements of the original Snow White tale were forced into this film to the overall detriment of the viewing experience, like pushing a square block through a circular hole.

To begin, this movie had quantitatively more strengths than weakness. The setting, dialogue, acting, costuming, sound design, set design, beautiful on location filming, and make-up were all top notch. Just looking at any freeze frame of this film, one instantly notices the money they had to throw around. There are a lot of good things to be said about this film, and its ability to create a mood was obvious. The action sequences were relatively clean; and the general style of the film — taking big chances in this regard — panned out nicely due to the exquisite team of producers and post-production special effects people making the world feel real. Truly great fantasy stuff here. Pretty stuff.

Now, after all of that praise, how could a few negatives bring down the ability to recommend the film?

Well, the few bones I have to pick with this film, while not many, are massive qualitatively, including some obvious, flagrant omissions; these issues cannot be defended or expalined and fall directly in the writers and director’s realm of blame.

The first 20 minutes of this film are rocky. Too much time is spent with the Queen’s back story and the escape of Snow White felt rushed. All the while we are being forced voice-over narration from the Huntsman? Why the voice-over is the Huntsman seemed very arbitrary. Why not any character? Why not Snow White? The narrator and whose character in the film it is matters, and here, it felt tacked on. Also in the first act or so, none of the characters, none, are easily relatable or easy to empathize with. It’s not until the Huntsman is introduced (around 30-mins) in the beginning of the second act that this film was saved. Thank you, Chris Hemsworth for playing the role so well. What little dimensionality there were to any characters, you brought it.

The direction with Charlize Theron didn’t work for me, at least not in the first half. In the first act, as she was often being directed to scream and flail at a “10”, where for the remainder of the movie she was at a 7 or 8 in intensity. Never pop that cherry of villain-rage so early. Basic Movie laws. BUILD it.

The second act moved along well enough, and the casting of all the dwarves worked well. It could have blown up in their tiny little faces, and I applauded, once again, the special affects work here. Most of these “dwarves” were played by 5 or 6 foot-tall Hollywood A-listers and B-listers. Cleverly done, a la “Lord of the Rings” perhaps with scale models, stand-ins, and brilliantly smooth “After Affects.” They really look like dwarves, not like pasted faces on tiny bodies.

The next issue was the inclusion of the apple from the old fairy tale. I think this should have been omitted from the film. The way in which the poison apple is used here seems inconsequential since it occurs at the ¾ mark rather than the ½ way mark, and then, within 10 minutes or so of screen time, she is kissed by the Huntsman and is back. Poof. Just like that. There needed to be 20 minutes at least where Snow White’s childhood friend and the Huntsman discuss their equal love for Snow White, try a few things to get her to wake, travel to the Keep where they promised they would take her, etc. It all happened to quick. In a time where many characters could have received some due development, they flushed the opportunity. As if not having Snow White in the film for more than ten minutes would have audience members walking out. Please.

The biggest sin was that when she did wake up, after the kiss, the Huntsman had already left the room, and this kiss IS NEVER DISCUSSED. Snow White just wakes up, she doesn’t know why, the Huntsman doesn’t know he was responsible, and they never discuss it. Ever.

Inexcusable.

If the director and the writer were going to go through the painful lengths of including the dwarves and the poison apple and the “mirror, mirror on the wall,” they needed to keep the love story and find its closure. It is such a simple inclusion that they pissed away, focusing all on style and mood and sights and sounds. This movie is a sights and sound movie. Not a tale which can find its value in the merits of its storytelling.

By this point I was going to give the film a 7. But then the ending happened. Oh, my.

Who do you think she got with? Answer: Neither. That’s right.

In the final moments of the film, when Snow White is supposed to bring the land out of its cold rapture and into a Spring for the animals, the plants, and mankind, there is decidedly NOT a montage of any kind showing the lands and the hills and the forests blossoming into their former glory. What? Did they run out of cash? Futhermore, at Snow White’s coronation and crowning in the final minute of the film, she JUST TRADES GLANCES WITH HER CHILDHOOD FRIEND AND THE HUNTSMAN.

The doors closed, the music crescendoed… roll credits. No epilogue. Something that could have given us all emotional closure in 90-seconds of fottage was not necessary apparently.

Can you see why I’m mad? In Snow-Freaking-White, part of it is the Prince Charming bit. She needs that love and the audience needs that closure. No satisfaction is to be found in the end of this film regarding who she picks and if she will ever really have love. Did they not want to choose team Jacob or Team Edward? Get the eff outta here. What a strike out.

They should have either changed everything in this Snow White tale and called it something else, or made the intelligent decision to play their cards closer to the chest and pull out a more traditional Snow White tale, still one with the style and mood and special effects all there. It was a real waste of money considering this will be soon forgotten and very few people’s “Favorite Snow White Variation.”

Really Let-down. Had a lot of faith. Really wanted to like this and give it a 7, but those last 30 seconds are unforgivable.

6.5/10

MH

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“A Devil Inside”: a movie review

Firstly, this cover is misleading. No one looks like this in the film. This character doesn’t exist. Strike one of eight. Making one of your letters in the title backwards doesn’t make you spooky, that makes you the 90s metal band “Korn.” Strike two.

God, Eff off, A Devil Inside, for serious.

When your film is in and out of the theaters and on DVD in under four months, hey, you got a problem of quality. Overall, this is how you do a bad “exorcist” movie. This is the kind of film that makes the public think horror is dumb and the sub-genre of exorcism is not scary.

To begin, this film is one hour and fifteen minutes of actual movie. Over seven minutes at the end of the film are the credits; the slow, slow credits—part of which ask you go online after the film for “more about the unsolved case.” Well, shit, glad I didn’t pay 12 bucks for a seventy-five minute film which then gave me enrichment study homework. What a crock. It’s like Downloadable content that XBOX360 games ask you to buy after you buy the 60 dollar game. Put it in one package please. Doing it in stagnated pieces is lazy. You’re wasting my time or money, and sometimes both.

This film had no style, rehashing everything that’s been done in the shaky-cam, mediocre-college-actor genre that better films like “Paranormal Activity” and “Cloverfield” have already done. Something here reminds me of “Insidious” and “The Last Exorcism”, but both of those films, regardless of your opinion of them, were at least more original and clever. This film was not clever. The mood was never quite right. The pacing was never quite right. It’s difficult to put your finger on it, but if you see it, which you shouldn’t, you’ll feel what I’m talking about. Something just wasn’t done correctly here and feels sloppy, inarticulate, uncrafted. Very few details are given about the plot, what made this situation “special” or this story worth telling, and the characters are given the bare minimum of backstory and dimensionality.

Only at the one hour mark the film become something fresh and inventive, and that lasts for about fifteen minutes. Whoopie.

Just when it gets good, when an additional 15-minutes could is almost expected to follow and could wrap-up with a stately denouement and resolution, we are left at the Climax, with no way to know who lived, who died, how the demons went from body to body, or what ever happened to Maria, the protagonists mother (whose acting was actually pretty good for being possessed). The actress playing Maria kept this Phoned-In Money Grabber from dying at the front door of the genre club it desperately wanted to be a part of.

Some of you may say that “realistic endings” where everything is not wrapped up is more real and better. While that’s left to debate, this doesn’t do it well. I like movies that don’t put a bow on everything. Most people in America today who what to be intellectually-challenged when enjoying a film would agree, but this film ends shockingly in spite of itself and just for the sake of “oh, that would be a crazy ending. Like, real life, where, ya know, you don’t know what happens.” Yeah. Okay. It can be done well when a theme or irony or metaphor is in place, but this had none of that.

When the best part of your movie is the tail end of the third act, and then you don’t FINISH your third act, well, you should be ashamed to call yourself a full-length picture. On top of all of this, pieces of the trailer were re-edited in the final cut, and really, the best movie of “A Devil Inside” is the freaking trailer.

Save yourself the trouble. Don’t even get this on REDBOX unless you are a die-hard horror fan or just HAVE to know how this film stacks up to the other of its sub-genre. Hint: in the bottom half.

Because the ending was better than the whole film, it gets a 5 instead of a 4.5

I would rewatch any, yes, any exorcist movie again before this one.

5/10

MH

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THE AVENGERS: a movie review

Honestly, this movie shcoked me.

It was that well-made, has earned it’s hype, and is an excellent example of what a proper team of filmmakers are capable of crafting. It is the definition of awesome, and I am not a fanboy gusher. I have some standards and was prepared to be a critic on this one.

I was not expecting much from this movie since I’m a bit tired of the past 12 years of superheroes in theaters, but I gotta say, Joss Whedon has once again directed and written a piece of action movie magic, and a balanced expolration of motivations, conflicts, steadily rising stakes, and genuine humor that never felt invasive. In a world of, really, too many hero movies beginning in ’99 or ’00, this one came very late in the game (2012) and truly proved itself to be among the Best of the genre.

But “The Avengers” is not just a good superhero film, it’s an entertaining action-adventure story as well, with great character development, clearly shot and well coreographed action and editing, and stood as THEE kick-off to a summer done right. Not often do the opening acts for the summer movie season carry so much weight. This one earns it.

Go see this one at least once in theaters, even if you don’t know anything about the heroes or their previous movies. If you have seen the previous films (Thor, Captain America, Iron Man 1/2, Hulk) you will simply have a deeper appriciation for some of the references and likely look forward to revisiting some of these films.

“The Avengers” went above and beyond my expectations and I will be owning this one on DVD/BluRay. Go with friends, get exicted, cheer, laugh, and spread the word.

One of the 5 Best Marvel films ever made.

9.5/10

MH

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Cabin in the Woods: a film review

You don’t know what this movie is and you will be happily surprised. Go see Cabin in the Woods:

The Spoiler-Free Set-up: By knowing the conventions of the genre, Joss Whedon, (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and some comics) wrote his own formula with director Drew Goddard to create the most entertaining and fun horror of 2012, and the past 12 years. You have no idea what this movie is gonna be until you watch it or read a spoiler. Do not do the latter.

Gush: Though a warm and lovely spring it has been, go see this immediately. The trailers to it no justice; it was remarkable and gushable; something to watch with friends; something worth the ticket price; bloody, funny, and so freakin’ original that my butt still hurts. It had its way with me, and, yes, I enjoyed it. It’s a genius, self-aware, teen horror that delivers, setting the bar for this decade pretty freakin’ high for me personally.

Fun fact: This was shot in 2009, but not released until this year. I don’t know why.

Categorize How?: This movie is a precise balance of action, humor, paranormal, and horror. This intelligently crafted sleeper hit will hopefully change the coming decade of horror. That’s a big statement, and while this film may not win any awards, its cult status like Evil Dead, Cabin Fever, Drag Me To Hell, and the Saw Franchise is pretty much in stone.

I can’t say anything else without spoiling it, but if you enjoy unique films, or if you’re a buff regarding the sub-genres of horror and international nods to cult-horror hits, prepare for something you’ve never seen before: a legendary stand-alone film that will have you smilin’ and laughing. Inventive twists, set-ups and reveals all work magically, including powers of ancient and global proportions. Who’s pulling the strings? I can say no more.

Best horror of 2012.

The past 12 years.

Maybe the coming decade.

While I have not seen every horror movie, I have seen a lot, and this is easily my top 10 supernatural horror for entertainment and originality alone.

It’s probably a 4/5 to most, maybe lower to non-horror lovers, but this fresh and entertaining gem has to get more than a 4 from me, and a 4.5 seems like I’m just lying to myself to avoid fallout from detractors.

This is a 5/5

Must Watch of 2012. The whole world depends on it.

MH

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“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”: a response to the film

This is less of a review and analysis and more of a immediate reaction and response to this film.

 

FIRST THOUGHTS:

Based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, I hated Oscar in the first 45-minutes of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” From taking the picture of Viola Davis crying, which was unsettling, to the flashback showing Oscar keeping his dead father’s voice messages from his mother. I didn’t care that he seems to have some social issues, possibly be obsessive compulsive, and clearly a career intellect. I don’t like “him” as a character. He is incapable of what many consider normal human interaction and watching this movie just made me mad.

The novel and the movie were highly praised, and yet, also controversial and divisive. It was nominated for Best Picture? Really?

It shows that not all novels can or should or deserve to be made into films. Having said all this, the actor who played Oscar was perfectly cast and his acting is superb for being so young. That doesn’t mean I liked the screenplay.

SEPTEMBER 11th PREMISE:

This movie is bloated with its own self-awareness, and if you take out the 9/11 aspects and just look at the film about a screwy kid who lost his father (Tom Hanks) in any sad way, it’s still just a story of a messed up kid searching to keep his father in his life. The 9/11 angle isn’t really important at all to the story, and this story could have been in any city. No themes or ideas of Americanism or Nationalism or terrorism were explored whatsoever, only the randomness and unfairness of tragic death; therefore, it is just an emotional backdrop and a wasted opportunity to say something interesting about this time of American History.

Furthermore, the story of this boy and his father could have been told artfully AND simultaneously with an American narrative. The novelist and the screenwriter were not that talented. Since it does nothing but focus on a boy’s tradegy, the 9/11 angle is purely, purely exploitative to sell tickets and novels and be featured in Entertainment Weekly. Period.

In the movie version at least, the issues of September 11th serve as nothing more than a cheap crutch to make the film “more important” and is a little shameless in that regard. The producers and director shot a beautiful film with too many A-listers and obnoxious voice over by a savant/prodigy child who was lied to by his father for his whole life who the audience cannot empathize with.

THE CHARACTERS:

Only at the 48 minute when Sandra Bullock (the mom) and Oscar get into the huge fight about death not making sense and have the scary and truly emotional screaming match did this film get a second moment of curiosity from me and respect. Finally, a scene without voice-over that meant something, but again, wasn’t exclusive to a 9/11 specific death. The idea of chaos and dying on any given day is universal, and should NOT carry extra weight just because we are American’s and remember 9/11. I find the whole scene right after this emotionally manipulative. I don’t know how I would grade this movie had it been made 8 years ago just after 9/11 or 10 years from now. Would either date of release be better or worse? Who knows?

On another note, just after the one hour point, I could believe I had an hour and some change left. This fuckwhistle drags. Pardon the creative French.

I just didn’t buy that “The Renter” (Max Von S.) would run around with a kid in NYC. It’s too fantastic and dumb. But then at the one hour fifteen minute mark, when Oscar is acting like a psychopath in a warehouse full of lockboxes, I was like, oh, of course the Renter is Oscar’s grandfather. How obvious. Oscar guesses this at the hour twenty mark.  I should have known. Well, now that that’s outta the way, let’s get Oscar some psychological help; something his mom, Bullock, should have done a year ago! But, no, they don’t do this.

And why the hell didn’t “The Renter” reveal his relationship? Why? Why!! What a bunch of asses Oscar has in his life! A mother who lets him run around the city alone and knows about it for weeks, a father who played a deeply deceptive game and should have stopped once he was no longer ten, and a grandfather who literally says nothing to his own grandson which may have been a big help for both of their characters to discuss Tom Hank’s character therapeutically and with family. Nope. That all makes too much sense to fix. It’s contrived, contrived, contrived, contrived.

Then, at the hour and forty-eight minute mark, Sandra Bullock explains to Oscar how she’s known all along what he’s been up to and has somehow found the time to contact and visit all of the people Oscar has been visiting and is due to visit soon. Does she have a job? With what time? Awwww, how sweet. You can tell because of the piano in the soundtrack. Awwww.

WHAT ABOUT THE BOOK VERSION?:

I hope the book is better than this, in fact, I’m sure it is, but if the story and the characters are anything like this I honestly am not going to waste my time. I’m not interested in it enough. It’s not an issue of the medium in which this story is being told—it is the story itself. It capitalizes on 9/11 and would be just as average, if not better, had it not involved “The Worst Day Ever.”

CONCLUSION:

So prepare to be manipulated. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” is forgettable and worth maybe one viewing. I just didn’t care, and I was paying attention. I gave it the benefit of the doubt, before and during. Rhetorically speaking — Does this film capitalize on American tragedy to sell false emotional excrement or is it a brave, bold American film facing our greatest tragedy. See for yourself. I didn’t cry, and I think “we” were supposed to throughout several scenes. Fail.

I almost didn’t want to finish this one, but it did get better after the unbalanced first act, and I don’t hate Oscar anymore… as much. I feel bad for him, because the people around him don’t seem to know how to make it any better for him and what he’s going through. Terrible parenting.

On a comical note about “Oscar”: I wish Thomas Horn was instead Macaulay Culkin circa 1992. LOL.

Only the acting and the cinematography make this enjoyable. Not the lackluster story (Eric Roth), basic editing, pretentious directing (Stephen Daldry), or sleepy, cliché musical score.

I just don’t care about this film. What a complex bunch of crap his father designed for him to end up looking under a swing. How contrived and just plain old crazy are both father and son.

What a waste of late 2011 hype.

6.0/10

MH

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THE HUNGER GAMES: an Opening Weekend Review

It was just after midnight. No, not on the Thursday night midnight showings. No one could make it with me then. SO I waited for the Friday night opening day. I walked out of the theater from my 9:50pm movie with a smile on my face, more than glad I spent the $12 and 2 hours and 22 minutes on something done right.

This is how you adapt movies. This is one of the best book adaptations since Lord of the Rings. Better than the Twilights, and better than half of the Harry Potters, and I loved the Harry Potters. I stand by these claims.

On its’ opening Friday, it set a record with $68.25 million in one day for a non-sequel movie. No movie has ever done that one a Friday opening. None of the super-hero films, Avatar, Batman, or LOTR: Return of the King. No midnight shows have done these numbers either, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2… and some of you know how big that was. I was there.

It is the first “Must See” of 2012. Anything changed or left out was not missed or made sense. Anything altered was to improve the story. Anything added was to enhance the tale. The best part is: not much had to be changed, and the book you read was really, really close to this movie. Bravo for real.

Techically and artistically triumphant. Excellent tone setting and camera work. Incredible sound design, editing, costuming, and cinematography. Taut, chilling, cold, thrilling, and atmospheric. Really went above my expectations. Anybody will like this movie whether you read the book or not. Pushes the bounds of PG-13 and actually got my adreneline up and bumped up my temperature at parts with frothing anticpation.

Aside from little details, this screenplay hit the nail on the head, and is just as good as Collins’ novel. I did not go into this thinking I would support it like this, but I am. I’m on this for the long haul, and considering the second and thrid novels were frustrating reads for me, I have all the confidence in the world that the next two films WILL out-do the books. There are thing s to iron out, alter, and change in the coming two films. The first installment needed the least change-ups. What will be neat is still around the corner. This thing has just, just begun.

Exceptional direction and set design, truly. Bring on the 75th Hunger Games! Please, please, please!

9/10

MH

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HUGO: a response to the film

If you look at what “Hugo” won (5 awards) and what they lost (6 awards), I agree with all 11 choices. And yet, having just seen the film for the first time, I feel utterly unsatisfied and feel bait-and-switched by the trailers and what the film delivered.

Who is this film for? The young? The families? The cineophiles? The Scorcese fans? All four categories will be let down in some small way.

Remember this about me — I’m a sap for good “magic” and I can certainly suspend my disbelief and become an unusually acute empathetic viewer. But this started with great intrigue and 30 minutes in just didn’t deliver, continuing to go where I didn’t see it going, and drifting from being about Hugo. This is about the movies. Change the title, Scorcese. Every character I could describe as well or better than Hugo, including all supporting roles. Alas, I digress…

Nothing is horrible about this film. Everything is good or better, but nothing “dazzled”. It’s a 2 hr 5 min film that is more about George Melies, the french director/writer/actor/producer, than anybody else. Hugo, the boy, existing in the film is merely happenstance. Sure he found a family, but the story line with his father is incomplete. Giving the nominations “Hugo” recieved, I’m stunned with the film I just saw. If any one else directed this thing, or if it wasn’t about George Melies, “Hugo” would have been just another family film with little to no buzz — and while that sounds like a “dis”, it’s really not. It would have been an improvment since it would then not be trying to do so many things and would have recieved a more modest amount of awards, like two. Other films in Hugo’s categories at the 84th Academy Ceremony deserved it just as much if not more. Just for example, Cinematography could have easily gone to “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or “War Horse”, and Sound Editing really should have been a shoe-in for “Drive” or “Dragon Tattoo” again.

(for all winners, go here.)

In closing: over-hyped. See it on the Redbox for $1.27

Went into it dying to love it and recommend it to everyone. I can’t. It’s worth watching once. Nothing more. People giving it more than a 7.5/10 must be doing so on merit of it’s aesthetic pleasure and technical accomplishments, which are, of course, excellent. But still… (7/10)

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