Monday, December 30, 2013

Maid in Manhattan (2002)

Number Rolled: 71
Movie Name/Year: Maid in Manhattan (2002)
Genre: Romance
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Wayne Wang
Writer: John Hughes, Kevin Wade
Actors: Jennifer Lopez, Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Stanley Tucci, Tyler Posey, Frances Conroy, Chris Eigman, Amy Sedaris, Marissa Matrone, Priscilla Lopez, Bob Hoskins, Lisa Roberts Gillan, Maddie Corman, Sharon Wilkins, Jayne Houdyshell, Marilyn Torres, Lou Ferguson, Di Quon, Liliane Thomas, Raquel Shapiro, Emma Thaler

Marisa, a maid, is dutifully cleaning her rooms when one of her coworkers convinces her to try on a guest’s designer outfit. She’s caught in the expensive clothing by a senator candidate and they hit it off. As they bond over her gifted child, they begin to fall deeper in with each other.

I like some movies with this recipe, but there has to be something exceedingly special about them. Something has to get them to stand out; whether it’s a fantastic script, or brilliant acting or even a slight unexpected twist thrown into the otherwise par-for-the-course plot. Maid in Manhattan had none of that. I think that, maybe, the writers thought that giving the poor maid a gifted son would add that twist to their cookie-cutter script, but they were wrong. I’ll admit it didn’t hurt, but it certainly didn’t pull the movie out of the rut it gets stuck in from the very beginning.

I’ve liked Jennifer Lopez before. In “Selena” she was outstanding and stuck to the character like duct tape, but she falls flat on her face here. I simply couldn’t buy her as the hard-working, struggling, single mom that she had to portray. However, I thought Tyler Posey was great, especially for a child actor. It’s very easy for child actors to over-act, possibly because they don’t understand the societal norms for certain emotions and circumstances, but Posey didn’t fall into that trap.

If you enjoy this specific movie recipe than it’s something you might be able to use as background noise, but don’t expect to be impressed.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.3/5
Overall Opinion – 2/5

Movie Trailer: 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! My birthday falls just after Christmas, so I won't be around to make any posts until Monday the 30th. Have a great week!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Tonight You’re Mine (2011)

Number Rolled: 86
Movie Name/Year: Tonight You’re Mine (2011)
Genre: Romance
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: R
Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Thomas Leveritt
Actors: Rebecca Benson, Luke Treadaway, Mathew Baynton, Natalia Tena, Kari Corbett, Clare Kelly, Cora Bisset, Sophie Wu, Gavin Mitchell, Joseph Mydell, Gilly Gilchrist, Ruta Gedmintas, Alastair Mackenzie, Newton Faulkner, Jonny Phillips

Adam and Morello have just gotten to the music festival when they begin to bump heads. High on the adrenaline of having to do their shows, they are driven to antagonize each other until a prophet shows up. While leading them in prayer, he does the only thing he believes will sort out their issues. He handcuffs them together.

The base recipe of this movie is very common. Take two people who hate or annoy each other and trap them in a situation where they can’t split up. It is the foundation of hundreds of comedy’s and romances. It’s even found in most sitcoms at some point during the show’s lifetime. So, I’ll admit, there’s very little creativity about that. However, what this movie does with that familiar theme is spectacular and, in the end, it’s one of the best romance’s I’ve seen in a long time.

I’m a little bias in favor of the subject hand because it reminded me of the music festivals and the Warped Tour’s and walking around handcuffed to my best friend, Mike. Those were the days. None the less, even without that nod to my childhood, I would have still adored this movie.

“Tonight You’re Mine” featured a very eclectic line-up of music that represented everything from punk to blues. The sets were pretty realistic and I was a huge fan of the cast. I don’t watch “Game of Thrones” (yet), but I remembered Natalia Tena from Harry Potter, which was kind of cool. Especially since her part in this movie was much larger so I actually got to know her as a featured actress.

The issues I had with the movie weren’t over the top, but I still found them very difficult to ignore. There was one scene with a strobe effect that lasted much, much longer than it should have. On top of that, there was a single glaring plot hole that I couldn’t get past – especially since it affected the primary storyline of the film.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.4/5
Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Red Dawn (2012)

Number Rolled: 70
Movie Name/Year: Red Dawn (2012)
Genre: Action & Adventure
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Dan Bradley
Writer: Carl Ellsworth, Jeremy Passmore, Kevin Reynolds, John Milius
Actors: Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck, Josh Hutcherson, Adrianne Palicki, Isabel Lucas, Connor Cruise, Edwin Hodge, Brett Cullen, Alyssa Diaz, Julian Alcarez, Will Yun Lee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Fernando Chien, Kenneth Choi, Matt Gerald, Michael A. Knight, Steve Lenz, Noah Smith, Michael Beach

After losing the big football game, Wolverines player (Matt Eckert) goes out with some friends, then hits the hay. Tremors wake him out of a dead sleep and he finds bombs and paratroopers falling from the sky. Chaos breaks out as North Korean forces begin to take over his suburban American town. In an effort to save his brother, Jed Eckert follows his father’s wishes and gets Matt, and some of their friends, as far away as possible. After witnessing the destruction and murder of their loved ones, however, the seed of rebellion is planted within them.

The original “Red Dawn” (1984) was one of the most spectacular action & adventure movies out there. Working off the current events of its time, it showed that America was not invincible and had certain vulnerabilities that were difficult to ignore. However, a teenager or young adult watching the movie now would find it a little out there. When you have a movie like that based around the technologies and current events of a specific time, the next generation (having different circumstances) is less likely to relate to the issues the movie works around. There are a lot of remakes I find to be unnecessary and even damning to the story its working off of, “Red Dawn” is not one of them.

This was the perfect movie to remake, however, I would call it a reboot instead. I liked the original film, but I didn’t relate to it. The reboot, however, changed Russia to North Korea, Cuban reinforcements to the Spetsnaz and nukes to EMP bombs. The result is something so close to actual foreign news that it is utterly terrifying. It pulls a knot of dread into your chest and forces you to see the terrifying reality of what World War III could be; which is exactly what it was going for in both versions.

The reason I call it a reboot instead of a remake is because they not brought the minor details into the 21rst century, but the story is also moderately different. The core characters are the same, but there are others added, and the script takes things in unexpected directions. I don’t like this version better than the original, but I don’t like the original better either. There’s a difference to it that keeps me from fully comparing the two. I love that. Reboots can get old because we know how the story ends and where it’s going. This one doesn’t let the story get old, in fact, it keeps you feeling that same gripping dread as the first one did.

Absolutely fantastic reboot. Absolutely amazing movie. Absolutely terrifying.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.3/5
Overall Opinion – 5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Guy Thing (2003)

Number Rolled: 41
Movie Name/Year: A Guy Thing (2003)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Chris Koch
Writer: Greg Glienna, Pete Schwaba, Matt Tarses, Bill Wrubel
Actors: Jason Lee, Julia Stiles, Selma Blair, James Brolin, Shawn Hatosy, Lochlyn Munro, Diana Scarwid, David Koechner, Julie Hagerty, Thomas Lennon, Jackie Burroughs, Jay Brazeau, Matthew Walker, Fred Ewanuick, Lisa Calder, Dan Joffre, Michael Teigen

Paul is getting married to Karen in a week and his bachelor party is going well. Liquor and girls are flowing, and he’s simply doing his best to behave. Of course, it’s all shot straight to hell when he wakes up the following day with a woman who is not his wife-to-be.

My first thought when I was starting to gather the information for this movie was: “They really needed four writers to put together this crap?” I can’t tell you how much of a stretched out cliché this movie was. Everything you think is going to happen will, in fact, it will likely happen exactly how you picture it. So, watch the first fifteen minutes of this movie, then close your eyes and let your imagination roam. I’m going to go ahead and believe whatever you come up with will be better than this nauseating display of bad comedy and worse romance.

I like Jason Lee, but this is definitely a black mark in his career.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.8/5
Overall Opinion – 1/5

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rock Jocks (2012)

Number Rolled: 78
Movie Name/Year: Rock Jocks (2012)
Genre: Independent
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Paul V. Seetachitt
Writer: Paul V. Seetachitt
Actors: Andrew Bowen, Felicia Day, Gerry Bednob, Greg Benson, Seth Lucas Bowen, Eugene Byrd, Zach Callison, Justin Chon, James DuMont, Doug Jones, Jason Mewes, Robert Picardo, Mark Woolley, Kevin Wu, Jeff Lewis

The Rock Jocks are a super-secret government agency charged with the duty of protecting the world against the same kind of asteroid event that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. These five misfits are forced to try and get along just long enough to keep life on Earth from ending.

This movie was one of the funniest I have seen in a while. Don’t expect subtle laughter, though. It relies on shock factor and low-brow sex jokes. That might not be everyone’s thing, but it’s right up my alley. I love that kind of shocky humor and most of my favorite films exhibit that same thing.

“Rock Jocks” was a B-movie that I added to my list simply because of Felicia Day. I adore her and have followed her career since she was in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (TV Show) in 2003. I’m not sure that I believe she’s the most amazing actor in the world, but I definitely enjoy her in everything I’ve ever seen her in. She was the only one I recognized in the very limited Netflix credits, so I was pleasantly surprised when Jason Mewes and Gerry Bednob appeared throughout the movie.

As happy as I was to see Jason Mewes, because I like him as an actor, there was a whole other reason his presence amused me. There were some very striking parallels between “Rock Jocks” and my all-time favorite movie, “Clerks.” Although there were a few minutes of extra footage at the beginning, it still pretty much started the same way, the humor was along the same route and there was even a character that was very Silent Bob-esk. When I realized just how similar the movies were (even with the sci-fi twist), it was pretty cool to see Jay, himself, appear on screen. It actually makes me wonder if the parallels were a conscious nod to Kevin Smith’s first full-length movie.

I think “Rock Jocks” was a cute, hilarious film with a fun story and great cast. I would watch this again, recommend this to friends and I might even pick up the DVD the next time I have a chance.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4/5
Overall Opinion – 5/5

The Random Rating: R – Explicit Language

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, December 13, 2013

In Bruges (2008)

Number Rolled: 96
Movie Name/Year: In Bruges (2008)
Genre: Comedy Drama
Length: 107 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Actors: Elizabeth Berrington, Colin Farrell, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, Eric Godon, Anna Madeley, Clemence Poesy, Jordan Prentice, Jeremie Renier, Thekla Reuten, Theo Stevenson, Inez Stinton

A traumatized hitman and his partner are sent to Bruges by their boss. Neither of them knows why they were sent, but they suspect it is either to hide out or to find a target. As they wait to hear from their boss, they sight-see in the town and interact with the residents.

“In Bruges” is a smart, unique film. Yes, it’s got the hitman aspect, which has been done to death, but it’s a really different spin on it. I also happen to think it’s the perfect vehicle for Colin Farrell. I like him as an actor in general, and I believe he does better in this film than in any other I’ve ever seen him in.

The movie itself has a great storyline. It’s not very fast paced, but it does have the ability to keep one involved until it gets to the meat of the plot. The script is intricate, and the actors all seem to be very invested in their rolls. I’ve been able to sit through this movie more times than I can count and, I think, what gives the film such rewatchability is the ending. Without saying too much, I will say that the ending – however strong – is debatable. I have a friend with a very different perspective than mine, we argue every time one of us watches the movie.

Ignore the label of “foreign movie” for the genre. Although it was made in another country, the language is English. If I were to give it a genre I’d say drama, despite the comedy and action also involved.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.3/5
Overall Opinion – 5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Robin Hood (1973)

Number Rolled: 66
Movie Name/Year: Robin Hood (1973)
Genre: Classic
Length: 83 minutes
Rating: G
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Writer: Larry Clemmons, Ken Anderson, Vance Gerry, Frank Thomas, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, David Michener
Actors: Roger Miller, Peter Ustinov, Terry-Thomas, Brian Bedford, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Andy Devine, Carole Shelley, Pat Buttram, George Lindsey, Ken Curtis

Robin Hood is Robin Hood. If you don’t know at least the basics of the story by now, then shame on you. Pick one of the tellings, watch it and then watch the rest of them.

Disney’s “Robin Hood” is not only one of my all time favorite versions of the tale, but my favorite Disney movie of all time. As a child, I would have either put this movie or “Lady and the Tramp” in my ‘favorite’ spot. I’ve found, even all this time later, I still sink into the story. There’s nothing quite like a childhood favorite that stands the test of time. Even though the methods of animation are a great deal more advanced today, “Robin Hood” is still more than just tolerable in that area. In fact, I can name many current cartoons that don’t stand up to it. You can tell it’s not a modern movie, but I doubt your typical eight year old is going to care.

Seeing this movie come onto Netflix was like having a sliver of my childhood dangled in front of me. I felt like I was a kid again just watching it. The only thing that would make me happier is seeing Netflix get “Bedknobs and Broomsticks” on streaming.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.3/5
Overall Opinion – 5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Holes (2003)

Number Rolled: 74
Movie Name/Year: Holes (2003)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 117 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Andrew Davis
Writer: Louis Sachar
Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, Tim Blake Nelson, Shia LaBeouf, Dule Hill, Jake M. Smith, Byron Cotton, Khleo Thomas, Brenden Jefferson, Miguel Castro, Max Kasch, Noah Poletiek, Zane Holtz, Steven Kozlowski, Siobhan Fallon, Henry Winkler, Nathan Davis, Rick Fox, Nicole Pulliam, Michael Cavanaugh, Eartha Kitt, Damien Luvara, Patricia Arquette, Scott Plank, Allan Kolman, Louis Sachar, Eric Pierpoint, Allison Smith

Stanley Yelnats IV was not a criminal. Of course, once the courts convicted him for stealing Sweet Feet’s shoes from a homeless shelter charity drive, he was never able to convince anyone of that fact. As punishment, he was sent to a juvenile work camp where he was sentenced to spend his time digging holes.

I have not read the book, but I think I’ve seen the movie about a hundred times. I was beyond happy to see it come onto Netflix. One of the things that impresses me about “Holes” is that the screenplay was solely credited to the same person who wrote the book. I have to imagine that means that it either deviates very little from the novel or that the author was able to allow deviation that did not take away from what he envisioned when writing it. From my experience, it’s rare for there to be no other names on the screenplay credits.

It was a few years back, maybe 2005, when I first saw this movie. It’s one of those films I, personally, could watch over and over again without ever getting bored of it. I think the actors did wonderfully, the script was imaginative and I even liked the way the soundtrack fits.

Though it’s labeled as a children & family movie, don’t let that dissuade you from watching it if you don’t happen to have kids. Personally, I think the story is something that targets many people of many different ages without actually being specifically geared toward a certain age group. I’m also not fond of the comedy genre it’s labeled with. I’d most likely go with drama if anyone asked me. However, I do have trouble accepting the “poisonous lizard” idea that was utilized in “Holes”. Watching people run away from painted bearded dragons does point to comedy a bit, at least for me.

It was a great Disney movie. I believe it stands up to a lot of their live-action classics.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.3/5
Overall Opinion – 4.5/5

P.S. Based on a book of the same name by Louis Sachar

P.P.S. There was a short scene after the English credits followed by some Spanish credits.

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)

Number Rolled: 43
Movie Name/Year: Holiday in Handcuffs (2007)
Genre: Romance
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Ron Underwood
Writer: Sara Endsley
Actors: Melissa Joan Hart, Mario Lopez, Timothy Bottoms, Markie Post, June Lockhart, Kyle Howard, Vanessa Lee Evigan, Gabrielle Miller, Layla Alizada, Cedric De Souza

When the man Trudie is seeing randomly breaks up with her the same day he’s supposed to go with her to her family’s Christmas weekend, she has a nervous breakdown. On a whim, she kidnaps one of her customers and forces him to pretend he’s her boyfriend.

This movie, surprisingly enough, wasn’t terrible. Between it being a TV movie and starring Melissa Joan Hart, I went into this thinking I was going to be bored to tears. Actually, it wound up being pretty creative. Don’t get me wrong, it ended exactly the way you’d expect this kind of straight-to-TV film to end, but it delivered a pretty decent path to get there.

In all honesty, some of the reason I liked the movie could involve a touch of biasness. It was about a black sheep who did something crazy just to get her family to notice her. It’s something very easy for me to relate to. Granted, I’ve never randomly kidnapped some guy and made him pretend to be my boyfriend, but there’s a certain kind of crazy that comes with wanting nothing more than for your family to be proud of you for just one day. When you feel like you just don’t meet everyone’s standards and they don’t need or, in most cases, want you around, it’s easy to see how someone might have a little bit of a nervous breakdown.

I’m a little sensitive to this kind of storyline and so I probably liked it a little bit more than the majority of viewers would. I can’t even comment on the acting because I was so wrapped up in the script that I can’t remember anything worth discussing.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.1/5
Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

Movie Trailer: (No working official trailer was found, instead, I've included video of the first 14 minutes.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004)
Genre: Sci-fi & Fantasy
Length: 91 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Phil Tippett
Writer: Edward Neumeier
Actors: Billy Brown, Richard Burgi, Kelly Carlson, Cy Carter, Sandrine Holt, Ed Lauter, J.P. Manoux, Lawrence Monoson, Colleen Porch, Drew Powell, Ed Quinn, Jason-Shane Scott, Brenda Strong, Brian Tee

For those of you unfamiliar with the Starship Troopers storyline, it is based around an intergalactic war featuring humans vs. super alien bugs. The second movie, however, has very little to do with the first and third of the series. It follows a group of troopers as they seek shelter after being overrun. They find a survivor in the building they use to bunker down and things begin to go a little haywire.

I mentioned in an earlier review for “Starship Troopers 3: Marauders,” that I’d heard this movie was supposed to be one long soft-core porn. I don’t agree. Yes, there was a large amount of nudity in it and a whole bunch of people kissing, but there really wasn’t any sex. In fact, there was very little implied sex for that matter. I’ve seen more sex scenes in mainstream rom-com’s. It was terrible, but it wasn’t the porn that people seem to think it was.

When it comes to sequels, I don’t really expect “good.” I know that’s a strange thing to say but hear me out. The purpose of a sequel is to further the storyline and enhance what has already been established. If I were to give an example of what I consider a good sequel, it would be “My Girl 2.” Critics weren’t overly fond of it and I can absolutely understand why. It was overly sappy and kind of failed as a stand-alone film. However, as a sequel, “My Girl 2” added greater depth to the main character and her oft-mentioned mother. It didn’t create its own story, rather it elevated the original so that the nuances could be understood at a greater level. The best sequels, in my opinion, don’t have to stand alone; they only need to enrich the existing storyline.

Where the Starship Troopers series is concerned, I wish I’d never seen the second or third sequels. They not only did nothing to elevate or enrich the story of the first one, but cheapened it to such a degree that I can’t even watch the first one anymore without rolling my eyes a little. It angers me, because the original was once one of my favorite movies.

I’m hoping to leave the trauma of the sequels behind me sometime in the future.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.3/5
Overall Opinion – 1/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dirty Deeds (2005)

Number Rolled: 45
Movie Name/Year: Dirty Deeds (2005)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: UR
Director: David Kendall
Writer: Jon Land, Jonathan Thies
Actors: Milo Ventimiglia, Lacey Chabert, Tom Amandes, Matthew Carey, Mark Derwin, Charles Durning, Michael Milhoan, Billy L. Sullivan, Zoe Saldana, Arielle Kebbel, Ray Santiago, Erin Torpey, Alex Solowitz, Danso Gordon, Wes Robinson, Keith Britton, Michael Sullivan, Dave Power, Fred Meyers, Jaymee Ong, Daniel Hilfer, Todd Zeile, Michael Bofshever,

Zach Harper really couldn’t care less about school spirit. He doesn’t even have interest in the semi-rebellious tradition of doing the dirty deeds the night before homecoming. However, when a bully forces one of his friends into a corner, Zach takes on the deeds in order to get his friend out of trouble.

Milo Ventimiglia is a great actor. I could watch him sing the alphabet and be happy with the time I spent on it. Even in this movie, surrounded by other actors trying to be as cheesy as they could possibly manage, Ventimiglia managed to pull off such an amazing performance that it elevated the entire film for me.

The movie had all the obligatory parts of a teen high school comedy; all the stereotypes were met. In fact, all those parts were exaggerated to a point where I was no longer able to suspend disbelief. I knew a lot of strange, evil, awkward people, when I was in high school, and none of them spoke like they were reading off cue cards. The truth is, I’m a fan of this kind of recipe movie. I love the low brow, raunchy, dirty humor that’s utilized – masturbation jokes, fart jokes; it’s all part of a guilty pleasure. The problem with it is that it’s so bottom of the barrel that if the actors don’t step it up, the jokes get lost among the stuff that’s not supposed to be funny.

There were a lot of issues in “Dirty Deeds” but there’s one thing that outweighs them all for me: I liked it. I’ve lost a little respect for myself because of it, but I really could sit here and watch the film a second time.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.9/5
Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

The Random Rating: R – For implied sex scenes and prolonged nudity

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

With all the cooking and family and good will, I definitely need a day to recuperate. Hope you all had awesome Thanksgivings! See you all on Monday!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Darkroom (2013)

Number Rolled: 16
Movie Name/Year: Darkroom (2013)
Genre: Horror
Length: 80 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Britt Napier
Writer: Michaelbrent Collings
Actors: Kaylee DeFer, Elisabeth Rohm, Christian Campbell, Tobias Segal, Steve Stanulis

Michelle got herself into trouble. Enough trouble that she feels the need to seek out a rehab center. Upon release, she takes up the therapist’s suggestion to find a job at Darkhouse, a modeling company, as their gofer. That business, however, isn’t quite what it seems.

It sounds like a pretty overdone storyline and, going into it, that exactly what I thought it would be. I wasn’t completely wrong, but the movie still reached and, in some cases, exceeded my expectations. For a B movie (one that’s not even acknowledged on Rotten Tomatoes) to have that kind of acting is very rare. I was impressed with pretty much every actor that crossed the screen.

As far as the story goes, it wasn’t particularly original, but it wasn’t a bad take on the recipe. In fact, there were a few hardcore horror rules that “Darkroom” broke; it’s for that reason that I really wound up liking the movie. It’s very difficult for a director/writer to follow a recipe and still come up with something that’s relatively unpredictable and engrossing.

It wasn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows. In the beginning of the movie you learn a lot through flashbacks. I don’t mind flashbacks if they’re approached properly. The issue is that the transitions were so horrible that I couldn’t tell what was going on, or what part of the timeline the movie was on, until the next scene had already transitioned in. There were also a few continuity errors, one of which was a scene that, even after watching the entire movie, I don’t understand in reference to the plot. I believe it was an attempt to be abstract, but the rest of the film wasn’t – which just made it confusing.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.5/5
Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

P.S. This movie does not seem to exist on Rotten Tomatoes.

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Host (2013)

Number Rolled: 88
Movie Name/Year: The Host (2013)
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 125 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Andrew Niccol
Writer: Andrew Niccol, Stephenie Meyer
Actors: Rachel Roberts, Shyaam Karra, Brent Wendell Williams, Jhil McEntyre, Jalen Coleman, Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Stephen Rider, Jaylen Moore, Stephen Conroy, Michael L. Parker, Phil Austin, Marcus Lyle Brown, Chandler Canterbury, Max Irons, William Hurt, J.D. Evermore, Boyd Holbrook, Jake Abel, Frances Fisher, Lee Hardee, Mustafa Harris, Scott Lawrence, Shawn Carter Peterson, Raeden Greer, Andrea Frankle, Emily Browning

The Earth has not just been invaded, it’s been taken over. A parasite species has successfully whittled the human race into an endangered species. When one of the parasites, Wanderer, takes over Melanie’s body, Melanie fights back from inside and Wanderer is forced to see her species through the eyes of a human.

After seeing the trailer I had very high hopes for the movie. I love science fiction and fantasy, both books and movies, and the plot sounded very original. I couldn’t wait to see it. In fact, I almost shelled the $20 to see it in theaters. Now I’m glad I didn’t.

I’ll admit that I haven’t read the book, but that’s because Stephenie Meyer’s writing style is not one that interests me in any way. Completely ignoring “Twilight,” I simply don’t like her word usage or sentence structure. It has nothing to do with her imagination; it’s her technique that makes me not want to read her work. That being said, I think I do need to add her plots and style to the reasons why she doesn’t interest me, because this movie annoyed me nearly as much as “Twilight” did.

First of all, this movie dealt with aliens so, sure, it could be considered Sci-Fi. It should never have been considered Sci-Fi as a primary genre. This is a hardcore romance film. If you were to take the aliens away and replaced them with mind control or schizophrenia, the story would have been exactly the same. The aliens were just a vehicle to tell a love story, not a very good one either. Don’t be fooled by the trailer, every action scene in the movie is nearly fully depicted in it, there are no others.

The acting was good, and I couldn’t fault any of the actors for the issues I had with the plot. They did the best they could with a relatively boring script.

I also had an issue with the ending. There were three of them and as each one happened they became less and less necessary. If the first ending had been the one Meyer stuck with, my opinion of the movie would have been altered. With the second ending, I found myself rolling my eyes a bit, but accepting it. The third, and final, ending was all fluff and annoyed me.

I was disappointed in what I saw. It’s a shame. The plot had a lot of potential.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.9/5
Overall Opinion – 2/5

P.S. Based on a book with the same name by Stephenie Meyer

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)

Number Rolled: N/A
Movie Name/Year: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 146 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt, Suzanne Collins
Actors: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Paula Malcomson, Willow Shields, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Sam Claflin, Lynn Cohen, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Patrick St. Esprit, Alan Ritchson, Stephanie Leigh Schlund, Meta Golding, Bruce Bundy, Nelson Ascencio, Jack Quaid, Taylor St. Claire, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plummer, E. Roger Mitchell, Bruno Gunn, Maria Howell

Katniss has already won the hunger games and is trying to live with the memories of the arena. Suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, she distances herself from Peeta and attempts to return to life as normal in District 12. She learns quickly, with a visit from President Snow, that life can never be normal again.

After this point, there are spoilers for the books and movie ahead. Read at your own risk.

I’m a huge fan of the books, so it’s no surprise that I was in love with the first of the Hunger Games trilogy. With the knowledge that no movie could be exactly word-for-word what the book was, without running up to six hours long, I thought it was about as close to perfect as possible. It showed the hunger, the desperation, the depravity – all the things that make “The Hunger Games” what it is.

For this story to work out, people need to see and feel what the characters are feeling. Without the quiet rebellion of Katniss or the outward rebellion of Gale, we wouldn’t really see the problem with the world they live in. After all, we have classes in our world too, right?

Suzanne Collins was a master of emotion in the books. She knew how to suck readers in and make them a part of the story. That raises the bar for the movies to an extreme height.

The first film was perfect. The second was still amazing, but not quite up to my standards.

I’ll say that the director and script writers were amazing at keeping most of the big scenes in. Finnick with Mags and the sugar cubes, Johanna getting naked in the elevator, Cinna’s beating, Peeta’s near-death, the protection of Peeta and Katniss in the arena, Katniss hanging Seneca Crane; it was all there. However, there was one item missing from one scene that I believe was absolutely unforgiveable; Plutarch never showed Katniss the mockingjay pocket watch. It seems small at first. After all, it took only one sentence to describe and it would have taken about three seconds to accomplish, but that single action set the entire tone for the second book. It is at that moment that clues start to weave together about the uprising spreading outside of the districts. The movie did some other things to convey that image, but it failed to really portray it as well as it should have. That tiny pocket watch had a big place in the story. It was iconic. It should have been there.

There were other missing scenes, but they weren’t important. The problem was, without them, the story seemed a little choppy and rushed. Like there was little to nothing aiding in the transition from huge scene to huge scene. It became a little more like a vision of highlights instead of a cohesive story.

The worst problem was that they tried to stick too closely to the book. However, those big scenes were amazing and they depicted exactly what they were supposed to, so the choppy feel is almost acceptable. I would have liked to see evidence of the book that Katniss put together with Peeta or Haymitch’s withdrawal, but those are scenes I admit the story did fine without.

With only one unforgiveable error and a general tone issue (as well as a jackass sitting behind me that was on the phone the entire time), I still loved the movie. I have plans to see it in the theaters a second time.

Overall Opinion – 4/5

Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

Number Rolled: 42
Movie Name/Year: The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Genre: Independent
Length: 106 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Writer: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
Actors: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Yaya Alafia, Kunal Sharma, Eddie Hassell, Zosia Mamet, Joaquin Garrido, Rebecca Lawrence Levy, Lisa Eisner, Eric Eisner, James MacDonald

Laser lives with his sister and two moms. After becoming curious about his sperm-donor father, Laser convinces his sister Joni to make the call to try and find out who he is. Joni is able to get in touch with him and, as they begin to get to know Paul, their lives are disrupted by the new addition.

I hear a lot of people label this a comedy. Not only is it one of the categories noted by Netflix, but the trailer insinuates, too. I don’t get it. I didn’t see any comedy in this movie. There may have been one or two chuckles in total, but certainly nothing worth being called a comedy. The subjects I saw in the movie, as well as the way they were expressed, just didn’t seem funny to me. To each his own, I guess.

The actors were really amazing. There’s this one close up of Mia Wasikowska where she’s doing this involuntary motion with the corner of her lips that could have only been accomplished if she’d actually gotten herself to choke up. It was one of those ‘wow’ moments that keeps me looking up an actor’s other work. I’ll be adding anything else she’s in to my list.

I’ll admit “The Kids Are Alright” is a good movie, great even. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. I liked it, but I certainly didn’t love it the way the critics did.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.5/5
Overall Opinion – 3/5

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Manic (2001)

Number Rolled: 40
Movie Name/Year: Manic (2001)
Genre: Drama
Length: 101 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Jordan Melamed
Writer: Michael Bacall, Blayne Weaver
Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Maggie Baird, Don Cheadle, Blayne Weaver, Lydell M. Cheshier, Roxie Fuller, Bree Nogueira, Elden Henson, Cody Lightning, Michael Bacall, Sara Rivas, Lauren Shubert, Zooey Deschanel, William Richert, Nic Henley, Michael O’Neil

Lyle Jensen is a troubled teen. At a baseball game things get out of hand and he nearly kills one of the other kids. As he’s being fixed up at the hospital, he learns that he won’t be going home. Instead, he is set to be admitted to the juvenile ward of a mental institution.

Nine out of ten times, if I know a movie is shot with shaky cam I won’t bother adding it to my list. I HATE that. Halfway through most movies trying to mimic the effect of a hand-held camera, I become nauseated and unwilling to sit through the rest. In “Manic,” however, I not only had no problem sitting through the shaky cam, but I thought it added something important to the story. It gave the movie a sense of intimacy, realism and intensity that a clear picture would not have.

I thought it was amazing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Don Cheadle, Zooey Deschanel, Michael Bacall; all the actors were incredible and very believable in their parts. I felt sympathy for characters I never thought I could feel it for and it was thanks to the absolutely incredible acting of the people behind them.

“Manic” changed my outlook on a lot of things. It changed my outlook on drama’s, on shaky cam, on Zooey Deschanel (whom I originally thought had the range of safety pin) and even on the subject matter itself. It was heart-wrenching and bitter-sweet and all too familiar. It’s set to expire today. With any luck, Netflix will get it back.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.2/5
Overall Opinion – 5/5

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)

Number Rolled: 70
Movie Name/Year: Werewolf: The Beast Among Us (2012)
Genre: Horror
Length: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Director: Louis Morneau
Writer: Michael Tabb, Catherin Cyran, Louis Morneau
Actors: Steven Bauer, Nia Peeples, Stephen Rea, Ed Quinn, Guy Wilson, Ana Ularu, Rachel DiPillo, Adam Croasdell, Emil Hostina, Florin Piersic Jr., Zoltan Butuc, Dan Badarau, Ioan Ionescu, Stefan Iancu, Florin Stancu, Radu Iacoban

When word gets around about a werewolf terrorizing a 19th century village, a group of well trained, experienced hunters set out to help. Upon arrival they learn that there’s a lot more to this werewolf sighting than the others, something’s different. With the help of a medical student, they begin to learn more about the legendary creature they must face.

I loved this. It had a semi-B-movie feel to it (with the graphics and settings), but there were some aspects that seemed above the means of low-budget. The acting was one of those aspects, and I was thrilled to see a good, creepy, gory, well-acted, werewolf movie.

I’m a big fan of the RPG company, “White-Wolf.” Once upon a time, my friends and I would gather weekly to portray vampires (the non-sparkly kind), werewolves and mages in games that were violent and overly creative. So, when I come across movies that feature my favorite preternatural creatures, I’m always excited to see them. Unfortunately, most of those movies have featured more comedy or romance than horror. “Werewolf: The Beast Among Us,” focuses solely on the horror and mystery associated with the aspects that I used to love about role-playing out those creatures, with only underlying tones of romance.

There were minor issues I had with some of the characters, but there was absolutely no problem with the plot or the script. I could definitely watch this movie again.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.5/5
Overall Opinion – 4/5

Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

High School Musical 2 (2007)

Number Rolled: 6
Movie Name/Year: High School Musical 2 (2007)
Genre: Children & Family
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: G
Director: Kenny Ortega
Writer: Peter Barsocchini
Actors: Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Lucas Grabeel, Corbin Bleu, Monique Coleman, Bart Johnson, Alyson Reed, Chris Warren Jr., Jessica Tuck, Robert Curtis Brown, Mark L. Taylor, Ryne Sanbrn, Olesya Rulin, KayCee Stroh, Tanya Chisholm, Miley Cyrus

School’s out and summer is just beginning for the Wildcats. Troy and Gabriella plan to spend the entire season working together at a country club, making money and going on dates. Sharpay, one of their classmates, has different plans for them. As they begin to start trying to enjoy their summer, she begins plotting to pull Troy away from his friends in order to steal him for herself.

I saw the good in the original “High School Musical.” I wasn’t as fond of it as a lot of people, but I got the message and I understood how people could easily like it.

The sequel is another story altogether. They kept the mediocre script but dropped the quality of the musical numbers and although they tried to keep a moral for the story, it just plain fell flat. Not only did it fall flat, but this movie completely nullified the lesson of the last movie. It was as if the first one didn’t exist. Suddenly Troy doesn’t want to be himself again and denies wanting to sing? What exactly was the point of sitting through the original “High School Musical” then?

The only difference between the two movies that I found to be an improvement was the acting of Lucas Grabeel. Maybe he took some acting classes between one and two, but I found him a lot more believable this time around. Everyone else seemed to drop in quality.

I can imagine it would be fun for kids, but I still feel like the way they made the first one obsolete caused this one to lose any meaning it might have had.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.2/5
Overall Opinion – 2/5

P.S. There are bloopers during the credit roll that are pretty good.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Get Over It (2001)

Number Rolled: 20
Movie Name/Year: Get Over It (2001)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Tommy O’Haver
Writer: R. Lee Fleming Jr.
Actors: Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, Melissa Sagemiller, Sisqo, Shane West, Colin Hanks, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Swoosie Kurtz, Ed Begley Jr., Martin Short, Carmen Electra, Vitamin C, Coolio, Christopher Jacot, Jonathan Whittaker

Berke runs into a childhood friend in the cafeteria of his high school and they hit it off. He thinks they’ll last forever but, after a while, she breaks it off. Despite his friends pressuring him to let go and get over it, Berke takes his own route – one that requires him to do anything possible to get her back. When the opportunity to join a play with her arises, he seeks aid in getting good enough for the part.

The first thing I’m going to do is swallow the knowledge that Shakespeare is rolling over in his grave. This isn’t the worst thing that’s ever happened to his work (which is saying something).

That being said, “Get Over It” not only failed to impress, but it seriously made me reconsider some of the movies I have on my list. Where it wasn’t a complete waste of time (there were a few laugh-worthy moments), it was still pretty bad and not something I can see myself watching again in the future. The methods the director used to portray things was inconsistent and almost kind of confusing, I find Martin Short to be unbearably annoying and the storyline was a bad recipe that was like watching someone butcher a chicken.

I’ll admit, when the movie was over I was left with a more content feeling than I thought I would be. It’s strange, actually. I hated the movie while watching, but almost have a pleasant memory of it. Still, I feel like I’m being generous with my overall opinion.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.3/5
Overall Opinion – 2/5

Movie Trailer: 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cherry Tree Lane (2010)

Number Rolled: 78
Movie Name/Year: Cherry Tree Lane (2010)
Genre: Horror
Length: 77 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Paul Andrew Williams
Writer: Paul Andrew Williams
Actors: Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin, Sonny Muslim, Jennie Jacques, Corinne Douglas, Kieran Dooner, Tom Kane

Christine and Michael are having a calm dinner at home alone, watching television and talking. When the doorbell rings, they think nothing of it, until the gang of teens burst in and take them hostage.

I have never seen anything like this. It wasn’t the plot that made the movie so different. I mean, it was your basic home invasion, but the way the story was told and acted was insane. There was very little spectacle. Actually, it seemed to be in real-time, as if the audience weren’t just watching retelling, but actually present; a fly on the wall, so to speak.

At first, “Cherry Tree Lane” came off a bit boring. The first ten minutes or so, we’re just watching a couple talk about stuff we don’t get to really learn about. It’s just typical couple stuff, nothing interesting. Once the movie gets going, though, it turns into something creepy and terrifying.

What made it so scary was the realism that went into it. There was a reason for the gang to be intruding on that household. There was a reason they were after someone, and the story went into the mentality of revenge and the violent lifestyle of gang members – the altered theory of morality shown by the different characters. I was thoroughly consumed after a while and desperately in need of cuddles from my dog.

It’s different and out there, but it still hits very close to home with a, “this could happen to anyone,” quality. I absolutely adored the ending, too.

Also, there was a bit of an issue with the sound. I don’t believe it was my TV, but I did have to turn it up to max in order to hear correctly. I’ve reported this issue to Netflix.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.2/5
Overall Opinion – 4/5

The Random Rating: R - for implied sex, strong violence and explicit drug use.

Movie Trailer: 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)

Number Rolled: 90
Movie Name/Year: Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World (1998)
Genre: Children & Family
Length: 73 minutes
Rating: G
Director: Tom Ellery, Bradley Raymond
Writer: Allen Estrin, Cindy Marcus, Flip Kobler, Carl Binder, Mike Gabriel, Susannah Grant, Philip LaZabnik
Actors: Irene Bedard, Jim Cummings, Donal Gibson, Linda Hunt, Russell Means, David Ogden Stiers, Jean Stapleton, Billy Zane, Tim Weske, John Kassir, Colin McCabe, Michelle St. John, Frank Welker

Pocahontas is trying to get by after hearing rumors of John Smith’s death. Along the way she learns that England is planning to launch an attack against her people. When the opportunity arises to sail to London and speak directly to the king, Pocahontas boards a ship with her escort, John Rolfe, and heads to the land of the white man.

Before I begin, let me say that I am not going to judge this movie on historical accuracy. I think the people who do are ridiculous. It’s a child’s movie. It’s not meant to be accurate, it’s meant to be entertaining and to share a lesson with children. I’ve never met a single six year old who’s snubbed a movie because of historical inaccuracy. Besides, if you judge it by that, you might as well look for scientific accuracy as well, otherwise, just suspend disbelief and move on.

Despite my defending the “accuracy” issues of “Pocahontas II,” I have to admit the movie was almost unbearable. Where the first “Pocahontas” became one of Disney’s classics, exhibiting amazing music and moral undertone; “Pocahontas II” was very near the opposite, it kept the moral tone but exhibited complete mediocrity in everything else. The songs were lifeless; the script seemed forced and lacking creativity. There’s no doubt as to why this movie went straight to video.

The shining point of the entire movie was the animals, which were focused on a bit more than in the original. It’s those animals that would keep any child occupied while watching, but it leaves very little for their parents to become enthralled with. It’s cute, but not nearly enough.

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.9/5
Overall Opinion – 2/5

Movie Trailer: