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SciFi

Spider-Man 2 (2004) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Director Sam Raimi’s visual touchstones are in greater abundance in this deeper, darker sequel that further complicates the life of young Peter Parker. The exuberance of discovery that made the first film an instant classic is missing here, but in exchange the special effects have been ramped up and the characters given emotional depth.
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Battle of the Damned (2013) – Review

3 Stars

Dolph Lundgren returns to the screen as the aggressively named Max Gatling in this nifty biological action thriller that is essentially Dolph vs. the dead. Acting as a low-rent World War Z type outbreak tale, the events are set in Southeast Asia where medical regulations are lax and biotech companies can get away with unsanctioned experiments. Naturally, one of these viruses becomes airborne and the entire city is quarantined regardless of infection status.
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T-Force (1994) – Review

4 Stars

Terrorists have seized the U.S. Embassy, killing hostages. Five super-soldiers known as the T-Force are dispatched and within minutes all thirty terrorists are dead. In the process of the rescue, Adam (Evan Lurie) the alpha leader of the robotic law enforcers makes a decision that leaves innocent people in the crossfire. After a public outcry the political brass decides to pull the plug on the T-Force program. Sensing a conflict in directives that demand self-preservation, the robots turn renegade and begin to execute authority figures.
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Lost in Space (1998) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Lost In Space struts across the screen, confident that it’s non-stop visual effects and break-neck episodic screenplay are enough to hold viewers attention. That is a false confidence; the two-hour and ten minute film is filled with shoddy CGI and a hazy visual texture. Sure, the sets look great but when (predominantly) sub-par actors deliver awkward lines embarrassingly; it doesn’t matter how intricate the production design is. Out of the seven leads, the only to emerge unscathed are thespians William Hurt and Gary Oldman. Everyone else either over/under plays their respective roles. It also doesn’t help that the long script from OSCAR winning scribe Akiva Goldsman gets muddled in a tricky time travel element that collapses in a confused third act.
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The Crown and the Dragon (2013) – Review

3 Stars

There has been a recent resurgence of fantasy based movies ever since The Lord of the Rings trilogy hit last decade. Now we have Game of Thrones carrying the torch. But this genre has always been a favorite for B movies. The Crown and the Dragon is an independent fantasy film about a land plagued by a dragon. A young noblewoman, Ellen (Amy De Bhrún), and her aunt are on a mission to bring an ancient relic to the secret coronation of the rightful king. Ellen’s aunt is murdered on their voyage, leaving her to continue the mission. Luckily Ellen is saved by a smuggler, Aedin (David Haydn), and he agrees to accompany her for a price. The two aren’t just dealing with a dragon, but an evil magister who will do anything to get his hand on the relic – and use it for his own evil advancement. Can Ellen fill her aunt’s shoes and become the Paladin, the prophesied dragon slayer?
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Apocalypse Z A.K.A. Zombie Massacre (2013) – Review

2 Stars

Produced by Germany’s Roger Corman, Uwe Boll, Apocalypse Z attempts to cash-in on the current zombie craze. Capitalizing on the box office success and popularity of World War Z, Apocalypse Z went through a business-smart name change from Zombie Massacre. Even though the name(s) suggest a lot of zombie carnage, there is neither much of a massacre nor an apocalypse here. Instead this is a pick off the main characters one by one kind of plot. While that’s not far off from popular zombie fare like TVs The Walking Dead, Apoc Z‘s script is missing the necessary touches to humanize its characters during the long dialogue scenes before, in-between and after zombie attacks.
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Atlantic Rim (2013) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Atlantic Rim is the movie that The Asylum has been building up to for over ten years now. Latching onto the marketing hype and great early pre-release buzz associated with the big-budget theatrical release Pacific Rim, this mock-buster is the perfect film for the company. It gives them a blatant reason to compile all the stock footage accumulated over their recent naval/monster/sci-fi outings and combine them into one picture.
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Man of Steel (2013) – Review

2 Stars

7 years after an attempted relaunch of the Superman franchise fizzled, with the lackluster Superman Returns, we are privy to yet another ‘re-imagining’. The latest incarnation of the mythology and character has all the whizz-bang special effects that a quarter of a billion dollars can buy, but lacks any semblance of humor and marches through its prolonged paces with little energy or interest. Taking its cues from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel is a dark and brooding film that strips the Superman tale of momentum and vibrancy. Even the infamous red/blue suit has been given a muted makeover.
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Heebie Jeebies (2013) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Have we not hit the wall in terms of titles when having to resort to Heebie Jeebies? Whats next, an arctic adventure titled Chilly Willy? A hundred years ago, a group of gold miners were trapped and killed on the job in a gruesome tragedy. Today the ghastly remains have accumulated into a revenge-fueled monster able to literally scare its victims to near death before, tearing them to shreds. When the century old creature comes into contact with its prey, it incites the heebie jeebies of the title. In full disclosure, this is a TV Movie dressed with a fancy DVD box and sneaked into RedBoxes around the country in an effort to fool consumers into thinking Heebie Jeebies was a theatrical release. Other than the silly title and some awful acting by a handful of cast members, this Syfy channel original movie is a lot of fun, brimming with sly humor and a knowing wink to genre conventions. It has an interesting blend of Eastern mysticism and a creature that bleeds gold, and in the immortal lines of Schwarzenegger,”If it bleeds, we can kill it”
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Odd Thomas (2013) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Stephen Sommers steps back from his nearly 15 year run of blockbuster, spectacle filmmaking and tackles this quirky tale that seems to have slipped from the minds of Richard Kelly or Sam Raimi, not the guy who made the flaccid, The Mummy Returns. It take a few minutes to settle into this strange world that Sommers and co-writer/author Dean R. Koontz are creating, but once the rules have been established and the tone zeroed in, Odd Thomas really lets loose with its bag of surprises.
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Superman (1978) – Review

4 Stars

Superman has just celebrated its 35th anniversary and to this day it still ranks amongst the most entertaining superhero films of all time. The real shinning light is the emergence of Christopher Reeve, the greatest discovery of an unknown in a lead role since Errol Flynn debuted in Captain Blood. Director Richard Donnor hedged his elaborate big budget film on an actor that proves to be the absolute right fit for the material. Reeve deftly handles the lite physical comedy and wholesome nature of Clark Kent, while transforming into the stoic Man of Steel in an instance. It’s a remarkable performance and arguably the best match of actor and comic-book character in the history of cinema to date.
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Superman II (1980) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Superman faces his greatest challenge to date, a trio of fellow Kryptonians hell-bent on revenge. Once banished from Kyrpton and forced to wonder the outer limits of space, the three villains, led by evil General Zod, are freed from their intergalactic prison by the shock waves of an atom bomb detonated on Earth. Quickly they realize that Earth’s yellow sun gives them amazing powers, those that rival Superman’s. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is continuing his courtship of Lois Lane, while she is still in love with the enigmatic ,Man of Steel. That is until she starts to make a connection between Clark and Superman.
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Superman III (1983) – Review

2 Stars

Fanboys and critics routinely refer to Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever or even Batman & Robin as the downward turning point of that series and amongst the worst sequels of all time. Well folks, Superman III is the just as bad if not much worse than those aforementioned titles. Sure, Forever had Jim Carrey, arguably the world’s hottest comedian at the moment, but he wasn’t playing Jim Carrey. In Superman III we are treated to the (missing) comedic talents of Richard Pryor, who has no business in a superhero film, especially when he is playing…Richard Pryor. It’s one of the greatest miscalculations ever for a large franchise. Superman III represents a ‘Jump the Shark’ moment in the series.
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Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) – Review

2 Stars

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, holds a special place in my film-going memory. It was the first Superman film I saw in theaters. When those iconic title cards and equally iconic theme music soared over the speakers, it was a transporting experience for an 8-year-old boy. That this cheaply produced sequel was crafted by B-movie studio Cannon and (only) distributed under the Warner Bros. banner, explains a great deal. This is admittedly the ‘thinnest’ of the series, barley stretching 90 minutes in length with an overly simplified plot.
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After Earth (2013) – Review

2 Stars

As someone who freely admits to being fearful of roaming cattle on my jogs through the hills of California, After Earth taps into a certain primal fear of mine. The majority of the film tracks, young Jaden Smith through a series of encounters, escapes and near-death experiences with environmental predators. This is essentially a campfire tale, albeit one dressed up with a $135 million budget and given a snazzy sci-fi retrofit.
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