The Dead Want Women (2012) – Review

1/2 Star

One time Oscar nominee Eric Roberts has amassed nearly 250 film appearances, in a career spanning over 30 years. Most of those titles have consisted of low-budget genera pictures. Full Moon Productions, the company behind The Dead Want Women, has produced over 250 movies. It’s unfathomable that these two titans of prolificness have not collaborated until now. That the result is so muddled, poorly staged and monotonous is a reminder that some actors are far better than the material they appear in. I call it the Nicolas Cage/Wesley Snipes scenario, (or any actor in debt to the IRS), in which a high quality performer decides to take easy money in sub-par projects to squeeze every dollar out of their name value. This similar approach has all but crippled the careers of once iconic faces like Steven Seagal and Cuba Gooding Jr.
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The Cabin in the Woods (2011) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The Cabin in the Woods gets one thing right, it has a great title. One that evokes all sorts of nightmare scenarios, unfortunately thats about all I can commend this horror comedy for. Part satire, part homage, and very boring is a more accurate description of the impact this annoyingly smug little film had on me. Director Drew Goddard working from a screenplay co-written by Joss Whedon, is responsible for this outlandish tale that starts like most films in the genre but has far greater aspirations. That the film is entirely unsuccessful has partially to do with the fact that Goddard and Whedon, try to cram too much into what appears to be a low-budget thriller. Tonally the film is a mess, it wants to have it both ways. Are we supposed to laugh at the knowing winks to genre conventions or be startled by the routine slasher moments? In the end I was not impressed or entertained by either.
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Tooth Fairy 2 (2012) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Tooth Fairy 2 comes with a PG rating because of “some mild rude humor”, that is to say if you can find any humor at all. This is not a terrible picture, just a lazy one. The original starred Dwayne Johnson, in a script once commissioned for a potential Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle. Tooth Fairy 2 stars Larry the Cable Guy, and let me tell you friends, this is not an equal trade-off. Who would have thought that a wrestler turned actor could be funnier than a stand-up comedian? Perhaps I am being too harsh. Johnson had a far better screenplay to work with, Larry is stuck with a cut-rate story that would have seemed trite in a Jim Varney Ernest picture.
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Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Tomorrow, When the War Began is a taut, exciting thriller from director/writer Stuart Beattie, based on a novel of the same name. The movie was filmed back in 2010 and is just now receiving a direct-to-DVD release. Do not let that misnomer fool potential viewers, this is an above average production that deserves to be seen. The story takes place in a small Australian town, and centers on a group of seven teenagers. While the teens are away deep in the outback on a camping trip, they witness a horde of jet fighter planes roaring over-head. The kids take little notice and presume the armada is a military training exercise. When they return to desolate homes, it becomes apparent that a foreign army has occupied their country. This leads to a cat and mouse game between the witty teens and the soldiers patrolling for stragglers.
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21 Jump Street (2012) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

I suspect ones enjoyment of 21 Jump Street, will depend on how far removed from high school, you may be. Those familiar with the 1980s television series may find this comedy less amusing than those born after the show’s cancelation. It stars two likable, yet bland leads in Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. They are cast here as partners on a police force that doesn’t seem to have much use for them. Because of their youthful appearance, the duo is handpicked to go undercover and pose as students. It seems that a new, and deadly designer drug has hit the market. The task force on the case has pinpointed a central high-school as the source. The operation is run by a loud, overbearing captain, played by Ice Cube. He instructs Schmidt and Jenko to infiltrate the dealers and find the suppliers.
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Hunt to Kill (2010) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Hunt to Kill begins like Cliffhanger and ends like First Blood, and in today’s B-movie offerings, that’s ingenuity. Typically these flicks only rip-off one blockbuster. Instead of Sly Stallone we have Steve Austin as a border patrol agent, a man still traumatized over of the death of his partner. He is also a loving father to a hormonal teenage daughter. She’s the kind of obnoxious (albeit beautiful) character that is perpetually snooty even while being pistol whipped by bad guys. Hunt to Kill is something of a novelty in that it features no less than three cast members from The Expendables. It comes as no surprise then that the highlight of the film is an extended hand-to-hand fight scene between Austin and Gary Daniels. For fans of either man, that sequence alone makes this required viewing.
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Moneyball (2011) – Review

4 Stars

Moneyball is an utterly absorbing baseball drama that features Brad Pitt’s most sensational performance in years. This unconventional sports film explores the financial woes of the Oakland A’s franchise. How does a team with a $39 million dollar payroll compete with top tier clubs like New York? General Manager Billy Beane (Pitt) adopts a new way of looking at the value of an individual player, along with his assistant Peter (Hill), the pair begins using a statistical equation to ‘manufacture’ wins. It was a wildly successful experiment that resulted in a MLB record setting 20 straight victories during the course of the 2002 season.
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Yakuza Weapon (2011) – Review

3 Stars

Yakuza Weapon is the latest bizarre import from cult Japanese filmmakers Tak Sakaguchi and Yûdai Yamaguchi. If you’re not familiar with their work let me run down a list of past titles, Battlefield Baseball, Samurai Zombie, and Meatball Machine. Sakaguchi and Yamaguchi’s latest collaboration is an outlandish fantasy with odd bits of humor, raunchiness and vast amounts of violence that adds to its mad dash concoction.
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Target Practice (2008) – Review

4 Stars

On the way to a remote location to enjoy fishing and drinking, a group of five friends encounter a violent hostile militia bent on killing each one of them. That’s the basic setup for Target Practice, the ambitious and exhilarating debut film from Richmond Riedel. A former editor, Riedel shows himself to be a gifted filmmaker and an exciting new talent on the scene. His film is like a Ludlum novel mixed with Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort wrapped in the visual stylings of Peter Berg.
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The Mortician (2011) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

What a devilish little gem The Mortician turns out to be. I must admit there are instances when I judge a flick by its DVD cover and this one had been staring me down for a few days. My expectations for a thriller starring Method Man of Wu Tang Clan fame were so low it took a mountain of will power just to get the disc into the player. Then the film started and from those opening moments it becomes obvious you’re in the hands of a talented filmmaker with a good story to tell. The noir style homage is more Proyas and Hughes Brothers than Hitchcock, but that seems appropriate given the atmosphere and tension The Mortician is able to mount in a very short period.
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The Saints of Mt. Christopher (2011) – Review

1 Star

The Saints of Mt. Christopher is like Hoosiers if Dito Montiel was directing. It’s a jumbled maddening film occasionally punctuated by a good scene that doesn’t ever build toward a satisfying climax. Scenes aren’t cut together so much as jammed into one another with jarring incompetence. Recognizable faces, such as the oft wonderful Clifton Powell and the always interesting Tom Sizemore, are limited to playing caricatures of roles they previously portrayed in far better movies. To suggest this is a sports film in the tradition of Remember the Titans (as the cover art suggests) is as bold a proclamation as you’re likely to hear all year.
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All Things Fall Apart (2011) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson sheds his tough guy persona to portray a college football star suddenly brought to his knees from cancer. It’s a startling transformation the rapper turned actor has made in losing a reported 40lbs to play the title role, in a fictional story he co-scripted with Brian A. Miller. I have been of the opinion that Jackson is an underrated screen talent and here when paired against the class acts of Lynn Whitfield and Mario Van Peebles, he holds his own. That this tale of tragedy and quasi-redemption is any good is even more surprising.
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Poolboy: Drowning Out the Fury (2011) – Review

3 Stars

Let me get it out of the way upfront, I laughed frequently throughout this spoof of a movie within a movie. I didn’t expect much from the comedic duo of Kevin Sorbo and Danny Trejo, neither man had proven to have even limited gifts in the arena of comedy. Sorbo is a revelation. His deadpan delivery amongst zaniness was first glimpsed in Meet the Spartans, but here Sorbo is more at ease and has better writing to work from. This peculiar sketch film is part Tropic Thunder and a bit Black Dynamite, if those were directed by the Zucker Brothers and Wayans.
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A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (2011) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

A third round of spaced out hijinks from the maestros of marijuana, only this go around is holiday themed. Harold and Kumar are estranged after life has taken them in very different directions. Kumar is a med school drop out content with smoking his days away, while unburned with the knowledge he is to be a father in nine months time. Harold is a reformed stoner now married to a latin woman and desperately trying to conceive a baby. The intervening years haven’t been kind to the pot smoking duo each has a new best friend that serves to irritate and cause jealousy amongst the other. The silly plot involves the Christmas Eve search for a twelve foot tree to replace the one Kumar burnt down with a joint delivered from Santa. It’s that kind of movie.
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