Last Update 1/21/18

 

Arrival (2016) 

Based on a story by Ted Chiang. Twelve alien spaceships land on Earth with no warning, not attacking but not communicating either. The chief protagonist is a linguist who gets caught up in the rush to communicate while the various countries of the world flounder about, threatening to attack aliens or each other.  Some of the dialogue grated a bit. No matter how dedicated a scientist may be, he would also be aware that without language, there would be no science. Nor do I believe the US would leave the situation exclusively in the hands of the military without a high ranking civilian on site. I can see why a lot of viewers were unhappy or confused because this is an intellectual rather than physical adventure. If you donít pay close attention, youíre likely to miss part of the explanation. Excellent movie, but I suspect it will fall into neglect because of its lofty ambitions. 1/21/18

Spider-Man Homecoming (2017)

I'm not sure why the previous Spider-Man movies left me feeling mildly disappointed but that wasn't the case this time. Mentored after a fashion by Iron Man, Peter Parker is balancing his studies with his desire to be a superhero, and his taste of the grander scale from the last Captain America movie makes neighborhood crimefighting seem dull. Then a frustrated contractor, Michael Keaton, steals some alien technology and begins fashioning new weapons which he can sell on the black market. He also builds his own flying apparatus and comic fans will recognize the Vulture, although I don't think that name is ever used in the movie. There is a nice balance of humor and seriousness. I missed this in theaters but will probably watch the next one when and if it ever appears. 1/20/18

Beyond Skyline (2017)

I was curious about this supposed sequel to Skyline, because that movie ended with humanity essentially extinct. It turns out that this is a parallel story with a different end which ignores a lot of what happened in the first, which was visually impressive but didn't make much sense. The first half follow the same premise - humans harvested into the sky by giant spaceships to have their brains removed. But the second half falls to pieces. Too many coincidences, bum science, a baby that grows double its size in hours, without taking in any nourishment - and the clothing grows along with it! In the second half, the writers seem to have forgotten that their are multiple ships, the aliens are not the same ones as in the first movie and their tactics are different. There are some martial arts scenes that serve no purpose and don't even mesh with the plot, perhaps to create a more diverse audience. Acting is not terrible, but there's not much of it. The solution is pulled out of a hat and makes no sense. Watchable but irritating. 1/19/18

Fear Island (2009)

This is a ho-hum serial killer mystery movie. A group of fairly obnoxious young adults go to a private island to party, but someone is soon picking them off, one by one, and not in particularly interesting ways. There's a frame story that tells who survives, which pretty much wipes out any real suspense, but the mystery was so boring to start with that it really didn't matter. The detective actor eats much of the scenery and there are occasional lapses of logic in the plot. The cast includes several seasoned actors but they can't insert any life of mystery into such inferior material. 1/6/18

Kill Another Day (2017)

Yet another bad zombie movie. The gimmick this time is that we see things through the eyes of one of the survivors of the initial outbreak. This sort of thing has been done before and never worked so I canít imagine why a group of amateur film makers would try to do it again. The zombies are dull, the special effects are dull, the story is dull, the direction and camera work are uninspired, and the acting is slightly above abysmal.  1/4/18

The Legacy (1978)

I recently read the novelization of this and realized that I had never seen the movie. John Coyne added a great deal of detail, particularly before the two designers arrive in England in response to a mysterious job offer. Their attempts to figure out why they were hired is also in the book, but not the film. The other guests all begin to die horribly and it is obvious, eventually to the characters as well, that the protagonist is actually responsible, although she is not aware of her supernatural power. The book is better. Not great but watchable. 1/3/18

Sssssss (1973) 

This is almost so bad that itís funny, but ultimately itís just bad. A crazed herpetologist has for some reason decided to create a serum that can turn an adult man into a king cobra. He uses it on an unsuspecting assistant, but the experiment gets out of control and people end up dying. I read a book while this was playing because it only needed and deserved a fraction of my attention. 1/2/18

Bordello of Blood (1996)

Dennis Miller is a private detective investigating a bordello disguised as a funeral home which is actually the lair of a bunch of vampires. This was the second Tales from the Crypt movie, and it has lots of gore and nudity, along with some over the top humor that gets a little bit wearing after a while. Miller is pretty unsavory himself but he persists and discovers that the victims are being buried with legitimate corpses and that the vampires are connected to a local evangelist, Chris Sarandon. Pretty much everyone dies, but weíre not invested in any of them because of the dark humor. 1/1/18

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