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Last Update 2/17/18

 

Logan (2017)

Although I am a Marvel comics fan, I never liked the Xmen. They were too diffuse, too chaotic, and other than Magneto they never had a good antagonist. An older Wolverine and an elderly and senile Professor Xavier are hiding out near the Mexican border. The X-Men have disbanded but a new mutant shows up who changes the rules - a child created by another evil US corporation. It's set in a very depressing near future and in fact the mood is so dark throughout that it's difficult to exactly enjoy it. If you can overcome the downers, it's actually very well done and the kid playing the mutant girl is surprisingly good. There are plenty of action sequences, although they are not really what the story is about. We never really find out what happened to the other X-Men, and it's not really a superhero movie either. 2/17/18

Twice Upon a Time (2017)

The Doctor Who Christmas special gets off to a rocky start. Peter Capaldi's final appearance as the Doctor confronts a modern actor playing William Hartnell's version, who claims to be the original Doctor. But the Doctor had been around for more than a thousand years and Hartnell was not his first body. The two of them meet in Antarctica, both resisting regeneration, and discover that something is wrong with time. They and a World War I soldier are then kidnapped by transparent humanoid aliens. After that, it picks up and had several good moments as it went along. There is a rather grandiose characterization of the Doctor - he is the balance between good and evil for the entire universe. And one has to accept that a person is just the sum, of his or her memories. The tear jerker ending goes on endlessly and loses all its impact. 2/16/18

Dark Matter Season 2 (2016)

The first season of this low budget SF show was excellent, but season 2 starts off even better. This is going to sound excessive, but shows like this and Expanse are so much better than any of the iterations of Star Trek that I am appalled it only lasted three seasons. Unfortunately, one of the problems is that it assumes that personalities can be radically different based on memories, which I donít believe. That said, I am appalled that this show didnít attract more notice. Itís well acted, has an interesting premise, decent special effects, and more than adequate writing. There is some confusion, however, when they lose their memories, because they only lose some of them, conveniently. My biggest problem is that I refuse to accept that basic personalities are purely the results of memories, so the cast can become evil simply by restoring or deleting memories. A few episodes are problematic but for the most part it is engaging, suspenseful, and usually even makes sense. Several cast members are excellent, particularly Two, Five, the Android, Six, and Three. Season 3 is not yet available on dvd, and the show was canceled despite the cliffhanger ending. 2/13/18

Inoperable (2016) 

I actually met Danielle Harris briefly and she seemed like a nice person, but she has sure been in a lot of truly awful movies. This time she wakes up injured in a hospital just as a hurricane is about to hit. She recovers consciousness and finds herself pretty much alone in the sprawling facility. This mixes realistic scenes with obvious illusions and the result is a mishmash that never engages the viewer. Itís mostly just sloppy writing. Some of the scenes are so amateurish that they are literally embarrassing. This is from the school of film making that apparently believes that a coherent plot is unnecessary so long as there is lots of gore and running around and screaming. Another in a long stream of forgettable movies from an actress who probably deserved better. 2/10/18

Day of the Dead: Bloodline  (2018)

Another attempt to capitalize on George Romero's reimagination of zombie movies. There is a fundamental misunderstanding here of what makes scary movies scary. The opening sequence is so full of over the top gore and pointless violence that I almost turned it off five minutes in. The early scares are so obvious and amateurish that they verge on being funny. Although superficially a remake it's not. In fact, it's an unrelated and incredibly amateurish zombie film that has no good points at all. Bad acting, bad script, bad special effects. In fact, amateur is almost a compliment for this ridiculous piece of trash. I was actually surprised at how actively awful this piece of crap is. It is the most relentlessly boring and awful movie I have tried to watch in year. I didn't manage half an hour before it was so awful that I couldn't justify spending more of my life trying to watch it. A test pattern would have been more entertaining. 2/9/19

Casting the Runes (1979) 

This is a spectacularly awful adaptation of the classic M.R. James story about a rune that curses the person in possession of it. It is so badly done that it almost feels like a spoof, but instead it is just an insulting lack of interest and professionalism. The plot is almost impossible to follow and the resemblance to the short story is hard to perceive. Incoherent, badly filmed, poorly acted, and so bad it is almost an insult to anyone who bothers to watch it. The classic story deserves a better treatment than this, and could have been done well even with a minimal budget. 1/29/18

Jeepers Creepers 3 (2017)

I was not a big fan of the first two moves in this series because the monster was so powerful that there was never any doubt that our heroes would die. After a long gap, the third is out, and it's not only disappointing, it's insulting. The plot, if you can figure out what it is, makes no sense at all and the terrible acting doesn't help. People are stunned BEFORE they see the things that might have stunned them. Much of the time we don't even know what's going on. The writer and director apparently didn't think we needed to know. A couple of times I replayed scenes to try to figure out what was going on. Didn't help. Watching the first 2 won't help because they have little to do with the new one, and there's no way to figure out what's going on. The police are almost comically inept. Fifteen minutes into the movie we still don't know who the protagonist is. The monster has been reduced to a man in a mask, and not a very good mask. In some of the scenes it's funny rather than scary. This was more like a fan film than a sequel. A complete waste of time. 1/2818

The Strain Season 4 (2017)

The final season opens with the vampires largely in control of the world, thanks to a missile exchange that brought on a nuclear winter.  Our heroes are scattered about as well, some trying to find a nuclear weapon, one in a breeding prison, one teamed up with resistance fighters, another involved in black market sales and theft. Other than the darkness and cold, there is nothing to show that there was actually a nuclear exchange, which bothered me a bit. The efforts to make things look particularly bleak before the happy, sort of, ending are somewhat forced. Although there is a great deal of action - and a number of regulars and recurring characters are killed - the final season feels slow paced. A stolen atomic bomb is smuggled into Manhattan, but it is not clear if it would kill the Master and destroy the vampire plague, or just kill a lot of innocent people and not help in the long run. The mood is more dystopian than horrific. 1/24/18

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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