Last Update 9/30/13

 

Redemption (2013)   

Jason stars as a veteran whose life is on the skids thanks to drugs, dope, and the trauma of his wartime experiences. Although the packaging suggests that this is an action film, Statham plays a very different character this time around. With the help of a nun, he begins to straighten out his life, despite flashbacks, but takes a job with organized crime that leads to his discovery of the identity of the person who murdered a friend of his. Eventually he exacts revenge and there is some violence but not the kind of over the top sequences common to most of his other movies. It’s rather depressing at times but well done and it’s nice to see that Statham can play a rather different character than usual and do it convincingly. 9/30/13

Scrubs Season 7 (2004)  

The irritating crew is back with their on again, off again relationships, about which they range from immature to positively nasty.  It’s a short season – only 13 episodes. The first few episodes are generally pretty good, including especially the one about hypocritical doctors who suffer from the same problems they criticize in their patients. Kelso’s retirement episode is pretty good but the rest are less engaging. This is another one where the episodes are mixed up on the dvd set. After Kelso retires, he shows up in his old job. A sure sign that the writers are getting tired is when a television show resorts to alternate versions of the story,  in this case an episode cast as a fairy tale. A few good moments but I won't mind reaching the end of this show. 9/29/13

Bloody Homecoming (2013)

A slasher movie after the fashion of the Prom Night and Scream movies. The opening is not promising - stale dialogue delivered poorly. After attempting to rape his date, a boy is left locked in a closet at the school just as a fire breaks out. Flash forward to the present as the same group of kids is about to have a senior homecoming dance. The usual elements are present but badly done, like the creepy janitor, odd messages found in lockers, the missing student, and the killer in the funny mask. The various attack and murder scenes are unconvincing - some victims hardly seem to struggle. All of the actors seem to rush through their lines for some reason. The principal is an idiot. The sound is sometimes tinny. The janitor has a firefighter suit and so does the killer. The sheriff is the father of the boy who died. This is also one of those where the killer would have to have psychic powers because he can always anticipate where his victims will be. The photography is so bad that even when there are dance scenes, it's obvious that no one is actually dancing.  And one victim doesn't call for help, which is in sight, and gets killed. The killer's motive isn't even introduced until the final scene. Garbage. I watched this to the end but only because I was too tired to turn it off. 9/28/13

Holes (2003)

This is a clever Disney movie about a boy wrongfully accused of theft and sent to a training camp run by Sigourney Weaver, which is actually a slave labor operation where she is attempting to find a treasure buried by a female outlaw two generations earlier. There's lots of interplay among the kids, who are generally quite good, and the adults, who are also very good - even John Voigt as Mister Sir. It all involves a family curse which is linked to the search for the missing gold and there are lots of hints of what to come, most of which you'll get well in advance but without that spoiling anything. There are a couple of minor plot holes - no pun intended - but they're not significant. I suppose this was intended to be a kids' movie but it's great for all ages. 9/27/13

Splice (2009)

Here's a science fiction movie that attempts to wrestle with sophisticated ethical issues, though not entirely successfully. Two prominent scientists working with genetic engineering undertake to mix human DNA with that of other animals to create a new creature named Dren, keeping it secret since their employers have forbidden it and public opinion is strongly against it. I'm dubious of the science. Their legally created creatures display physical attributes not presently found in existing animals, which makes one wonder how they find the right DNA sequence to produce it, particularly since they seem to be doing it at random. They also seem very sloppy about lab procedures and monitoring their experiments, to say nothing of simple safety precautions. At one point they assert that it "wasn't formed right" but since they had no idea what it was supposed to look like, how would they know? The screenplay asks a few interesting questions, but doesn't suggest any answers. The creature is kind of cute, but impractical, two legs but no forelimbs, although they grow later. It also supposedly ages days in seconds. If it weren't for all the implausibility this would have been a decent movie up until the point where it becomes clear that both of the scientists are insane. As it is, it's mostly watchable despite its irritating shortcomings. It's still miles ahead of a lot of other things I've watched. 9/25/13

Music from the Iron Man Trilogy by London Music Works, Silva Screen, 2013

I've seen all three of these movies, which are generally action oriented, although less so than might be expected, and this selection of music drawn from the three is not surprisingly drawn largely from those segments. The first two cuts are pretty much what you'd expect. The third cut, "Mark I" spans a number of moods and doesn't work as well, although the one right after that, "Mark II", is quite good and a lot more consistent. "Iron Man" has the same problem as "Mark I", and the next several cuts are individually quite good but they resemble each other quite a bit so that they were hard to distinguish. The theme from the third movie is probably the best cut on the album although "Attack on 10880 Malibu Point" is nearly as good. The medley of all three title themes is also quite good. The movies don't provide a lot of room for variety which makes it more difficult for this to work as a musical album, but it's not bad. 9/22/14

The Evil Inside (2013)

It appears that the Internet Movie Database has never heard of this horror film about a disturbed girl who has premonitions of the deaths of her friends. This almost lost me very early because the opening scenes are cryptic, dull, and visually uninteresting. The one with premonitions plays her character as nearly catatonic, which didn't help. The rest of the cast are generally depicted as repugnant people so I didn't care about them either. Everything after that is so jumpy that I couldn't stay interested. Anyone that disturbed would not be living on their own. I made it half way through before deciding that my time could be better spent staring at a blank screen. 9/22/13

Paranormal Asylum (2013)

Two film makers are interested in doing a documentary on the hospital which was home to the real life Typhoid Mary, who died there a century ago. There have been rumors of ghosts and one of the pair has several brief encounters with them almost at once, although he doesn't think they're ghosts. A lot of direct to video horror makes me wince within the first ten minutes, but this one at least appeared to be competently done although the acting was not consistently convincing and the sound recording was a bit clunky. Some of the dialogue works; some of it is painfully awkward. I immediately wondered why an abandoned hospital would still have not only furniture and medical equipment, but not have cobwebs or debris. The ghostly stuff is very overdone - things moving by themselves whenever the characters look away, odd noises, ghostly wind, and so forth. The story begins to fall apart pretty quickly with an interview in which we get a totally implausible back story about Mary and one character insists that her spirit is still around looking for revenge - which makes no sense since everyone from that era is dead. Ghosts starting appearing in other places as well, not particularly well done, and sometimes it's not clear what really happened. Other characters see inexplicable things, but a few minutes later appear to have forgotten about them. They all become progressively more stupid as the movie continues. One of the film makers doesn't seem bothered that his fiance has been in a coma for a couple of days. I managed to watch to the end but without enthusiasm. There is one nice shot when the female character sits up and her shadows sits up later. The other 89 minutes are uninteresting. 9/21/13

That 70s Show Season 6  (2003)

The sixth season starts with Red recovering from his heart attack, Eric deciding not to go to college, and Jackie still torn between Steven and Kelso. The opening episode has a good spoof of Grease and introduces a new actress as Eric’s sister. There are more fantasy sequences this season for some reason, some of the others also pretty good, like a Three Stooges parody. Alyson Hannigan and Seth Green each guest star for a few episodes and Billy Dee Williams has a good spot. A few mediocre episodes this year but actually most of them were pretty good. I particularly liked the one where Eric tears Donna's wedding dress. Eric's personality gets a little darker at times and I found myself not liking him particularly by the end of the season.  Their wedding never happens, not surprisingly. Kelso's relationship with his pregnant girlfriend pretty much self destructs as well, though in a nice way. Donna's mother shows up in the final episode.9/20/13

17 Again (2009)  

This is a fantasy, another variation of the person magically restored to youth. Matthew Perry is the older version of the character, who regrets the decisions that he made during high school. Zach Efron is his younger self, who replaces him as the result of a magical wish. His interaction with a Star Wars and comic book obsessed friend when the transformation first takes place is very funny. The plot is otherwise pretty obvious but good natured, with the bullying jock, the younger version’s discovery that his own daughter has a crush on him, and associated complications. It gets a bit too silly at times but it’s fun. 9/19/13

Sexy Evil Genius (2013) 

I figured this was a comedy and since I like Seth Green, I grabbed it. It’s a lot darker than I expected though and really rates more as a suspense movie than a comedy. The former lovers – including one woman – of a woman recently released from a mental institution where she was sent after killing her boyfriend are all called together at a bar, even though none of them knows one another. It seems that Nikki has a plan, or is she just crazy? All of their relationships were based on elaborate lies. Nikki arrives and tells them she wants them all to meet her fiancé, who is due later. All of this involves extensive dialogue, sometimes quite good, and flashbacks filmed slightly out of focus. Since it all happens in a bar, it’s very dimly lit. It’s not much of a spoiler to tell you that she’s still crazy and this is all another elaborate plot. Worth watching as long as you don’t expect things to get particularly lively. 9/18/13

Ginger & Rosa (2012)   

Two adolescent girls are growing up in London when the Cuban missile crisis changes their lives. Ginger becomes a political activist while Rosa decides just to enjoy life while she can, the differing views driving them apart. I picked this up primarily because I wanted to see if Elle Fanning’s performance in Super 8 was a fluke. It appears not. She is very impressive in this one too, although I found it difficult to concentrate because of the constant use of odd camera angles and underlighting. Those problems aside, even though this is not really my favorite kind of movie, I found it strangely moving, perhaps in part because I was about that age during that same period. Not for every audience but impressive for those for whom it is intended. 9/17/13

The Wizard's Return (2013)

Since this made for tv movie based on the show was really cheap, I thought I'd give it a shot. Selena Gomez stars as the spoiled, rather overly childish and simplistically characterized wizard from a family of wizards. The dialogue and acting are competent, but not consistently, and the storyline is so preachy and sicky sweet that I almost went into sugar shock watching it. There's even a laugh track so you know when you're supposed to be amused. The plot involves her inept attempt to get rid of all her bad personality traits, which naturally results in an evil twin. The jokes are obvious and not funny. The story doesn't even make sense internally. At one point the two variations of Alex agree to perform balancing acts simultaneously to avoid cheating, but then they do them sequentially anyway. Even kids should be able to see how bad this is. 9/16/13

The Black Waters of Echo's Pond (2013)

This horror film opens with a brief prologue about an expedition that uncovers an ancient board game that involves demons. Everyone dies. Jump forward to the present when a group of the usual prospective victims takes a vacation on an isolated island in Maine and find the game there. Naturally they decide to play the game. The characters are shallow stereotypes. The only cast member I'd ever heard of was scream queen Danielle Harris plus the cameo by Robert Patrick. The game has a very modern flavor and doesn't ring true, but the acting is competent and the dialogue isn't awful, so this was automatically better than a lot of other direct to video stuff. Eventually it starts to decline though. No one reacts when the game starts moving of its own accord, nor do they balk at the extremely personal revelations they are required to make. A satanic figure is glimpses from time to time but mostly it's the players letting their inner resentments escalate into violence.  I've seen far worse but that is hardly an excuse. I'm never comfortable with plots that involve people acting out of character on this scale and this doesn't even make much of an excuse for their sudden transformations. And why does the guy who isn't playing become affected? The few promising bits early in the movie are all wasted long before the end. The title doesn't seem to have anything to do with the movie. 9/15/13

Scavengers (2013)

A starship whose crew survive through salvaging wrecks and such encounter an alien artifact. Everyone else wants it. That's just about it. Some of the spaceships aren't badly done, but the acting is bad, the dialogue is bad, and for a long time I couldn't even figure out what was supposed to be going on. This was made on an obviously low budget even though it has Sean Patrick Flanery in the cast. The science is nonsense. Engine and other noises audible in empty space. One of the pieces of sophisticated equipment seems to be made by gluing keyboards all over a box. The actor playing Jekyll must have been hungry because he started eating the scenery right at the beginning and never stopped. His dialogue is even worse than that of the other members of the cast. For much of the movie, almost nothing is happening. Several shots are copied directly from Star Wars movies. Badly. With a better script, cast, and story line, this might have been a really minor film.9/14/13

Branded (2012) 

A Russian produced SF film set in a near future dystopian society ruled by corporations. The opening is rather murky. An advertising executive is troubled at his job after objecting to being a figurehead. A bunch of executives decide to launch a new campaign to get consumers to buy things they don’t want. The producer is warned to stay away from an American girl but doesn’t. All of this is, however, hard to follow and at times appears contradictory.  Parts are in Russian with subtitles. Parts are done with a voiceover narration. Some of the subtitles have misspellings. The fortunes of the two main characters decline when a reality show goes wrong and the star ends up in a coma. There are hints during the first half that the male lead is actually the subject of manipulation by extraterrestrials. Halfway through things get really bizarre. He is told in a dream to build a wooden pavilion and slaughter a cow, then set the whole thing on fire, after which he begins hallucinating strange creatures.  Or are they real?  They look like weirdly shaped and colored balloons and they grow out of people. The second half of the movie seems completely disconnected from the first half. The creatures are actually the spirits of fast food who grow bigger when we want something! Very strange but not entirely successful. 9/13/13

The Lords of Salem (2013)

A disc jockey receives a mysterious records which, when played, has the power to evoke weird visions and revelations to any who hear it. It's a carryover from a witch coven in colonial Salem, who are the subject of many of the visions. This is a Rob Zombie film, so it has his usual cast of weirdo characters, drug references, and over the top violence. The acting is nothing special, the special effects are only so-so, and the dialogue varies from convincing to enormously melodramatic. At times it isn't entirely clear what is happening and some of the ambiguities aren't adequately explained. The group of disc jockeys who are supposed to be incredibly popular actually seem boring and inarticulate during the radio sessions. Anyway, the play the cursed record over the radio, which is clearly not a good idea - and it is in fact so badly done that I can't imagine them doing it even as a joke. All this aside, there are some very effective shots sprinkled through and obviously much more effort and skill than in most direct to video horror films. Others either go on to long or verge on the positively silly and far too much time passes before the plot really begins to pick up. The fact that the protagonist is such a repulsive person, however, robs it of any suspense. 9/12/13

Scrubs Season 6 (2003)     

Season 6 was pretty mixed quality rise. J.D. gets another doctor pregnant and acts like a jerk again and a lot of jokes repeat yet again. On the other hand, the musical episode was actually pretty well done, as is the running subplot about the disabled veteran. The episode about the Iraq war is not funny and faintly offensive. Carla is back at work after having her baby, J.D. is living in a tent, and Reed is in private practice, working out of the same hospital as always. Most of the episodes seemed stupider than ever, or my tolerance level has dropped. I find it hard to believe, for example, that pushing a motorbike home because you’re too drunk to drive it means a DUI in any state. J.D. continues to be a jerk who deserves everything that happens to him. One episode consists largely of clips from earlier episodes. Once again the dvd set has the sequence wrong. Cox has a shaved head, then a full head of hair, then shaves his head. They kill off nurse Laverne this year and the Cox’s have a second baby. The few attempts at poignant moments are ruined by making everyone such a jerk. 9/11/13

Riddick (2013)

The third Riddick movie - I don't count the cartoon. Riddick is once again stranded on an inhospitable planet (whose ecology is rather more than improbable). In this case it's a mostly desolate world with an unmanned bounty hunter station on it. After befriending one of the doglike native creatures - the most likeable character in the film - he guesses that a climatic change is about to occur that will cause some dangerous environmental change. He activates a distress beacon and two bands of mercenaries/bounty hunters show up, only to begin quarreling with one another while Riddick picks off the outliers. Carnage ensues and then the really bad things show up. The first third of the movie is actually the best part, with almost no dialogue. The various lifeforms and settings are very well done. The spaceship and surface craft effects not so much. The story is essentially a reprise of Pitch Black, not nearly as good but still very watchable if you can put up with the omnipresent testosterone. 9/10/13

That 70s Show Season 5 (2002) 1052 

The fifth season opens with Steven and Jackie as partners, much to Kelso’s dismay, after Eric travels to California to bring her home after she runs away. As punishment, her father enrolls her in a strict Catholic school. Kitty goes through menopause and Red has to sell his Corvette. The opening half of the season is a step up from the previous season, more consistently funny and better written. The Formans get a dog. There’s a brief appearance by Eric’s missing sister but not of Donna’s two, and hardly any mention of his missing wife. Jackie and Steven are a couple, much to Kelso’s dismay, and Bob next door has a new girlfriend for awhile. Betty White is great as Kitty’s mother in several episodes. The second half declines quite a bit, and for some reason the writers seem to have gone out of their way to make each of the characters less appealing. Ends with Fez marrying Laurie and Red having a stroke. 9/8/13

Sharknado  (2013)

This has such an absurd premise that I had to watch it. A super tornado on the West Coast picks up sharks and drops them all over Los Angeles. CGI carnage ensues. It opens with an exchange between two comic book quality villains discussing illegal sales of shark meat aboard a fishing vessel. For no apparent reason, they start shooting at each other while a storm is dropping sharks on the deck. Meanwhile bathers on the mainland are attacked by sharks that somehow manage to conceal themselves in less than one foot of water! Nor is it necessary to evacuate the beach and pavilion, at least until the airborne sharks show up later. So we have lots of people running around and screaming even though there’s no reason for it. The weather service, naturally, didn’t even tell people that a storm of unprecedented violence was going to hit them so the seashore is packed when hurricane force winds, to say nothing of sharks, make their first appearance. Since the streets are flooded, there are sharks living in the water where they are dropped. They can also magically hide themselves beneath a car. At one point a big wave comes ashore in front of our heroes. “It’s like Old Faithful!” Oh, how’s that? And why does everyone get out of their vehicles, which are shark proof, rather than stay in them? The first floor of a house is almost completely underwater, but the land outside is not. One of the houses changes location from the top of the hill to the bottom in different shots. Some of the sharks like being blown into the air so much that they can fly even when there’s no wind at all. At another point a shark stays on the roof of a speeding car despite having nothing to hold onto, and nothing to hold on with.  At another point, their car engine is flooded – by gas not water – so they run like crazy because that means it’s going to explode spectacularly in CGI. Not one of their group has a cell phone, of course. Anyway, they decide to turn propane tanks into bombs and drop them into the tornado from a helicopter because that, of course, will eliminate the interface between warm and coild air and stop the storm. That works, right? And a nursing home would allow its elderly residents to use the swimming pool in the middle of a hurricane, wouldn’t they? As bad as it could be. 9/7/13

Truth or Die (2012)

A bunch of British college students decide to have a party in which a game of truth or dare takes an ugly turn when it ends with a fist fight. The victim invites selected people from the game to his "birthday party" some time later, but you don't have to have read the screenplay to know that he has an ulterior motive. The movie makes the usual mistake - almost all of the characters are so nasty that we're not interested in their fate. I'm not sure when horror filmmakers started making this stupid error. I think I first noticed it with Jeepers Creepers, but it undercuts the suspense almost every time.  Anyway, they arrive to discover the party is off, the birthday boy is supposedly in South America, and while they're enticed to stay the night, it's in a remote cabin with a host they've never met before. The boy's brother is their host and he changes his story, saying that his brother hanged himself following the earlier incident. Then he pulls a gun, wounding one and taking all of them captive and forcing them to play a deadly game. If you accept that the brother is crazy, the story works. After killing four people, the bad guy is taken captive and we learn the truth about what happened months earlier. Not awful. Not very good. 9/6/13

Scrubs Season 5  (2002)

The fifth season starts with Eliot losing her fellowship and J.D. losing his apartment. Some of the early episodes are almost completely lacking in humor, and not intentionally. What little there is consists of repeats of earlier jokes. J.D. gets a new girlfriend and once again proves that he’s an egotistic bastard.  The show would be considerably better if he’d left the show, alas, it didn’t happen.  Turk and Carla are still trying to have a baby, Dr. Cox’s son is walking but he and his wife are still together, and Dr. Reed is sleeping with one of her interns. Watching this show alternately with That 70s Show, I think I know why this one is only intermittently funny. For one thing, the characters are generally not likable and we really don’t care if bad people find themselves in awkward situations. Secondly, however absurd everything in the other show is believable. Much of Scrubs is farcical, physically impossible, and absurd. The brief Cox/Reed feud is one of the few really good episodes. They also use the same joke over and over – people getting into trouble because they tell a lie, or more commonly a series of lies. This season they also made Eliot Reed, the only likeable character, almost as big a bastard as the rest.  Not looking forward to the next season. 9/5/13

Benefit of the Doubt (2012) 

The last, at least so far, of the Jesse Stone movies – which is not based on a novel – opens with the new chief of police being killed and Stone still unemployed. As with the earlier ones in the series, they repeat snatches of dialogue. There are too many hints this time about who is crooked for the story to have much suspense, although the details aren’t immediately obvious. The solution is very implausible, however, and the solution ruins what was otherwise not a bad buildup.  This may be the final installment in the series, and it’s a shame that it goes out on such an awkward way. 9/4/13

Innocents Lost  (2011)   

Third of the non-Robert Parker Jesse Stone movies.  Forced into retirement by a vindictive town council, Stone investigates the circumstances of the death of an old friend, who went from alcoholism to drug addiction and then died of an overdose. He uncovers a rehab clinic that appears to have something to hide, plus a prostitution ring. The ending is just tacked on with a gunfight, and no effort is made to create the steps leading to it. The killer just decides apparently at random to kill Stone, and naturally gets killed instead. Weakest by a great big margin of the Stone movies. 9/3/13

That 70s Show season 4 (2001) 

The fourth season opens with two cast members dropped – Eric’s sister and Donna’s mother – and with Eric and Donna having split up. The feud continues for several episodes, which include a cute send up of West Side Story, and they don’t get back together by the end of the season. The basement rehab is a very funny episode.  The first half of the season is otherwise uneven, a few below par episodes but with at least a few good lines in each. I noticed several times when I think one or more cast members was laughing spontaneously.  The episode about the cashier with a crush on Red Forman is very funny. The order is wrong on the dvd set again as Eric’s mother is back working at the hospital BEFORE she decides to go back to work at the hospital. There’s a cute Wizard of Oz dream sequence. The musical episode is not very good. The season was mildly disappointing but still a lot of fun. 9/2/13

Jack the Reaper (2011)  

The title should tell you this is a slasher film. If not, the first two minutes will make it obvious with bodies dragged off and a man killed with a pickaxe. It’s low budget – and reportedly was filmed in less than two weeks. Some of the high school kids even look like high school kids for a change, but their acting ability varies considerably. They’re on a school field trip when they run into Railroad Jack, a serial killer. There’s an occasional voiceover that is intrusive, boring, and irritating. Anyway, they’re stranded in the middle of nowhere after their bus crashes, and naturally none of them has a cell phone. Nearby they see a carnival, but they’re the only customers. For some reason, this doesn’t alarm them and they begin operating the rides themselves. It takes almost an hour before things actually start to happen but when two of them decide to go into the Haunted Mansion ride, you know it’s time for things to accelerate. Unfortunately, the succession of killings is uninventive and not particularly well done, and it’s not even clear what happens during the twist ending. Disappointing because it could easily have been a lot better. 9/1/13

Alyce Kills (2011) 

A disturbed young woman is inadvertently responsible when her only friend jumps, or was pushed, from a roof and is critically injured. The experience accelerates her deteriorating mental condition dramatically although she’s sane enough to conceal the fact that she was present at the time. Although this is dark and depressing, it is surprisingly well done, acting, dialogue, and the depiction of the protagonist’s increasing distance from reality. She experiences hallucinations linked to her guilt and sometimes it’s not clear what’s real and what’s not. The fact that everyone concerned is an awful person detracts a bit, but not enough to seriously derail a really effective movie. There’s also some really dark humor when our psychopath discovers how hard it is to dispose of a body. 8/31/13

No Remorse (2010) 

The second Jesse Stone movie not based on any of the Parker novels. Stone ended up suspended at the end of the previous movie in the series and he’s hiding out at home when this one opens. Once again snippets of conversation are repeated from earlier episodes. As usual there are two separate cases. Stone is hired as a consultant to investigate a serial killer in Boston and he is also looking at the murder of a convenience store clerk in an apparent robbery closer at hand, and entirely unofficially. The body count rises and the killings appear more random than ever. Stone also learns that one member of the town council is trying to arrange the firing of his two chief assistants as well. 8/30/13

Thin Ice (2009) 

This was the first of the Jesse Stone movies not based on one of Robert Parker’s novels. Stone is chief of police of a small Massachusetts town, having come there after a messy divorce and a drinking problem cost him his job on the West Coast. Stone and a state police officer are shot during a stakeout. Stone survives and decides to investigate even though doing so takes him out of his own jurisdiction. The writing drops off considerably in quality – they repeat lines from other episodes and they turn the city council into caricatures. The secondary plot involves a woman who believes her kidnapped baby is being held in Stone’s town.  There’s also some inconsistency since Stone gave up drinking a while ago and is back at it now. Not to mention a major goof – an infant could be identified by DNA so it is impossible to substitute a dead one and make the hoax work. Not awful but not great either. Low key and unsatisfactory ending, with Stone suspended for misuse of town assets and general malfeasance, not entirely unjustified. 8/29/13

Hatchet III (2013)   

Third in a series of which I’ve seen only the first, which wasn’t awful. Victor Crowley has been rendered immortal by voodoo magic, so even though the female protagonist shot him through the face at the end of the second movie, he’s still walking around. So she cuts him in half lengthwise with a chain saw to open this installment. Sounds pretty final.  Early plot goof – you don’t call paramedics to remove bodies from a crime scene. You call the coroner. The whole opening sequence in which they arrest a woman without evidence, let a journalist interview her, etc. is hokey. It’s not played entirely seriously and there’s a serious disconnect between moods that threw me out of the story early on and never let me back in. Not awful. Not very good. 8/28/13

The Philadelphia Experiment (2012)

I’m not sure why we needed a remake of this movie, which involves the supposed government experiment that caused a destroyer to go through another dimension or something like that.  Actually, it’s an update and a sequel more than a remake, since it ignores the first and deals with a contemporary attempt to recreate the failed experiment during World War II. It was apparently made for the Sci-Fi Channel and has the usual CGI special effects, although not as badly done as usual. The experiment this time causes the destroyer to rematerialize sporadically at different locations, for no apparent reason. One crew member is still alive and for him no time has passed. Everyone else has become petrified. A good deal of the plot hinges on implausibilities and leaps of logic that make no sense. A woman lets a strange man wearing casual clothing into her house just because he says he’s from the government, without asking for identification, despite the fact that she’s supposed to be an ace hacker. And how does the thug know where the fugitives have gone even though he hasn’t a clue? This latter idiocy happens more than once. The villains are, without exception, comic book characters played poorly, and naturally they’re secretive government arms developers. And where are the police when a destroyer materializes on top of a Chicago skyscraper? The scientific doubletalk is worse than usual, and how did a private corporation get the power to launch armed attacks against foreign countries, some of whom are allies? Despite some early promise, this degenerates into the usual stupidity in the second half. I get really tired of movies that insult my intelligence. The final minutes are among the stupidest I’ve ever seen in a movie. 8/27/13

Scary Movie V (2013) 

Another ensemble movie supposedly spoofing horror films, although it pokes fun at a number of random subjects, including Lindsay Lohan's legal problems. The main plot, such as it is, involves the discovery of three children essentially feral who are adopted by their uncle and his girlfriend. The catch is that they have to live in a house wired with cameras. There's a not very funny run at Rise of the Planet of the Apes, with some Cabin in the Woods, Evil Dead, Phantom of the Opera, Inception, and generic haunted house tropes that are sometimes funny but usually not.  Probably the weakest of a not very strong series. 8/26/13

Scrubs Season 4 (2001)   

The fourth season opens with Eliot and J.D. at odds because of their breakup, despite being appointed joint chief resident, and the arrival of Heather Graham as the new hospital psychologist, although she’s gone after a few episodes.  There tend to be good moments in individual episodes, but none of them excel particularly as a whole. Dr. Cox’s encounter with the paramedic, the football session after JD’s father dies, are both scenes that work well.  J.D.'s negative reaction to Eliot's growing self confidence is not funny – it just makes him seem even more despicable than ever. And by the end of the season he has cheated on his very nice girlfriend to boot. Other than a few good bits, this was a considerable drop in the quality of the show although the last few episodes were noticeably better. 8/25/13

Shark Week (2012)  

Also known as Shark Island. Several people find themselves kidnapped to a private island owned by a rich madman. Once there, they all pretend that they are actors while reciting inane lines or laughing evilly. They have to survive encounters with increasingly dangerous sharks, but since the writer clearly knows little about sharks, none of it is very convincing. The budget wasn’t large enough to include sharks and victims in the same shot, so all the deaths are sort of off screen. The lighting is bad, the special effects worse, and I only got to the end because I was too lazy to turn it off. 8/24/13

Ghoul (2013)   

This is based on Brian Keene’s novel of the same name, which wasn’t one of my favorites of his books, but the production is actually reasonably good. Three kids investigate the disappearance of several people in the neighborhood, linking it to rumors that a ghoul haunts the nearby cemetery. Most of the acting is pretty good, but a couple of times it falls short. The two fathers – in addition to being mediocre actors – are miserable characters. It was made TV, so the tone of the novel is considerably less intense. Two of the kids do a good job, but the third is terrible. Sometimes the dialogue for the kids doesn’t sound like kids, and the child abuse subtheme is very overdone. Well intended and with a few good moments, but essentially amateurish. The last few minutes of the movie are particularly bad. It ends without addressing any of the child abuse subplots at all! 8/21/13

Nobody Gets Out Alive (2013)  

The cover says this is an homage to classic slasher films. It certainly has a similar plot – a bunch of college girls against a madman who saw his daughter killed in front of his eyes and blames random people. The acting by a largely unknown cast is flat rather than actively bad, the script is just slightly off kilter so that the dialogue doesn’t sound like actual people talking, and the sound is occasionally tinny and artificial. Not surprisingly, all of the “good” characters are awful people and they also look too old for their parts. Although the madman blames drunken teenagers, he happily slaughters anyone else who crosses his path. As a matter of fact, the motives of the other characters are pretty murky as well. Fails miserably on almost every level. 8/20/13

Mega Shark vs Crocosaurus (2010)  

One of many really silly giant creature movies from Asylum. This one pits a gigantic shark against a giant crocodile. Both are CGI, of course, and even the splashing water often is. The shark’s size varies dramatically from one shot to the next. At one point the fin alone is larger than the entire shark in the next shot. The crocosaurus is fifteen hundred feet long but is at one point loaded onto a flatbed truck. Baby crocs are 25 feet long, but their eggs are only 6 feet by 4. The script steals shamelessly from other movies – including the “you’re standing in the footprint” scene from Godzilla. The acting is adequate but subpar, to match the special effects, and both are better than the really childish script. One of the characters is sheltering in a perfectly save cave but he decided to run out into the open where the crocosaurus is standing. The science is even more atrocious. Nuclear submarines cannot themselves create a nuclear explosion. One of the dead bodies moves its arm. In one scene a helicopter flies from Florida to Panama to Hawaii – without refueling and in less than 12 hours! Oh, and there are no battleships currently in service in the US Navy.  Crocodiles do not have exoskeletons. The CIA does not have police powers in the Congo. Eggs do not generate heat. Eggs laid in water would not hatch. The US Navy does not become subordinate to the National Guard in the event of a national emergency. I could go on, but what’s the point? The whole production is an obvious exercise in incompetence. 8/19/13

That 70s Show Season 3 (2000)  960 

Season 3 starts off strong with Eric inadvertently admitting to Red that he smoked pot, leading to a reign of terror. The Alfred Hitchcock episode is pretty clever. The next few are funny but have nothing new to say. Jackie gets interested in Steven and, briefly, Fez. Tommy Chong gets more screen time but Donna’s mother gets less. The Veterans’ Day barbecue battle episode picks it up a bit with Steven finally discovering that he likes Jackie. Steven’s father shows up and the episode with the party at his apartment is also quite good, as are episodes about an ice shack, Fez’s new girlfriend – who reappears a few times before fading away, and Red’s near death experience. Kelso thinking he’s impotent and telling people he’s omnipotent is another high spot. Eric’s sister pretty much disappears and she left the show about this time - and the same day I wrote this review the actress reportedly died at a rehab clinic. The season ends with Donna and Eric breaking up, a bit of a cliffhanger but also enabling the writers to play more with the relationships among the characters. Jackie and Kelso, on the other hand, seem to be back together. 8/18/13

Kick Ass 2 soundtrack, composed by various, Sony Music, 2013

The Spectacular Now soundtrack by Rob Simonsen, Lakeshore, 2013

Two soundtracks from two very different movies. The first is science fiction, sequel to a superhero movie which I had never even heard of. The second is a more mundane movie that I decided to try because it promised a change from the usual action adventure style soundtracks. The first consists of music by a number of performers, none of them familiar to me, and I don't know if any of them were composed specifically for the film, but I suspect not. "A Minha Menina" by The Bees is a very catchy vocal piece and makes an excellent opening track. "Bust Out Brigade" by The Go! Team is an instrumental and almost as good.  I also liked "Korobeiniki" by Ozma and the unusual version of "When the Saints Go Marching In" by St. Snot. Other good cuts are by Union J, Danko Jones, Glasvegas, Jessie J., Chloe Howl, Hanni El Khatib, Lemon, and James Flannigan. A very nice selection of music and I'll actually be looking for more by some of these performers.  The Spectacular Now is a more conventional soundtrack, presumably all original and with a single composer. The opening cut, "My Name Is Sutter Keely", is a slow paced but very nice little tune. The following tracks are rather varied but I liked just about all of them, particularly "Paper Route," "Turn It Around",  and "Epictacular Then."  There are a few around the middle of the series that sounded a bit too much alike but probably suited the mood of the motion picture. Simonsen uses some very pronounced and distinct individual notes at times which I found quite effective. The last three cuts are vocals, but I didn't care for them. 8/17/13

Zombie Massacre (2013) 

Bacteriological weapon gets loose. Town full of people turned into zombies. So what’s new? The army cordons the area off and hires a team to carry in an atomic bomb and set it off to conceal that something went wrong. An atomic bomb exploded in a populated area wouldn’t be newsworthy, right? And the army has no aircraft or drones that could deliver the bomb through the air. Bet that makes other countries feel good.  And to make sure the team is loyal, they recruit a convicted traitor. Another member of the team is armed with a sword instead of a firearm. When they arrive at the plant, instead of just dropping off the bomb they decide to explore. About the only good thing I can say about this movie is that the zombie makeup was well above average, but the zombie actors were more convincing than the supposedly living ones. The dialogue is childish, the plot virtually absent, and the sound track substandard. Supposedly this had a fair budget. They must have spent it all on makeup. Oh, and the director plays the US President, with a thick German accent! Rarely rises to the level of crap. 8/16/13

Continuum soundtrack by Jeff Danna, Lakeshore Records, 2013

Europa Report soundtrack by Bear McCreary, Sparks & Shadows, 2013

I have not seen either the television show Continuum or the movie Europa Report so I had no visual images to go with these two soundtracks. The first is about a time traveling detective from the future stuck in our time and the second concerns an expedition to the moons of Jupiter. Some of the cuts in the first are wedded so scenes which change their mood partway through so they don't feel like consistent pieces of music, even though the individual parts are usually good. Others are more self contained. "Kiera at the ATM' for example is a very nice instrumental piece but "Rooftop Battle" is too changeable. "Kiera Gets Her Tech", "The Protector", "A View to the Past",  and "The Linear Collider" are among the better cuts. There were a couple of pieces that sounded a lot alike, almost unavoidable with soundtracks of this type, and a couple were so linked to the visuals that I don't think they worked separately. Overall, however, this was quite good. I'll have to watch for the dvd of the televison show. I've enjoyed almost everything I've heard by Bear McCreary and the second title here is no exception although there is less diversity among the various tracks than usual. There's an overall feeling of mystery and wonder and a hint of danger, particularly in Landing on Europa. I particularly liked "The Drill", "Hydrazine",  and the piano solo theme. All of the tracks feel like they were composed independently of the visuals and therefore work much better as pure music than do most other similar works. 8/15/13

The Collection (2013)   

This is the sequel to The Collector, which I don’t remember ever seeing, and it’s an obvious copy of the Saw movies, with some of the same writers. One man escapes from a madman who kills literally hundreds of people with elaborate devices, and then leads a squad of inept bodyguards to rescue a rich man’s daughter. It is never explained why the escapee – who knows how to find the killer’s lair – doesn’t bother to tell the police. The death traps are gory and frequent to the point where they lose their shock value, and since there’s no effort to flesh in the characters, they lack any real emotional value. The acting is reasonably good and the sets and other production values are above average, but the story never really takes life as a story and you aren’t likely to care about anyone except perhaps the kidnapped girl. 8/14/13

Scrubs Season 3  (2000)  

Season 3 doesn’t break any new ground with its first several episodes. The engagement is still on and the other relationships remain the same. The jokes are often just reprises of earlier ones and some of the shticks have begun to get pretty old.  Zach Braff’s character is more obnoxious than ever and the other characters become less likeable as well. He gets a girlfriend for a while, Tara Reid, who is the sister of his mentor’s ex-wife, causing predictable complications. Oddly, the dvd set seems to be in the wrong order. In between two episodes in which Dr. Reed’s boyfriend is out of the country is one in which he’s in town. Every once in a while there’s a very good episode – as with the two episodes in which Michael Fox guest stars as an OCD surgeon. Braff gets involved with Chalke again, on and off, and the marriage of Carla and Turk finally takes place, sort of. The last few episodes show the worst sides of most of the characters. I don’t understand the rationale for that. There is one cute bit in which Dr. Cox and his wife stop fighting and that makes him grouchy to everyone else. 8/13/13

Under the Bed (2013) 

I’ve watched a lot of bad made for video horror. I generally assume that any new one I pick up is going to be amateurish, derivative, and disappointing. But occasionally there are ones that show some promise and even a few that are genuinely good. This one starts off very strongly. A teenage boy returns home after two years away because his father believes he is having mental problems. In the interim his father has remarried and his younger brother has begun to experience the same bizarre night time phenomena as he did, the belief that a monster lives under his bed. The acting is uneven but I got the impression that the cast was at least trying, which is not always the case. There’s also some camera work that was good enough that I noticed it.  The father is portrayed as a complete asshole, which advances the plot at times but moves past plausibility into mildly absurd. There are a few minor plot holes and jumps in which there seems to be no cause and effect, but overall the result is pretty good. The plot falls apart toward the end. If the creature can only attack when you’re asleep at night, how does it manifest itself to the stepmother in the middle of the day and later at night when she’s awake? And why does it go from lurking to suddenly openly attacking and killing people for the final sequence? Still watchable and with considerable promise, but ultimately it fails to deliver. 8/12/13

The Frankenstein Theory (2013)   

Interesting concept, terrible execution. The descendant of the Frankenstein leads an expedition to the Arctic to prove his theory that Frankenstein was a true story disguised as fiction. It’s a found footage movie – supposedly raw footage for a documentary – which allows them to add really pointless and unrelated distractions to the core story, which is distracting and sometimes pointless itself. The acting occasionally makes it all the way to not awful but never breaks into competent. The dialogue varies from awkward to pompous. The first half hour is a painfully detailed account of the preparations and early stages of the trip, with not one moment of even near suspense. Then there’s ten minutes of murky and uninteresting night time photography with one minor false scare. At the end of almost one hour, we still have not seen anything even remotely interesting, just traveling and talking and sleeping and listening to the wolves howl.  Then we hear a growl while they’re all in their tent, and they talk a lot more, but that’s it. Except that while they could hear the growl, they didn’t hear their two snowmobiles being torn apart. Then more time passes with nothing happening until shortly after the one hour mark when they finally discover that one of their number has been killed – off camera. This is followed by yet more talking and arguing but there is little tension and no real sense of menace even now. More growls but we don’t see anything – literally for a while because they can’t turn on the camera – and there’s less than 20 minutes left to go. But nothing happens! They decide to hike back to civilization and take the camera, but no food. At 72 minutes out of 87, two more die, off camera again. No one brought a radio. Outside of one blurry glimpse of the creature, we never see it at all until the end, and he just looks like a big human. Pathetic. This one makes Blair Witch Project look good. 8/11/13

The Demented (2013) 

Six young adults are beset by zombies following a terrorist attack. That’s probably the only plot summary you need. The acting is neither notably bad nor notably good. The sound track is above average but only because the average is pretty low. They’re staying at a house that has no cell phone reception, convenient to the plot but not very credible considering it’s a developed area. For a change they’re not all completely awful people, which was a definite plus. Ballistics missiles, incidentally, cannot change direction at any time. There’s minimal makeup – no elaborate zombie effects. A few scenes are suspenseful, most really aren’t. They’re not really zombies in fact. The dead don’t rise. They can be killed pretty easily. They’re just homicidal humans. It's not so much that this was badly done but that it just wasn't even remotely interesting or original. 8/10/13

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) 

Hansel and Gretel grew up to witch hunters who use martial arts against super powered black witches. Famke Janssen is the leader of a coven of the latter who wants Gretel’s heart – she is unknowingly a white witch – in a ceremony which will make the witches more powerful than ever. Lots of fighting ensues, most of it quite well done. The plot, however, advances based on clumsy contrivances and an over abundance of coincidences. They just happen to find an ancient book of protective spells, a benevolent troll just happens to see Gretel ambushed by the local sheriff, the twosome just happens to stumble upon one another after being separated by a considerable distance because they both take refuge in the same abandoned house. Which just happens to be the house where they lived as children. Fun, but I won’t want to watch it again anytime soon. 8/9/13

A Little Bit Zombie (2012) 

Much to my pleasant surprise, this zombie spoof is genuinely funny at times. The protagonist is on vacation with his fiancé, his sister, and his best man to be. The former two hate each other and the fiancé is one of those super organized OCD types whose plans the rest of us love to overturn on general principles. Our hero, however, is bitten by a zombie mosquito which infects him but doesn’t completely convert him. Unfortunately, a zombie hunter and his assistant – who has a blue sphere that lights up when zombies are around – are also in the area. The cast is quite good and the script is even better. The ending is a little wobbly but it’s all a lot of fun. 8/8/13

That 70s Show Season 2   (1999) 

Not much difference between the first two seasons of this inconsistent but sometimes very funny comedy.  Red is finally unemployed thanks to the plant closing in one of the best episodes. The Halloween episode, when the cast all turns on one another, is very good. Donna’s parents are moving toward their divorce while Red looks for a new job and Kelso tries to keep his two girlfriends from knowing about each other. The writing is in fact quite good for the first half of the season. Tommy Chong joins the cast as Steven’s boss. Eric and Donna finally have sex. Red’s birthday party is another good episode. Debra Jo Rupp – Eric’s mother – has many of the best bits this season. There are no bad episodes and quite a few excellent ones. A very strong second season. 8/7/13

The Tomb  (2009)  

Theoretically this is based on “Ligeia” by Edgar Allan Poe, but inspired by would be closer, or maybe even suggested by. The protagonist leaves the girl he formerly loved because of his obsession with another woman, Ligeia, who must harvest souls in order to stave off death. The screenplay is by John Shirley, whose prose I almost always enjoy, but his effort doesn’t translate very well to the screen in this case, although part of that is not his fault. The performance are generally just slightly underdone so that the characters never really come to life. Some of the visuals are nicely done, others are unconvincing. The suspenseful scenes are so underdone that they don’t really work and some of the non-suspenseful scenes go on for too long. Good enough to watch to the end. Not good enough to recommend. 8/6/13

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)   

The fairy tale brought to life as Jack travels up the beanstalk to rescue the princess who is on the run from the king to avoid an arranged marriage. The husband to be is actually a villain who originally stole the magic beans and a crown that can control the giants, only to lose them to a monk who in turn gave the beans to Jack. The giants are quite well done and there’s certainly plenty of action, but for some reason I found this emotionally flat and except for the climactic battle scene, almost dull. There wasn’t anything really outstanding to give it the spark that you need to have a really great movie. On the other hand, it’s rare that a family movie is so convincingly and skillfully done. 8/5/13

Age of Dinosaurs (2013)   

Treat Williams and Ronny Cox, both of whom apparently needed the work, give some class to this otherwise dismal belated Asylum ripoff of Jurassic Park. Cox is head of a genetics company that has recreated dinosaurs from DNA samples. Williams is a guest at the unveiling, which predictably goes terribly wrong, and must rescue his teenaged daughter from the rampaging critters, none of whom bear much resemblance to actual dinosaurs. Although the story obviously has a different setting, it’s very derivative. Some of the scenes are in fact stolen directly from the original movie. The dialogue is so bad even the seasoned actors can’t save it. Continuity sucks. Williams has an axe for a while, then he leaves it behind somewhere, then later in another part of the building he has it back, even though he didn’t have it seconds earlier. Most of the deaths take place off stage, as shadows, in slow motion, or with odd camera angles to mask the fact that they couldn’t afford good CGI. There are plot jumps – Williams at one point knows that his daughter is locked in a security box even though neither of them tried to open the door. A reporter refers to the police as “the military”. You can kill a dinosaur with a fire axe or a hockey stick but they are impervious to machine gun fire to the head. During the chase scenes outside the building, you can usually see the dinosaurs when we’re watching from behind, but when the view is from ahead of them, there is clearly nothing following them. The dinosaurs can crash through ten inches of plexiglass but are foiled by a chain link fence. They’re also faster than a speeding automobile but slower than a man running on foot. Oh, and the containment system defaults to opening all the cages if the power fails. Another Asylum mess. Don’t these people take any pride in what they do? Silly question. 8/4/13

Detention of the Dead (2013)  

Another zombie spoof. There’s just something about zombies that makes film makers decide to be funny, or at least attempt it. Perhaps not surprisingly, the spoofs are often better than the serious ones. A disparate group of high school kids – played by actors in their mid-twenties as usual – are given detention and find themselves besieged by the walking undead. The usual stereotypes are there, deliberately, including the jock, the nerd, the ditzy blonde, the druggie, and the Goth girl, as well as lots of zombie types. It’s actually fairly well done with a decent soundtrack, acceptable if not riveting acting, a few good jokes, and some decent writing and editing. Not an overlooked gem but watchable. 8/3/13

Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999)

A fairly good cast helps this otherwise not very thrilling television disaster movie whose title tells you everything you need to know. Trite dialogue doesn’t help an uninventive plot. Ominous signs show up early – the family dog won’t eat, a blender falls off a table, etc.  There’s a controversial city official, a political struggle, people with some odd hang-ups, and so forth, but that’s all window dressing for the imminent disaster, which is really what people were watching this for. The first big quake includes some decent special effects but there is no dust anywhere despite all the fallen masonry. Ironically the twin towers are still standing after the quake. Overall, it’s about average of its type. 8/2/13

Aaah! Zombies (2010) 

I’ve been surprised by how many zombie spoofs have appeared, and frankly how much better they are on average than the serious ones. This one, filmed in black and white for the first ten minutes - does not appear to be listed on IMDB, so it must be really obscure although the cast is not made up of unknowns. A group of friends are exposed to a toxic goo that turns them into zombies, but they’re not aware of their change and they decide that the reactions of everyone else indicate that the world has gone crazy – except for them. After the change, the switch to color coincides with the zombies looking normal and everyone else looking and acting strangely, and the switch back to black and white shows us the normal people’s point of view.  Some of it is silly, some obvious, some repetitive. It would have been better as a short but it’s still kind of fun. 8/1/13

Modern Family Season 3 (2012)  

One of my favorite sitcoms, although the special dude ranch opener struck me as rather weak. Lily, the child adopted by the gay couple, proves to be a promising addition to the cast as they consider adopting a sibling. Things pick up after that although the first few episodes only have a few really funny moments, generally those involved Ed O’Neill and Sofia Vergara. The season improves about midway with good Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes. The egg drop episode and the interviews by the gay couple with prospective mothers are both highlights. Some of the better bits involve Cam’s birthday party and a clown funeral. There’s a slight disconnect. Mitchell says he has never been fired in his life, but he was fired rather dramatically during Season 1. The finale is also quite good. A very intelligent and generally very funny sitcom. 7/31/13

Dungeon of Harrow (1962)   

This really bad horror mystery opens with an obvious toy ship in a shipwreck sequence. The dialogue is predictably wooden and so is the delivery. The island is occupied by a mad nobleman and his equally insane family. The survivors are taken prisoner, killed or abused in various ways, and subjected to intense over acting in almost every scene. Or at least for the first half of the movie because that’s when I gave up. Not bad enough to be funny, not good enough to be tolerable. 7/30/13

Wolverine soundtrack by Marco Beltrami, Sony, 2013

Green Lantern animated series volume 2 by Frederik Weidmann, La La Land, 2013

A couple of recent sountracks. Both are obviously action oriented but the first is the far more interesting one musically. The opening cut is rather bland but the second cut, "Abduction", is outstanding. The rest are an often interesting mix, sometimes within a single piece, of the laid back and the rambunctious, notably in "Bullet Train".  A few, like "Dreams" just never seem to come to life, probably because there's no graphic to go with it.  Other noteworthy pieces include "Logan's Run" - nice play on the name there - "Where To" and "Threnody for Nagasaki". Some have a rather generic sound, but that's really more of a problem in the Green Lantern title. This was sent to me as one long file so I can't be specific about individual cuts, but it doesn't really matter because there's not much difference among them. Most are overtly meant to accompany action and the few lapses into less energetic themes are not particularly memorable. 7/29/13

The Andromeda Strain (2008) 

This is the mini series rather than the movie and although it’s done quite well, they’ve grafted on a subplot about the evil army general concealing a secret project that is trite enough to almost ruin the good parts. Some of the quarantine procedures make no sense. The team is in environmental suits when the visit the site where an entire town died mysteriously. They then travel, in their suits, in a regular automobile to the special lab rather than just stay on the helicopter that evacuated them. So they might be disinfected, but the car and all the landscape through which they passed is theoretically compromised, which never seems to have occurred to the writer.  There’s also some nonsense about wormholes orbiting around the Earth and that’s the source of the alien virus.  The science gets worse as the film proceeds, and the evil government/military plotters go from trite to comic book. The solution was such a stupid bit of scientific doubletalk that it made me furious. It doesn’t even make any sense in context. Crap. They made it into a SyFy Channel movie. 7/26/13

Solomon Kane (2009)

The movie, based very loosely on Robert E. Howard’s character, was over a decade in the making thanks to the usual Hollywood delays. Kane is the leader of a band of mercenaries nominally fighting for 16th Century England but basically out for their own profit. When they attack a castle held by demonic forces, Kane discovers that his soul is doomed to Hell unless he immediately reforms. Not a promising set up for a character whose fate we’re supposed to become invested in. The graveyard conversion leaves her vowing never to resort to violence again, but we know that won’t last. For some reason, the minions of Hell are suddenly free to visit Earth and one of them is raising an army. The plot isn’t anything special, although there are a couple of near surprises, and the fight scenes get a bit repetitive, but generally production values are good and it’s certainly better than the average sword and sandal. Kane gets crucified and is a little too prone to self pity for my taste. It held my interest, which is not that common for this type of movie. I did wonder how the demons in the church basement were kept imprisoned given that Kane escapes by knocking down a board. And the bad guys always take turns attacking. 7/25/13

[Rec] 3 (2012) 

The first 15-20 minutes of this is actually coverage of a somewhat lavish wedding somewhere in Spain near Barcelona, which is where the outbreak of a kind of virus based demonic possession has been supposedly contained by the authorities. Naturally it gets loose or there wouldn’t be any story. There’s a bit of a leap here. Somehow the police know about the new outbreak even before it happens and they have people on the scene. Most of the wedding party has been infected five minutes later. Like the first two in the series, it starts as found footage, but it changes to conventional filmography very early. Oddly enough, this disappointed me. The sense of claustrophobia is gone and most of the movie is essentially a zombie movie, although the demons being visible in reflections is a nice touch. The female protagonist is nicely feisty though I did wonder where she got such advanced martial arts training. There’s also a good deal of dark humor sprinkled through. Apparently there is to be one more in the series. 7/24/13

Evil Dead (2013)

When the original Evil Dead came out, it was so much more frightening than anything I’d seen before that I easily overlooked some of its less impressive aspects. Since any remake necessarily loses the first quality, it needed to make up the difference in better plotting, acting, and effects. It gets off to a rocky start. Two of the five characters in the isolated cabin were regular visitors as children, yet neither of them is supposed to have known about the trap door in the middle of the main room? The rest of the film isn’t as bad but it compares very badly to the original. Too much of it is shot in the dark. The demon, not seen in the original, is shown a lot and he’s a not particularly scary man and his powers are pretty weak. He gets bested by a one handed woman with a chainsaw. The special effects are more polished but oddly less convincing and certainly less upsetting. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not nearly as good as its inspiration. 7/23/13

Red (2010)

Bruce Willis is a retired CIA operative who finds himself and eventually his friends targeted by CIA hit squads for no apparent reason. Eventually as they run around the country they discover that the link is to the Vice President, who was responsible for a My Lai type massacre in Guatemala which has been covered up ever since. With Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman, and Mary Louise Parker they avoid the police, the CIA, the FBI, and the Secret Service, discover the link to an arms manufacturer, kidnap the Vice President and bring everything to a resounding conclusion. The story is based on a graphic novel and is only half serious but it works as both comedy and action movie. The sequel is due to be released in a few days. Oh, and Red refers to "retired extremely dangerou."  7/22/13

Scrubs Season 2 (1999)

The seconds season has our heroes as real doctors now, although since they are at the bottom of the pecking order, this makes no real difference in the show. One of the recurring problems I have with the more serious side of the series is more evident this year. The character played by Zach Braff is, despite some redeeming qualities, basically not a very nice person. The middle of the season improves, starting with the episode where Sarah Chalke loses her apartment, although Braff’s character is consistently inconsiderate, self absorbed, and sometimes actively cruel.  The episode where Dick Van Dyke is the guest star is quite good.  The bulk of the season varies from mildly to genuinely funny with few standout episodes. Two of the characters become engaged and Chalke gets a steady boyfriend. Some bits are over the top and others are grounded in reality.  Not quite as good as season one but close. 7/21/13

Pacific Rim (2012) 

Giant robots vs giant monsters. Who could ask for more? Actually I would, although this wasn’t bad. The premise is that aliens are sending monsters of increasing size and frequency through a gateway between universes to conquer the Earth. Humans create giant robots to battle them. Lots of bashing ensues but the story leaves much to be desired. I won’t dwell on the fact that the telepathically linked pilots have to shout orders to one another, but it’s symptomatic of the problems. Why do the pilots always save their most lethal weapons for use late in the battle rather than just kill the suckers at the beginning?  Why does humanity drop the giant robot program, which has proven effective at killing the intruders, in favor of giant sea walls which never stop an attack? Why are all the robots gathered in Hong Kong when the creatures attack all across the Pacific? Why didn’t the aliens send the big critters in bigger numbers at the beginning when there were no giant robots to stop them? If it’s so important that each team of pilots be very compatible, how can they throw together  a random crew for the finale? How did the hero get his escape pod to rise faster than a nuclear explosion? If the early robots weren’t shielded against radiation leaks, why weren’t they fixed?  How can giant robots that can withstand nuclear blasts, etc. be carried across the ocean by six helicopters? Pretty to look at, lots of action, not much acting, and very little logic. 7/20/13

[Rec] 2 (2009)   

The sequel to [Rec] starts within minutes of the end of the first. In the first an apartment building has been contaminated by a contagious madness that might be viral but which appears to have a supernatural component as well. This has subtitles, incidentally, and is “found footage” but like its predecessor it actually makes the idea work, most of the time. Demonic possession is pretty obvious in the sequel, although supposedly it has a chemical basis. Several people get inside the contaminated zone and the body count rises. Despite the fact that there is virtually no character development and very little plot, this is surprisingly effective, better than most zombie movies I’ve seen lately, although there are occasional odd bits in the dialogue that I suspect are translation problems. 7/19/13

Infected (2013)   

Zombie movies are obviously going to be huge this year and some, like this one, even have established actors like Michael Madsen and Christy Romano. Good actors don’t necessarily mean that the script, effects, or other production values are going to be good, however. This one opens with a rather dumb sequence of survivors fighting off a horde of infected zombie types (in this case they’re just murderous plague victims) while shouting clichés at one another. The setting is a remote hunting camp, which explains the small cast and the isolation from world news. The comic relief isn’t funny; the suspense sequences rarely are, and the nudity is embarrassingly self conscious. The supporting actors are generally awful. This is also one of those where all the characters are reprehensible so we don’t really care if they survive. The sequence in which a woman and a zombie argue about a child was so bad I almost stopped right there. Later when one of the zombies is carrying around the kid’s backbone, it’s longer than she was tall. Not laughably bad, just dull and unconvincing. 7/18/13

Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1955)  

I know I watched this when I was a kid but I don’t remember anything about the show. When I saw this sampler of four episodes, I decided to see if I could refresh my memory. Preston has a dog to whom he can talk, thereby conveying information to the audience. In the first episode, Preston teams up with a photographer to catch a gang of fur thieves.  Next is a pair of gold robbers, then a claim jumper, and finally a gang of smugglers. The acting and other production values are pretty primitive and the stories a bit repetitious. The Wonder Dog is smarter than most people. 7/17/13

Dark Skies (2013) 

Once again a young family is plagued by apparently supernatural events that menace adults and children alike. It starts one night when a woman wakes up and finds the kitchen in shambles – although there was no noise. They dismiss it as the result of an animal getting in. They’re also in financial trouble – dad’s out of work – and there are the usual tensions between generations. The usual events follow – cans of food arranged in impossible stacks through no human agency, etc.  There’s a tactical error early on – I didn’t really like either of the parents. It’s hard to care about people who aren’t likeable. Anyway – SPOILER ALERT – it’s not ghosts, it’s big eyed aliens investigating us. The aliens also bombard the house with dead birds. This is not only complete nonsense – why would they play with cans? – but it’s also so old that it was like watching an old movie. Watchable if you don’t mind the dumb premise, but I found myself growing impatient with the obtuseness of the characters and the predictability of the plot The surprise ending is moderately surprising, but only because it contradicts everything that went before.7/16/13

Killer Mountain (2011)   

A group of climbers goes missing on a mountain supposedly home to the “gods” and a relief expedition is sent to find them. A CGI creature that lives on the mountain has other ideas. Since this was made for the Sci-Fi Channel, I wasn’t expecting much. They apparently couldn’t afford a helicopter; it’s CGI. This is never a good sign. Their employer lies to the team about the purpose and longevity of the expedition, which is obviously doing something clandestine.  While I’m not a climber, obviously, I was surprised to see the five team members climbing a rockface in a horizontal line. My understanding is that once the easiest route is found, a team would climb in a vertical row. And when the pilot of the helicopter goes up to check the near peak of the mountain, why isn’t he wearing an oxygen mask? The climbers, incidentally, have been injected with something that makes it possible for them to breathe even if there’s no oxygen. Neat trick that.  And why is it that we can never see anyone’s breath in the blistering cold air? And how can a captain be the head of the entire national army? As a matter of fact, the culture and political structure of Nepal in the movie bears not the slightest resemblance to reality. Anyway, we see the giant monster – a cross between a cockroach and a centipede – fairly soon, but it might have been better if we hadn’t since it’s not very well done. All this said, the story is considerably better than most I’ve seen from this source. The acting is decent, the sets are convincing, and there are only a few slow parts.  7/15/13

War of the Dead (2011) 

A Lithuanian zombie movie set during World War II. A joint American Finnish mission to destroy a German bunker near their border runs into the products of some secret Nazi experiments to cheat death. Death doesn’t like being cheated and those experimented upon have become the living dead. The soldiers fight a deadly encounter with live troops, who rise from the dead to resume the battle later. Only a handful survive, along with a Russian prisoner who is just as frightened as they are. A problem early on and continuing is that everyone looks alike in the dark and I had trouble distinguishing among the characters, who are all similarly dressed. On the other most of them are dead in pretty short order. Eventually the survivors reach the bunker and discover the origin of the zombies. The running and shooting gets monotonous after a while. It’s more action/adventure than horror. 7/14/13

Humans vs Zombies (2011) 

A zombie horror/comedy based on the computer game, more or less. Moderately good acting but the plot wanders too much. The humor is sophomoric when it rises to that level. Out of curiosity I looked at the IMDB reviews and the several nine star ratings are almost certainly fakes.  Some big plot errors. For one thing, doctors don’t provide detailed medical information to casual friends of a patient.  The campus security building and later the hardware store are both, we are told, fitted with only a single exit. This would never have passed a fire code. And it is not true that two thirds of the Native American population was wiped out by diseased blankets. Watchable but predictable. 7/13/13

Attack from Beneath (2013)   

I figured Asylum would issue a ripoff of Pacific Rim and here it is, apparently originally titled Atlantic Rim.  Subtle.  You know it’s going to be bad when the oil rig shakes and the crew theorizes that they’ve hit a rock. But the oil rig is a permanent, stationary installation! At least it is until a dragonlike creature destroys it. The staff handling the ensuing crisis mix bad acting with nonsensical dialogue – they argue about whether an oil rig can be scuttled – and they’re horrible stereotypes – the straight backed soldier with a raspy voice and a patch on his eye, the grumpy admiral, the feisty female scientist from NASA, and the screw up soldier that the navy tolerates because he’s so “good” at what he does. What he does is command a team of giant robots capable of deep sea diving. His crew consists of a white woman and a black man, naturally. The robots are atmospherically sealed but the pilots mention that their ears are popping from the pressure! They keep telling us that they’re seeing things never before seen by human eyes, but apparently they couldn’t afford the effects because we never see any of it. The characters all have psychic powers apparently. They can tell that the people on sunken ships never saw what attacked them, that they did not sink from natural causes, etc. with no evidence and after a few seconds viewing. The soldiers ignore orders as a matter of course. At one point one of them indicates that he is in pursuit of the dragon, but he doesn’t know which direction the creature is in relative to him, so how does he manage that?  Based on the phantom reading, the entire US navy is sent to defend the West Coast, though how they could get there in time to do anything remains to be seen. This is probably one of those movies that the Sy-Fy Channel refused to run because it wasn’t good enough. 

It gets worse. A “battalion” of marines shows up. Apparently we cut back the military because a battalion now consists of six soldiers and no officers. When an aircraft fires missiles,that is not a “strafing run”.  The dialogue goes from bad to painful to listen to.  After the first monster is killed one of the soldiers is helping to locate a missing youngster, but he does so with his handgun drawn and ready.  Why? Is he afraid of a twelve year old girl?  All of the military personnel do this, point guns at people even when there is no reason to do so. And why are there dead bodies inside undamaged buildings?  The admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet does not have authority over the Atlantic Fleet. Even though the military knows they can killed the first creature with a single conventional missile, they want to nuke Manhattan in order to kill the second one, which is already wounded – and whose size varies from scene to scene. The panicky crowd scenes in “Manhattan” look pretty tame given that they could only afford less than a dozen extras. And once again, there are dead bodies in places where the monster hasn’t been. The robot pilots feel any pain inflicted on their armor! The robots can fly because they have jets, but they can hover without them being on. Pressing a button inside the control rooms causes swords to materialize in the robots’ hands! And it’s “nuclear” not “nucular”! And generals can’t authorize nuclear strikes.  The robot can be damaged by the monsters, but it can have a nuclear weapon explode in its arms and only suffers a power outage. I’ve seen better student films. 7/12/13

Apocalypse of the Dead (2009)   

This is a Serbian film, also known as Zone of the Dead, in which toxic agents turn a group of men into zombies. A special police contingent transporting a dangerous criminal find themselves in an unlikely alliance when they run into the walking dead. Other than being predictable and occasional bits of terrible acting by minor characters, this actually isn’t awful.  The usual clichés all have their turn – one of their number gets infected, the bad guy turns into a good guy, the zombies only die if they’re shot in the head, etc. The special effects are okay, some scenes are actually quite suspenseful, and most of the dialogue feels real. Compared to some of the movies I’ve watched recently, this was a real treat. 7/11/13

Dead Souls (2012) 

This movie, based on a novel by Michael Laimo, opens with an obviously insane clergyman killing his wife and all but one of his kids.  Years later, the surviving baby discovers he has been adopted and inherits the family place, where he not only learns about the unpleasant family history but also that there is a supernatural force on the property which has been reawakened by his arrival. There are some minor glitches. When he arrives at the town, how do the local toughs know who he is the moment he gets off the train? Since when would young toughs care about a murder almost twenty years in the past? Why is the phone working in a house that hasn’t been occupied for that long? Anyway, several clichés follow – the face at the window, the stuck finger which results in a drop of blood, the mysterious bird, things moving in the house all by themselves. They are, however, done reasonably skillfully and the acting is more competent than in most direct to video horror. There are several very suspenseful scenes although the plot moves perhaps just a little bit too fast. There’s not enough time to absorb everything. There are scattered scenes that feel like they were done by a different crew – the acting becomes wooden and the dialogue awkward. The ex-sheriff who shows up for the climax knowing all the arcane stuff is a major error. It just seemed silly after that. 7/10/13

The Dead and the Damned  (2010) 

A zombie western, the first I’ve seen since Pale Rider, if that counts.  The hero is a bounty hunter who opens the movie with a long gunfight sequence. That’s probably the most competent part of the film, unfortunately. The acting is absolutely leaden; the zombies show more energy than the live people. The sound recording is so bad that everything sounds like an echo chamber. There’s some decent outdoors photography although the color is somewhat washed out. The musical soundtrack is dreadful. I very much doubt that someone used to camping on the trail would start a campfire without first clearing away the surrounding brush and sticks and then go to sleep beside it, but I suppose that’s nitpicking. The first half hour is actually a rather dull western in which we discover that our protagonist is a real bastard. The zombies are created by exposure to a meteor, which is at least slightly different. They’re more silly than scary and the gore effects are similarly laughable. There’s a rival bounty hunter, an outlaw Indian, and various other people who spend a lot of time running through fields and shooting at each other, but there’s not much plot. The cover is completely misleading. It shows zombie gunslingers on horseback, but there’s no such thing in the movie. Stupid ending. 7/9/13

Silk Stalkings Season 3 (1993) 

I used to love this Palm Beach detective show when it was first on. In retrospect it’s not as good as I remembered, but it was way ahead of its time treating crime thrillers in a more mature way. I watched the first two seasons a few years back, but it took awhile to get back to it.  The cases vary from twin sister hit women to murder of rapists by their victim. The scripts are usually reasonably well written, although at times there are curious lapses – like the captain’s objection to one of the officers having contact with petty criminals to get information. Also, plea bargaining does not involve police officers – it’s a deal between lawyers and judges. The witness protection episode is uncharacteristically bad.  There tended to be stronger sexual themes than were common on network television at the time and more double entendres. Although the two leads are partners, they aren’t romantically involved, and in fact that really don’t have any serious liaisons with anyone. The supporting cast consists of a couple of likeable small time crooks, a comic relief boss, and an ambitious district attorney. Sometimes we know who the killer is right from the start, sometimes there’s some mystery to it. Frequently the victims deserve what they get. There are a few goofs. You can’t take out a life insurance policy on someone if you have no insurable interest, for example. And the male strip club episode and the one involving internal affairs are both pretty awful.  The episode in which we are supposed to think that the female lead was murdered is contrived, transparent, and maudlin. One would also think that they would check the fingerprints on a murder victim before identifying her as the wrong person. The rogue DEA agent episode is particularly bad. There’s also a recurring theme – all of their friends turn out to be horrible people, killers, corrupt officials, crooked cops, con men, victims, wife abusers, and blackmailers. For them to be so consistently bad judges of people is unconvincing. At one point seven consecutive episodes use this gambit.  Another problem with those in which where the friend is killed is that no police force would allow friends of the victims or accused to investigate. The very worst episode is one in which Rita goes undercover in a high school, and violates about a dozen laws and police guidelines. Generally likeable but inconsistent, particularly the latter part of the season. Nifty theme music. Final episode is a cliffhanger. 7/8/13

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) 

The latest in the Die Hard franchise is about as logical and plausible as a mediocre comic book. At one point McClane and his son drive from Moscow to Chernobyl in a few hours – it’s over 400 miles. The screenwriters also apparently think that Chernobyl is in Russia. It’s in the Ukraine. The opening sequence is a very impressive chase sequence with lots of crashes and stuff, but where are the Moscow police? There are at least two occasions when people who were not armed suddenly have weapons. McClane mentions at least five times that he is supposed to be in Moscow on vacation, but it is established early on that he went to try to help his son, who was in prison. He’s there for a cold blooded murder that was committed to get him near another prisoner, which turned me off slightly, and his father gleefully describes killing people at least twice. This was a horrible, implausible, badly written, morally indefensible, piece of crap from beginning to end. 7/7/13

Star Trek Music from the Video Games, arranged by Dominik Hauser, BSX Records, 2013

I hadn't realized how many different games were based on this franchise, although I should have guessed. This is a sampling of music drawn from those games. Obviously the familiar tv theme is woven into some of them and almost all have that same general feel.  A couple of them seem rather ponderous, particularly Starfleet Command III and Birth of the Federation. A few more of them seem better than the rest, specifically Armada II, Klingon Honor Guard, The Battle Rages, and Away Team. None of them are actively bad although the basic similarity might make this less interesting to listen through all at once. The selections involving the Borg are the most varied. "Club Q" is the most unusual, a calypso style piece that is actually my favorite on the album. Least favorite was "I Am Berman of Borg" which took too long to get going.  A pretty good selection hampered slightly by its necessarily similar style. 7/7/13

The Heat (2013)

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy team up for a predictable but still very likeable buddy movie. Bullock is the stick up her ass FBI agent and McCarthy the unorthodox cop who team up, reluctantly, to track down a mysterious drug kingpin (whose identity is obvious very early). The familiar plot is subsidiary to the characters and dialogue, which is very funny even when it’s not being obscene. They screw things up a couple of times, but it’s not really their fault, and they disobey orders to stay away from the case and eventually bag the bad guy. You can pretty much guess where the story is going from scene to scene but it doesn’t matter because the force of the two stars carries you off anyway. This seemed much shorter than it was, which is almost always a good thing. 7/6/13

World War Z (2013)

The big budget zombie apocalypse movie is here at last and it wasn't awful. It also wasn't very good. Brad Pitt and the rest of the cast do fine jobs as the zombie plague spreads rapidly around the world - it only takes 12 seconds to convert the living to the undead - and the computer generated zombie hordes are pretty convincing. The pyramid they form to overcome wall was particularly impressive. They move very fast, faster than normal humans, and it's not really clear how their bone structure and teeth could alter so quickly, but the makeup effects aren't bad. Pitt has an idea what might  help provide a means of fighting back but he has to prove it himself rather than tell the government people with whom he has telephone contact. His reticence is never explained, but a lot of things aren't. How did a zombie get into an airplane restroom and remain quiescent for hours? Why aren't refugees evacuated to islands rather than places on the mainland? If it only takes 12 seconds to convert, how can a woman be unaffected when her hand is cut off 5-6 seconds after she is bitten? My biggest complaint however is the jerky camera work. There were several sequences where I had no idea what was actually happening and even when I did, I had to sit through the strobing cuts from one scene to another. This is just a prettier version of the standard zombie armageddon with nothing new to say. 7/5/13

[Rec] 2007 

This is a found footage horror movie, although better done than most because it’s supposed to be a television crew covering a routine day at a fire station. This is a Spanish film with English subtitles and it was remade as Quarantine, although the latter is about an apartment complex afflicted with a new virus, which in this version is linked to demonic possession somehow. Shortly after arriving in response to a call about a woman possibly injured, they witness a violent attack by a madwoman and find themselves quarantined by the authorities – it’s never explained how the latter could know something serious was going on that quickly.  There’s rarely a slow moment once the action starts, with one person after another succumbing to the virus and turning into enraged killers. There are several genuinely scary moments in this one as the survivors try to get out of the building, which is surrounded by determined police. 7/4/13

The ABCs of Death (2013) 

26 very short horror stories, each by a different director, each associated with a letter of the alphabet. Many of them are subtitled because this was an international project, and given their very short length, they don’t develop much in the way of characterization or plot. That said, most of them are pretty good, with topics including the apocalypse, bigfoot, doppelgangers, a pesky spider, a parrot that talks too much, a self referential one, and a claymation film about a ravenous toilet. A couple of them are less than charming, including the ones about dog fighting, a woman tied in a bathtub, and farting. Others are just silly including really bad ones about hara-kiri and bowel movements. You’ll like some of these and dislike others. 7/3/13

Warm Bodies (2013) 

A dark comedy set after the zombie apocalypse – based on a novel I read a year or two back - when the shambling creatures are starting to reassume their old social roles, after a fashion. The story is narrated in part by a young zombie who misses the old days. There is also a colony of survivors barricaded in part of the same city. "There’s a lot of ways to meet a girl. Eating her boyfriend’s brains is one of the more unorthodox.”  There are some inconsistencies. Sometimes zombies can smell the living, sometimes they can’t. During one raid, he takes a living girl prisoner and the contact makes him act more like a human being, while she learns that the zombies aren’t the brainless creatures she assumed them to be. This starts a chain reaction and some of the other zombies begin to experience human feelings and memories. Not entirely serious, but not a broad spoof either. The two main actors do an excellent job and most of the other production values are also excellent. 7/2/13

Battledogs (2013) 

A virus turns people into giant CGI wolflike creatures in this less than enthralling SF movie. The critters are much more massive than the people they’re transformed from, which obviously makes no senses at all, and their victims turn into creatures within a few seconds. The government has a gas that turns them back – shedding that extra mass – also within a few seconds. Except that they don’t convert whenever it is inconvenient to the plot for them to do so. So in less than ten minutes we can dismiss the whole plot as nonsense. The little details are as bad as the big ones. The infected group are quarantined, but the conditions of the quarantine make absolutely no sense. Among other things, there is virtually no security and the creatures escape readily whenever they want to. I was surprised to see Ariana Richards as the female lead – I thought she’d given up acting completely many years ago – but she didn’t help her acting career appearing in this turkey. It’s also one of those where the writers thought that the US military can be used to enforce criminal codes within the US. Here’s a thought. They can’t do it! Particularly with no civilian oversight and a commanding general who is clearly and vocally unsuited for the job. At another point, a man is shot with darts four times in the back, but then we see him with one dart in his chest. The general at one point launches into an inane and completely out of place lecture on the evils of technology. At another, one of the lupines changes back, and has clothing on. The tranquilizer gas knocks out anyone exposed to it, except that the soldiers using it walk right through the gas without masks and aren’t affected. At still another point we are told that the creatures can’t get onto any of the bridges out of Manhattan, but we’ve already been shown them running across the Brooklyn Bridge. And I bet you didn’t know that if two boats move at the same speed, the one behind will catch up to the other. The general starts experimenting on the inmates as supersoldiers and an already awful movie gets even worse.  And then, confounding my expectations, it continues to decline. The most depressing aspect is that there are several good actors in this one. Did you know that an ordinary army major has the President’s private cell phone number? Not that it helps since the President is a nincompoop. The writers, however, don’t understand how the government, medicine, basic science, or the military work. Or worse, they don’t care if they insult the viewer. Bad in every possible way and it seemed to go on forever. 7/1/13

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