Last Update 9/26/19

 

The Mummy Rebirth  (1999)

I should know better. The opening credits were so bad that almost stopped it then. The ancient Egyptian evoking Romans gods. Even the blood is CGI. The acting was so awful that I gave up after half an hour. People involved with movies this awful, and obviously so, should be ashamed of themselves. More effort was spent on the packaging than on the contents. 9/26/19

Darkwolf (2003)

I almost never enjoy werewolf movies. They all seem to have the same plot. So this sat in the to be watched stack for literally a couple of years. The dialogue in the first few minutes did not encourage me to think that this one might have other virtues to compensate. It opens with the arrest of a man whose eyes glow in the middle of a strip bar. The prisoner then kills two police officers and punches his way out of a police van, runs off in wolf form, and only one person seems particularly upset. The hero is a police officer - and a miserable jerk - who knows that werewolves are real. He even has a gun with silver bullets. There's some nonsense about how werewolves breed - you cannot mate a pure blood with a hybrid and get pure offspring. And FBI academy graduates are not assigned to work as assistants to city police officers working routine cases. Plausibility is not on the agenda for this movie, clearly, and it's much stupider than I have managed to convey. Our heroes have to prevent the villain - a darkwolf - from mating with a woman who is unknowingly a good werewolf. But for some arcane and unexplained reason, they are forbidden from warning the target, and if the mating takes place, the werewolves will exterminate humanity. Except they do tell her. "You mean there's something out there and it wants to hook up with me?"  So yes, this does not have the same plot. It just has an inane and illogical new one. And it gets worse as it goes  along. Tippi Hedren has a cameo - she still can't act. 9/15/19

The Dead Don't Die (2019)

This is a zombie spoof, but a very subtle one and some of the scenes are actually quite creepy. Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits, and others are various residents of a small town whose dead rises when the Earth's axis shifts. All of the acting is deliberately understated, even flat, but it works. There's a samurai mortician, a hermit, a geek everyone calls Frodo, and several other quirky victims-to-be. I had low expectations and was pleased to find an enjoyable and slightly unusual movie, which is more than I usually encounter.9/12/19

The Devil's Backbone (2002)

A ghost haunts a boys' school in Civl War Spain and the students have to team up to defeat it. This was competently done but had nothing to particularly recommend it, and when you add subtitles to the mix, it really isn't worth your time unless you have nothing else to do. 9/11/10

Don't Look Up (2009)

I'm pretty much overdosed on horror movies that involve movie production units, so this was tolerable but not impressive. The group is dependent upon a nutcase who has visions that sometimes translate into interesting movie ideas, but when tjey decide to film a story about the death of the daughter of a gypsy witch, things start to go wrong very quickly. Too many swarms of CGI flies mixed with tolerable but unexceptional special effects and a story so predictable, and filled with so many uninteresting characters, that I lost interest early. Apparently a remake of a Japanese film. 8/23/19

Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

The impressively bad special effects did not endear this to me in the opening scenes. The attempts to evoke emotion are so clumsy that I was embarrassed for the people responsible. It feels more like a comic book than a story, Relentlessly bad special effects and awful acting. The occasionally inaudible soundtrack doesn't help. This felt more like a cartoon than an actual movie. This was a cartoon, not a movie, and not even a particularly good cartoon. How do things like this attract a big budget? Is Hollywood really that tone deaf. I literally felt insulted.  8/15/19

Hellboy (2019)

What a horrible, insulting follow up to the first Hellboy movie. I was appalled within the first five minutes. I struggled to watch the first half hour, which was something about a witch from Arthurian times who wasn't quite dead. At that point, the crappy acting and boring story line were too much for me. I was more entertained watching the blank television screen. How could the people involved not know that this did not even rise to the level of being a turkey? 8/14/19

The Curse of La Llorona (2019) 

There is an episode of Freaks and Geeks in which Linda Cardellini cracks up, and I cannot watch that without cracking up myself. This is the reason why I bought this dvd. The story is based on a Latin American legend about the ghost of a crying woman and the danger she poses to children. Children in jeopardy books and movies don’t really appeal to me and despite good performances by the cast, I wasn’t particularly drawn into the story. There is almost too much supernatural content and it begins to lose its impact after a while.  8/12/19

Critters Attack (2019)  

A belated extension of the Critters franchise. A fresh load of the nasty aliens has arrived on Earth. Despite a lapse of many years, the special effects are not improved. I lost interest when one of the characters who is supposedly knowledgeable about nature assumed that a critter belonged in a zoo. They managed to turn a minor franchise into a major disaster, completely unworthy of being viewed at all. Massive disappointment even though my expectations were never very high to start with. . Couldn't they have thought of even a little new twist? 8/10/19

Mortal Engines (2018)

I had meant to see this in the theater but never got around to it. Many generations after a devastating war, cities are mounted on wheels and travel around preying upon smaller, mobile towns. There are some static cities as well, protected by a wall, but the two sides are in a constant state of war. Our hero falls out of the city of London while pursuing a rebel, discovering in the process that the man he admired is a villain. Our heroes have to survive slavers, night hunters, and a kind of cyborg bounty hunter. They get some help from a rebel who wants to end the era of roving cities. The story is mostly just okay. The special effects are spectacular. The villains have an ancient superweapon, but the heroes find the counter at just the right moment. 8/9/19

Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Return of the Pirates of the Caribbean. This time the quest is to find the Trident of Poseidon, which provides power over the ocean and all magic associated with it. There is a ship full of dead sailors with a grudge against Jack Sparrow, a young man trying to free his father from a curse, an orphan woman accused of witchcraft, an old enemy/rival still hungry for power, and lots of British sailors spoiling for a fight. Somehow Sparrow survives it all. The special effects are as good as ever, the villains are just as villainous, and Sparrow is much the same, although his quirks are becoming a bit repetitive. This was still a lot of fun though, which is surprising given how long this series has lasted. Some of the scenes are strikingly effective visually, such as the dead sailors walking on water. 8/8/10

The 5th Wave (2016) 

Rick Yancey’s YA novel, the first in the series, wasn’t as good as his previous work, and the movie is even sillier. Aliens use an EMP, plague, and finally outright invasion by imitating humans. A teenage girl must track down her missing younger brother and the two must survive. She meets a boy her age who seems to want to help, but is he really what he appears to be? The movie ends up being more about teen angst than disaster, with only slight intervals of adventure. This was frequently more irritating than entertaining and despite a few good scenes, I’m just as glad that they decided against filming the rest of the books. The science is at best dubious. 7/30/19

Splinter (2008) 

This was much better than I expected, with reasonably good special effects and competent acting. A killer and his girlfriend take a young couple hostage in their car, but they stop at a gas station where a parasite has just taken over the attendant’s body. One dies almost immediately and the other three find themselves trapped inside the station while parasite operated dead bodies try to get in. The nerdy guy gets pretty irritating pretty quickly. It’s kind of a zombie movie in structure, but without the usual baggage and with a mostly plausible rationale. There is some inconsistency about how fast the parasite works which prolongs some of the suspense, even though it doesn’t make sense. It also is unclear whether fragments of the bodies that are infected can continue to live. 7/29/19

Sideshow (2000)

A sinister carnival poses problems for a group of teenagers who manage to piss off the manager. The actors, as always, are far too old for the parts they play. The fifteen year old kid looks almost thirty. The acting is dreadful, but the plot and writing are so bad that it makes it seem much worse. To punish them, he uses some sort of machine to turn each of them into a different kind of monster for his freakshow. There is no logic to the story, no explanation, incredibly cheap special effects, bad sound, worse soundtrack, and just about everything that could be poorly done in a movie gets done before the end. Not even unintentionally funny, just boring and silly. 7/24/19

South Park Season 22 (2018) 

The opening scene in episode one, in which classes aren’t even interrupted by a shooter because it has become so common, is one of the show’s best bits. The one about pedophiles priests was just okay, as is the Halloween scooter episode The Mr. Hanky episode, like all of his other appearances, is pretty much worthless and unfunny. The two part story about Al Gore was a waste of time as well.  Another about obsession with cellphones is fair, and another two part story poking fun at Amazon is pretty good. Better than most of the last few seasons, but only the first episode is outstanding. 7/21/19

Lost in Space Season 1 (2018) 

Hated the original show, wasn’t impressed by the feature movie. Dismayed by the incompetence in the opening episode revival, which uses great special effects to try to mask bad science, bad dialogue, and almost no logic whatsoever. The Robinson family and Dr. Smith, a woman this time, crash on an alien planet where they are confronted with a number of challenges. The cast is pretty much undistinguished and the consistently awful dialogue doesn’t help. A good portion of the dialogue is inaudible. The first episode is so awful that I almost didn’t watch another. By the end of the first episode, I had decided it was at least as stupid as the original, quite an achievement. In episode 2, a ship in orbit has its viewscreen smashed, but there is apparently breathable air, but no wind? And why would a spaceship have an emergency flare kit? There is no chemistry among the actors and events are so random that there is no unified sense of tension. The robot lacks the character of Robby. Lighting is inconsistent within the same scene! Some of the dialogue in episode 2 is amazingly inane. There’s even a pet chicken. Episode three adds an incomprehensibly illogical back story for Dr. Smith. The meteorite storm, of whatever it was, left everyone with facial cuts, but no one had a serious injury? Smith abandons her two companions, for no reason and despite the fact that she would have ingratiated herself further by not doing so. The bad writing continues to be obvious.  The cast did not notice that there was a rocky promontory actual pressing against the side of their ship. Dr. Smith claims that because psychiatrist are trained to study human beings, they are uniquely qualified to understand robots from an alien civilization. A supposed scientist can look at insects eating and conclude that they derive pleasure from doing so. There are also unexplained gaps in the story line. Dr. Smith is transparently lying but for a long time no one seems to notice. This could have and should have been a lot better. 7/20/19

Spiderman Far from Home (2019)

This was a lot of fun. Spiderman and his class are on a European tour when Mysterio appears, battling the elementals. I'll avoid spoilers but readers of the comics will suspect the surprise twist right away. Good special effects and the cast is extremely good. An awful lot of people seem to know Peter Parker's identity, but that was true of Ironman as well, even before he went public. Can't say much more without giving away secrets, but this one is well worth your time and money to see on the big screen. 7/18/19

Background to Danger (1943)

This is a pretty awful adaptation of the Eric Ambler novel, modified to fit the situation in World War II, with some very bad casting decisions. The story is completely changed around, with different people doing things from in the book, others doing things not in the book, and important things in the book never getting done at all. George Raft, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet try hard, but this was not particularly successful. Raft is innocently involved in an international plot that involves murder and espionage. Instead of being bewildered by events, Raft is cool and calm and completely unbelievable in the part. The excellent book deserved better treatment. 7/13/19

 

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