Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Movie reviews from someone who loves movies

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Spy Who Loved Me

Plot


James Bond infiltrates the headquarters of the bad guy and wins.

The Good


Watchability


This is a watchable movie. (+1) Many parts of it are exciting enough to not want to stop the movie in midstream. (+1) The movie, the actors, and the special effects were all done very competently (albeit a bit dated now). (+1)

Story Line


The story line makes sense once you accept the premise of a near-super secret agent. There is a mad scientist who wants the US and the USSR to go to war with each other in order to destroy human society, so, he kidnaps both countries’ nuclear submarines and points the nukes at each others’ major cities. (+1)

Acting


The actors in this are good. Roger Moore does a passable job as 007. He is less mean, and more humorous. Barbara Bach is pretty, but seems out of place as a secret agent. Curd Jurgens just walks through the set, and he can phone in his lines, and he appears to act more than anyone else. (+1) In addition, again much of the scenery is just splendid. The Bond director got a lot of the humor just right. It offsets the violence and tension. (+1)

The Bad


All of the sex in this movie is gratuitous. I know that we’ve come to expect Bond to have sex with every girl that breathes, but, there is no reason to show anything but the after affects. (-1)
There is a fair amount of violence in this movie. Anything truly gory happens offscreen, but there are many fights and chase scenes, some of which don’t move the story along. (-1)

The Ugly


4: Time Well Spent.

You Only Live Twice

Plot


James Bond infiltrates the headquarters of the bad guy and wins.

The Good


Watchability


This is a watchable movie. (+1) Many parts of it are exciting enough to not want to stop the movie in midstream. (+1) The movie, the actors, and the special effects were all done very competently (albeit a bit dated now). (+1)

Story Line


The story line makes sense once you accept the premise of a near-super secret agent. There is a mad scientist who wants the US and the USSR to go to war with each other, so, he kidnaps both countries’ space craft. (+1)

Acting


The actors in this are just terrific. Sean Connery and Donald Pleasence head the cast, and other than the girls who all they need do is look sexy, each of the others makes an effort. (+1) In addition, again much of the scenery is just splendid.

The Bad


All of the sex in this movie is gratuitous. I know that we’ve come to expect Bond to have sex with every girl that breathes, but, there is no reason to show anything but the after affects. (-1)
There is a fair amount of violence in this movie. Anything truly gory happens offscreen, but there are many fights and chase scenes, some of which don’t move the story along. (-1)

The Ugly


3: If you've nothing better to do.

Live Feed

Plot


Young adults have sex, get killed.

The Good


Watchability


This is a barely watchable movie (+0). It was actually difficult to sit through the whole thing. If you are into gratuitous gore and sex, it is watchable, otherwise, rent something else. The director used no CGI for the gore effects, but did everything old-school, and it looks like it. Ridiculous fountains of blood and obviously choreographed fights.

Story Line


The story line makes no sense at all. College kids are in an oriental area. Four have serious personality flaws, and one does not. After seeing some gory butchering of a dog (for food), they go into a porno theater. A random asian fellow befriends them. It turns out he is the brother of a policeman killed by the owner of the porno theater. Everyone gets killed off except for the good girl, her bad boyfriend, and the brother of the cop. Way too many coincidences for any kind of story line.

Acting


The actors in this look too much like high-school actors. Over-emoting lines, but showing no true emotion. Oh well, it’s a bloodfest, not theater.

The Bad


All of the sex in this movie is gratuitous. There is no reason for a stripper, no reason for it being in a porno theater, no reason for sex between partners, and no reason for sex between non-partners. (-1)
There is a tremendous amount of violence. The violence occurs onscreen, but does not move the plot along at all, except for the beating of the cop. All the rest is pointless and only there to show off the expertise of the special effects person. (-1)

The Ugly


-2: Don’t Waste Your Time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Slayer

Plot


South American vampire tribe is destroyed by American GI

The Good


Watchability


This is a relatively watchable movie (+1). After watching UKM: Ultimate Killing Machine, this one looks good, in comparison. There are no obvious technical gaffes, although the vampiric teeth look odd. (+1)

Story Line


The story line makes no sense. Let's see. An American GI fights vampires. Comes back to the states and is rehabilitated for seeing... Vampires. His commanding officer is the aunt of his ex-wife. Who happens to be doing some research on the biodiversity of the South American area where the vampires are. Huh! Don't pile on too many coincidences. Who cares about the head vampire? Or, his daughter? Or, any one in this film? The only originality in this is that most of the myths about vampires (allergic to crosses and garlic, can't come out in the day, etc.) are wrong. But, they can't be killed except by beheading or a wood wound in the heart. Yeah, right. It's obvious they just didn't want to film a dark movie, since this is a made for TV film.

Acting


It would have been nice for the viewer, if they had hired some actors. Oh, they've got Lynda Carter (TV's Wonder Woman), and a big, black dude with a tremendously deep voice, who snarls appropriately in order to show off his vampire teeth prostetics. But, otherwise, you would never know they had actually paid people to read these lines.

The Bad


There is more than enough fight scenes, and some vampire-biting-neck blood, but no real violence.

The Ugly


+2: If you've got nothing better to do.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine

Plot


Mad scientist does illegal experiments for military on unsuspecting army recruits.

The Good


Watchability


This is a barely watchable movie (+0). The viewer has a choice. Watch this mess til the end, or give up. Trust me, give up. The military acts like no military anywhere. The military facility is unlike any anywhere. It is just bad.

Story Line


The story line might, almost make sense. Some major (!) in the military is running a rogue experimental site where they are doing human experiments. All of his support staff are privates. What!?!? They keep around a failed experiment. But, there is a failsafe to destroy the building. Oh, the experiment enhances the adrenalin levels of the test subjects – and it makes them horny. There is some intentional humor, and Michael Madsen deadpans some of the better throwaway lines. (+1/2)

Acting


Michael Madsen is the best-known actor in this movie. If he could act, then he might have been willing to try to breathe some life into this movie. But, he cannot. He was perfect for Kill Bill, Vol 2. But, that is the only character he, apparently, has the ability to portray.

The rest of the cast goes through the motions on this one. In particular, Erin Mackinnon, as Carrie, does a good job of changing from a shy runaway to a vicious predator. (+1/2)

The Bad


Is there some book that helps directors find bad plots. In this movie, the military comes off as incompetent, immoral, illegal, and otherwise stupid. (-1)

There is a fair amount of violence. The actual violence occurs offscreen, but there is plenty of blood splatterage and special effects dead bodies (including a headless body and its head and a faceless body and its face.) Most of the violence is just there to lend credence to the monster being a threat. But, the monster is not scary. So, the only way to make him a threat is to have him leave a gross mess in the hallway. (-1/2)

There is one scene where sex is used to promote the story line. Thankfully, most of the graphic part is edited out. The viewer knows sex occurred. But, the only reason to make the four experimental subjects strip to their underwear is to tease the viewer. (-1/2)

The Ugly


-1: Don’t Waste Your Time.

Mission: Impossible III

Plot


Spy tracks down bad guy. Bad guy kidnaps spy’s wife to make spy do something.

The Good


Watchability


This is a very watchable movie (+1). It is exciting and that makes it difficult to stop the movie in the middle. (+1) The movie and its continuity is very well done. There is nothing standing in the way of believability. (+1)

There is some intentional humor. (+1) There are also some throwaway lines that are just priceless
”Don’t interrupt me when I’m asking rhetorical questions.”
(+1/2)

Story Line


The story line is marginally believable. Once the viewer has accepted the premise of an Impossible Missions Force that breaks all the rules for the good of the country, then much of what comes later is believable. (+1) The viewer is sucked in to the story line right from the beginning. The director made a great decision to have the “countdown” scene at the beginning in order to get the viewer engaged in trying to figure out what was happening. In addition, there were really two movies here. The first is getting the bad guy and the second is saving the spy’s wife. This is a very effective method in an action movie. (+1)

There is not much original here. In fact, the viewer will be reminded of the movie True Lies. From the spy’s wife who is kidnapped to the attack on the bridge.

Acting


The acting is fairly decent. Tom Cruise is best at smiling. His grimacing leaves much to be desired. But, there are times where he comes out of his shell a bit and at least looks like he is thinking. The bad guy doesn’t act at all, and everyone else gives it a try. Nobody looks totally talentless, but a few appear to have a go at it. (+1/2)

The stunt work was very good. From the background of the movie, it appears that Cruise did most of his own stunts, including being slammed into a car sideways. The stunt looks so good that it appeared to be CGI’ed instead. It’s good to know that real stunts can look so good. (+1)

The Bad


There was no reason to use the gimmick of “gung-ho middle management type wants to deal with the enemy in order to get WMD into the hands of an Arab country in order to have America attack said country for the furtherance of Democracy.” The political leanings of the writers are too well projected here. (-1)

There is a little violence. More of it is (as the rating shows) “frenetic action.” Most of the gratuitous violence hit the cutting room floor.

There is little overt sex in the movie. After the wedding, there is a scene where his shirt is taken off in a hallway. It is left up to the readers’ imagination what happened next.

The Ugly


+7: Time well spent.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Detonator (2006)

Plot


Homeland security agent in Romania for a gun sting must accompany a witness/accomplice/suspect back to the USA. He is caught in a web of CIA and terrorist plot against the USA.

The Good


Watchability


This is a watchable movie (+1). Right at the beginning there is a terrible mistake. There is a sign “Soviet Military Arsenal” in Cyrillic looking English letters. In the Soviet Union. WTF! It should have had the sign in Russian, and an onscreen note to the viewer as to what it was. Thus, from the beginning of the movie, the trust relationship between the viewer and the director was lost.
There is some intentional humor. (+1) The characterizations are meager, at best. No one in the movie makes us care about them, and, early on it is obvious who the internal bad-guy is.

Story Line


The story line is marginally believable. (+1) Though, the two bad guys don’t even have throw-away lines to describe why they have become bad.
This movie appears to be a vehicle for Wesley Snipes to become the next Steven Seagal. Will Wesley continue to make action movies even when he is old and fat? Besides, it is a turned-on-its-head remake of the movie Detonator (from 2003). The viewer won’t care about the characters, or the situations they find themselves in.

Acting


It appears that most of the actors were just going through the motions here. Snipes is at his best when sardonic and ironic or completely action-oriented. There are some scenes that deliver this, but they are few and far between. Every other actor appears frozen except when cowering. The best acting we get is when the characters are unconscious.

The Bad


Russians don’t use signs in English (see above) (-1)
There is plenty of violence. Most of it is designed to tell us about the characters or to mark off another plot device.
The sex in the movie is off camera, and is designed to show an emotional attachment. But, the lead actresses costumes are designed for the sole purpose of showing off her plastic cleavage. (-1/2)

The Ugly


+1 to +2: Watch this if you have nothing better to do.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Buy this DVD! You'll Want to Watch these Movies Again.

Lord of War

Plot


Gunrunner’s diary of how he came to traffic in guns, his rise to fame/infamy, and his eventual downfall.

The Good


Watchability


This is tremendously watchable movie (+1). There are no obvious technical or continuity gaffes. (+1) There is some intentional humor, (+1) and it makes the characters more approachable (+1). This movie is beautifully done, and it is pleasurable to watch over and over (+1)

Story Line


The story line is believable. (+1) None of the characterizations nor the various scenes get in the way of the story. The viewer comes to understand the characters, whether the wife who doesn’t ask questions, the zealous cop who won’t break the law to nab a lawbreaker, the insane dictator, the old-world gunrunner, or the main character. Each adds to the story line, and makes us believe their portrayal. (+1)

This reminds me very much of the book (since turned into a movie) Thank You For Smoking. It’s portrayal of someone who rationalizes his salesmanship of a dangerous product makes the viewer accepting of the flaws of the main character. It is not a tremendously original concept, but it has been done well. (+1/2)

Acting


Each character is done well, and we begin to care about them and their lives. (+1)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film. There is plenty of violence. But, each instance of violence helps the plot and/or characterizations. There are sexual scenes. But, each one (except one of the earlier ones) helps the plot and/or characterizations. (-1/2)

The Ugly


+8: Buy this DVD! You’ll want to watch this one again.

Head of State

Plot


Local politician is put up to run for president. He decides to be himself, rather than parrot the lines his handlers want. Much hilarity ensues.

The Good


Watchability


This is quite a watchable movie (+1). There are no obvious technical or continuity gaffes. (+1) The humor and injokes are plentiful (+1), and it is a pleasant movie to watch over and over (+1)

Story Line


Once the premise of the movie is accepted, much of what follows makes sense in a zany kind of way. (+1) Each character is drawn with a broad brush, and we don’t really get to care about most of them. But, you cannot expect more in a comedy.
There is not much new here that hasn’t already been done in a comedy. The only major difference is that the Alderman-turned-Presidential-candidate is black. This allows Chris Rock to do some of his comedy riffs about growing up in a poor neighborhood. (+1/2)

Acting


The acting in this is average. The characterizations are played broadly, since that is most effective in a comedy. (+1/2)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film.
There is no violence (except when the brothers punch each other) and no sex. There is a hint of sexuality, but the protagonist denies his urges.

The Ugly


+6: Time well spent

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Woods

Plot


Girl with unusual power is sent to odd boarding school intended to be a sacrifice in a bizarre ritual

The Good

Watchability


This is quite the watchable movie (+1) even to the point of not wanting to stop it in the middle (+1).

Story Line


Once you accept the basic premise of the gimmick (that certain girls have some powers relating to the trees), the rest of the story makes sense. With Bruce Campbell as the henpecked father, the distant, self-obsessed mother, the headmistress, the girls' cliques, the clueless police officer, the secluded school, etc., all these and more help the story line (+1) and even engage the viewer to know what happened and what will happen (+1). I would assume that the black blood that is fed to the girls in their milk has some explanation (that probably hit the cutting room floor), but that is one of the few parts of the story line that is never explained. (-1/2) This is not an original story, and adds only a few meagre twists to the creepy stuff happens at boarding school subgenre.

Acting


The acting in this is above average for the horror genre. Hate, distate, anger, fear… they are all there. But, so is intensity, competitiveness, confidence and more. The headmistress, in particular, is spectactularly underplayed. This kind of subtlety is welcome in a genre filled with scenery-eaters. (+1)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film. Except for the end, all violence occurs offscreen. With all these young actresses, it must have been tempting to put in a shower or swim scene. Thankfully, the director chose not to.
The Ugly

The Ugly

+4 or +5: Time well spent

Hard Luck

Plot


Hoodlum attempts to go straight. Takes money from a gun deal gone bad. Is chased by bad cops and a good cop. Stumbles upon serial killers. He survives, gets the girl, the money, and his freedom.

The Good

Watchability


This is quite the watchable movie (+1) even to the point of not wanting to stop it in the middle (+1). There are no obvious technical or continuity gaffes. (+1)

Story Line


A sure sign that the director doesn’t know what to do is the voice-over at the beginning and the end. We, at once, are dropped into the chase scene from the middle of the movie. The protagonist tries to frame the plot from within this, but, it would have been much better if the framing of the movie occurred at the end. (That is, when the protagonist is held at gunpoint by the good cop, he begins to explain his very bad day, which then leads into the movie, and then ends with the good cop making the decision to let him go.) Other than this quibble, the story line, although farfetched, makes sense. (+1) The viewer won’t want to stop the movie in the middle, (+1) waiting for what will happen to the characters. (+1)
The gimmick in this movie is the multiple plot lines (criminal gone good, cops gone bad, serial killers, and the ultimate fighter) that are woven together, similar to some of the better Tarentino films. (+1) This allows the director to shoot the various plot lines differently, giving a different atmosphere to each person’s life.
For a suspense/action movie, this one has a liberal amount of humor in it, and the director knows it. The protagonist and his hostage morph into a buddy-team as the movie itself morphs into a buddy-picture. The humor helps, not only to relieve the stress the protagonist (and therefore, the viewer) is going through, but helps to transition the movie from one sub-genre to another. (+1)

Acting


The acting in this is above average. The serial killers are truly immoral and dangerous. The viewer will believe that the protagonist is trying to go legitimate, but just can’t shake his past or his old “friends.” (+1)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film.
The violence is fast and brutal, but even the torture scenes are handled well, with most of the most egregious occurring off-screen and in the heads of the viewers.
Even for a gangster film, there is way too much exposed skin in this movie. It detracts from the story line, since the story must stop for the pole dance, the lapdance, and the hotel strip scene. (-1)
The stereotyping in this movie is very strong. The black street hustler who killed his own. The former criminal who works for an African dance troupe. The government that won’t fund dance, but will fund prisons. The Latino stripper. The cheap Jew. The Italian mobster. The dirty cop. The only good cop is black. Flaming homosexual porno producer. (-1)

The Ugly


+7: Time well spent

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ring Around the Rosie

Plot

Girl inherits old house. She stays there to clean it up. Has terrible dreams.

The Good

Watchability

This is watchable, if simply for the actors and cinematography, but, you won't want to sit throught it again. (+1) What originally appeared to be continuity issues (for instance the color of the hallway leading to the closet and the fortuitous catching of the girl by the caretaker), were actually careful choices made to foretell the ending. (+1)

Story Line

The story line doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The girl inherits the house from her grandmother, spends the weekend there with her boyfriend, starts to have bad dreams, spends more time there with the creepy caretaker and finally her sister. More bad dreams occur. She questions what is real and what is a dream. She investigates creepy sounds alone, without light, without a weapon. For the viewer there is a significant amount of confusion also. But, within five minutes of the introduction of the sister, the end of the movie was obvious. At that point, all the viewer can hope for is some originality, twist, or at least competent filmmaking. All the viewer gets here is competent filmmaking. The twist at the end is so transparent, that there is no reason, whatsoever, to ever watch this again.

Acting

Don't expect too much acting. Some heavy breathing, a few jump-screams, etc. The caretaker (who in most films would be the throwaway character) is the best acted character here. He seems simple-minded and a little creepy. But, when violent, appears very threatening. Of all the characters in the film, this was the most believeable. (+1/2)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film. The violence was, for the most part, well handled. There was no sex scene, yet it is obvious that sex occurs.

The Ugly


+2 or +3: If you've got nothing better to do

Jekyll + Hyde

Plot

Drugs turn mild-mannered med student into vicious, brutal, sexually aggressive madman. He turns on his friends. He dies.

The Good

Watchability

This is yet another remake of Robert Louis Stevensons Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The movie itself is rather watchable, but easily stopped at any point (+1) There were no obvious gaffes that interfered with the movie, yet, it felt, at times, to be a made-for-TV movie, in that the sets and set-pieces were very limited. It seems that many a low budget movie thinks that plastic strips hanging down makes a room.

Story Line

The story line is the classic morality play. There are some things man is not supposed to know and Within each man is a beast waiting to be let loose. The story doesn't dissapoint. (+1) The screenwriters attempted to add some originality. They updated it to a more modern time, where all the young folk are going to parties and taking drugs. But, more impressively, they have the central character recording his experiment on video. (+1)

Acting

Don't expect too much acting. The best to be had is with the central character. Luckily, the director had very little makeup/prosthetics done to make the change. (He does lose his glasses, grow a two-day beard, and tousle his hair.) Most of the change must come from how the actor, well, acts. Most of it is believable and engaging, but, I was hoping for more. (+1)

The Bad


There were no obvious technical issues with the film, other than the video setup. If he was recording via a video camera to tape, then the graininess of the video made sense. But, the setup is shown to use a video camera direct to a Macintosh laptop. I would expect the video to be of higher quality. In addition, the teacher immediately can start the last bit of video without even looking at the screen. (-1/2) The violent scenes are relatively well handled and add to the story line rather than detract, but, the sex scenes are gratuitous. It might add to the story that now his girlfriend enjoys sex with him because he has become sexually aggressive, and that he gets some anonymous sex before a date with said girlfriend, but I needn't be dwelt on in all its graphic detail. (-1/2)

The Ugly


+3: If you've got nothing better to do

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Silent Hill

Plot

Mother and daughter drive into haunted town. Daughter disappears. Mother searches for her, avoiding bad things.

The Good

Watchability

This is a very watchable movie. (+1) There were times when I did not want to stop the movie just because the phone rang or from other disturbances. (+1) I would watch this again, especially to pay attention to the creatures. (+1) There were no obvious gaffes that interfered with the movie.

Story Line

The story line worked well. (+1) Obviously, the screenwriter and director looked to the video game for much of the inspiration. As a typical horror/action movie, the director had a choice. Either to stick to the events that drive the story or add in extraneous items. Thankfully, the director chose driving the story. Interestingly, the parts that feel extraneous to the story involve the husband, and according to IMDB.com, the husband was added late in the screenwriting. Would this have been a better movie if it only dealt with the mother and the cop? Maybe, but then the empathy we feel for the mother might have been less. (+1) There is not much original here, since children drawn to evil, then disappearing, and parents looking for them is a common theme in the horror genre. This movie is constrained in its originality by being based on the video game, but, unlike some other video game adaptations (i.e., Doom), the movie is done well, and stands on its own. (+1)

Acting

Don't expect too much acting. The husband character was added late in the screenwriting process, and adds little to the story. The protagonists spend much of their time looking shocked and horrified, but there is some glimmer when there is inter-character discourse between the leader of the town, and the main protagonist.

The Bad


The effects were very well done, and there were no obvious technical issues with the film

The Ugly


It is just as well that the producers could not get the rights to this movie for five years. The effects are good, and really carry this movie.

+6: Time well spent.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Nun (AKA La Monja)

Plot

Parent of teenage girl is murdered by a spirit. Other friends of the parent are murdered. The girl and her friends go to confront the spirit. Only two survivors.

The Good

Watchability

This is certainly a watchable movie. (+1) There are several technical gaffes. The hobbled foot of the adult Eulalia changes from right to left. Any time there is a "spirit" scene, it becomes obvious from the bad green-screening.

Story Line

The story line, especially with the ending gimmick, made some sense, but was hurt by no explanations of inconsistencies with timing. Rather than a horror film, this is a psychodrama that uses elements of the horror genre to keep the audience guessing. The viewer becomes engaged in the story, by accepting the premise this is a horror film. By actually being a psychodrama, the viewer is let down at the end, but, almost with relief. Still, within the "horror" section of the film, we are treated with scenes of terrible, retributive death. Just what we expect. (+1)
This film almost falls into the typical teenage horror movie (teens have sex, then get killed), but doesn't completely go there. Since, in reality, this is not a horror movie, it does well with flirting with horror movie clichés. This leads the viewer to expect a horror movie, and the viewer is rewarded with a change at the end. (+1)

Acting

The acting is better than generally we can accept. The parents are multinational, and each one appears significantly different. The New Yorker is intense. The Californian is too friendly. The handicapped woman shows how she deals with her physical diversity. Most of the rest is either intense terror or strong sympathy, which is easily played. (+1)

The Bad


There are several cliché camera moves that telegraph the action. (For instance, she is watching out the window, the camera pulls back so the window is completely in the screen, then the "jump" shot occurs.) The green screening looks different from the rest of the movie, and also telegraphs that something bad is going to happen.(-1)

The Ugly


This movie is okay, and I appreciate the horror touches that draw the viewer in, just to have them removed at the last.
+3: Watch it if you've got nothing better to do.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Time Well Spent

Population 436

Plot

Man enters remote rural town. The people are too friendly. They won't let him (or anyone else) leave because that's what G-d wants.

The Good

Watchability

This is certainly a watchable movie. (+1) When something came up, I even thought about not pausing the movie, so I could see what happened next. (+1) There are no major technical gaffes, and the cinematography is adequate.(+1)

Story Line


Within the context of the main premise (that is, the townsfolk have made some sort of agreement with G-d to survive by keeping the numbers of townfolk to exactly 436), nothing in the story line detracts from the plot. (+1) There are enough additional bits of story (for instance, the family in the basement jail) that add to the horror of what is happening, with very little that sidetracks the plot. Oh, some of it could have been left out, but, with Lovecraftian horror, each additional piece of twisted normality adds to the horror itself. (+1) One interesting aspect of the movie is we are made to sympathize with a major antagonist. (+1/2)

Acting

We can empathize with the protagonist and some of the antagonists through their portrayal. In particular, the "city slicker in the country" comes across particularly well. (+1)

The Bad



There was no need for the partial nude, nor for the "sex in the barn" sequence. If the antagonist has merely seen them have a passionate embrace, it would surely have been enough. (-1) Deaths, except for the hanging are all done offscreen, minimizing the "gore factor."

The Ugly



This is a good movie, that speeds the story line on, and delivers the Lovecraftian horror (rather than just terror or gore).

+5 or +6: Time well spent.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Watch These if You've Got Nothing Better to Do

The Straun House (AKA Dr. Rage)

Plot

Man is sent to a sanitarium for his rage disorder. The doctor in charge is sicker than his patients.

The Good

Watchability

This poorly done movie was watchable, but barely. The fairly decent actors (including Andrew Divoff and Karen Black) obviously know this is bad, but go through the motions anyway. The scenery is just about as low budget as you can get, and is reminiscent of the horror films of Ed Wood. There is a minimum of background, just enough to hide the equipment on the rest of the stage. There is no feeling of versimilitude.

Story Line

Did anything make sense in this movie? The hero is a whistleblower against his father's corporation. Why? Who cares? The son is a twisted mutant with two heads. Why? Who cares?
Oh, the doctor is also addicted to his rage-inducing drug that makes people sweat gatorade-colored liquid whenever they are enraged, unless the plot doesn't need them to. Who cares? The nurse falls for the patient. The Igor-substitute gives the drug, surreptitiously to the nurse and to homeless bums. Who cares? The actors grimace when enraged and are otherwise completely wooden. Who cares? Watch this one again? No way!

The Bad

Hmmm, the leading man (who also produced and directed) and the pretty nurse are both enraged, so let's have sex scenes that don't advance the plot. (-1) The violence involved (whether it is to good guys, bad guys, or bystanders) at least is germane to the story line, after all the original title was Dr. Rage.

The Ugly



-1: Don't waste your time.

Twisted Sisters

Plot

Grisly sexual murders of men follow likeable girl. It's her evil twin.

The Good

Watchability

This is a nicely watchable movie. (+1) There are no major technical gaffes, and the cinematography is adequate. Some of the special effects (pay attention to the fireworks) are well done. (+1)

Story Line

Even before the reveal that it is the evil twin, it is ridiculously obvious. Still, the various pieces of the story don't get in the way of the plot. (+1) The story allows the viewer to become engaged in the story, and to care about what happens to the good girl. (+1) This plot has been done many times before, and nothing here teaches anything new. The "good" twin should have been played as more innocent, and the "evil" twin as more menacing. Sideways looks are not menacing and working for GreenPeace does not make one innocent.

Would I watch the movie again? No.

The Bad



How many times do we have to watch soft-core porn to understand the reason the "evil" twin has been turned bad? (-1) At least, while we have three murder scenes, and one of them happens on screen, and they are stomach-turning, they are handled relatively well, without turning too grisly.

The Ugly



+3: Watch it if you've nothing better to do.

Rest Stop

Plot

Girl stops at a rest stop along a highway. A maniac kills her boyfriend and proceeds to attempt to terrorize her.

The Good

Watchability

This is a film you can sit through, if your stomach is strong enough. (+1) The cinematography was adequate, and there was some good use of camera angles, but no moving shots, but, some good editing (+0)

Story Line

There are, unfortunately, some parts of the story line that appear extraneous. For instance, the family in the RV. How did this advance the plot, other than general weirdness and a sick attempt at showing how religious Americans must be crazy. (+0) The story surrounding the plot was fairly interesting, since we will identify with the heroine attempting to survive, but, there was no attempt, whatsoever, to show any kind of background on the maniac. He was much too generic. But, throughout the movie, you will want to tell the heroine to start collecting weaponry. If someone killed your friend, attempts to run you down, and otherwise scares you senseless, don't cry for someone to help you, but arm yourself.(+0) Either way, the story is just a rehash of so many other generic slasher films: Teenagers have sex; Maniac kills them. (+0)

Acting

Umm, other than seeming to enjoy sex and not enjoy pain, there was no emotion for viewer to see.

Would I watch this movie again? No. Was it a waste of time? Possibly.

The Bad



Did we really need to see the back seat sex scene? No.(-1)

Was there too much emphasis on the grisly torture? Once it is established that the maniac tortures his victims before the kill, we don't need any more. (-1)

The Ugly



-1: Don't waste your time!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Waste Your Time on These Movies

These movies are basically unwatchable.

Index of Movies

Rating System

Below zero: "Don't waste your time"

Zero through three: "If you've got nothing better to do"

Four through seven: "Time well spent"

Eight through ten: "Buy this DVD, you'll wan't to see the movie again"

Wind and Cloud

[put imdb link here]

Able to sit through the entire movie. NO!

Technical expertise: Unfortunately, in the fight scenes, some fights are sped up, and others have bad special effects added. Most likely this is to make the nearly non-stop fighting appear to be not boring. Too bad.

Story line: The plot jumps from one time to another, from one place to another without rhyme or reason. Nothing here!

Acting: Nothing here, except from some grimaces. Even in the "tender" scenes, Wind's face looks blank.

Obviously shoddy work. It felt like a bad LARP of Dragonball Z. Lot's of Hong Kong Action Theatre stunts, interspersed with fighters shoving their hands out and bad special effect light shows coming from their hands.

This movie rates a -1, "Don't waste your time"

Scoring of Movies

This isn't hard and fast, but for the sake of argument assume the following:

Movies gain for...
  1. 1 point for being able to sit through the entire movie.

  2. 1 point for not wanting to stop the movie in the the middle just because I have something else to do.

  3. 1 point for changing my schedule to arrange to watch the movie

  4. 1 point for technical expertise (that is, no microphones in view, special effects, if any, are handled in such a way as to not appear fake, etc.).

  5. 1 point for a story line that, for the most part, makes sense.

  6. 1 point for a story line that engages the viewer (me!).

  7. 1 point for originality in the story line.

  8. 1 point for acting.

  9. 1 point for making me want to watch the movie again.

  10. 1 point for humor


Movies lose points for...
  1. Gratuitous sex scenes that do not advance the plot.

  2. Gratuitous violence scenes that do not advance the plot.

  3. Obviously shoddy work, especially if the movie attempts to cover it over with something worse.