Monday, January 29, 2018

Review – 47 Meters Down

Here’s a movie for anyone who ever wanted to watch Jaws but didn’t feel like wading through all that pesky plot and character development. Take two vapid sisters, stick ’em in a shark cage, lure in some great whites, then break the winch and drop the cage the title depth down to the sea floor. Then let the improbable plot twists roll! Every once in awhile the sharks provide a good scare. Otherwise this wavers between annoying and dull. See if desperate

Friday, January 26, 2018

Review – Haunters: The Art of the Scare

This is one of those documentaries that left me wondering if people like this really exist. The subject is amateur haunted house operators who specialize in severe scares. Here the normal rules – such as “cast members can’t touch the guests” – don’t apply. Indeed, one of the proprietors goes so far that his attractions repeatedly get shut down. Overall these folks are a lot like run-of-the-mill Halloween junkies who build their own stuff in their garages, but with an extra added layer of physical violence that pushes the whole show from quirky to sick. See if desperate

Review – Residue

The plot summary and Netflix user reviews made this sound good. One reviewer even called this a mix of Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft. He was dead wrong on both counts. This was a mix of gore and boredom and not much else. Somewhere early on it might have been a run-of-the-mill “do not read from the book” story, but by the end it’s done so much meandering and navel-gazing that it borders on unwatchable. Wish I’d skipped it

Friday, January 12, 2018

Review – Dreadtime Stories

Here’s a new Zen koan: how can you edit a movie without watching it? Poorly shot and poorly put together - even for a guys-with-a-camcorder production - this is a textbook case on how not to make a movie. Community theatre actors and college theatre majors (a.k.a. community theatre actors to be) chew their way through trite tales of terror supposedly from an ancient book. Wish I’d skipped it

Review – Rings

If the Ring video turns into a creepypasta and goes viral, poor Samara is going to have her hands full. As her next victim struggles to escape her watery clutches, I can hear her moaning, “Dude, do you mind not running? I’ve got another 20 million people to kill tonight.” Part of the story here is a college professor’s study of the whole videotape thing in which he arranges a chain of viewers so nobody dies. It left me wondering if it could circle back, with the last person in the line showing it to the first person again. Of course if I’m wondering about that kind of silly nonsense, I’ve obviously lost interest in the movie itself. Which was easy enough to do, given the parade of go-nowhere plot twists and absence of any likeable characters. See if desperate

Friday, January 5, 2018

Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

I figured the aphorism was just another meaningless bit of pirate-abilia built into the title of the latest episode of this long-past-its-expiration-date series. But no, it tells a painful truth: this movie genuinely has no tale to tell. Instead, it’s an unpalatable mess of cast members from the previous entries improbably shoehorned in, omnipresent CGI and expensive set pieces, and an amazing burgoo of supernatural geegaws, each governed by a set of rules so complicated they’d put an engine repair manual to shame. I lost interest in this plotless mess right around the time the zombie sharks showed up. See if desperate

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Review – Bright

The point here appears to be getting the audience to think about racism by presenting the issues in a comfortable action/fantasy mix. In the course of a single evening a rogue cop with his own brand of justice (Will Smith) gets partnered up with the LAPD’s first orc officer. So sorta like a combo of The Hobbit and Judy Hopps. As a critique of real-world race relations in 21st century America, it’s sophomoric at best. But it actually makes some good points about the weird, sugar-coated fascism of many traditional fantasy stories. Mildly amusing