Thursday, July 20, 2017

Kong: Skull Island (2017)

After watching Awakening the Zodiac, it was time to change genres. Having felt such a connection to Caesar, I decided to grab another flick with some Simian heritage. That movie was the 2017 blockbuster Kong: Skull Island.  

Plot/ A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

I am sure that this is going to be a polarizing film split between the love or hate communities. Personally, I loved this one and think that this is one of the better blockbuster creature features to come out in some time. I will admit that there were a ton of plot holes and the characters were not only flat, but their decision making was unfathomable, but I was able to look past those elements. All of the creatures were amazing, with this representation of Kong being one of my favorites. The fight scenes were fierce and at times gory, and the performances were solid. Overall, this was exactly as advertised a blockbuster creature feature that brought one of the all-time greats back from the dead. In the end, the film will likely disappoint some hardcore Kong fans. Yes, it has some flaws, but if you are in the mood for a mindless creature feature with some tremendous fight scenes this one is for you.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Awakening the Zodiac (2017)

After spending last night reviewing the latest entry from the Planet of the Apes series, I decided to get back to something more realistic for my next review. That movie is the 2017 thriller Awakening the Zodiac.

Plot/ The story follows a down-on-their-luck couple that discovers a serial killer's film reels. They decide to take the law into their own hands, risking everything for the chance at a $100,000 reward. It isn't long until they find themselves in the killer's lethal cross-hairs.

I love movies about serial killers, especially ones with a historic and mysterious appeal. With that being said, Awakening The Zodiac was much better than I imagined when I saw the synopsis at Family Video. More of a thriller than a true horror movie, this one comes complete with some originality and a dark/heavy atmosphere that helps bring everything together. Overall, the storyline, the performances, the cinematography, and the scripting work extremely well together and create something better than one would expect. Yes, there are some head-scratching moments and there are a few moments where the editing feels like it removed a bit too much of a scene (probably due to budget or time issues), but those flaws are minor in the grand scheme. In the end, this is one of the better thrillers to come out in some time and one that has an authentic feel. Give it a shot; it is worth watching.

Monday, July 17, 2017

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

After taking a couple days to enjoy my trip to Columbus and the Softball World Series event, I decided to kick back tonight and review the movie I saw over the weekend. That one is the finale of the Planet of the Apes reboot, 2017s War for the Planet of the Apes.

Plot/ After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

I had heard a few different perspectives on this movie that covered the entire spectrum of film reviews. With that in mind, I figured that this would definitely be one of those love/hate entries that seem to be growing with every passing release. While that is fine (and somewhat expected), I am definitely at the point where seeing is believing. I absolutely loved this one and think that it is a film that does have some elements that have to sit inside your mind before the entire depth of the storyline and script hit home. The storyline is detailed with a few different subplots woven in, the performances are solid, scripting works, and the CGI is amazing. In fact, the imagery created in this one was top-notch throughout. Yes, it does have a slower pace and there are many silent moments used for effect, but those elements only add to the meaning of the film and work well for emphasis. In the end, I can see why this will be a polarizing film and a movie that will fall into the love/hate category. Sure, there could have been some more action and some of the storyline is a touch absurd, but that happens in many films. For me, this is a movie with a message and one that was a perfect capstone and one that left me wanting more. Check it out and make your own decision.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Discovery (2017)

As the first day of Worlds winds down, I figured it was time to finish writing up one of the last movies I watched before leaving Pennsylvania. That movie was the 2017 drama/mystery The Discovery.  

Plot/ Two years after the afterlife is scientifically proven, a man attempts to help a young woman break away from her dark past.

I watched this the other night with absolutely no idea of what to expect. Unfortunately, while the cast was awesome, the overall story felt played out and uninteresting. That isn’t saying that the premise wasn’t interesting, it just felt uninspired and seemed to waste the solid performances. A perfect set-up for a horror or psychological thriller, the love story aspects added in did nothing to make the film grow on you. The film did have some solid cinematography and a subject matter that mixed well with the performances, but even that could not save it and make it memorable. In the end, there wasn’t any major flaw that brought this one down, but the movie also didn’t have any one spot to make it memorable. If you have no other choice, give it a shot, just do not expect a masterpiece.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Kong Island (1968)

As I lay here relaxing after spending some time in the hot tub here in Columbus, I figured it was time to jump into the blog. My next selection for review is a movie that I believe no one else should ever suffer through, the 1968 creature feature Kong Island (AKA King of Kong Island).

Plot/ A group of mad scientists travel to Kong Island where they implant receptors into the brains of gorillas planning to create a gorilla war for world domination. Out to break a few heads is a descendant of King Kong.

I decided to go back to the no-budget creature feature collection I picked up, but I definitely picked the wrong movie. There is really nothing I can say about this film that could make me feel better about watching it. Yes, it is THAT bad. There is no coherent storyline, there is no Kong (or island), the effects are beyond bad, and the performances are not even uneven (terrible comes to mind). Yes, there are some good-looking women sprinkled throughout the film, but even that cannot do anything to stop the train wreck. While I understand that there were tremendous budget constraints, but even that cannot be used as an excuse for this miserable piece of cinema. In the end, if this wasn’t part of this set, I doubt I would have ever heard about it. Unfortunately, I sat through it, now I hope to stop you from suffering the same fate. Stay away!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Prestige (2006)

As I mentally prepare myself for this weekend of softball, I decided to watch something relaxing and somewhat thought-provoking. After some thought, I decided on the 2006 sci-fi/mystery The Prestige.

Plot/ Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion.

Any movie that features Nikola Tesla is an automatic winner in my book, plus when the amazing David Bowie is playing that genius, it is a home run. That is exactly what The Prestige is, an amazing journey to another time that doubles as a tremendous character study with a dark look at obsession. Complete with an outstanding storyline, an incredible cast with top-notch performances, and spot on direction and cinematography, this movie does not disappoint in any way. Not to mention the sci-fi/steampunk twist added into what was already a great trip into the world of illusion. Yes, it was a touch predictable if you pay attention to the dialog and hints that are sprinkled in, but that does nothing to bring the movie down. In the end, if you have not seen this film, you are really missing out. It is honestly one of Christopher Nolan’s best movies and a darker film that I could watch over and over again. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Grey Lady (2017)

As I kick back and prepare myself for a trip to Columbus for the softball world series event, I can’t help but try to push my mind elsewhere (although, I may try my hand at another 10-minute play). To keep my mind occupied, I decided to watch the 2017 mystery/thriller Grey Lady.

Plot/ A Boston police officer goes to Nantucket to investigate the murder of his partner, but he finds more than he bargained for.

I was in the mood for a mystery last night when I went to Family Video and I decided on this one. While I am usually a huge fan of slow burn mysteries or thrillers, this one really did nothing for me. Yes, the cinematography was outstanding, some of the performances were solid, and the scripting with the snippets of classic poetry and prose mixed in was a positive surprise, the overall feel just left me feeling like something was missing. The storyline, though interesting, felt underdeveloped, the identities of the murderers was somewhat predictable, and the movie lacked the tension or atmosphere one would expect in this type of mystery/thriller. In the end, I am sure there will be people that disagree with my interpretation of the film, but honestly, I cannot recommend this one at all. If you are really into mystery/thrillers, you can give it a shot, but be warned.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Blackcoat's Daughter (2015)

One of the movies I caught during my absence into the softball void was one that I have heard many different things about (both good and bad). For me, that just means I have to check it out for myself. That movie was 2015 independent entry The Blackcoat’s Daughter (AKA February).

Plot/ Two girls must battle a mysterious evil force when they are left behind at their boarding school over winter break.

A couple people at Family Video tried to steer me away from this one, luckily, I held my own and rented it. For me, I in no way agreed with the synopsis they gave me, although I can definitely understand them, as this will likely be one of the more polarizing films to come out in some time. More of a psychological thriller than a traditional horror movie, this one will not be for everyone. Armed with a tremendously dark atmosphere, this slow burn builds tension throughout. The scripting is outstanding, the storyline develops in a subdued manner, the performances solid, and the cinematography matches the atmosphere and soundscape perfectly. Of course, there are some flaws with a bare-bones plot and the ending felt a touch uneven, but those are but minor flaws in the grand scheme. In the end, if you are looking for a typical clich├ęd horror flick this one is not for you. However, if you enjoy atmospheric and dark slow burn thriller that can leave an imprint after you watch it, give this one a shot. It is an outstanding choice.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Population Zero (2016)

After taking a night off because of a miserably long rain delay (and eventual washout) of the games at the USSSA Summer Showdown, I figured it was time to get back at it tonight. My next review was an interesting film, 2016s Population Zero.

Plot/ In 2009 three young men were killed in a remote part of Yellowstone National Park. The only thing more shocking than the crime itself, are the bizarre events that followed.

I had looked at this movie for some time at Family Video and could not figure out exactly what it was. After renting it, I was glad that I did because it was better that what I envisioned. This mockumentary does a great job at staying true to the documentary feel and keeps you guessing on whether all of it is true. The storyline is engaging, the cinematography amazing, and the performances are solid. Yes, the pacing was not perfect as the film was very dialog driven, but that was somewhat expected because of the documentary platform that was being created. In the end, if you are a fan of true mockumentaries that present believable storylines, give this one a shot. It is very entertaining.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

Yesterday, I decided to pick up a great collection of low budget gold in the 12 Creature Feature box set. For me, this is a perfect set of movies that fit with the mindless entertainment binge I have been on when not watching Twin Peaks: The Return. The first movie from that set that graced my screen was the 1977 entry The Crater Lake Monster.

Plot/ A meteor that crashed into Oregon's Crater Lake unearths a dinosaur egg. The heat from the meteor causes the egg to hatch, and the emerging dinosaur takes to snacking on the locals.

Before I start this review, if you watch this and expect something phenomenal and/or Oscar caliber, it is time for you to turn away. That is not saying that this is terrible, but it is a no-budget creature feature from the 1970s and it definitely comes with the typical flaws that plague this type of schlockfest. There was a lot to like with some tremendous stop-motion animation considering the budget and the era. Plus the decision to use a Plesiosaurus was awesome considering the connection to some of the Loch Ness Theories that exist. Yes, the performances the film feels dated, were uneven, the lake is definitely not the real Crater Lake, and the storyline is all over the place and incoherent at times, but that just adds to the classic drive-in campiness that came with this eras low budget creature features. In the end, this is a movie that any fan of 1970s stop-motion animation will love. Sure, the schlock factor is high, but if you can suspend reality for a short period of time, you may get a kick out of this sci-fi creature feature.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Bigfoot: The Movie (2015)

As I sit down and try to catch up on some of the flicks I missed reviewing over the past week, I would be out of my mind to forget this one. While it is far from Oscar worthy, it is what it is. This is the local (for me) 2015 creature feature Bigfoot: The Movie.

Plot/ Bigfoot has come to the town of Ellwood City, PA and is causing BIG problems. Now it's up to four town locals, Chuck, Dale, Burl, and Kate to take him down.

When I rented this one at Family Video, I expected a no-budget schlockfest that would harken back to some of the great low-budget, straight to VHS entries, and that is exactly what I got. This Kickstarter-funded entry may not be the best movie, it may be completely unbelievable, and it may lack the big budget effects that many films have, but it is funny. Being from SW PA, I could relate to the characters as I see many of those stereotypical characterizations in real life on a daily basis (believe me, these people are real and this is likely how some would act if a sasquatch was on the loose. The performances are definitely uneven and the there are some head scratching moments, but honestly, this adds to the campy fun that is contained within the storyline. Who knew that a female Bigfoot could become a potential tourist destination? In the end, if you are searching for a serious Bigfoot flick, this one is definitely not for you. However, if you are looking for a creature feature that is more camp than substance, this one is for you; especially if you are from Southwestern Pennsylvania and grew up with some typical yinzers and jagoffs.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Shadow Effect (2017)

I know that it has been a few days since I sat down to write something up. I have tried, and even watched a couple flicks, but between picking up a daughter in Virginia, a softball tournament, and a holiday party, I have not really been on the computer. To try to get things moving in the right direction, here is my next entry. It is the 2017 action/sci-fi flick The Shadow Effect.

Plot/ A young man's life is turned upside down when his violent dreams begin to blend with reality.

I grabbed this one at Family Video because the synopsis seemed interesting and most importantly different from what I have been watching. Unfortunately, the film did not come across in the manner that would make it easy to watch and intriguing. The performances are good enough, but the scripting and pacing seemed to be lacking. In fact, the movie felt like a strung together combination of popular action and sci-fi films that have recently come out. Overall, the film just felt extremely disjointed. In the end, unless you have nothing else to watch, I would definitely stay away from this one.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Kind of Murder (2016)

I knew after watching The Autopsy of Jane Doe that it was going to be difficult to follow it with something in the horror genre. With that in mind, I went for something different, the 2016 crime/drama A Kind of Murder (AKA The Blunderer).

Plot/ In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman.

This was an impulse rental, as I was in the mood for something a touch different than my usual selections. While there was a lot to like with some great cinematography, a nostalgic feel, and some decent tension early on, there overall feel of the movie was very disjointed and the ending felt extremely rushed. The storyline was definitely interesting and the movie was setting up to be a solid whodunit/thriller, but unfortunately, between some of the uneven performances and the predictable ending, it was never able to reach the potential that it laid the groundwork for. In the end, this one was quite disappointing as it fell short of what could have been. Is it a terrible movie? No, but it is also a movie that will leave you disappointed when it is over.