Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Lone_Survivor_PosterWar Porn?
2.5 Stars

Lone Survivor, the most recent movie based on American troops fighting the Taliban, would come off as a heavy handed recruiting effort, if it wasn’t so darn sad. Honestly, the movie is a bit like getting beaten over the head with an American flag.

Lone Survivor tells the story of an ill-fated mission to take out Taliban operatives, through the eyes of Marcus Luttrell (Marc Wahlberg), a young Navy Seal about to take part in a dangerous mission. As the title suggests, the mission does not go as planned and only one man is left to tell the tale. The movie is based on a book; which is based on a true story.

But that doesn’t stop it from being about 2 hours worth of propaganda. First, we are introduced to macho men heroes, who only joined the service due to their deep, deep patriotism. No guys trying to pay their college tuition here. No, they are all born leaders who just want to do a service for their country.

Next, it shows the military as all knowing and the soldiers as heavily armed and protected. There weren’t any screw-ups by these soldiers. It was all the enemies and bad lucks fault. [more…]

Finally, we watch as Marcus is sheltered by civilians who are just grateful that big bad America came to save their country.

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Maybe I might buy one of these. In a pinch, I could even buy two. But all three?

This is a common theme in war movies designed to recruit idealistic young minds. They show stereotypical hero patriot soldiers, an all knowing armed service, and welcoming civilians who appreciate the Americans coming to save the day.

Here’s reality. Most soldiers join up for college money, especially when war time bonuses can get into the six figure range. The military screws up all the time, and most soldiers killed are actually killed by friendly fire. Finally, most civilians in a foreign countries flinch when they see the old red, white and blue, because they realize they are about to get bombed.

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The damn shame of it all is the fact that this was based on a true story. Unfortunately, in the interest of making it into a cinematic blockbuster, the screenplay writer turned the heroes into caricatures and the plot line into pure exploitation.

It’s like Saving Private Ryan, only there is really no moral to the story, unless the moral is supposed to be ‘brown people are bad; white people are good’. I hope that wasn’t the moral they were going for.

I really hope the dialog isn’t true to life, because if it is, these guys must have memorized a book of clichés before they went out. Here are a couple of gems from the film;

“You can die for your country — I’m going to live for mine.”

“That’s death. Look at death”

In addition, I wish the film makers would have kept in mind that the real men involved in this story had families and friends. I’m sure those families would have appreciated it if their loved ones had been depicted as something more than cannon fodder.

Watch the trailer below.

Review: Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas (2013)

Madea Christmas  movie posterThe Great Exploitation

2.5 Stars

I want to start this review off by saying I love Madea. She is the elderly, angry black woman that I would like to grow to be some day. In almost every version of Madea, I have found something redeeming to enjoy. So it is with a very heavy heart that I must say I can not recommend A Madea Christmas to even die hard fans of the franchise.

In this installment, it’s road trip time for Madea. She is traveling with her adult niece Eileen (Anna Maria Horsford), from Atlanta to rural Alabama to surprise Eileen’s daughter Lacey (Tika Sumpter). However, Lacey has secretly gotten married…to white guy Connor (Eric Lively).It has all the standard Madea shenanigans, and Madea goes off on a tangent more than once, eventually saving the day with her age old, slightly threatening wisdom.

So why didn’t I like it? It has all the standard Madea fueled moments, but I guess this time, the jokes felt a bit thin. It was as if the whole story was cobbled together so Tyler Perry could get a Christmas movie out in December, just in time for the holiday movie rush. [more…]

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The central issue in the story is Eileen’s racism, and dealing with her daughters surprise interracial marriage. It watches like an attempt to follow the much better “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”. Unfortunately, the clumsy attempt turned Eileen into a racist caricature, spewing out bigoted, classist statements and uttering venom at every turn. I spent the majority of the movie wondering why Lacey didn’t toss her mother out on her ass.

Meanwhile, while this movie seems to be trying to teach a lesson about race, its lofty expectations fall short, because Lacey moved to a completely backwards tiny town in Alabama, where every single white person is an ignorant, three tooth hillbilly with a closet full of KKK robes. The alleged genius Conner’s dad is Larry the Cable Guy.

I wish that guy would just stick to doing heartburn commercials.

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While the acting certainly isn’t Broadway caliber, it never has been in any Madea franchise, and I hardly expected this one to be any different. However, the acting in this one was just plain terrible. Even Tyler Perry’s Madea seemed off. The only person who was remotely believable was Larry the Cable Guy, and that’s only because he spent the majority of the movie gagging up his tired, overused lines from his stand up career. Hey Larry the Cable Guy? You’re a dumb white guy. We get it. You don’t see Jeff Foxworthy still stumbling around telling ‘you might be a redneck jokes,’ do you? Then just stop. The redneck movement is over.

Haphazard subplots about racism, reverse racism, the true meaning of Christmas (hint; it’s all about Jesus) abound. While Madea is usually good for a laugh, this one was just not worth it. It mainly felt like it was cobbled together from as many half written screenplays as Tyler Perry could find, and then released in a hurry in order to get that sweet, sweet Christmas movie revenue.

And Tyler Perry wants to lecture us about the true meaning of Christmas?

Watch the trailer below.  If you have seen the movie, leave a review and earn some points!

Movie Review: Oldboy (2013)

josh-brolin-oldboy-poster-600Oldboy or should I say “Ohhh Boy”

2.5 Stars

Oldboy is a psychological thriller, which tries a bit too hard to be a psychological thriller.

The premise is this. For no reason that he knows Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) was kidnapped and locked away in solitary confinement for 20 years. Then, with no explanation, he was abruptly released. So begins his search for reason…

And so begins my mighty yawn.

This film is actually a remake from a 2003 movie, which was made from a comic. Have you ever made a copy, of a copy, and then made a copy of that? You ever notice how terrible that last copy is? I think that’s what happened here.

The first problem is Brolin, who wanders around with the same slightly angry, but slightly bored look on his face. Seriously, I don’t think his expression changed once and I started to wonder if he’d had every muscle in his face botoxed.

Also, much like the original, much of this film is improbable. A guy who had been trapped in a hotel room for 20 years has the fighting skills to beat the hell out of a group of bad guys, with nothing more than a hammer. Has no one in this movie heard of muscle atrophy and the damage that lack of sufficient sunlight can cause to muscles? [more…]

Guess not.

I’m all for violence, but I’m also all for the cut away. For example, in a good movie, when someone takes a shotgun blast to the face, the camera ‘cuts away’. In torture porn, there is no cut away. They just film it in the hopes of shocking 12 year olds.


I’m not really sure what this movie is, either. Is it a psycho thriller, is it action, is it a comic book? Then I realized that I didn’t care and just stared blankly at the screen until it was over.

Every character is a cliche. Bad guy Adrian (Sharlto Copley) practically spent the movie twirling his mustache and tying damsels in distress to train tracks. His female sidekick spent her time being angry, sexy and slightly Asian.

It was hard to believe this was a Spike Lee movie. Generally, I can expect some kind of unique twist, with a bit of macabre humor. Instead, I just got a protagonist I didn’t care about, fighting people I didn’t care about, for a kid I didn’t care about.



Also, what exactly is so scary about being locked in a motel room with a bottle of booze and a TV? I don’t call that a thriller. I call that a vacation.

This was really a sub par remake of a movie that wasn’t that great to begin with. It’s only been 10 years since the first version came out, and it was way better. By ‘way better’, I don’t mean it was great. I mean way better in the way a movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel is better than a Lifetime romantic comedy. They’re both terrible, but one wasn’t as terrible.

Oldboy wasn’t good enough to warrant a remake. Honestly, I wouldn”t even recommend picking up the comic book.
Watch the trailer below.

Movie Review: Homefront (2013)

homefont 001Home Front? I should have Stayed Home

2.5 Stars

If we have learned anything from movies, it is that all small towns are filled with drug dealers, serial killers, racists, ghosts, rampant child molesters and more. Based on the movies, most people would be safer living in South Station in Boston, rather than settling down in a sleepy small town. Enter Homefront.

Homefront is the story of a retired DEA Agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham) who moves to a small Louisiana town with his precocious, wise beyond her years, daughter Maddie (Izabela Vidovic). There, he does battle with Gator (James Franco) the boy next door drug lord, his trashy girlfriend (Winona Rider) and his white trash addict sister (Kate Bosworth)

The screenplay and the dialog were so poorly written, I was like ‘who the hell wrote this? Sylvester Stallone?’ Then I realized this was actually the case. This is an action movie that is clearly stuck in the 80’s, where the overreactions of the characters are necessary to move the plot forward.

For example, all the bloodshed starts because Broker’s 9-year-old daughter punched a boy in the nose. Then, Broker goes all alpha-male and starts smashing faces. Normally, not something I have a problem with. But if you’re going action, go all action.

Jesus Stallone, you should know this stuff by now! [more…]

Oh, God, and the dialog. Let’s be honest, I’m hardly expecting Shakespeare, but can’t anyone get a few good wisecracking lines, like in “The Last Boyscout’? In one scene, Broker warns “I want Middies’ cat back…not a hair out of place.” There was an endless opportunity for humor and some serious double entendre in there, but Stallone didn’t seem to get there. There is 0 comic relief and 0 clever dialog in this clichéd clusterf&8k.

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Also, the filming could have been done better. In the required action movie climactic scene, you can’t really see a thing. All you can do is hear it. The climax is a weird, writhing Greco Roman fighting match, played out in the dark, which will make most people wonder if they’re actually watching gay porn.

I’m sick of darkly serious action movies. Come on producers, we’re not looking for an Oscar film. This isn’t the King’s Speech. This is action. Have some fun. Give me some catch phrases.

Instead of giving me a lackluster Jason Statham, with zero charisma and zero emotion. At best, Stratham is the partner that gets killed 3 days before his retirement. He is not leading man material. Also, not buying James Franco as a bad guy, Kate Bosworth as an addict, and I wasn’t even aware the Winona Rider was still alive.

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In short, Homefront will make you wish you had stayed at home. If Stallone is looking to revise 80’s style action flicks, might I suggest more “Beverly Hills Cop’ and less “Roadhouse”. Give the audience a little relief from the tension now and then, and give me a leading man that I actually like. In Homefront, I didn’t really care if Broker made it or not. Hell, I didn’t even care about his cat.

Watch the trailer below.

Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World (2013)

thor 2Thor: The Dark World – De Ja Pew!

2.5 Stars

I’ll be honest; I didn’t think the original was that great. But hey, I’m a crowd follower and everyone else was going to it, so why not? Now I wish I had just stayed home.

In the second installment of Thor, we find our hero needing to do battle with a race of super elves to prevent the world from being plunged into darkness. At the same time, Thor continues his ‘about as exciting as eating crackers’ romance with boring bookworm Jane Foster (ugh, even her name is boring), as they fight through a convoluted script to save the day and plug plot holes.

Sorry, to be honest, I really couldn’t be bothered to pay much attention. The sequel to Thor follows the same problem patterns as the original. Plot twists that make no sense, complicated back stories…immortals whose lives are in danger.

Let me just write that again to make it clear…immortals whose lives are in danger. I fail to see the concern.

Normally, special effects make a movie like this, but the special effects in this one just left me feeling flat. Some of the newly added effects were just ridiculous. One scene has Thor turning his magic hammer into a helicopter blade. The evil aliens look like laughable wall art you’d find in a cheap hotel room. [more…]

The acting falls flat as well. Thor’s deadpan fish out of water reactions just aren’t as fun this time around. Natalie Portman runs around looking frightened and constipated most of the time. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wears his standard grumpy, treacherous face throughout the entire movie.


Also, there is quite a bit of genre confusion in this movie. It plays like an action movie, but they keep trying to stuff science bits in to explain away their ‘nine realms’ story.

In all honesty, I felt like I was watching the same exact movie as the first one. Thor and his brother argue. Thor and his father argue. Thor and Jane are inexplicably drawn to each other. Thor must save the world from an evil alien race.

Of course, Thor is rocking the box office, as I expected it to do. Die hard fans will always run out to see the next Thor movie, and you know there will be a next Thor movie. However, I wish they had tried a little bit harder on the script and maybe chose some characters that actually has a smidgen of chemistry.

My recommendation to the writers of the next movie; look up the word ‘immortal’ as well as the word ‘indestructible’. If something is either, there is no way to destroy or kill it. That’s all there is to it.

There isn’t much to redeem Thor: The Dark World. The comic relief doesn’t come across as funny because it was done to death in the first movie. The acting is one dimensional and every character seems to have only one emotion. The plot abounds with holes. One minute, something is indestructible. The next, someone conveniently just happened to make something that will destroy the indescribable item.

The movie was made to be a blockbuster for only one reason; die hard fans. If it weren’t for fans of Stan Lee, it probably wouldn’t have been.

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Movie Review: Haunter (2013)

haunter__movie_poster___3_by_blantonl13-d6hkwovHard to Be Scared of Haunter

2.5 Stars

Haunter was a new twist on an old idea. A haunted house story…normal. A haunted house story from the ghost’s perspective…not so normal.

In Haunter, ghost teenager Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) and her family died in 1986 under suspicious circumstances. Her family has been repeating the day that they died over and over again, without realizing it. However, when Lisa snaps out of the trance, she learns that a new family has moved into the house and she must find a way to help Olivia (Eleanor Zilchy) avoid the same fate as her and her family.

The movie has a great premise. It’s a new idea. It’s a nefarious version of ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’, with serial killer intrigue and plenty of room for a few great scares. However, despite the great premise, the creators failed to follow the one formula that is required in order to keep a scary movie scary. It’s a simple principle; the KISS principle.

Keep It Simple Stupid. [more…]

Unfortunately, this plot seemed to spiral out of control. The bad dude in the movie is ‘Haunter’ an evil serial killer ghost who likes to kidnap teenage girls and murder them. However, this doesn’t explain why he’s elected to murder whole families? The point is never explained…ever. This was a major plot hole in need of patching.


In addition, the beginning plays out like a really unfunny version of ‘Groundhog Day.’ She does the same thing every day and we are forced to watch it. This causes the movie to drag on way too long and when the scares do come, they lack impact as any enthusiasm has been lost.

The film also has its own aesthetic problems. It looks like the filmographer was trying to capture that creepy style low budget work done in ‘Sinister’. Instead, Jon Joffin delivers a musty looking, grey hued movie that will have most viewers reaching for their bifocals.

The only scares are jump-scares and really, no one is scared of jump-scares anymore. Most people who watch any level of horror movies have been jump scared so many times over the last 5 years that we are practically immune.



It’s a shame really, because the premise is fabulous. If this had been done correctly, or even with more of a comedic air, it could have been a movie along the plot line of ‘Cabin in the Woods.’ Instead, due to the lack of the ability to cover plot holes and flesh out a script, Haunter just wasn’t that haunting.

This is a less than average horror movie at best. This movie could have relied on frightening story telling for its scares. Instead, it focused on shoddy camera work, lazy jump-scares, and a convoluted plot. For horror audiences out there looking for a great Halloween movie, this one isn’t going to scare and it isn’t going to provide any kind of comedic relief. It doesn’t even have enough of a B-Budget feel to make it worth making fun of. When it comes to looking for a decent scare movie, viewers are best off avoiding Haunter.

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