Monday, October 24, 2011

House of The Dead

In this horrible adaptation of the once popular Sega arcade video game of the same name, director Uwe Boll's action horror effort finds a group of partying teens stranded on an island and doing battle with a new breed of unusually mobile zombies. Looking for a place to party away spring break, college students Cynthia (Sonya Salomaa), Greg (Will Sanderson), and Karma (Enuka Okuma) hear rumors of a rave on a remote island in the Seattle area. What they find instead id a bunch of lame looking Zombies who look as though they went to the Spirit Halloween Store for their costumes. Not that Spirit has bad costumes; it is just that this bunch of losers made them look bad.

What can I say about one of the worst movies ever made. Well… There is a cute chick in stars and stripes leotards that karate kicks ass until she gets eaten buy Zombies. Jurgon Prochnow shoots Clint Howard in the head. (something I bet Ron has wanted to do for years) This Movie signaled the slow demise of Jonathon Cherry’s career. Oh and I guess Ona Grauer kicking ass in a tube top with a battle axe was pretty cool.

Otherwise this was the most poorly written and choreographed film adaptation/zombie flick/horror movie ever made. I knew I was in trouble when shots from the game were interspersed through the movie as a special effect vehicle. That did not work in more ways than you could imagine.
House of The Dead is the kind of movie you should get your buddies and lots of beer over to heckle for eighty seven minutes.

House of The Dead should be forclosed on!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3

Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman direct and Oren Peli and Christopher B Landon write for us the latest prequel in the Paranormal Activity franchise.   And all I got to say is this is definitely the best of all three.  The frights are more intense, the jumps higher, and the added bit of humor here and there catch you off guard and make for a really intense 90 minute tightening of the abs, wringing of the hands and clenching of the buttocks.

Here’s how it all goes down..  We get a brief return of adult Katie and Christie.  Katie leaves a box of videos from their Grandmother.  From that we, the peeping toms of their horrificly haunted lives, get is to find some answers(via found footage),  as to what is terrorizing them and the answers are not what I expected. 

I think it would be impossible to watch Paranormal Activity Three without falling prey to the jumps and starts.  The two young girls in the film are excellent at portraying people who are mystified, curious, and terrified by what is happening to them. 

Christopher Smith who plays the live in boyfriend of the girl’s mother, played by Lauren Bittner, does an excellent job of assisting to build the tension by being the videographer of the household.  A wedding video producer by trade, he along with everyone else,  gets  more than what he expects when trying to capture a ghost on film in a little house in Santa Rosa Ca.

As I said, this is Activity the best of all three.  The first two paranormal activity movies I watched alone, in the bottom of my house at two in the morning.  I should mention that on both occasions, my wife snuck up and scared the crap out of me.  (If I did that I’d be talking about my exwife). Anyway, this time I got to see the flick in a crowded theatre which made it more fun listening to others jump and scream.  Guys were the worst. Yes I said it, ya buncha babies!

Over all I would have to say that Paranormal Activity 3 was well worth the price of admission.  I would also like to add that way back in the first movie, they left it open for sequels so don’t be surprised if…..

Friday, July 8, 2011

Transformers Dark of the Moon

I just watched Transformers, Dark Of The Moon and thought it was great. It delivered exactly as it was billed, a movie about Robots battling each other for control of earth. Not just any robots though, robots that can change themselves into cars, truck planes or whatever else lets them mix in with our mechanical world.

I was not looking for character development, back story on the new love of Sam’s life, or even the motivations of the bad guys. I wanted a spectacular mess of metal snakes that eat and destroy skyscrapers while conventional trucks transform into jet packing, missile launching shielded mechanical giants who sound like Barry White on a bad day.

So what I am saying here is that if you want to have two and a half hours or so of a fun filled assault to your senses, just what this movie and it’s producers purport it to be, then go see Transformers, Dark Of The Moon. If you want character development, heartfelt love and triumph of everyday life, go see Larry Crown.

Toons Tunes University: BIG music video!

u rock sk8r man

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Super 8

Hey ya'll,
Just saw Super 8 and was very happy with what I saw. We had action, creativity, character connection and a gruesome alien seemingly bent on eating, alive, every human he could get his claws into.

JJ Abrams, creator of such fun fare as Lost and one of my favorites, Fringe, wrote and directed this excellent period piece of seventies retro sci-fi.

A group of young teens are filming a zombie film for a contest. Inadvertently they end up on the wrong side of a huge train wreck and find themselves entrenched in a mystery and targets of evil military guys and in search of answers they may not want the answers to.

Super 8 has all the makings of a B Movie with A movies special effects, writing acting and flow.  The kids in the film are believable as much as kids taking on an alien force and an apparently evil faction of the US Armed Forces.

Super 8 is definatelyworth the time and money to to go see.  it is one of those flicks that will do well on video, but it would be a shame to miss see it with an active audience.  There are plenty of gotchas, jump ups and screams for all.

Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Men: First Class

I have over a dozen DVD's on my shelf that are based on comic books from the last 15 years. In a drawer in my room there are several stacks of comic books in the protective sleeves. To say that I enjoy comics, is an understatement. As a film student, I see them as a great source of material with a built in audience. The studios would agree with me on that.

X-Men: First Class is a "Reboot" to the X-Men franchise is set to be the Summer Tentpole movie this year for Fox. And from what I saw, well deserved. The storyline was well orchestrated by Matthew Vaughn (who also directed Kick-Ass, which a sequel is in the works, and Star Dust a novel by Neil Gaiman) and the cast was terrific. This movie takes place before any of the other X-Men live action movies timeline and shows the chemistry between Brothers in Mutation Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier before they became adversaries.

There is plenty of action on all sides of the mutant/human lines complete with a climactic ending. Watch for plenty of familiar faces relating to both characters in the comics and actors playing roles they are good at. Giving little away about the story, I will say that there isn't anything after the credits, much to my dismay. This will mark the first in a long time of any comic related movie, especially a Marvel Movie, that doesn't have a lead in for a next movie. I often related that to the last page of a comic book where they give a blurb about what's in store for the loyal reader in the next issue. Normally I wouldn't advocate leaving the theater before the credits are done, cause one day I will be in those credits, but if you've gotta go, that's acceptable this time.

Get your popcorn ready, strap into your seats, and enjoy the ride. This movie isn't in the D-Box motion seats, but even without it this movie is a wild ride. This midnight screening was at the Cinema West theater in Livermore. For the summer, they will be having midnight screenings for most films coming out. The theater is really nice and is a bit less expensive compared to the other local theaters at $10 for a normal ticket.

The next movie I'll be reviewing will be in D-Box this summer. Super 8 directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg.

Enjoy the movies this summer, and beat the heat (we're not getting).

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Movie Marathon at The Castro Theater with Midnite for Maniacs

When Jesse Ficks programs a Marathon for Midnites for Maniacs, he's not skimping out on the celluloid, for sure! Last night's five movie marathon was by far no exception. Not only was the Castro Theater filled with movie fans, popcorn, and various other consumables, but there was a genuine Director and Actor Q & A after the screening of the 80's classic, Monster Squad with Director Fred Dekker and Actor Ryan Lambert, who played Rudy in the movie. That was only the second of the five movies, and by then the theater was raging with excitement from all the amazing trivia questions the Host, Jesse had prizes for. In his tenth year programming Midnites, He's sure gotten a lot of attention for the best of the overlooked movies of the last thirty plus years.

The Night started off with Heavy Metal, a four part adult animated movie with plenty of Metal Music to sink your teeth into. As mentioned before, Monster Squad was next, followed by a 30 minute Q & A with the director and actor. A short break before continuing was needed to stretch the legs and get some food at the nearby pizza joint, Marcello's Pizzaria. From there, the next movie was an amazingly rare print of This is Spinal Tap, which the 35mm print was flown in from France just for tonight's screening! I must mention that all of these movies were shown on the 35mm prints that Jesse had to search high and low to get. None of these were shown on a DVD player. After Spinal Tap, was the first of two movies that I had never seen before tonight: Trick or Treat with cameos by Gene Simons and Ozzy Osborne (in the role of a reverend no less). Rounding out the evening was a movie starring Alice Cooper in the movie Monster Dog.

Be sure to check out all the links to places I've posted for future screenings and other nearby foods, especially if you come out to the next marathon. In two weeks at another location, Jesse's Midnites for Maniacs will be hosting a series of 35mm trailers at the Roxy Theater for a fundraiser to keep that theater open! Ticket prices are as much as you want to donate and there will be an auction for movie memorabilia. At 9:30 there will be a secret movie played from another 35mm print.

This is Drew, signing off for a nap now. 11 hours of movies is great, but exhausting!

Vive Cinema!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Movie Review - Insidious

The hairs on my arms stood up for the ending of this horrific tale of possession from the creative teams behind the Saw franchise and the Paranormal Activity (soon to be) trilogy. James Wan directed and Oren Peli is sited as producer on Insidious which is a story of a young boy who strangely falls into a coma and his family struggle to find out the cause of this bizarre occurrence. I enjoyed this movie understanding who was making it and who they were making it for.

It follows a similar story to the Paranormal movies but in a more narrative structure, adding in a much more elaborate set of possessor beings. The family is struggling to keep from tearing apart as the mother starts to see things that the husband/father seems to know nothing about. There's much more to that then the father, wonderfully played by Patrick Wilson, is leading on. He's a very strong character in this, although has much less to do with discovering the incidents. Rose Byrne, who plays the resilient mother, takes all things in stride to a point before calling in professional help. The secondary characters were believable too! I think the cast was well rounded for the movie.

The soundtrack was amazing too! It really kept me on the edge of my seat. It was a more traditional horror film with a very suspenseful strings section and often used spaces of no sound quite well.

Don't leave before the credits are over and you'll get a small tidbit. It's not much, but it's enough to re-raise the arm hairs a bit. Overall, I give this movie a three and a half arm hairs up out of five. For more, check out Imdb or

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movie Review - Battle:LA

In my first viewing of Battle:LA I was expecting a great Science Fiction movie filled with amazing special FX. I wanted to see a lot of the alien technology. What I came out with wasn't that. That's not to say that you shouldn't go see it, in fact this is far from that. I say you go watch this more than once like I did. Yes the special FX were amazing. I even read an article on the models for the creatures in Make-Up Artist Magazine : Fractured Fantasy and Angry Aliens.

*Slight spoiler Alert*

What I did go see (more than once) is an amazingly crafted war movie that is politically correct in that our adversaries were not another human race of people. We were fighting against a race of aliens that landed just outside the coasts of several major cities. The alien's source of power was our ocean water. I have taken that as an analogy for our struggle with oil and the fight we continue to have to this day.

The movie starts of with us learning about all the main characters and what status in the military they have. We also find out who knows who. This sets up conflict amongst the unit later on. Finally, when the soldiers are put on the front line, each has to band together to fight off the common enemy for survival.

I think this was cast very well, the story was believable, and the resolution works and doesn't leave too many open ends for a sequel. Aaron Eckhart seems to be getting the "John Wayne" characters and pulling them off quite well. I was surprised to see Rapper-turned actor Ne-Yo in a toned down role much to go against stereotypes of Rapper/Actors like Eminem, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, and many others who use their movie roles to splay their music all over the soundtrack. He was very smart to keep the two separate.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Graceling - Kristin Cashore

When choosing Graceling as a class read for school, I was making a choice based on the descriptions of each book given as options. This book intrigued me the most. Building a strong female character, coming into her own. And she has a special gift for fighting. Cool. Her world does not have guns or aircraft, but they have several Kingdoms on the brink of battle. The main character, Katsa, made it her decision to use her abilities for good instead of for destructive uses. I'm not going to spoil the story when I say that her using her abilities for good sets into motion the whole story. This story tells how Katsa goes on her journey not only for discovery of why someone is trying to pit the different Kingdoms against each other, but also her self-discovery of her true abilities.

As a Young Adult read, its not hard to follow and it also keeps both male & female readers interested. There is a significant mix of both fighting and romance here to make this 400 + page read captivating. Kristian Cashore tells in great visual descriptions both the characters and their environments that I can picture locations as I've read along. The power struggle in the story is believable for the world created. The outcast main character finding someone to connect with is relatable.

For an aspiring writer and film maker, this first novel from Kristin Cashore is really promising. I have also picked up her second book that accompanies Graceling entitled Fire, which I will also be reviewing.