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Burning Godzilla
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GREEN ROOM - I would like to go on record to say that it's really starting to annoy me how poorly lit a lot of movies are starting to become. Darkness can be used effectively and can be used to create atmosphere, but when a movie is so dark that sometimes the action and even the characters are indistinguishable from each other, it just is laughable. Such is the case with Green Room, a thriller that is mostly effective, except for the fact large parts of the film almost can't be seen, due to how little lighting there is in certain crucial moments.

The premise: A small time punk rock band made up of four friends have the misfortune to book a gig at a forgotten and dingy dive located in the middle of a barren wilderness, and filled with Neo Nazis and Skinheads. The band is made up of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner). The friends perform their set and collect their money, but just as they are about to leave, they happen to witness a dead body in the green room backstage. The men working the bar trap the band inside the room with the body, and with an innocent bystander named Amber (Imogeen Poots). As the victims trapped in the room wonder what is going to happen to them, the owner of the bar, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart, effectively playing against type here as a cold and calculating villain), decides that the only way to handle the situation is to kill the witnesses and clean up the mess afterward, pretending nothing has happened. The young victims must now try to survive the night as they fend off Darcy's hired thugs and vicious attack dogs.

The first half of Green Room is the most effective, where the people trapped within the Room and their tormentors engage in a battle of wits. Then, the movie slowly but surely changes gears, and turns into an action thriller instead of a psychological one. Here is where writer-director Jeremy Saulnier suddenly decides to shoot certain scenes almost in total darkness for reasons that escape me.

Green Room has effective performances and more than a few tense moments, but the way it was shot annoyed me a great deal. I do hope that the next time around, Mr. Saulnier learns how to shoot around the darkness better. I want to see more of his vision and images.

Full review on Reel Opinions.

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Wed May 11, 2016 9:12 pm
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Oh, and Movie Mike...

Is the Kindergarten Cop sequel really as pointless as that Jingle All the Way sequel with Larry the Cable Guy we got last year?

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Wed May 11, 2016 9:14 pm
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keiichi wrote:
Oh, and Movie Mike...

Is the Kindergarten Cop sequel really as pointless as that Jingle All the Way sequel with Larry the Cable Guy we got last year?


Well Kindergarten Cop 2 is a pointless sequel to a much enjoyed movie, while Jingle All the Way2 is a pointless sequel to a much reviled film. Also Cop 2 has Dolph who in any form is better than Larry the Cable Guy, so take that into account. They are both not worth watching but Cop 2 will most likely be less painful.

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Wed May 11, 2016 9:51 pm
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King Kong (2005) This is the movie where we started to realize that Peter Jackson may have a problem. Doctor's have since diagnosed it as "Epic-itis" and it's apparently incurable. Now the 1933 King Kong clocked in at 104 minutes yet Peter Jackson’s remake is 187 minutes (201 minutes if you watch the extended cut), and that is quite the difference. What can you do with and extra 83 minutes or so? The answer is you can add characters no one cares about, have extended CGI dinosaur battles, but also you have more time to connect the heroine with Kong. It's the last thing that makes one able to suffer through this three hour monstrosity. The stuff between Naomi Watts and Kong is simply magical, and if Jackson had ditched Jimmy the first mates pal, and possibly cut down on some of the CGI extravanga, this could have been a great remake, as it is it's just a very good if overly long one.

You can read my full review here: King Kong (2005)

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Thu May 12, 2016 2:00 pm
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keiichi wrote:
GREEN ROOM - I would like to go on record to say that it's really starting to annoy me how poorly lit a lot of movies are starting to become. Darkness can be used effectively and can be used to create atmosphere, but when a movie is so dark that sometimes the action and even the characters are indistinguishable from each other, it just is laughable. Such is the case with Green Room, a thriller that is mostly effective, except for the fact large parts of the film almost can't be seen, due to how little lighting there is in certain crucial moments.

The premise: A small time punk rock band made up of four friends have the misfortune to book a gig at a forgotten and dingy dive located in the middle of a barren wilderness, and filled with Neo Nazis and Skinheads. The band is made up of Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole) and Tiger (Callum Turner). The friends perform their set and collect their money, but just as they are about to leave, they happen to witness a dead body in the green room backstage. The men working the bar trap the band inside the room with the body, and with an innocent bystander named Amber (Imogeen Poots). As the victims trapped in the room wonder what is going to happen to them, the owner of the bar, Darcy Banker (Patrick Stewart, effectively playing against type here as a cold and calculating villain), decides that the only way to handle the situation is to kill the witnesses and clean up the mess afterward, pretending nothing has happened. The young victims must now try to survive the night as they fend off Darcy's hired thugs and vicious attack dogs.

The first half of Green Room is the most effective, where the people trapped within the Room and their tormentors engage in a battle of wits. Then, the movie slowly but surely changes gears, and turns into an action thriller instead of a psychological one. Here is where writer-director Jeremy Saulnier suddenly decides to shoot certain scenes almost in total darkness for reasons that escape me.

Green Room has effective performances and more than a few tense moments, but the way it was shot annoyed me a great deal. I do hope that the next time around, Mr. Saulnier learns how to shoot around the darkness better. I want to see more of his vision and images.

Full review on Reel Opinions.


I wonder if the darkness is a case of the director making a terrible decision or if the theater is not applying enough lamp wattage to the digital projection. I recall Roger Ebert complaining that theaters were skimping on using the correct lamp wattage necessary to project digital images correctly on the screen and I wonder if that problem persists? I was reading over reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and many talk about the darkness of the movie's second half, but none are complaining that it was so dark, the action couldn't be seen. You may have some penny-pinching gitter snipes running your local movie theater.

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Thu May 12, 2016 2:07 pm
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Warriors of Heaven and Earth (2003) – Big-budget period piece adventure produced by the People’s Republic of China in the wake of the international success of Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. A Japanese national studying military science and martial arts at the Capital is tasked with bringing a fugitive soldier to justice. Said soldier is a former officer who rebelled against his commanding officer after failing to execute an order to needlessly slaughter Turk women and children. The soldier is now escorting a caravan carrying some religious artifacts to the Capital. The two team up to complete the latter’s mission, while being ruthlessly pursued Turk soldiers. The landscapes on display are breathtaking and the photography is quite beautiful to behold. The soldiers guarding the caravan are generally likable and there’s a nice chemistry between the two protagonists, even though they are ultimately on opposite sides of the law. The action is not the balletic swordplay that defined the aforementioned inspirations for this, but is more grounded (lots of sword-swinging on horseback here), with the jarring exception of a brief fight meant to show us how bad-a** the main antagonist is. The fights have the feel of an old school Hollywood swashbuckler more than a Chinese martial arts film. Unfortunately, much of the action is marred by quick cuts, shaky cam, and close-ups, which obscure much of what’s going on. Also, the Raiders of the Lost Ark-conclusion renders the climax a little underwhelming and is hampered by crappy, out-of-place CGI. Nonetheless, it’s still a fun little adventure for anyone who might be interested.

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Fri May 13, 2016 12:51 pm
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THE DARKNESS - One has to wonder what The Darkness is doing being released just as the summer movie season is kicking off. If ever there was a movie that deserved to be sentenced to the cinematic dumping grounds of January or Labor Day Weekend, it's this one. Here is a supernatural thriller that is about as fresh and appealing as five-year-old cheese that's been forced to sit in the desert sun the entire time. It's a lame collection of the most elementary scares that will be hard pressed to get the slightest rise out of even the most timid of audience members.

Like a lot of recent haunted house movies, things kick off by introducing us to a seemingly happy family who have a lot of dark secrets. While vacationing in the Grand Canyon, young son Michael falls down a hidden hole into an underground cave while he is briefly unsupervised. There, he discovers five stones from an ancient Native American tribe that we eventually learn have some connection to evil demons from another realm. The kid brings the stones home with him, and before too long, he is talking to an invisible friend he calls "Jenny", and seems to live in the walls. Not long after that, the usual paranormal shenanigans associated with these kind of movies start up around the house. Water faucets and TVs are turning on by themselves, local animals such as the neighbor's dog and a friendly cat start acting strangely and violently around the family, footsteps can be heard in the attic, and dirty hand prints start appearing all over the walls and bed sheets.

The Darkness was directed and co-written by Greg McLean, who is best known for making the hyper-violent Wolf Creek horror films. Here, he seems to have lost all source of inspiration, and instead delivers a haunted house movie that is completely and depressingly by the numbers. There is no sense of joy behind this movie, like a great horror movie can hold. Nobody seems to have wanted to make this movie, and so it just rolls out in the most perfunctory manner possible. The only thing that stood out to me was Kevin Bacon, and it's not because of his performance. He looks sickly here. His skin is extremely pale, and he looks eerily thin, as if we can see his skin hanging off of his bones. It was distracting looking at him.

This movie is a total lost cause on just about every level. It's not thrilling, holds no new or interesting ideas, and has been made without the slightest trace of imagination. It's a total dead zone, free of entertainment value and purpose. When you get right down to it, sitting in the dark for 90 minutes would be more fulfilling than watching The Darkness.

Full review on Reel Opinions.

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Sat May 14, 2016 1:10 am
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The Seventh Sin (1957)

Eleanor Parker stars in this adaptation of The Painted Veil (1925) by W. Somerset Maugham. Apparently it was adapted under the original title in 1934 and 2006. Anyway, we got this one because we like Parker, an unusually versatile actress. The movie is OK. Set in pre-Mao China, it's about a woman married for a couple of years to a doctor in Hong Kong. She has an affair with a married man. When her husband finds out, he offers her an unpleasant choice: A messy, scandalous divorce, or accompanying him to an inland village ravaged by a cholera epidemic. She chooses the latter. It's pretty much a soap opera. George Sanders steals the picture as a rakish, boozy fellow at the village who is married to a Chinese woman.

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Sat May 14, 2016 2:42 am
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MONEY MONSTER - When it comes to big, sleek Hollywood productions about corruption within the financial industry, Money Monster is definitely no The Big Short. But don't let that stop you from seeing it. Director Jodie Foster has made a kinetic and thrilling movie with first-rate lead performances from George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It may be thinly plotted, but you can't help but get involved with the movie's fast-paced real time storytelling that's a lot more intense than you might expect walking in.

Clooney strikes the perfect balance here as Lee Gates, a guy who hosts a financial show called Money Monster on TV, but really is basically a clown or comedian in a suit and tie. He uses a lot of gimmicks on his show as he dispenses money wisdom, such as song and dance numbers, dancing girls, and improvised sketches. He's kind of like Jim Cramer from TV's Mad Money, only with even less subtlety. His long-suffering producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts, who is excellent here), only barely tolerates him, as does most of his staff. In fact, Patty is considering leaving the show, but doesn't have the heart to tell him.

One day during filming, a man sneaks onto the set armed with a gun and a vest of explosives, which he orders Lee Gates to put on live on camera. This is Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a working stiff who put all of his meager savings into a company based on a tip Lee gave in a past episode. Kyle has watched his investment go belly up due to a "glitch" in the computer system that was managing his money. Now he wants revenge.

The approach that Foster and her screenwriters take to telling the story is that of a real-time nail-biting thriller. As the situation intensifies, we can see everyone struggling for control of the situation, even though nobody truly is when you sit and think about it. It is the three lead performances that makes Money Monster so compelling to watch. The script suffers somewhat from a lack of insight into the characters, and the way the situation ends probably could never happen in real life. But we buy it because these actors make it convincing, and Foster's direction never lets up on the intensity for a second. It's the kind of movie that is flawed, but still grabs you and refuses to let go while you are watching it. I was personally completely invested, no matter how far-fetched certain elements seemed.

Besides, Money Monster doesn't want to be the blow off the lid kind of film like The Big Short was. It wants to be an entertaining and intense action thriller, and at that, the movie is a success.

Full review on Reel Opinions.

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Sun May 15, 2016 5:08 pm
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Bergerjacques wrote:

I wonder if the darkness is a case of the director making a terrible decision or if the theater is not applying enough lamp wattage to the digital projection. I recall Roger Ebert complaining that theaters were skimping on using the correct lamp wattage necessary to project digital images correctly on the screen and I wonder if that problem persists? I was reading over reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and many talk about the darkness of the movie's second half, but none are complaining that it was so dark, the action couldn't be seen. You may have some penny-pinching gitter snipes running your local movie theater.


I thought of that too, but this past Friday, I saw The Darkness in the exact same cinema that I watched Green Room the previous week. As judging by it's title, The Darkness has a lot of scenes that are set at night or in dark rooms, and I could see everything fine. And believe me, I would have preferred to have seen more of Green Room than of The Darkness.

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"By Milk Kitchen (is no dead)" - The last thing one sees while watching "Sawai Miyuu's You".

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Sun May 15, 2016 5:12 pm
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keiichi wrote:
MONEY MONSTER - When it comes to big, sleek Hollywood productions about corruption within the financial industry, Money Monster is definitely no The Big Short. But don't let that stop you from seeing it. Director Jodie Foster has made a kinetic and thrilling movie with first-rate lead performances from George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It may be thinly plotted, but you can't help but get involved with the movie's fast-paced real time storytelling that's a lot more intense than you might expect walking in.

Clooney strikes the perfect balance here as Lee Gates, a guy who hosts a financial show called Money Monster on TV, but really is basically a clown or comedian in a suit and tie. He uses a lot of gimmicks on his show as he dispenses money wisdom, such as song and dance numbers, dancing girls, and improvised sketches. He's kind of like Jim Cramer from TV's Mad Money, only with even less subtlety. His long-suffering producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts, who is excellent here), only barely tolerates him, as does most of his staff. In fact, Patty is considering leaving the show, but doesn't have the heart to tell him.

One day during filming, a man sneaks onto the set armed with a gun and a vest of explosives, which he orders Lee Gates to put on live on camera. This is Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a working stiff who put all of his meager savings into a company based on a tip Lee gave in a past episode. Kyle has watched his investment go belly up due to a "glitch" in the computer system that was managing his money. Now he wants revenge.

The approach that Foster and her screenwriters take to telling the story is that of a real-time nail-biting thriller. As the situation intensifies, we can see everyone struggling for control of the situation, even though nobody truly is when you sit and think about it. It is the three lead performances that makes Money Monster so compelling to watch. The script suffers somewhat from a lack of insight into the characters, and the way the situation ends probably could never happen in real life. But we buy it because these actors make it convincing, and Foster's direction never lets up on the intensity for a second. It's the kind of movie that is flawed, but still grabs you and refuses to let go while you are watching it. I was personally completely invested, no matter how far-fetched certain elements seemed.

Besides, Money Monster doesn't want to be the blow off the lid kind of film like The Big Short was. It wants to be an entertaining and intense action thriller, and at that, the movie is a success.

Full review on Reel Opinions.


I found it odd that there were no reviews for this film published prior to last Wednesday. Whenever that happens, it screams 'Not Screen For Critics' to me. I wonder why they were so guarded with this film's release.

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Sun May 15, 2016 8:22 pm
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keiichi wrote:
MONEY MONSTER - When it comes to big, sleek Hollywood productions about corruption within the financial industry, Money Monster is definitely no The Big Short. But don't let that stop you from seeing it. Director Jodie Foster has made a kinetic and thrilling movie with first-rate lead performances from George Clooney and Julia Roberts. It may be thinly plotted, but you can't help but get involved with the movie's fast-paced real time storytelling that's a lot more intense than you might expect walking in.

Clooney strikes the perfect balance here as Lee Gates, a guy who hosts a financial show called Money Monster on TV, but really is basically a clown or comedian in a suit and tie. He uses a lot of gimmicks on his show as he dispenses money wisdom, such as song and dance numbers, dancing girls, and improvised sketches. He's kind of like Jim Cramer from TV's Mad Money, only with even less subtlety. His long-suffering producer, Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts, who is excellent here), only barely tolerates him, as does most of his staff. In fact, Patty is considering leaving the show, but doesn't have the heart to tell him.

One day during filming, a man sneaks onto the set armed with a gun and a vest of explosives, which he orders Lee Gates to put on live on camera. This is Kyle Budwell (Jack O'Connell), a working stiff who put all of his meager savings into a company based on a tip Lee gave in a past episode. Kyle has watched his investment go belly up due to a "glitch" in the computer system that was managing his money. Now he wants revenge.

The approach that Foster and her screenwriters take to telling the story is that of a real-time nail-biting thriller. As the situation intensifies, we can see everyone struggling for control of the situation, even though nobody truly is when you sit and think about it. It is the three lead performances that makes Money Monster so compelling to watch. The script suffers somewhat from a lack of insight into the characters, and the way the situation ends probably could never happen in real life. But we buy it because these actors make it convincing, and Foster's direction never lets up on the intensity for a second. It's the kind of movie that is flawed, but still grabs you and refuses to let go while you are watching it. I was personally completely invested, no matter how far-fetched certain elements seemed.

Besides, Money Monster doesn't want to be the blow off the lid kind of film like The Big Short was. It wants to be an entertaining and intense action thriller, and at that, the movie is a success.

Full review on Reel Opinions.


I had the same experience. George Clooney really held his own, even when the ending stretched credibility. I was still invested in it all the way to the Perry Mason-like reveal where, for whatever reason, the culprit just admits to everything. (Loved the memes/vines gag afterward.)

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Mon May 16, 2016 1:59 pm
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Captain America: Civil War - And I think this is where I concede both the genius and professional know-how of Marvel's skillful marketing while at the same time thoroughly irritated with all that cross-marketing that made a great and complex 95-105 minute movie into a bloated and tiresome 150+ minute movie. All of it was entertaining at the level of eye candy, but in a movie with some genuinely deep ideas about the terrible destructiveness of revenge and the toll it takes on loyalty and freedom, all that other stuff began to get very wearying.

All that cross-over marketing bull is one of the key reasons I quit reading Marvel and DC in the first place. It was neat to see the new cast of Spiderman and I admit to cheering when I saw Marisa Tomei playing a hot Aunt May (who I can see dating Tony Stark), but there was nothing that his presence added to the movie. Same with Ant Man/Goliath. It was cool to see the movie take a dip into kaiju territory, but what else did it add? Couldn't that have been saved for the next Ant Man movie? If there wasn't also a hint that one of the future conflicts was going to be between William "NOT GENERAL ROSS" Hurt, I don't thing much would have been lost to let the Vision-Scarlet Witch love story ride another movie's coat tails. Much as I like Hawkeye and the actor, Jeremy Renner, he added nothing at all.

The script could have spent a little more time using fewer characters and fleshing out its deeper themes, because, frankly, all of the grey areas the characters - and these excellent actors - talked about was riveting. When given some depth to work with, Robert Downey, Jr. is one of the best actors working and he's given a lot to work with in this movie. Don Cheadle needed some extra room, but he did amazing stuff with what little time he was given. Anthony Mackie continues to impress me and Scarlett Johannsson demonstrates once again that she is capable of headlining her own movie. There is no doubt that the last two Captain America movies, despite my criticism of the bloat, have been among the best of Marvel Studios' output. And I'd put the relatively low key villain, Zemo, among the best of Marvel's movie villains. Not having read the Civil War "****Marvel Cross-Over EVENT!!! Buy'em all!****", I loved how the narrative twisted in unexpected ways.

The movie's low point for me was the extended, well-choreographed, but tedious and numbing, fight at the airport. (The end result being a confirmation of everything that the fictional UN Accords were worried about.) Nor was I the only one. The audience I sat with began to get antsy at how long that whole thing lasted. The only moment of consequence in that whole sequence was Rhodey's fall.

When the movie got past all that pointlessness and got back to the real movie - it went from eye candy to straight up great again. But I'd like to have seen a bit more about the key mystery moment, a tad more about Zemo, and maybe even flesh out the culture of Wakanda, T'Challa and his father which set off a great angle on the revenge theme.

I know it's a minority opinion, but having practically all of the Avengers and other Marvel properties involved in Captain America's movie was a debit. And it's what kept this movie from being on the same level to the equally as long, but still tighter, and better, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

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Mon May 16, 2016 2:30 pm
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Konga (1961) Michael Gough plays a scientist who returns to London after being missing in the African jungle for a year. While there he discovered a remarkable plant that can alter the growth of animals. So between snubbing the woman who loves him, and attempting to rape one of his students, he turns a chimp into a gorilla so that it can murder his rivals. Of course at some point the ape will get an overdose and start a rampage through the streets of London. Sadly with this film's low budget we don't get much of an actual rampage. What we did get was an amazingly fun over-the-top performance by Michael Gough along with a really bad ape suit on an even worse ape actor. Which is entertaining in its own awful way.

You can read my full review here: Konga (1961)

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Tue May 17, 2016 11:51 am
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Yeah, that one's pretty bad.

I understand this was initially released on a double-bill with the vastly superior Master of the World.

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Tue May 17, 2016 3:07 pm
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