Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo (2011) (B+)

I found myself wondering what the point of "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" is?  The movie starts out as a slow moving murder mystery.  It turns into an intense thriller about a serial killer.  The movie is rated R for violence, torture, nudity, strong sexual themes including rape, and language.  But the real point seems to be to introduce the character of "Lizabeth."  She is the punk pyscho-bitch of investigators.  She is the equivalent of Dirty Harry.  Even as she is being raped, she is setting up her rapist for a big fall, and believe me, she really knows how to get revenge.

"The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" is the first movie in the remake of the Swedish trilogy.  Since the movie still takes place in Sweeden, as far as I can tell the film is identical to the original in every scene except that the spoken language is English.  Some critics still prefer the original, but both versions are a real visceral experience.  The nastiness of the subject matter might turn off some people, but I think that everyone will agree that the movie is intense.

I can't wait for the sequel.  I might just watch the Swedish sequel.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin, The Secret of the Unicorn (Rating: B)

The Adventures of Tintin is an 83 year old comic strip that I never heard of.  As a movie it is a wild ride.  This is very action packed movie.  About two thirds of the way through the movie I found myself wondering why Tintin would continue to risk his life to solve "The Secret of the Unicorn" when he would profit nothing from it and could just walk away.  Never mind.  It is an adventure!

 The movie looks so realistic that you have to pay close attention to see that it is animated.  This movie looks really good.  The level of detail is beyond anything I have seen before in an animated film.  There is a ton of detail that just flies by.

Occasionally the movie gets a touch silly just to remind us that the source material came from the comic pages.  This is probably a kids film but I think that adults will enjoy it too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The 13nth Floor (Rating: B+)

The 13nth Floor is a mind bending movie about cyberspace.  It part murder mystery, part romance, and overall a good way to spend a 100 minutes.  Furthermore, it is free on Crackle.  Watching this movie on the internet seems so ironic ...

From Crackle: The Thirteenth Floor

I like Gretchen Mol in everything she has ever played in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fright Night (1985) (Rating: B-)

Fright Night (1985) is a teen friendly low budget comedy horror that feels too dated and doesn't quite work because it is too silly.  In order for this to work the characters have to be more believable than this, although the late Roddy McDowell does play a comic character rather well.  It is the teenage characters who seem absurd.  The only really good actor in the movie is Roddy McDowell.

If you accept that the whole thing is a light hearted farce then maybe the movie would work for you, but I didn't think that it was quite good enough. 

There is a certain irony that McDowell plays a down-on-his-luck actor who only ends up chasing vampires because he needs the money.  I wonder if this is also the reason why such a distinguished actor chose to play in a teen horror comedy?

There is a 2011 remake that might be interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Rating: C+)

This 1976 movie stars David Bowie as a humanoid alien who comes to Earth, creates some new inventions, becomes a corporate billionaire, becomes corrupted by earth values, and is finally kidnapped by some of his competitors.

Except for the abundance of sex scenes, the movie is a touch boring.  Some compared this to Mulholland Drive, which is an weird but entertaining movie if you can figure it out, but I didn't figure it out until 5 minutes after the movie ended.  The Man Who Fell to Earth is a hard to follow mess that borders on surrealism.   In all honesty, I liked the sex scenes, but found the remainder only somewhat interesting.  The pace is way too slow and the movie feels too dated.  It is obvious that the movie is trying to hit us over the head with some socially relevant message, but the movie doesn't convince me that it really has anything to say.

At 2 hours and 15 minutes, the movie needed to be 45 minutes shorter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

RE: Butterfly Effect

I saw the movie some time ago and I liked it.


From: Witmer, Robert C.


I’ve never seen Ashton Kutcher play a serious role before.  LOL


The Butterfly Effect is a 2004 American science fiction psychological thriller film that is written and directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber and starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart.



Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Ultimate Gift (Rating: B)

Don't let the 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes fool you.  The Ultimate Gift is a decent movie that is flawed in places.  By "decent" I mean that the movie is entertaining as opposed to being PAX TV material, even though it really is "PAX TV material".   By "PAX TV material" I mean that it has an uplifting message and is safe for grandmothers to watch.

The story is a familiar one that has been done before:  In order for a young man to receive his inheritance, he  must pass a series of trials that ultimately change his character.  By "done before" I mean "The Billion Dollar Hobo" and "Hercules."  Stories like this are as old as story telling.

Given that the movie is squeaky clean, it borders on sermonizing without actually going there.  For a film like this to work, the characters have to be very likable.  Drew Fuller is likable enough, but James Garner and Abigail Breslin help push the movie into likable territory.  Some of the minor characters, however, didn't impress me very much.

I also think that plot is a little messy, but overall I think that the plot works.  I question the logic and the realism of someone improving his character when his real goal is to get a big inheritance.  I don't buy it, but I also don't have to believe it to enjoy the movie for what it is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


I had a disappointing experience with a Redbox machine that was not working.  I invested much time  figuring out which movie that I wanted to watch, what Redbox had the movie, and then reserving it online.  When I got to the machine, it was non-functional.  I then called customer support to see if they could resolve the problem, which they couldn’t do immediately.


I am thinking that life would be easier if I just paid a few dollars per month for online streaming either through Netflix or Amazon Prime.


The Incredible Hulk (2008) (Rating: B+)

File:Hulk poster.jpg
I thought that the 2008 Hulk movie was a reboot/remake of the less-than-perfect 2003 Hulk movie, but it is more like a half-sequel/half-reboot with different actors. It is also partially a sequel to 1970's Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno TV show, which I really enjoyed back then.

My advice is to watch the 2008 version and skip the 2003 version. I find it interesting that in the end, "Tony Stark" makes an appearance, which is a shameless plug for the somewhat enjoyable 2008 Iron Man movie. I could not find the "alternate beginning" on the DVD, but supposedly it is on the disk somewhere and it has a brief tie-in to the 2011 Captain America movie. Somebody was thinking ahead.

I always wondered why the Hulk never ripped his pants.  The 2008 version tries to explain this a little, but it is something that we mostly have to take on faith. Another problem I have with the physics is the Hulk appears to weigh a ton or two, which is a complete violation of the laws of physics when you start with an ordinary man.  By the way, gamma radiation doesn't turn you into a green monster;  It kills you.

Unlike the 2003 version, the main actor is not completely dull and the movie proceeds at a fast enough pace to keep us interested. Although it is a comic book story, what matters to me is that I enjoyed the characters.