Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Uninvited (2009)

Anna has just returned home after a stay at a mental facility.  She was there because she tried to kill herself as a result of the trauma she experienced through the death of her mother.  Her mother died from an accidental explosion.  Anna's father has a new girlfriend who was the nurse to Anna's mother.  When Anna comes back home, she is being haunted by her mother's burnt corpse and little children that have died in the surrounding area.  The ghost of Anna's mother tells her that the explosion was not an accident and that the killer is the Dad's new girlfriend.  Anna and her sister Alex then must find evidence that proves that their Dad's girlfriend is the killer.  Once that evidence is found, an exciting confrontation occurs.

"The Uninvited" was a little above average compared to every other ghost picture that comes out these days.  It is a bit slow, but the hauntings were scary.  The mother's corpse dragging itself across the floor really was frightening.  Even with ghost movies I don't like, the ghost scenes always seem to scare me.  Ghosts frighten me like no other thing can.

The best thing about the movie is the ending.  When it seems like the movie is just going to be like every other ghost movie, it gives you a shocking ending.  The ending did take me by surprise and I thought it was pulled off well. 

All of the acting was good in the movie.  The lead character is played by Emily Browning.  I think she is a good actress, but she just looks so strange.  She is pretty and has the face of an adult, but she is so tiny.  She looks like she is 12 years old when she is really 21.  I think she was meant to be around 18 in the movie.

"The Uninvited" is one of the better ghost movies in recent years.  While it is slow, it does have some good acting, scares, and a nice twist ending.

B-  I recommend it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

A spaceship has landed in Washington DC.  Out comes a giant robot and a spaceman.  The spaceman has a message for Earth, but before he can say what that message is, he is shot at.  The spaceman is then taken to a hospital while the Robot and the spaceship stay behind.  After being treated, the spaceman escapes from the hospital and takes up a room for rent.  In the house he is living in, he makes friends with a little boy and his mother.  They find out that he is from another planet and they do what they can to help him deliver his message.

"The Day the Earth Stood Still" is not what I really expected.  I thought that it was going to be a special effects extravaganza, but it wasn't.  It was mostly about the spaceman and his relationships with the little boy and his mother.  The acting was really good in the movie.  If not for the convincing acting, the movie would not have worked.  

The special effects that are in the film are great.  The robot can make things disappear by a beam that comes from his helmet.  This effect really works well.

The robot, Gort, is one of the most iconic figures in all science fiction movies.  He is not in most of the movie, but when he is, you really fear the worst.  Gort's costume was good, except for when he walked.  When he walks you can see the suit bend where his knees would bend.  This makes it obvious that he is not really made out of metal.

The best scene of the movie is when the spaceman proves to the world that destruction is possible.  He needs to come up with a way to prove this without hurting anyone.  He decides to make everything stop working.   Every sort of machine will not work, except for machines in hospitals and airplanes.  These scenes were very fun to watch.  Landmarks all around the world are shown and things have come to a complete standstill. 

I have not seen the remake of "The Day the Earth Stood Still", but I imagine it is nothing like this film.  This version relies solely on the acting abilities of the cast and it really works.  It keeps you in suspense from beginning to finish.

B+  I recommend it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Sequel to "Transformers".

I wasn't crazy about the first "Transformers" film and I wasn't crazy about this one either.

Sam, played by Shia LaBeouf, is having visions of an ancient map.  The map leads to an object called the matrix.  The matrix is very powerful and it can be used to destroy the world.  The bad transformers, known as Decipticons, want the matrix to destroy the sun and ultimately take over Earth.  To make sure this doesn't happen, the good transformers, known as Autobots, protect Sam.  During a battle between Autobots and Decipticons, the leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, dies.  Sam is now on a mission to find the matrix to bring Optimus back to life and stop the Decipticons from destroying the world.

There is only one good thing about this movie: the special effects.  The effects look great, but I just don't like the look of the transformers much.  Most of the time they just look like a jumbled mess of metal.  It is hard to figure out what is going on.  There is one transformer that transforms into a human.  That was a great character and it was the best part of the movie.  She was actually quite scary.  The only thing that I didn't get was, when did transformers start being able to turn into human clones?  

The script was really bad.  The dialogue was so corny.  I couldn't handle a lot of it.  The script was also very confusing.  It was hard to keep up with what exactly each character's mission was.  It was way too involved.  

The worst thing about the film was Megan Fox.  I can't stand her.  She is one of the worst actresses I have ever seen.  The only reason she gets these roles is because she is hot.  I don't even think she is that beautiful.  She looks more like a cheap hooker than anything else.  She really ruins the film.  It is like they just put her in there to please its horny viewers.  She is not important to the story.

The movie could have been cut down by at least an hour also.  There were way too many battles that I didn't really care about.  It is hard to keep track of who is fighting since all the transformers look pretty much the same.  So much of the movie was just special effects and loud sound effects.  The sound was great, but it was way too loud.  It really started to bug me.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is not a good movie.  The only reason to see this film is to see the wonderful special effects.  Even with the effects, it is still not worth the price of being bored for 2 and a half hours.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the story of archeologist Indiana Jones.  He is on a quest to find the lost ark of the covenant and prevent it from getting into the hands of nazis.  Hitler has an interest in the occult and the lost ark is what he desires.  With the help from his girl Marion and friend Sallah, Indy must find the ark.

I saw "Raiders" in the theater tonight and it was amazing.  It is great on the big screen.  The best thing about seeing it in a theater is the sound.  The sound is still just as good as anything that comes out today.  It was incredible.  Hearing the music blasting with a big crowd is quite the thrill.

The effects still hold up today as well.  When ghostly spirits and fire come out of the ark, it looks very realistic.  Maybe the effect of the nazi's faces melting is dated, but it still works in a weird sort of way.

The music is incredible in "Raiders".  John Williams did the score and this is one of his best.  The Map Room scene has the most wonderful score.  If there is an example of music being perfectly scored for a scene, I would say it is the Map Room scene.  When the camera is focused on the Staff of Ra and pans down to show Indy's reaction of the map room, it is breathtaking.  The music keeps you in suspense and you get the same feeling that Indy would have at that same moment.  Of course everyone knows the Indy theme and it still is one of the best.  People will always know that music till the end of time.

The action scenes in "Raiders" hold up today as well.  The opening scene of the film is still one of the best sequences in film history.  You really feel that Indy is in danger when the giant ball is chasing him.  One action scene that was really fun to see in the theater was the whole truck chase.  The audience really seemed to be into it.  When Indy is thrown out of the truck, climbs under the car and back in again, it is so exciting.  You want to cheer out loud.

The acting is also very well done in "Raiders".  Harrison Ford is perfect as Indy.  He is one of the best heroes of cinema.  Karen Allen as Marion is also excellent.  John Rhys-Davies steals every scene that he is in as Sallah.  He has some of the best lines of the picture.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark" really is one of the best, if not the best action film of all time.  Spielberg does an amazing job directing this.  His creativity and coverage of action is top notch.  Everyone should see this.

A  I recommend it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stanley (1972)

Tim is a Native American who has just returned from the Vietnam War.  He is living in seclusion in the Florida everglades.  His only friends are the snakes that he collects.  His best friend is Stanley the snake.  When Tim finds out that people are capturing snakes and killing them for their skin, he goes mad.  He ends up using Stanley to kill these people.

"Stanley" is a ridiculous movie.  The most ridiculous scene involves a 60 year old stripper who Tim is friends with.  The stripper has a new act that Tim does not know about.  The act involves the stripper biting the head off of a snake.  After seeing this, Tim goes mad.  He breaks into the club after hours where the stripper and her boyfriend are sleeping.  He throws a bunch of snakes on them, resulting in their deaths.  So stupid.

Not only was this a ridiculous story, but it was unbelievably boring.  It was 2 hours long and the first hour is unwatchable.  Honestly, I had to fast forward through a little of it.

The acting in the film is horrible.  I can't believe how bad some of the actors were.  It seems impossible to be that bad.  

When Tim uses Stanley to do his murdering for him, it does get more entertaining.  There is one scene where a man jumps in a pool of snakes that is pretty funny.  The ending of the film also held my interest.  The movie really should have started an hour in.  I would have given it a higher rating then.  


Everything is Terrible: The Movie (2009)

"Everything is Terrible: The Movie" is a feature length version of what is featured at everythingisterrible.com.

The movie is just 90 minutes worth of funny clips and scenes found on the internet from old tv shows, movies, commercials, and infomercials.  

There is a lot of funny stuff in the movie, but it was very difficult to sit through.  It is hard to sit through 90 minutes of things you would watch on youtube.com.  This type of thing simply doesn't work as a feature.

One other problem was the editing.  Instead of just showing full clips, the filmmakers decided to edit them all together MTV style.  I guess they did this to keep the attention of the audience for the full 90 minutes, but I think that hurt it overall.

This type of movie is fun to watch at home on the internet, but only in small portions.  As a feature length film in the theater, it gets tired fast.


The Cat and the Canary (1927)

"The Cat and the Canary" is one of the last great classics of silent cinema.

A wealthy man, named Cyrus has died and his will is read aloud.  According to the will, the details will only be read on the 20th anniversary of his death.  

2o years later, a group of family members show up to the deceased's mansion.  The will states that everything goes to his most distant relative, Annabelle.  Annabelle will only be able to collect if she is proven sane by a named doctor.  Cyrus puts this clause in his will because his entire family thought him to be crazy.  He did not like his family.  He felt that the family (cats) were just waiting for him (canary) to die so they can get is fortune.  The will also states that if Annabelle is proven to be crazy, then a second person named in a separate envelope will get everything.

Cyrus' mansion has been rumored to be haunted and strange things are occurring.  A figure has been running around kidnapping and murdering people.  It is not known if this is a crazed lunatic from a nearby mental facility, the ghost of Cyrus, or a family member out to kill Annabelle.

The film is revolutionary for many reasons.  This film has everything that has become cliche in a haunted house movie.  Long corridors, spider webs, the creepy housekeeper, and secret passageways.  This was the first time these elements were used in film.  

The camerawork on this film is excellent.  I couldn't believe how good it was.  It has these strange fast zooms and it has incredible close ups.  There is one close up in particular of Annabelle's eye.  The shot is so full of detail.  It looks as if it were shot yesterday.

Another interested thing this film did was that it was creative with its dialogue cards.  Being a silent film, the viewer reads the dialogue.  It was very creative to see certain words animated.  For instance, when a character screams the word "Help!", the letters are animated to show that they are shivering.  It really adds to the feeling of the movie.

Another great moment is the opening credits.  Gloved hands wipe away spider webs to reveal the credit sequence.  This same effect was used later in "Son of Dracula".

"The Cat and the Canary" is a great horror film mixed with plenty of good comedy.  It influenced future classics such as "The Old Dark House" and "Bride of Frankenstein".  The film should be viewed not only to see the start of this type of horror film, but the amazing camera work used.  If you are interested in film history, this is a must see.

B+  I recommend it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

This is the final film in the run of Universal Monster movies.

Abbott and Costello play Chick and Wilbur, delivery people in Florida.  They receive two packages to deliver to McDougal's House of Horrors.  One contains the Frankenstein Monster and the other contains Dracula.  At the House of Horrors, the monsters escape.

Larry Talbot arrives to Florida as well.  He is trying to track down Dracula so he can stop him from reviving the Frankenstein Monster.  Unfortunately, Larry has an obstacle to overcome.  At night, during the full of the moon, he becomes The Wolf Man.

Wilbur's girlfriend, Sandra, is a doctor and she is working with Dracula to revive the Monster.  They have a plan to put Wilbur's brain inside the monster.  After Wilbur is captured by Dracula, it is up to Chick and Larry Talbot to save him.

"Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" is a great film.  I believe this is the best film Abbott and Costello has made.  It is very funny and it moves along nicely.  During the climax of the film, Abbott and Costello are being chased through the castle by the Frankenstein Monster.  This scene is exciting and hilarious.  The best part is when they barricade a door by putting a bed in front of it.  They are positive that the Monster can't get in. That is until, the Monster opens the door the opposite way.  The barricade was on the wrong side!  That was a great gag!

It is great to see the monsters being played straight forward in the film.  Lugosi is great as Dracula.  He is the definitive Dracula and this performance proves it once again.  He is elegant and commanding, even though he is in his mid 60s!  Lon Chaney is once again great as The Wolf Man.  He is the only actor to play a monster through an entire series.  No other actor has played The Wolf Man.  The Frankenstein Monster is played by Glenn Strange and he does a good job also.  He has much more to do in this film than in his previous Frankenstein films.

The biggest problem with the movie is the makeup, especially The Wolf Man's.  Jack Pierce, who created these wonderful monsters, was let go by Universal by the time this film was made.  He used processes that took too long and cost too much money.  So instead, they hired Bud Westmore to do the makeup for this film using a lot of rubber appliances.  It just doesn't have the same effect as Pierce's makeup did.  The Wolf Man's makeup is obviously different and not nearly as good.  Lugosi is wearing too much white face paint.  The Monster looks good, but it doesn't compare to the Monster makeups Pierce did with Karloff.

I have seen "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" countless times.  I know nearly every word of dialogue by this point.  It is one of my favorite movies, not only because of Abbott and Costello, but mainly because of Chaney, Lugosi, and Strange.

A  I recommend it.

By the way, there is a nice cameo at the end of the picture.  See it, if you can!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rocky II (1979)

Sequel to "Rocky"

"Rocky II" takes place right where the first "Rocky" left off.  Even though Apollo won the fight, he feels he did not beat Rocky.  The world thinks Apollo faked the fight and let Rocky look better than he really was.  Apollo demands a rematch to prove that he is the true champion.

Rocky has retired from boxing and he is trying to live life as a "regular" person.  He wants a desk job, but no one will hire him due to his lack of education and "colorful" history.  He ends up taking manual labor work at the Meat Factory.  After he is laid off, he takes the challenge from Apollo, despite Adrian telling him not to.  Adrian and Rocky are now married and Adrian is pregnant.  After complications from the birth of their son, Adrian is in a coma.  Rocky stops training and focuses all of his energy on being with Adrian.  After a stressful few days, Adrian comes back and tells Rocky that she has one request: Win!  Rocky now has motivation.  He trains his heart out for the biggest rematch in motion picture history!

"Rocky II" is a very good sequel.  It is the best of all the sequels.  This film is directed by Stallone himself.  He does a very good job.  His acting and writing is again remarkable.  The comedic touches Stallone puts in this film really works well.  Also, during the scenes of Adrian in her coma, it is very emotional.  There is a great scene of Rocky and Mickey in a church.  Mickey tells Rocky to fight Apollo and prove to the whole world that the fight was not some sort of freak the first time out.  Mickey then says that he understands if he does not want to fight, but no matter what, he will always be by Rocky's side.

There are two great training montages in this film.  The "Gonna Fly Now" montage is very good in this film.  Rocky runs up the steps again, but this time, hundreds of kids are following his lead.  It may be a bit unrealistic to have so many kids, but it is a very fun scene to watch.

The fight in this film is great.  It might be even more exciting than the original fight.  At the end of the fight, Apollo and Rocky fall, crashing to the floor.  Whoever stands up will win the fight.  You really feel like yelling at the screen: "Get up Rocky!!!!".  It is so good.  

The music by Bill Conti is again great.  It is a different style of music than the original.  It sounds more like 1970s disco music.  I really like it.  

Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed is especially good in "Rocky II".  He is angry and he wants Rocky to pay for showing him up a year earlier.  Weathers is a menacing force for Stallone to face.  Weathers was perfect casting.

"Rocky II" all around is a great movie.  It is emotional, humorous, and thrilling.  It is a great addition to the story of Rocky.  

B+  I recommend it.

Rocky (1976)

"Rocky" is really a love story between a down and out boxer and a shy pet shop worker.  Rocky and Adrian connect by "filling in gaps."  They help each other in every imaginable way.  They are the definition of true love.  

Apollo Creed is the heavy weight champion of the world and he is looking to give a nobody boxer a chance at the title.  He finds out about Rocky and gives him the shot.  Rocky ends up taking on the challenge.  Rocky knows that he has no chance to win, but more than anything, he wants to go the distance with Creed.  If Rocky is still standing after the 15th round, he will know he is not just "another bum from the neighborhood."

"Rocky" is one of the best movies in film history.  It won three Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Editing.  All of the acting is excellent in this movie.  Stallone is amazing as Rocky.  His image has been ruined over the years for bad film decisions, but "Rocky" proves that he does have the talent to be one of the best actors of all time.  Not only is Stallone incredible in this movie with his acting ability, but Stallone also wrote the script.  It is one of the most inspirational scripts ever written.  People forget how talented Stallone is.  Revisit "Rocky" to see proof of his ability.

The other actors were all great as well.  Burgess Meredith, Burt Young, Talia Shire, and Carl Weathers are all perfect in their roles.  

Besides Stallone, the best thing about "Rocky" is the music.  Bill Conti wrote a great score.  His score is highlighted with the song "Gonna Fly Now".  It is one of the most recognizable themes in film history and you can't help but be motivated when hearing the theme.  Everyone knows the scene of Rocky running up the steps in Philadelphia with this music playing.

Another thing that Stallone did that was great was the actual choreography of the fight.  It is one of the best boxing matches shown on film, if not the best.  It never lets up.  The way it begins, the montage of rounds, the 14th round, and the final round are just brilliant.  

I can't say enough good things about "Rocky".  It really is one of the best films ever made.  People need to see it to appreciate Stallone for the true genius that he is.  

A  I recommend it.  

Friday, June 12, 2009

Dumbo (1941)

"Dumbo" is Walt Disney's 4th feature length animated film.  It is the story of a little elephant with big ears named Dumbo.  When kids at the circus start to harass Dumbo for his big ears, his mother, Mrs. Jumbo, goes on a rampage attacking the audience.  Mrs. Jumbo is then locked up and kept in isolation.  Dumbo is still forced to work for the circus, even though he is unbelievably depressed.  Thanks to Dumbo's friend Timothy Mouse, Dumbo realizes he can fly due to his big ears.  He uses his newly acquired power to become rich, famous, and ultimately live happily ever after with his mother.

"Dumbo" is one of the saddest movies I have ever seen.  I cry every time I see it.  When Dumbo's mother gets locked up, it is incredibly sad.  At one point in the film, Dumbo visits his mother, but she is only able to stick her trunk out the window.  She rocks him with her trunk while the song "Baby Mine" is playing.  This is where I lose it every time.  

The most famous scene of the film is the Pink Elephants on Parade segment.  It is scary and fascinating all at the same time.  Dumbo has drank alcohol by accident and starts to hallucinate these pink elephants dancing.  It is some of the most original animation to ever be done in a film.  The animators must have had a ball doing this scene.

My favorite song in the movie is "When I See an Elephant Fly".  This song is sung by a group of crows that find Dumbo and Timothy sleeping in a tree.  While many people say that the Disney company is racist for having these black crows speak like African Americans, it doesn't really bug me.  That is how times were back then.  Each crow is very distinctive in their own right, being led by Jim Crow voiced by Cliff Edwards.  Edwards was also the voice of Jiminy Cricket in "Pinocchio".

The character of Dumbo is one of the best animated characters to ever be produced by Disney.  So much is expressed through his animation.  Dumbo does not have one word of dialogue, but thanks to the incredible animation, you always know what he is feeling and what he is thinking.  It is an amazing achievement.

"Dumbo" is the shortest feature from Walt Disney coming in just over 60 minutes.  It has remained a classic for more than 70 years and it will be around for all time.  If a viewer does not feel anything for Dumbo, then they have no heart.  You can not help becoming attached to cute little Dumbo.  I am going to buy a baby elephant right now...

A-  I recommend it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

An old gypsy woman comes into the bank to ask for a 3rd loan on her house.  Alison Lohman, who is up for assistant manager, denies her request.  The gypsy woman begs Lohman for the loan, but she won't give in.  Lohman needs to prove to her boss that she can make tough decisions.  Because Lohman will not give her the loan, the gypsy woman puts a curse on Lohman that will kill her in three days time.  

Because of various hauntings, Lohman realizes that the curse is real.  With the help from her fiance, mediums, and psychics, she tries her best to break the curse and save her own life.

"Drag Me to Hell" is directed by Sam Raimi.  The viewer must realize that they are going to see a Sam Raimi horror film.  Raimi is famous for his "Evil Dead" trilogy.  He mixes horror with a lot of camp humor.  I did not know if he would make "Drag Me to Hell" in the same spirit as the "Evil Dead" series, but fortunately, he did.  It is a return to his roots and he did an excellent job.  The movie is very much like "Evil Dead II".  It is scary, but it also is hilarious.  It is a very unique way of filmmaking.

What I liked most about the movie was that it was original.  So many movies come out now about hauntings, spirits, and psychics.  They have all pretty much become the same movie.  This is a fresh take on that sub-genre of the horror field.  

The dialogue and acting isn't great in the movie, but I believe it was intended that way.  Alison Lohman is a great actress and she is very likable in this film.  I know she is capable of a great performance, but this is the type of movie where the actor is supposed to ham it up.  She did an excellent job in achieving this.  She has become the new Bruce Campbell.  She even has lines very reminiscent to Campbell's lines in the "Evil Dead" films.  

The old gypsy woman was very scary.  It is always scary to see an old woman stalking someone.  She was relentless.  She never did give up on torturing this poor girl.  And her makeup was great.  She looked like a horrifying 200 year old witch.

The movie did have a lot of gross out scenes which were very fun to watch.  The movie theater audience went from screaming, to laughing, and back to screaming again.  It was a fun roller coaster ride of a movie.

I don't really want to mention specific hauntings because I think the viewer should see this movie not knowing anything about it.  It is unlike any other horror movie you have seen in the last twenty years.  If you are a fan of Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" films, you will love this movie.  Don't expect to get a straight horror movie.  "Drag Me to Hell" makes fun of itself and the horror genre.  It is a very refreshing way to see a horror film.

B+  I recommend it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Phantasm (1979)

Weird things are going on at the neighborhood cemetery.  After the funeral of a friend, Mike sees the Tall Man carry the 500 pound casket himself into his hearse.  He finds this to be strange and he follows the Tall Man.  He is then attacked by not only the Tall Man, but small creatures in hooded robes.  

Mike goes to get help from his brother and they do what they can to defeat the Tall Man and his minions.  After finding a portal to another dimension, it is realized that the Tall Man is from another planet.  These creatures in hoods are actually corpses shrunk down in size and used as slaves for the Tall Man's planet.  It is up to Mike and his brother Jody to defeat the Tall Man and save the world from this alien being.

From the very beginning, "Phantasm" is a thrill ride.  The first scene takes place in a cemetery and it is all out eerie.  The film never seems to take a break.  It is suspenseful and scary.

Angus Scrimm is very good as the Tall Man.  He is a strange character that the viewer does not know much about.  He is a scary looking fellow, but a good sort of zombie makeup could have made him even scarier.  In the later scenes, the way he is lit makes him very frightening.  I would never want to come face to face with him!

One of the most memorable scenes involves a flying orb that is out to kill Mike.  The caretaker of the graveyard captures Mike and the orb is coming after him.  Mike bites the caretaker's arm to get free.  The orb then slams into the head of the caretaker, instead of Mike, killing him.  Knives pop out of the orb and it wedges itself into his head.  Then a sort of drill pops out and drills into his brain.  Then a stream of blood comes shooting out the other side of the orb.  I didn't really get what the orb really was, but it was strange to see.  It was a very graphic and violent scene.

Another good scene is when Mike chops the fingers off of the Tall Man.  His fingers are still moving after the fact and his blood is a strange yellow color.  Very scary.

The music is actually pretty good in the movie too.  It kept the pace of the movie up nicely.

The only thing that is disappointing about the movie is that at the end you find out it is all a dream.  It is annoying to know it was all a dream, but it does have a nice twist at the end.

"Phantasm" is a great horror picture.  It does a good job to scare the audience and it still holds up today.

B+  I recommend it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Hangover (2009)

Doug and his three friends travel to Las Vegas two nights before his wedding, so they can have a huge bachelor party.  The next day, the three friends wake up not remembering a thing.  They soon realize that Doug is missing.  The rest of the film is about the three friends trying to retrace their steps to find out when and where they lost Doug.  

I wasn't sure if I would like this movie since I am not a big fan of stupid comedies, but this one is actually good and pretty funny!  It was very funny seeing these three guys trying to figure out what they did the night before.  The things they run into are so funny and random.  Their hotel room is destroyed, a tiger is in the bathroom, a naked chinese man is in the trunk of their car, and they steal a cop car.   And that's only the beginning...

All of the actors are very good in this film.  Ed Helms is super funny playing a dentist who people take advantage of.  Bradley Cooper plays the straight character and he is good in that role.  Zach Galifianakis plays Doug's crazy brother in law.  His character is all out insane.  You have no idea what he is capable of.  He is lovable, but also very creepy.  He is also fat!

The best thing about the movie is the ending.  You feel good for the characters because they have all resolved their issues by this point.  They then find a camera with pictures from the bachelor party.  Since they do not remember a thing, they all decide to look at the pictures, but then delete it afterwards.  The pictures taken are being shown throughout the credits of the film.  This is the best part.  The pictures were hilarious.  I didn't want the picture montage to end!

Overall, "The Hangover" is a very good comedy.  I'm surprised I liked it so much.  There were very funny moments, plus some outrageous scenes as well.  The most outrageous scene is probably when the naked Chinese man is attacking the group.  I have never seen a penis that small.  So gross...

B+  I recommend it.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Goofy Movie (1995)

I heard good things from my friends about "A Goofy Movie".  I must admit that I was suspicious of whether it was really worth watching.  It is in fact very good.

Goofy's son Max is the usual teenager who is embarrassed of his father, has trouble talking to girls, and does things to impress his friends.  After getting in trouble at school, Goofy decides to take Max fishing to keep him away from this life of trouble.  During their trip Goofy wants to establish a new connection with Max.  This happens to be the same day that Max actually has a date with the girl of his dreams.  During their trip, Max changes the directions on the map so they can go to a concert instead of fishing.  He does this so he can impress the girl he likes.

The relationship between Goofy and Max is actually very real and emotional.  Max is embarrassed of his father, which many children relate to.  The most emotional scene for me is when Goofy finds out that Max has changed the directions on the map.  Goofy is truly disappointed and sad.  I really felt bad for him.

I think my favorite sequence is when Goofy and Max run into Bigfoot.  Bigfoot is very funny and he is scary at times.  I liked that character a lot.  I want an action figure of him!

The only problem with the movie for me was the Pauly Shore character.  Again he ruins everything by just being the idiot that he is.  I can't stand him at all.

Overall, this is a very good father/son movie.  Goofy and Max reconciling their relationship is a long journey, but one that is full of fun and an array of different emotions.

B  I recommend it.

Monday, June 1, 2009

House of Dracula (1945)

5th in the Dracula series.
7th in the Frankenstein series.
4th in the Wolf Man series.

Dracula wants to cure him vampirism.  He seeks help from Dr. Edelman.  Dracula can not fight his urge to feed, however.  He ends up putting the beautiful nurse under his thrall and during a blood transplant, he injects Dr. Edelman with his own contaminated blood.  Dr. Edelman then starts to become a vampire himself!

During this, Lawrence Talbot has come to visit Dr. Edelman.  Talbot wants Edelman to cure his lycanthropy.  When Dr. Edelman tells Talbot that a procedure this soon would be useless, Talbot tries to kill himself.  He jumps into the ocean and ends up in a cave.  Edelman then goes into the cave to save Talbot and there they find the Frankenstein Monster.  After a successful surgery to cure Larry, Dr. Edelman focuses on bringing the monster back to full power.

"House of Dracula" is the second film in the "House" series.  "House of Frankenstein" is the better of the two, but this film does have good stuff in it.  The best thing about the film is the Wolf Man story line.  Even though Lon Chaney is only the Wolf Man for a short time in the film, it is still fun to see him.  His transformation in the jail cell is one of the best werewolf transformations to date.  When Talbot is finally cured, you really feel great for him.  His character had been through so much since the first film.  All hope had failed him to that point.  When the full moon rises and nothing happens to Talbot, you almost want to cheer for joy.

I've never been that crazy about the John Carridine Dracula, but he has his moments.  His best scene is when he controls the nurse to play a song on the piano that she has never heard before.

The Frankenstein Monster doesn't do much in this film.  When he is finally revived, he just walks around the laboratory, then parishes in the flames of a fire.  The ending uses footage from the ending of "Ghost of Frankenstein".  A cheap way to do a climax, but they didn't think people would notice back then.

Onslow Stevens gives a great performance as Dr. Edelman.  He is basically playing a version of Jekyll and Hyde.  He does it well.  The scene on the carriage and the chase through the village are both very exciting and well shot.  The use of shadows makes the scene extra special.

This is the last film for these monsters, not counting "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein".  It was a good way for them to go out.  It might not be the best movie, but it sure is a fun time!

B  I recommend it.

Dracula (1931)

"Dracula", as everyone knows, is the story of Count Dracula, the vampire.  He travels to London and puts a young woman under his thrall.  Professor Van Helsing knows all there is to know about vampires and he soon discovers what Dracula really is.  His mission is to destroy Dracula and save the girl under his thrall.

"Dracula" is the first talking horror film.  It is incredibly eerie, especially the first 15 minutes.  The first 15 minutes has some of the best stuff Universal has ever produced.  Movies back in 1931 did not have musical scores and this really helps "Dracula".  There are long scenes without any sound except for rats squeaking and armadillos rustling.  Just hearing these sounds and seeing the image of Dracula is frightening.

"Dracula" is Bela Luogsi's most famous role.  He will forever be known as Dracula.  When a person thinks of Dracula, Lugosi comes to mind.  Lugosi and Dracula are one in the same.  His performance is nothing short of brilliant.  His hypnotic eyes and spider like fingers just add to the great performance.  The way he speaks is even amazing.  Not only does he have that very distinguishable accent, but his pace is so strange and unworldly.  

Dwight Frye is also amazing in the movie.  He plays Dracula's minion, Renfield.  His lunacy is incredible.  How he goes on and on about how much he prefers to eat spiders over flies is just one example of how crazy this character really is.  It really is one of the best performances in film history.

"Dracula" could have easily been forgotten over time.  It is a bit slow and dated.  It is really like watching a stage play on film.  But thanks to the hauntingly eerie performance from Lugosi, "Dracula" will be remembered for all time.

A-  I recommend it.

Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

4th in the Frankenstein series.

Lon Chaney, Jr. takes over the role of the monster in this film.  Ygor and the monster have survived the events in "Son of Frankenstein".  They travel to Vasaria to seek the help of the second son of Frankenstein.  Dr. Frankenstein decides to help the monster by giving him a new and healthy brain.  Ygor wants his own brain to go inside the monster's body.  Dr. Frankenstein would never do this, so Ygor has Frankenstein's assistant do the surgery himself!

"Ghost of Frankenstein" is a fun movie, even though it gets pretty ridiculous by the end.  Lon Chaney is ok as the monster.  He doesn't show much emotion at all however.  He is no Karloff.

Bela Lugosi is once again excellent as Ygor.  While his performance isn't as prominent as it was in "Son", it is still good to see him.

The relationship the monster has with the little girl in the film is well done.  The monster likes her and he wants to have her brain.  It's a bit bizarre, but it works.  The best scene is when the monster carries the little girl to the rooftops of the village to get her ball.  It really shows the start of a friendship between the monster and little girl.

Jack Pierce's makeup in this film is good, but not quite as good as it was in "Son".  It seems as though he didn't have the time or the money to have the makeup be as effective.  This is especially evident with Ygor.  The wig and beard look phony compared to "Son" and his rotten teeth are gone.  I'm not really sure why they made those changes.

Overall, "Ghost of Frankenstein" is a good addition to the series.  I really enjoy how the relationship of the monster and Ygor comes full circle.

B+  I recommend it.

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

3rd in the Frankenstein series.

The son of Dr. Frankenstein, played by Basil Rathbone, has inherited the estate of his father.  The townspeople are upset with his arrival because of what his father has done in the past.  His father created a monster that wrecked havoc on the town long ago.  Frankenstein's son, Wolf, soon discovers that the monster still exists.  Ygor, who lives in the ruins of Frankenstein's laboratory, is friends with the monster.  He has been taking care of the monster all these years while the monster lies in a comma.  Ygor talks Dr. Frankenstein into helping the monster regain consciousness.  After the monster awakes, Ygor has him kill his enemies.  When the monster kidnaps Frankenstein's little son, Frankenstein comes to the conclusion that he must destroy the monster and Ygor.

"Son of Frankenstein" is a great sequel.  While the monster does not have as much to do as in the previous films, the movie is fast paced and exciting.  This is mostly due to Bela Lugosi as Ygor.  This is Lugosi's finest role in my opinion.  I think this is his best acting job, even better than Dracula.  He is not only a demented and creepy character, but he is also very funny.  

Another stand out performance is from Lionel Atwill at Inspector Krogh.  This is one of his finest performances.  He has a wooden arm because when he was a child, the monster pulled it out by its roots.  The best sight gag is when he plays darts with Dr. Frankenstein.  Instead of putting the remaining darts on a table, he stabs them into his wooden arm.  It is classic. 

The film is visually stunning.  The sets and lighting are surreal.  It has a very different look than the previous Frankenstein films.  It is filled with jagged edges and weird shadows.  It is worth watching, just for the cinematography.

Once again, Karloff is great as the monster.  He doesn't have much to do in the picture, but he is the best monster.  No one comes close.

The makeup by Jack Pierce is excellent as always.  Not only was the Frankenstein Monster makeup great, but so was Ygor's.  Ygor has a broken neck, a shaggy beard, and rotten teeth.

"Son of Frankenstein" could have easily been just an ok film, but it stands as a classic film for all time thanks to the wonderful performance by Bela Lugosi.  

A-  I recommend it.

Up (2009)

I wonder how Pixar does it.  Every time I see one of their films, I wonder if it will finally be a flop.  I didn't have high expectations for "Up" and I thought that it could be the first "bad" movie Pixar puts out.  I was proven wrong once again, however.  "Up" is just as good as the other Pixar films, if not better.

"Up" is the story of Carl who goes on an adventure of a lifetime.  His wife has passed away.  When they were young, Carl and his wife always talked about moving to South America and being explorers.  Now that his wife has passed and he has nothing else to live for, Carl decides to move his entire house to South America.  He ties balloons to his house and off he goes.  

A young boy scout has tagged alongside Carl during this journey.  The boy scout, named Russell, befriends Carl and begins to look up to him as a father figure.  While in South America, Russell makes friends with a giant bird.  Carl is upset about this at first, but he learns to accept it.  

Carl then runs into his long lost hero in South America.  He is an explorer named Muntz.  Muntz has been searching his whole life for this rare bird.  When he finds out that Carl is in possession of the bird, he threatens the lives of Carl and Russell.  The rest of the film, Carl and Russell are on the run, trying to save the bird and themselves from the wrath of Muntz.

The film is very emotional, exciting, and all out thrilling.  I was very surprised to see how adult this film really was.  It dealt with death and even a miscarriage.  

I really felt bad for Carl, especially in the beginning of the film.  All he wants is to be left alone, but all around his house construction is going on.  The construction company is trying to get him to move, but he refuses to.  It is all he knows in his life.  When a construction worker accidently knocks into his mail box, Carl hits him on the head with his cane while in a heated scuffle.  The construction worker actually drew blood.  I was very surprised to see this.  Because of this, the construction company takes Carl to court and he is forced to move.  That is when he decides to fly his house to South America.

Charles Muntz is the villain of the film and I thought he was just great.  Not only was he animated excellently, but he was scary and menacing.  I really felt that Carl and Russell were in great danger because of him.  Charles Muntz has trained dogs to do his dirty work for him.  They were good to a certain point.  I started to get annoyed of the dogs when they started to fly airplanes.  I don't think it was the best idea to have them do that, but that is just a minor set back to this great film. 

Overall, "Up" is an excellent film.  It is the best film I have seen so far this year.  This is right up there with "Toy Story", "Finding Nemo", and "Wall-e".  Pixar has once again proven why they are at the top of the animation game.

A-  I recommend it.