Monday, September 19, 2016

Night of The Twisters

Starring: Devon Sawa, John Schneider, & Lori Hallier
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Long before Justin Bieber, Canada had unleashed another teen celebrity on the world, Devon Sawa. He was better looking, more talented, and much less successful. While not as well known, during the mid-90s, putting him in any film almost guaranteed a bigger box office, and that was the case with Night of Twisters. This horrible, direct-to-video film, never should have made it to the U.S., but gained worldwide distribution because of it's star. Even twenty years later, the DVD is still considered a collectors item among collectors of teen idol memorabilia, and regularly sells on Amazon and eBay for upwards of $50. That being said, what makes this movie so awful, besides that it's an independent film made in Canada? Even for 1996, the special effects are laughable, this was Canada's response to Twister and not only don't the effects come close to comparison, but the story is just terrible. Obviously the story is going to center around the teen star, who sneaks out with friends to go meet girls. He's punished and has to stay home and watch his baby sister instead of going to the town event at the local high school. It's a boring night, until the town is hit by a series of tornadoes, forcing Sawa, to save the baby, save the girls, save his best friend, and then if there's time, go find his parents. The story is straight out of a kids movie, but the language and some of the devastation is not, so which is it? Is this some weird teen friendly family film or some scary disaster movie? The bottom line a lot of people love Devon Sawa, me included, that's why even today he's still getting work, but when it comes to this film, there is no real story, no real plot, it's as predictable as anything you will ever see, and the special effects make the tornado from the Wizard of Oz look more realistic. I can't believe that twenty years later the DVD costs more than the Godfather and they're still playing this thing on cable, but some things are just inexplicable.

The Ultimate Movie Review's 900th Review!!!

2 Little Monsters

Starring: Charles Cantrell & Ryan LeBoeuf
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Some true crime stories are so horrific, that they are scarier than any horror film Hollywood can come up with. In February of 1993, Two ten year old boys took a three year old from a mall in England, bashed his head in with a rock, tied him to the train tracks, and watched as he was run over by a train. According to the law they were released at age eighteen, and disappeared under assumed names. 2 Little Monsters is a based on that event, speculating what these boys lives would have been like after they were released from prison. How hard would it be for them to hide their identities? Could they blend into society, having lived their whole lives in prison? This film answers those questions as well as following the paparazzi, who are in for a big pay day if they can find the boys and take their pictures. The idea here is very original and I was very much looking forward to this film, unfortunately, despite a lot of critical acclaim, nothing really happens. Yes, the boys are shy and awkward, and it becomes increasing difficult for them to hide who they were, but there isn't an urgency to any of it. This film moves at a snails pace and nothing substantial ever happens. The producers basically used the story of this horrible crime to sell DVDs, when truthfully they had nothing more to go on since the boys release. Everything is supposition, and it's probably very close to the truth, boring, predictable, and uneventful.

Parental Guidance

Starring: Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, & Marisa Tomei
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Now days, Billy Crystal doesn't appear in films as often as he used to, but for the right project and cast, he's always willing to remind us of why he's a household name. It doesn't matter if it's a raunchy comedy or a family film, his quirky and unique sense of humor always makes whatever he stars in that much more enjoyable and Parental Guidance is no different. On the surface, this is just another family comedy about Grandma and Grandpa getting in over their heads when they agree to babysit for the weekend. Add Crystal and Bette Midler to that and all of a sudden the film is taken to a whole other level. Everyone knows what to expect from both Crystal and Midler, but the real magic is their chemistry and how they play off each other, especially when you throw three unpredictable kids into the mix. Some of the scenes with the grandparents trying to use the modern technology or the kids taking advantage of the grandparents lack of respect for their parents strict instructions are truly laugh out loud funny. Yes, that's exactly what I said, it's a PG rated family movie, but it has more than a couple of laugh out loud moments. Parental Guidance is a film that the parents and grandparents will want to see for it's terrific cross-generational cast, but the kids will enjoy it too, for both it's old school and modern humor. It's the perfect rainy day weekend family feature film.

Eden (2015)

Starring: Nate Parker, Ethan Peck, & Sung Kang
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

How many stories are there that take place on an uncharted deserted island? I suppose such a thing was possible before there were google maps, but in 2016, these stories are almost in the realm of Science Fiction. Putting that aside for a minute, just how many types of stories can you tell, that take place in such a setting, and how many of them haven't already been told? Eden is nothing more than a cliche of these films, and despite not being a comedy, the fact that it has no originality to the story whatsoever is in fact laughable. After a world cup soccer team crashes near this island, and it's clear they won't be rescued, they set up a system of rules. The first major conflict is what to do with the severly injured man, who has very little chance of making it, who is costing valueable resources, sound familar Lost fans? After that, this film literally becomes Lord of the Files with soccer players in their twenties and thirties. The two sides are drawn and eventually one side leaves for another nearby deserted island. As resources continue to diminish, it becomes clear that only one side can survive and the battle is inevitable. Even the ending, which I would never reveal, is a rip off of another classic deserted island story, but maybe you like that setting and consider this the kind of film you might want to check out, okay, but first, consider this. Most of the cast are completely newcomers, and with the exception of Nate Parker, they're combined performances are a bigger disaster than the actual plane crash that brought them to this island. The bottom line, Eden is a familiar setting, featuring a story that's been done, and a cast that mumbles one cliche line after another, the whole thing just left a poor taste in my mouth.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Sausage Party

Starring: Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig, & Michael Cera
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

It was one of those days where I just wanted out of the heat, so I went to the movies. I was looking for something simple, stupid, and low-brow to just give me a laugh or two, just enough to keep me awake. I like Seth Rogan, so I choose Sausage Party, a film I'd never normally see, and while it had what I was looking for, surprisingly, it also had a lot more. I was expecting nothing but the typical drug and sex jokes, but in addition to that, there was a cleverness there that I wasn't expecting, the kind of thing you'd normally get from Family Guy. It's hard to say more without spoiling it, but one such element seen in the trailer and used through out the film, is the use of ethnic foods to represent the real life conflicts and stereotypes of the people associated with them. There are also plenty of food related jokes through out the film that seem so obvious for a movie like this, but you didn't think of them, and that's why Seth Rogan never has to pay for his weed.... The bottom line, I'm not saying this film is going to win any awards or that's it's going to become some huge cult classic or anything like that, just that it's far more clever, intelligent, and entertaining than I ever assumed it could be. You might be forced to see it because of yours kids, but you won't be as disappointed as you think.

When The Game Stands Tall

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Alexander Ludwig, Michael Chiklis, & Laura Dern
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The one thing you can always count on when watching a football film, is that it's going to be exciting. It doesn't matter if it's a true story, like When The Game Stands Tall, or a made up one like Friday Night Lights. It doesn't matter if the team has won 100 straight games or lost 100 straight games. Every film about football is going to be exciting, so what makes one better than the other? The personalities involved, it all comes down to who the film is focused on and this film has it's eyes on the prize. Jim Caviezel stars as Bobby Ladouceur, one of the most successful high school football coaches of all-time. Ladouceur became a national celebrity, not only because of a big winning streak, but also because of the way he incorporated family values and religion into his coaching, trying to make his player more well-rounded individuals. Caviezel was outstanding, as he is in everything, but after watching six seasons of Person of Interest, it's almost disappointing seeing Caviezel in a role where he doesn't kill anyone. The other focus of the film is Alexander Ludwig, who portrays Chris Ryan, a kid who has all the talent in the world, but has to decide, if he's pushing himself toward greatness for himself or because of a psychotic father. Ludwig always gets second billing, but as with the Hunger Games, nothing would be as good without him. He is the unsung hero of this film as he rounds out the emotional roller-coaster. When The Game Stands Tall has action, emotion, conflict, religion, family, love, hate, a little bit of everything and believe it or not, at the heart of it all is a simple, stupid little game called football. This film was great, it reminded me a lot of the TV version of Friday Night Lights and it's an absolute can't miss for sports enthusiasts.

The 4400

Starring: Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Patrick Flueger, Conchita Campbell, Chad Faust, Richard Kahan, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, & Billy Campbell

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

The 4400 was a science fiction show, that featured time travel, strange powers, government agents, conspiracies, and a whole lot more. After a very solid, yet writers strike shortened first season, The 4400 looked like it was going to be Heroes meets the X-Files, easily the next big thing in science fiction television. If that wasn't enough to interest fans, the show also had a head start, as its creators weren't newcomers. The 4400 was the brainchild of Rene Echevarria (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Scott Peters (V, The Outer Limits). The show looked like a can't miss, then came Season 2...

Seattle Washington, 2004 - It's a seemingly normal night, when a space satellite picks up something unusual. Government agencies are in a panic, as this weird object descends over a mountain lake and emits a bright white light before vanishing. Once it's gone, 4400 people stand on the banks of the lake, 4400, who as it would turn out, have at one time or another been missing since as far back at the 1940s and as recently as six months ago. There's a big to do about what to do with these people, but they are soon released and a new agency is tasked with tracking and monitoring them. A seemingly easy job, until it's discovered that many of them have developed super human abilities.

The premise of the show is fantastic, on top of that it was created by one of the guys who is behind Star Trek: The Next Generation, basically a God in my eyes, and if that weren't enough it features Joel Gretsch, who is one of the most believable, realistic actors to ever play a federal agent in the history of television. This show had everything going for it, even the ratings were good, so why did they have to go and change things so much!

Despite good ratings and reviews, people thought the show was too much like the X-files, so they turned the 4400 into this kind of religious cult. Instead of being a mostly episonic show with underling storylines, the show went continuous, spending all of it's time following just a handful of characters. The line between good and bad, blurred, and most times you really couldn't follow who was doing what for whom and why anyone was doing what they were doing. After the first season, there were a couple of good episodes here and there but by season 3, the whole thing had just completely fallen apart. 

I readily admit that I watch far more television than most people and far more than television than any normal person should, so trust me when I tell you, that in all my years of doing this, I have never seen a show go so quickly from as good as the 4400 was, to as bad as it became. It defied all logic, honestly did the actors and network involved in producing the shows not realize that after a while the whole thing just didn't make any sense anymore? 

The bottom line is that the 4400 should have been the next Heroes, X-Files, Lost, Fringe, what have you. It should have been that next big sci-fi show, that had everyone talking. Instead too many chefs ruined the pie and the show literally became unwatchable.