Dive Deep Into The Flaming Inferno

deepwater

What is it about disasters that we enjoy watching?  I could come up with a number of reasons, but the bottom line is that Hollywood has shifted to dramatizing former events as a means for more movies. Hi, Robbie K here bringing you another review of the latest films to grace the screen.  Tonight we hit Deepwater Horizon starring Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, and a handful of other actors.  Let’s get started.

LIKES:

  • Great acting
  • Over the top graphics
  • Emotionally stimulating

You might be thinking that I have gone crazy, after all Wahlberg hasn’t had the greatest roles.  Deepwater Horizon breaks the mediocre streak and drops him into a position that may net him an Oscar nomination. Wahlberg’s portrayal of Mike Williams is certainly a heroic one filled with wisdom, strength, and a calm edge that sets the stage for a natural leader. But there is also a realistic side brought out near the second half the screen that balances out the heroic theatrics of Hollywood. Kurt Russell no surprise plays his usual rugged role, making sure to add the hard edge testosterone rush all older actors need to bring. Hudson and Malkovich get A’s as well, each bringing the needed involvement to round out the cast.  All the extras and lesser billed roles complete the picture as a close oil crew, but much of their time is spent standing around or ducking from fire.

  Speaking of fire, the visual effects are top notch in terms of computer graphic imaging. Deepwater Horizon’s reconstruction of an oil rig succumbing to its doom is very realistic. For you technical folks, the directors have crafted scenes to mimic the daily operations involved with pumping oil, from watching gritty mud flow through the pipe to the cracking foundation floor.  That sound boring?  Well those looking for a little more suspense will be impressed when the whole operation blows to pieces…literally.  You might be amazed seeing the rig, and its crew, get covered in oil before erupting into a fiery inferno you’ve seen in the trailers. My friend described the visuals being so good, he felt immersed into the disaster, wanting to duck or dive as explosions rattled the screen.

Of course the real magic to the visual effects are the emotions it brings with it.  The various sequences and montages of the exploding metal certainly paints a terrifying picture as you wonder how much time is left until something falls.  Now add our characters trying to traverse the obstacle course from heck, feeling horrifying chills run through your body as you watch human bodies hurled through the air and disturbing injuries protruding in gory details. However, it is not all dismay and dread, no Deepwater Horizon has plenty of sequences and montages of heroism that will make you a little proud to be a human…no matter how overly theatrical it could be.

DISLIKES:

  • Overdramatic at times
  • Already know the ending
  • Editing needs work

I’m probably sounding overcritical or nonsensical, but here it goes anyway. Deepwater Horizon is at times a bit on the overdramatic side.  As I said, much of the movie will light a fire in your soul that will have your patriotism in full force.  Unfortunately, some of these moments are a bit too fake and in your face to get my full backing, primarily making an effort to pan on the American flag flapping in the flames. Even the more heroic moments sometimes get a bit too corny, the overdramatic focus on the camera amid a symphony soundtrack blaring pride.  Again, they get the message across and deliver the emotion, it just sometimes gets a little too Hollywood for me.

The special effects and the noble protagonist will certainly spread suspense and awe, but it doesn’t help that you know the ending. If you paid attention to the news, you know all about what happens to the rig, and if you choose to ignore history take a look at the trailer.  The opening sequence doesn’t help things either by telling you the fate of a certain character that further adds predictability to the mix.  What does leave in terms of suspense and surprise? Pretty much it is the fate of the crew that held any mystery to me, and that was scarce at times.  Perhaps another minor dislike, but still one nonetheless.

    In regards to the editing, this one is a tough call to make.  On the one hand I appreciate the details they provide about the incident, from the development of the disaster to how they faced the inferno the rig became.  And yet, I felt some of it was elaborated too much for my liking. The build up was a little too long and drawn out, making it slightly boring as we waited for the dirt to hit the pipe.  As the oil begins to bloom into a fountain the pace picks up, but then hits a very slow, somewhat pointless, standstill at the aftermath of the situation.  Yes, it provides realism and rounding out of the characters, but again is a little too extended after all the excitement.   They probably could have spared about fifteen minutes, but hey that’s just me.

 

THE VERDICT:

            Despite this being the third historical event to get a movie this month, Deepwater Horizon will provide the emotional thrills you want.  A fantastic CGI design that’s brimming with emotion and suspense. However, the predictability and overdramatic moments fall in line with Hollywood’s magic and takes away from the message of the movie.  I have to recommend this one for the theater though, primarily for the technological achievements it brings. 

 

Overall my scores are:

Action/Drama/Thriller: 8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

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Guns, Horses, And Unbalanced Screen Time: Welcome Back To The Wild West!

seven

            It’s been a while since we had a western movie, and even longer since we had a good one. This weekend hopes to break this drought, by releasing the remake to the 1960s classic the Magnificent Seven.  Does the Wild West fit into to the modern day expectations, or will the archaic times of the past fall on blind eyes?  As always, I’m here to report on the latest films to hit theaters and give you the scoop.

 

LIKES

  • Great Cast
  • True Western Film
  • The action!

One important aspect to any Western is who you cast as the gunslingers.  In this installment, the casting director gets major props for the team assembled. Denzel Washington is the perfect lead, as his attitude and bravado are choice qualities for someone a rebellion leader. Chris Pratt balances his teams martyr attitudes by providing his comedic delivery and energy helping to relieve the tension of the movie.  The rest of the squad play their roles perfectly and brings a unique quality to the team to develop a unique posse.

While the cast is a great start, it is only one part to the Western formula.  It requires setting, simplistic goals, open frontier, lots of extras in limited clothing, and a villain you most likely will hate.  Magnificent Seven brings all these aspects in splendid detail, with a modern day design many want in the 21st century. This movie will pull you back in the days of the frontier adventure of classic Westerns from riding horses through the desert wastelands to the gun slinging battles the era was famous for, you know before the hero settles into the saloon for a drink. This film is representative of the nostalgic genre Hollywood capitalized on decades ago and is devoid of extraterrestrial twists (Cowboys and Aliens) or weird mechanical spiders (Wild Wild West) to taint the well water.

Yet the greatest component for me was the action of this movie. Magnificent Seven delivers the promised Western action, with massive bullet slinging battles unfolding for nearly half of the movie. One will certainly get an adrenaline rush as the two sides let their guns talk in high definition special effects at break neck speeds.  Our heroes use their wits and diverse skills to keep the battle dynamic, all while poor extras convulse to imaginary bullets “hitting” their bodies. The ending sequence alone kep me on the edge of my seat and provided an emotionally sitmulating climax that we hope for in these movies.  Yes, it is the typical, blockbuster popcorn tactics most films are famous for, but it works so well in this film.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Lackluster Antagonists
  • Some rapid character development
  • Unbalanced characters…at times

As I mentioned, Magnificent Seven certainly has villains representing the genre, but sadly they still didn’t shine in this film. The land baron Bogue has all the stereotypical  qualities of a baron including an insatiable greed and ruthless mechanisms to obtain his desires, but he still is quite unimpressive in other departments. Yes, I get that’s the point of most Western villains, but usually they have a set of lieutenants to enforce their roles. In this film, many of the antagonists  were not that impressive and many of their “victories” were cheap, conventionally written ploys to maximize their money.  In addition, the hyped up fights sometimes are drawn to a hasty, unchoreographed conclusion that left me disappointed. Oh well, at least the uncredited extras were capable of a good shot or two.

Another limitation for me was the rushed backstories of most of the characters. Magnificent Seven’s cast has some complicated histories, and we get a decent look at the skeletons that dwell in their closets.  There could have been more though to it though, not only to develop them more, but give some of the band more screen time. The quick overcoming of their personal fears or the convenient brotherhood formed was a little bit of a stretch for me. Fortunately they had the action to distract you from this limitation and keep the pace moving.

Finally, the biggest dislike was the unbalanced use of the seven.  I know, the top billed are destined to get the most screen time so directors get their money’s worth. Denzel, Pratt, and Hawke lead the cavalry, complete with detailed backstory, impressive set of skills, and a majority of the lines. Our other cavalcade have their moments as well, including meme worthy one liners, impressive moves, and unique costumes to seal their place.  Yet there were times where they were severely underutilized, reduced to quite mumblings or a fleeting dive into the the building. This is mainly true for the Warrior (Martin Sensmeier) and the Outlaw (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) who although have some fitting moments, are off camera for much of the film and almost thought to be dropped out of the film at random times.

 

The VERDICT:

            If you want a Western, Magnificent Seven is certainly your best shot.  This production will immerse you into the world of cowboys and well more cowboys, with engaging characters for you to grip to. However, the action is the selling point of this movie and provides the exciting edge that has been lacking for much of this month.  Yes, I would have liked a little more character balance and better villains, but overall I really enjoyed this movie.  I certainly recommend this movie for a theater visit to a wide variety of audience members, but be warned this is a darker version of the tale you love.  And darkness leads to violence that may be a bit too much for some younger audiences.

 

My scores:

Action/Western: 9.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Birds of A Feather, Deliver Cute Together

storks

            “Where do babies come from?” For decades kids ask this question to parents and in a state of desperation creative answers, (aka lies) are cooked up.  One popular story wielded by parents is the concept of the stork delivering babies to doorsteps. This weekend, the creative geniuses over in La La land have managed to craft an animated film all about the miracle of these white winged wonders.  Yes, today I’m reviewing Storks starring Andy Samberg and Katie Crown.

 

LIKES:

  • Originality
  • Cute
  • Emotional

 

We all know there is really no original story anymore, but animated films usually put a creative twist on things. Storks breaks the mold of princesses and dogs by switching to birds with the fabled job of bringing life…literally…to people’s doors. I enjoyed the poke at our online consumerism by making the storks trade babies for technology, which isn’t the iconic adventure setting. Along the way, the orphaned Tulip (Crown) accidentally creates a baby through a giant magic wielding device that leads to a simplistic adventure to return her home.  It’s a fun twist on the tale of creatures uniting to accomplish a goal (Ice Age anyone), topped with a few unique kicks to sweeten the deal, including Lego versions of wolves.

Stupid as all this may sound, Storks main attraction is the cuteness bundled in the 100 minute run time.  I don’t just mean the baby, although the magenta haired munchkin will certainly melt many aspiring/current parents’ hearts. Much of my audience awed at some of the sweet moments our first time “foster” parents experience, many of which will bring nostalgic memories of your child’s firsts rushing back.  But if the main story isn’t up your alley, the side tale of a family struggling to spend quality time might be the ticket for you, especially with that song track they play.

Perhaps the biggest bang of Storks though, is the emotion the team have placed throughout the journey.  A simple opening starts to soften the heart as the intentions of Tulip are shared, which no surprise is the preachy, noble, and justice filled goals all protagonists have.  It’s just an opening I promise.  As they travel through the world, various themes of parenting and letting go fill the screen that again will start to knock the walls down further.  Yet the ending is where the true punch is. Without ruining anything, Storks ending has a powerful, well animated, montage, complete with orchestrated sappy music, to open the flood gate of tears of most parents in the audience.  Not me of course, I’m pretty much a robot, but there were loads of sniffles at the heartfelt moment portrayed. Sigh, such a nice wrap up of the movie, despite the predictability.

DISLIKES

  • Predictable
  • Misdirected Comedy
  • Annoying at times

No surprise, Storks has a predictable plot that most animated movies have and I’m being a stickler.  I know this isn’t a shock so it’s why I’m saying it is a minor weakness.  Despite the unique twist on the story, Storks originality does not extend much past that and falls into the time tested pattern once again.  Oh sure, I was wrong on one prediction, but the trailers have given much of the little surprise away.  Such a shame with the promise they made, but hey we at least got laughs out of it right? Right?

Wrong! You might go into Storks thinking or hoping for kiddy laughs with a few clever puns thrown in the mix. This was not the case. Surprisingly, this movie’s jokes are geared towards a more adult audience in terms of delivery, content, and comprehension. I don’t mean sex jokes (this isn’t Sausage Party), but much of Storks gears towards parenting humor and themes of abandonment that might be a little over your little ones’ heads.  Yes, there is some slapstick comedy, bodily harm, and a pigeon with a goofy voice named Pigeon Toady (Danny Trejo) that will make them laugh.  Aside from that, most of the comedy is a shot at entertaining parents, which I’m sorry to say failed for the most part in the laugh department. 

In fact, much of the comedy was actually annoying to me.  First off they rely on constant banter for much of their dialogue.  It was kind of entertaining at first, but they ran too far with it and by the fifth round of arguing… it had gotten old and rather stupid. The wolves that seemed to be so funny in the trailers were indeed entertaining…in the beginning.  However, their comedic ploy also got annoying, particularly in the way they spoke in a very direct, robotic like manner. And as for Pigeon Toady, there were times I laughed hard, but this character gets old quickly, especially his gigolo like attitude that seemed like a diluted SNL character. I could go on, but I think three strikes is enough to make my point.

 

The Verdict:

            If you found Storks’ trailers cute, then the movie will only amplify that factor as you watch it. This simplistic film is fun for kids, but ironically seems to be geared towards parents for the true emotional kick. Unfortunately, the comedic aspect failed to take flight and stumbled into the stormy skies of annoyance and stupidity. Can’t say it’s the best animated feature to grace the silver screen, it is a decent distraction for a rainy day. My recommendation is to wait for a Redbox rent, except for parents wanting to recapture baby magic.

 

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy:  7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

Hero or Hack? You Decide in This Riveting Drama!

snowden

            Robbie K back for another review. This time we jump into the biographical/drama realm in the film of Snowden.  The theme of this tale is on Edward Snowden, the former intelligence officer who quickly became a hot topic of debate in the span of five days by revealing the secrets of the government. So does this movie stand up to the hype, or will it be lost to the high flying tale of Sully that came out last week?  Let’s get to it!

LIKES:

  • Great acting
  • Decent pace on the story
  • Technical insight into spying

 

For a movie focused on one man, you need a good actor to portray the title character. So casting Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the key character was a brilliant move to say the least.  Once more the man impresses me with his ability to capture a character’s nuances and bring them to life.  For someone in Snowden’s environment you expect intelligence, moral dilemmas, and most likely some paranoia when dealing with classified secrets.  Gordon-Levitt is able to portray it all, selling that he is a revolutionary programmer capable of changing the world one code at a time. He played geeky well, but he portrayed paranoid even better with all the symptoms common of the disorder. Shailene Woodley again gets the super dramatic role, trading revolutionary leader to concerned liberal girlfriend…who happens to be an exotic dancer/artist. I give the girl props for her ability to maximize a limited part, selling the morals well in her short screen time. Everyone else is pretty much a government extra and adding intensity to the movie and making for big bad enemies.

When it comes to biographies, you often get very slow paced tales that tend to be overdramatized and slow for the most part. I didn’t feel that way in Snowden, or at least I didn’t feel that way most of the time. Snowden keeps the tale going, laying out the foundation of how Snowden fell into his predicament in all the glorious details. One will get immersed in all the technical details and moral dilemmas Edward went through, accompanied with the stress and suspense it brings with it. However, I do fear that such a movie may spur the flames of cyberterrorism with how people are inspired these days, but we won’t hold that against the movie…much.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Overdramatic at times
  • Slow at parts
  • One side portrayal of Snowden

The threat of having Hollywood portray your story is running the risk of movie magic overwriting fact. As there was a warning at the beginning of the film, safe to say there was a lot of dramatic intervention in this film. This does bring an entertaining factor, but it is a little disappointing to wonder what is fact and what is overdramatized fact.  Some of the drama also gets a bit eye rolling at times and robs the film of the emotional punch they were trying for.

The excessive drama in the movie also makes for some slower moments that you may or may not appreciate.  While much of the movie was pertinent to explaining Ed’s rise, there were times when this got a little excessive. This was particularly true for meetings with certain supervisors, moments of jealousy and a delayed explanation of his “flight” that did little for me than extending the run time.  Yes, these are minor dislikes, but editing could have cut a little more and save things for the director’s cut of the film.

  Finally, the movie took a one-sided approach to this story, focusing on making him a hero. I’m not calling him anything negative, but we all know that there are two sides to most tales and it would have been nice to get the antagonizing side of things.  I’m giving the guys props for standing up for his morals, but I feel the drama portrayed things on a grandiose level than what actually happened. The result was making the government eviler, which will certainly split the favor of the audience depending on your like of the audience. A balanced approach may have expanded the audience liking, but hey to each his own.

 

The VERDICT

           Snowden certainly has the dramatic flair that will rope you into this story about the morals behind secrecy.  His tale is certainly intriguing and most will appreciate the added spice the drama brings.  This is certainly one of the better (and more entertaining) biographies I have seen, but most may not find it as gripping (or exciting) as the others. In addition, the one sided portrayal of this political topic may also curb your enjoyment of the movie so I again say take it with a grain of salt. Is it worth a trip to the theater?  I can say only if you are looking for a biography or have strong interest in Snowden’s story. I’d say save this one for a rental.  

 

My scores:

Biography/Drama/Thriller:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Baking This Bun Is Fun: Comedy Meets Romance

bridget-jones-3

            We all love a good love story in one form or another. Whether it takes the form of a realistic relationship or drops into the make believe perfection of a Nicholas Sparks movie, Hollywood is happy to play on affection for entertainment. And this weekend another sequel attempts to make us oooh and ahh only this time adding a little “bump” in the road. I speak of Bridget Jones’ Baby, the latest installment in the single woman’s legacy starring Renee Zellweger and her lovely ensemble. So let’s get started shall we?

 

Likes:

  • Surprisingly witty comedy
  • Acting chemistry
  • Well paced plot

I can’t lie that I went into this movie with low expectations, after all it’s been 15 years since the last movie and a lot can change. However, age hasn’t stopped our writers from placing some clever comedy in the 2-hour runtime. The dialogue has plenty of quips thrown at our cast, meant to poke fun at our characters quirks and qualities. In addition, our characters throw jabs at various movements, popular trends, and media ploys that prove just how ridiculous we humans can be. But the laughs are not limited to just dialogue. Bridget Jones tale is filled with situational awkwardness, a well-designed soundtrack to mirror scenes, and a little slapstick to liven things up. A majority of the comedy has wit and timing to maximize laughs, but there are plenty of stupid moments that are good for a quick chuckle.

Writing aside, the three actors played their characters extraordinarily well and certainly brought the words to life. Renee Zellweger reprises her role as the single spinster transitioning into a new role, managing to bring all of Bridget’s qualities out of storage while evolving her character. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is yet another notch in the stuffy, English gentleman belt that he still plays fantastically even after the tenth reiteration. And newcomer Patrick Dempsey is a welcome addition to the world, bringing a new twist on the more fun side of life that Hugh Grant once played. These three certainly play well together, able to form a reverse Archie Comics love triangle that so many will love.

In regards to the plot, again I was surprised by how much I wasn’t annoyed by this love story. We know many romance tales are about drawing out the drama because our characters are too shy to commence their feelings until some episode, usually alcohol, leads to sex and the tension breaking. Not the case for this film, as our crew was able to cram so much romance into a short running time and keep the plot moving that it was entertaining to watch. Nice job guys!

 

Dislikes:

  • Very Formulaic at times
  • Sometimes a bit too preachy and silly.

 

I’m probably going to be berated on this, but Bridget Jones still follows the formulaic, love ritual that the genre has become. Much of the story is predictable, with our cast of characters falling into the typical pitfalls and romantic gestures that audiences continue to eat up. You can see the ending coming a mile away at whom she will choose and I only hoped I was wrong so I could be surprised. In addition, the jokes sometimes do get predictable and lost their punch for me (not the case for a lot of the audience). Oh well at least it is safe for fans of the series and will certainly deliver the expected. Still I was hoping for a little more twist to the familiar tale.

Another dislike for me was the preachiness of the film at times. I’m all for the revolutionary movements (e.g. equal rights, kindness towards others, and single moms) but to have my face smeared in over aggressive montages takes away from the magic for me. My least favorite moments involved Bridget’s mother, because it was forced comedy focused on pointing out how different certain people were. Come on people, put the message in the movie without making a spectacle of it, we know that’s not the most constructive means. In addition, the whole you can do it as a single mom was kind of pointless in this movie as she continued to pine over her two suitors without much hesitation. If you are again going to take extreme measures about promoting an image, follow through with it please. Regardless, the grandiosity of the movie wasn’t my favorite aspect at times, but the comedy was able to dilute some of it.

 

The Verdict:

            Overall, I’m happy to say that Bridge Jones’ Baby was one of the more enjoyable romantic comedies I have seen in a while. The comedy is by far the best part of this, and although raunchy and stupid at times, is dynamic and fun to say the least. In addition the chemistry of the actors alongside the fast moving plot only further enhances the fun of this adventure. But again it is formulaic and overly preachy at times, much of which is geared toward the intended audience that was often eye -rolling to me. Worth a trip to the theater? I have to say yes this a movie worth the price for how much fun it is, especially for fans of the series, middle-aged women and older, or those who appreciate feminine comedy. Otherwise catch this one on RedBox when it hits bins in a few months.

 

My scores are:

Comedy/Romance: 8.0-8.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Bland Witch Project

blair-witch

            Years ago, one horror movie decided to try the revolutionary technique of telling a story through the eyes of a personal camcorder.  It was new, it was interesting, and provided a fresh spin on the horror genre. Yes, the Blair Witch Project certainly put the found footage franchise on the map, if mot potentially birth the genre.  Now, seventeen years later we get another attempt at making a legitimate sequel that doesn’t end up in the raspberry category. Hi Robbie K here and I’m here to review Blair Witch, so let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • Creepy setting and creatures
  • Lisa is cute
  • Only 90 minutes

 

Blair Witch’s tactics for scaring have always been about using the unseen and imagination to give you a fright.  The third installment continues this trend and resorts to the nightmare  of the woods where unholy creatures have plenty of places to hide.  You’ll fill your time watching weeds, bushes, and an occasional trunk move as the demonic entity moves off camera and hunts our naïve young adults. The terrifying sounds of nature rebelling mixed with the anguished cries of the monsters gets under your skin only to be amplified by the silence that envelops leaving you feeling isolated and alone. And then BAM, you get a glimpse of the creatures involved in terror that adds that final edge to the mix.  Sure…it is not the scariest thing to grace the screen, but the realistic setting and the subtle use of special effects get the job done for making your skin crawl.

In regards to the cast, well they do alright in terms of the acting department being able to curse, scream, cry, and panic to the best of any teen horror movie. While they may not get the best actor awards, our cast certainly has the hot look down for its target audience to look at.  My particular favorite is Callie Hernandez playing Lisa the attractive film student filming the journey to find Heather.  Not only is she incredibly beautiful (or at least cute), but she is the character with the most brains and strength of the young crew.  I’m sure that others will find someone to place their bets on though, most likely based on who they find attractive. And if for no reason you can’t find a person to root for, you only have to wait about 90 minutes and then the whole ordeal is over.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Shaky Camera Work…again
  • Annoying jump scares
  • Less developed characters
  • Unanswered questions…again

 

When you think of found footage, you only hope the camera is stable enough to not give you motion sickness that leads to vomiting.  Unfortunately, Blair Witch has not been able to conquer the trend of tremor camera and this time it is primarily focused on bushes.  As our teens run through the dark woods, you’ll find yourself filling the shoes of the teenager as you collide with foliage and trip over nature. The only reprieve is the shot of our limited cast looking like hell or the fleeting image of some poor lost soul.  At least with other found footage film you get a little action or better shots of the monster. This camera work certainly makes it more realistic, but it also needed to center on the monsters  and provide some more details to fill the picture.

Because of the direction the film takes, there was also limited tactics to scare you with. While I praised the creepy setting and use of darkness to get you tense, Blair Witch resorted to jump scares as the primary means to try and wet your pants.  They timed things well at times when a loud sound or person appears on screen, but like many films they overuse this method and force it into the stale zone.  How many times do you need to see someone crash into the camera before you get bored of it?  For me it was three  before the tactic grew bland.  For those with highs strung nerves and are easily frightened, may still find themselves jumping like a Mexican jumping bean through the film.

   Of course all the jump scare tactics and shaky camera work displace any real attempt to develop our characters in this film.  We see two, maybe three of the six, provide some details to further the very thin plot, but seldom does it add any depth to the characters acting it out. While not the primary focus (I know this is a horror movie people you just want scares), I was hoping for a little more to the teenagers to help me latch on and care what fate befell them.  Yet Blair Witch has dumped any attempts at character development for shallow writing and dull camera work.

And of course, they also skimped out on providing any real answers to the questions we had so long ago. A few of the characters help provide some backstory to the all this mess and give the Blair Witch a little more bit, but outside of that…we get nothing.  Why does the forest stay dark? What exactly were those creatures in the woods? What happens to the Witch’s victims and why does she seek out victims?  So many questions and so few satisfying answers to fill those holes.

 

The Verdict:

            Blair Witch is okay, and is certainly an example of the mediocre works that found footage films are.  While the creepy environment will give you goosebumps and the cast is nice to look at, there is little more to this movie other than screaming.  The lack of details and stale jump scare tactics are unimpressive and therefore do not warrant a trip to the theater in my opinion.  Recommended audiences include: Blair Witch followers and found footage fanatics.

 

My scores are:

Horror/Thriller:  5.5-6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0

Like The Title…This Film Was A Disappointment

disappointments-room

 

Robbie K here, and I’m covering yet another horror movie to grace the summer season. My first film in this genre is a film that came out of left field entitled The Disappointment’s Room. With little advertising and a title with the word disappointing in it, I can’t say I had high hopes for this one. Yet, you never know what you are going to get from Hollywood. Let’s get started.

 

LIKES:

  • A plot that keeps you guessing
  • Decent acting
  • Short Run Time

 

When it comes to a horror movie plot, you never know what creepy nightmare our team a writer is going to come up with. The Disappointment’s Room is a psychological thriller about a small family moving to the stereotypical old manor home for a new start only to find something sinister within. In this case, it’s a room, nothing more, nothing less. Sounds stereotypical right? Well it is, but the strength of this plot is that it keeps you guessing as to what is really happening to the family and who is the cause of all the trouble. This is accomplished by having one of the characters having a history of psychosis. It’s difficult to fathom whether all the spooks are indeed spirits or nothing more than an episode of mental illness gone wrong, which kept me engaged in the plot to say the least. If this doesn’t engage you and you still get roped into seeing it, fear not the run time is only 90 minutes.

Of course it helps to have some decent acting to bring that madness to life, which is accomplished by the lead actress Kate Beckinsale. The woman certainly commits to her character, and the Underworld Star captures the psychological tension of mother struggling from depression and potentially schizophrenia. From the endless montages of low energy sulking to the intense bouts of yelling and crashing, Beckinsale displays all these emotions to the full level. Outside of that though, the rest of the cast plays their parts well, helping to drive the plot while giving Beckinsale something to act off of. Unfortunately due to limited roles…there isn’t much past that. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Limited Roles
  • Not scary
  • Unimpressive story
  • Unnecessary (quite confusing) violence

   As I just stated, the roles were certainly limited in this film. While I appreciate seeing mental illness portrayed well, I can’t say it’s the only character I want to see unless it is like A Beautiful Mind. Beckinsale’s character annoyed me in the fact that she did primarily screamed and cried. I was hoping for more in the lead character. The supporting husband, the clichéd creepy son, and the potential new friend were much too simplistic for me, and did little to better the story for me.   Again good portrayals of an outside support system, but without any further development…well can’t give this component kudos.

Speaking of limited characters, let’s talk about the ghost of this movie. The Disappointments Room’s specter could certainly have been developed more not only in creep factor, but story as well. Without ruining anything, the proverbial Englishman only brings arrogance and a bad temper to the screen. Our writers tried to give him some edge in terms of intense scowling, but he lacks a backstory or even skills that you hope your malicious antagonist to have. In addition, there was little else in this movie that scared me, with the usual ploys, such as things rushing across the screen or a sudden blare in music, being executed poorly by our design team. The exception to this is a few moments where Beckinsale starts to fall deeper down the mental tunnel and a few creepy moments, but outside of that…it’s kind of tame.

Instead, our directors wanted to fill the time with pointless violence, mostly designed around harming animals and children. Part of this comes from the very shortsighted, and somewhat confusing, story that our team designed. Oh sure the madness keeps you guessing, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a straightforward wrap up and fulfilling conclusion to all the craziness. Sorry folks, that doesn’t really happen here. Yours truly could only shake his head as he bore witness to at least thirty minutes of anger fueled smashing and incidents that should have gotten a child services call. It certainly fits with the tale, but this kind of stuff does not impress me one bit and became somewhat corny near the end.   Sigh, such potential indeed only to be lost to the shock factor.

 

The VERDICT

Hopefully from my review you can see that The Disappointments Room certainly is lacking in the horror genre department. While it has a strong actress leading the bunch, a plot that keeps you guessing, and a little throwback into history, there is not much this movie has going for it. While Kate Beckinsale has saved the vampire the occult world many times, she could not save this film from being, dare I say it…a disappointment. Therefore, I can’t promote this semi-boring film to be seen in theaters and would strongly encourage waiting until Netflix or cable picks up this option.

 

My scores for this review are:

Horror/Drama/Thriller: 5.5

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0