Category Archives: Movies

Vampyr (1932) Review

When you hear early vampire movies the first ones people will mention are either Nosferatu or Dracula with Bela Lugosi. There were others, but those are either unknown, most of the film is damaged or gone completely. One of the least known ones is the 1932 German movie Vampyr by Carl Theodor Dreyer. On the surface, it looks like a generic vampire movie, but upon further inspection, it’s actually one of the better vampire movies to come out during this time.

One thing that needs to said before I proceed, there is no English language print of this movie since all were destroyed. You can only watch it in German with English subtitles.

With that, Allan Grey stumbles upon an inn where a man who breaks into his room one night leaves a package with the words “to opened upon my death.” That man dies, the package is a book about vampires and, curiously, his daughter is becoming a vampire.

While not a groundbreaking plot by today’s standards, it’s still pretty entertaining to see how the plot plays out. We see early on that the village doctor is in cahoots with the vampire know what? Let’s talk about him. He looks absolutely creepy with that hair, mustache and glasses just make him look like the typical 1920s villain. Every time he’s on screen, you can’t help but feel disturbed by his presence.

In fact, what makes this movie worth watching is how well shot and creepy it is. For a movie that came out in 1932, some of these techniques are amazing. One of the best ones is when Allan is in a coffin and we have a bird’s eye view of what he sees. While something like this is easy to pull off today, back then this was a huge pain in the ass.

There are some things that do drag down the movie a bit. One of the most glaring examples is that entire scene when Allan is in a coffin. While the camerawork is excellent, why he’s in there and the circumstances are a bit confusing.

Vampyr is a great movie that’s creepy and has a ton of great filming techniques. If you can find, give it a try and enjoy this forgotten gem.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Review

Do you remember many years ago reading the first Harry Potter book? Do you also remember one of Harry’s textbooks was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Do you also remember buying the actual book along with Griditch Through the Ages? Well, there’s a movie called just that. Now, the problem is, how do you make a movie out of a book that’s nothing but 70 pages of magical creature information? Simple: make it a prequel about the author, Newt Scamander, researching the book.

Newt Scamander has found his way to New York City with a magical case filled with magical beasts. While there, something is causing destruction to New York and the American version of the Ministry of Magic (Magical Congress of the United States of America or MACUSA) is investigating it.

All of this I had to look up because the movie is pretty forgettable. Most of the movie is just Newt and other forgettable characters screwing around New York looking for his escaped creatures. Oh, and then there’s this one magical evil that’s basically a kid creating evil magic from sheer will or something going on. It really goes nowhere until the third act where we get a huge battle scene taking place in the subway.

The best part is I also read the script for this movie which you can buy in all bookstores. Even after reading that I still can’t remember much from this movie.

At least the acting and creature designs were great. Eddie Redmayne is great as Newt. He pulls off the awkward person with some kind of weird hobby character nicely. Although props have to go to Don Fogler as Kowalski. He does everything he can to put on a great performance even with all the stuff hey have him do. The creatures do look nice and the CGI is spot on. The only downfall if that one creature that looks like a rhinoceros. It was boring beyond anything and the scene dragged on too long.

So, yeah, only watch this if you’re a Harry Potter fan who wants everything Harry Potter. Just don’t expect anything too memorable to come out of this movie.

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Why Do People Love A Charlie Brown Christmas?

‘Tis the season for non-stop Christmas specials, and there’s no way of escaping them. One of the more popular ones is A Charlie Brown Christmas. This special has been aired on TV since 1965 and practically everyone is obsessed with it. I’m obsessed with it. Hell, I even bought the tree Charlie Brown bought. Here’s the real question: Why DO people like it so much.

First, let’s look at the plot. Charlie Brown is sad because he can’t the true meaning of Christmas, so Lucy tells him to be the director of the school play which will boost his confidence. It goes about as well as you’d expect.

There really isn’t that much of a plot here. The conflict is easily settled, and most of the cartoon is just the Peanuts gang dancing or playing in the snow.

On top of that, the animation isn’t all that great, even for 1960s standards. The later Peanuts specials and even the series was drawn much better. Hell, sometimes the characters look like they’re staring into the abyss and a lot of the animation is reused (look at the dancing scenes.)

Also, the voice acting, though not bad considering these were kids, sometimes sounds awkward.

Even with all those flaws, it’s still worth watching. The main reason is because this special has a lot of heart and soul to it. It makes you fell things. Happy things. You want to see Charlie Brown happy. You love the tree he buys and you get angry when the kids laugh at him. It’s a story that many people can relate to because there are people who are sad during the holidays.

The best part of the special is the music. The second you hear any of the songs you instantly start smiling, singing or even humming these songs they are that memorable. The music sets the tone for each scene perfectly that it just sucks you in.

While the plot the basic, there are a ton of memorable scenes. The ice skating scene at the beginning, the dance scene and even the tree buying scene many people can recite by heart. And that ending, man, if you don’t cry or start singing along in that ending you’re dead inside.

While the later Peanuts specials are better on a technical level to A Charlie Brown Christmas, this is a classic that gets air time every year for a reason. It has heart, it gives you happy feelings and gets you into the Christmas mood better than anything will. So go out and buy that little tree and put it right next to the big tree just to show that this special does matter.

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Brooklyn (Movie) Review

One of the things I’ve made blatantly obvious on this blog is that I live Brooklyn. So of course whenever something takes place in Brooklyn I have to read/watch it. I remember coming across a book called Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín in the Barnes and Noble in Park Slope (one of only two B&Ns left in Brooklyn. The other one is on Court Street.) I barely remember reading like fifty pages of this book and then returning it to the library. Then the movie came out and I was unsure if I should see it. Then I finally watched it on demand and, yeah, not what I was expecting.

Eilis Lacey is just an Irish country girl whose life in going nowhere. She gets a sponsorship to go live in America but quickly gets homesick. Her life does take a turn for the better when she meets Italian-American Tony.

The first half of the movie was interesting. I actually liked Ellis and what happened to her. At the 45 minute mark, something started to feel wrong. At the 90 minute mark, it dawned on me: this is boring. Yeah, I said it, Brooklyn is boring. Ellis does absolutely nothing to move the plot forward. The plot moves her forward. Hell, I’ll actually say Ellis is barely a character.

One of the worst things about Ellis is that SHE DOES NOT SPEAK UP! Seriously, was it too hard to tell her Irish relatives that she got married in America? Of course not, because the whole third act would not exist if she did. I hate to say it, but she’s basically an Irish version of Bella Swan. Everyone else decides what she does and thinks and she just goes along with it. Add in no characterization and here’s Ellis.

The only positive thing that can be said about this movie is the acting is at least decent. It’s nothing memorable or outstanding but the actors do try their best with what’s given to them.

Brooklyn sounded like an interesting story, but the overall experience is boring with a shoestring plot. This is one of the many reasons I’m an advocate for libraries; the worst thing is to buy a book only to hate absolutely hate it.

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Captain America: Civil War and Marvel: Civil War Review

I’ve never been a big Marvel/DC reader. I really only watch the movies, watch some of the cartoons and only reading started reading the big name comics. That doesn’t mean I can’t give a fair review of the movie and the books they’re based on. So, a few days ago I decided to get the trade of Marvel: Civil War to prepare for Captain America: Civil War. Sadly I did it backward because everyone I know said not to read the comic.

First, let’s talk about the movie. The UN has decided to create a law that says The Avengers need to operate under the supervision of local governments after an incident that killed thousands of innocents in Africa. Captain America and Iron Man have different opinions on this matter which causes The Avengers to choose sides and fight in a big battle.

This difference in opinion is handled very well. Their reasonings do not appear petty or something thought up by some amateur screenwriter. How both sides handle it os also well written, and the consequences of their actions do make a ton of sense.

The acting is one of the high points of this movie. It appears that he writing has gotten a lot better which in turn makes these great actors do some impressive acting. Even the new guy who plays Spider-Man (Tom Holland) does a great job even though I think he comes across as a bit too young for the role.

Speaking of Spider-Man, he was pretty cool and not just some trailer bait. He  actually had an impact on the fight scenes and the story. Although of course *MAJOR SPOILER* the after credits scene says that there will be a new Spider-Man movie. This is a “no shit sherlock” situation. *END SPOILER*

The fight scenes are some of the best this franchise has seen. They are well choreographed and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The fight between Captain America and Iron Man is pretty damn awesome and will give you feels.

Now for the comic. Pretty much the same plot except it’s the New Warriors going after escaped villains and Pyro blew up, killing a bus filled with kids and most of the neighborhood they were in. This causes the creation of the Super Hero Registration Act and each superhero is picking sides on the law.

This book started off great but then devolved into crap. The characters all had one personality: asshole. You really did not want to choose a side because nobody, not even CAPTAIN FUCKING AMERICA, was righ. Even the ending is fucking stupid and feels rushed.

One of the biggest problems with this story is that there are way too many characters. The movie did the right thing in making it only a handful of characters because things get way too jubled as the story progresses. The worst part of this story is that it sets up One More Day, a comic 99.9% of readers say is worse than dying of AIDS. Yes, it’s that bad.

The art the only good thing about this comic. It’s some of the best you’ll see in Marvel.

In all, the movie was great and the comic is shit. The movie version took the basic plot line of the comic and made it not shit. Watch the movie and skip the comic.

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Goosebumps (2015 Movie) Review

How can you mess up Goosebumps? Seriously Sony, how?

When RL Stine released his first Goosebumps book Welcome to Dead House in 1992 a phenomenon was born. From that came video games, a TV show, spinoffs and lots of merchandise. A movie was inevitable, so when a Goosebumps movie was announced starring Jack Black and Stine people went nuts. The end result was a huge upset.

Zach has just moved from a small apartment in New York City to a giant house in Delaware. His next door neighbor is a bit of an oddball with a hot daughter. When Zach decides to break into the house after he suspects she is being abused he inadvertently releases monsters from the Goosebumps books. Now he, the girl and his neighbor who is actually RL Stine must return all the monsters to their rightful books.

This movie is your typical family comedy series with all the trappings front and center. We have the new kid, the weird aunt, the dead parent, the super busy parent, the unfunny annoying comedy relief friend and the eccentric. The writing does absolutely nothing to flesh out these characters, nor does it try to make any of them act like actual humans.

The movie tried very hard to build up the fact that Jack Black was RL Stine, but every advertisement for this movie ruined that. As for how Black played Stine, he didn’t. He played Black. No, seriously. All they did was put obvious Real D 3D glasses on him and called him Stine. Now that we got that out of the way, this movie has successfully made Jack Black not funny. The material Black was given is so basic, cliche and trite that not even he was able to salvage it.

The other characters are so bland and one dimensional that they’re not worth talking about except for Champ, the comedy relief friend. He is annoying, unfunny and adds nothing to the plot. The only “development” the character gets is that he gets the girl at the end in a very contrived way. He can be written out of the story and nothing will change.

The plot is super predictable. We all know when everything is going to happen, who’s going to do it and everything is resolved by a convenient coincidence. The movie also has all these horror characters, but there was nothing scary happening in the movie. Even hardcore Goosebumps fans like me admit the books aren’t scary. The humor is also not funny because the jokes are typical of the horribly written kids sitcom genre. The movie even gives us the happy ending and how the day is saved is one of the stupidest things you’ll ever see.

One major thing of note here is that the movie loves to suck the dick of Goosebumps. There are scenes where the movie says how great the books are, how many copies they sold worldwide and how great of a writer Stine is. There’s even a jab at Stephen King where Stine says King wished he can write the amount of books Stine wrote. The thing is the average length of a Goosebumps book is 120 pages and they all pretty much have the same plot. These books are so easy to write that fans have even written their own Goosebumps books.

The Goosebumps movie has a terrible plot, writing, characters and humor. Say what you want about the Goosebumps TV show, but at least we can laugh at how over the top the show is. Here, everything just seems so by the numbers. This is not the movie Goosebumps fans wanted.


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Carrie (1976) Review

I’m throwing this out there right now: I’m not a fan of Stephen King. It’s not like I didn’t try to read his stuff. I’ve read Misery, Bag of Bones, The Gunslinger, Hearts in Atlantis, Graveyard Shift and It. Never finished either of them. I’m not saying he’s a bad writer, far from it. It’s just that he tends to be really long winded. I’m sorry, I’m going to say it: The movies that are based on his stuff is better.

With that out of the way, I recently decided to watch one of his most popular movies based on the book that launched his career: Carrie. Now, I know that this is the book that King started writing, hated and then tossed away. Yes, King said himself he hates Carrie and that’s OK. As for the movie itself, I felt it was OK.

For those not in the know, Carrie is about troubled teenage girl Carrie White who is constantly being bullied at school. If that wasn’t bad enough her mom is one of super religious nut jobs who think everything is a sin. Oh, and she has unexplained psychic powers. One day a boy asks her out to the prom, but he’s on;y asking her because his friend asked him to, which leads to a lot of scheming.

We all know about the ending where Carrie burns down her school, killing everyone inside; but do we know the rest of the story? Well, the rest of the movie is basically Carrie getting ready for the prom, the girls scheming what they want to do to Carrie and Carrie’s mom being a psycho religious nut. Not much of a horror movie since the only scary bits are near the end. Most of it is pretty mundane to be frank.

That does not make this a bad movie by any chance. It’s more along the lines of a decent 70s movie. What brings this movie up is the excellent cast. Sissy Spacek (Carrie) does a great job of playing an awkward girl who is being held back (and abused) by her psycho mom and other girls. She makes Carrie out to be as shy and obviously mentally scarred.

In fact, the entire cast does a great job. Hell, John Travolta (yup, he’s in this) plays, well, John Travolta. What else is there to say? The role of a rebel douche (or douche in general) is perfect for him. Piper Laurie as Carrie’s mom is terrific in all the right ways. She took this role and had a ton of fun with it. It was a joy watching her and Spacek interact.

One thing this movie did do was make me want to read the book because there’s a lot more in that book that was taken out. Obviously, expect a review here once I’m finished with it.

In all, Carrie has a decent plot that doesn’t really have much scary happen until the end, but the great acting helps this movie a lot.

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Coraline (Novel, Graphic Novel, Movie) Review

What’s this? I’m finally doing a review on another Neil Gaiman book? Well, yes. This time it’s that weird “fairy tale” (the book’s words, not mine) Coraline.

The story is about a young girl who just moved into a big house that was converted into a bunch of flats (that’s apartments to us Americans.) She is bored out of her mind because no matter what she asks her to do with her they are always busy. So she just goes out exploring by herself. While exploring she finds a door in her flat, that’s been boarded up. One she decides to disobey her mother and reopen this door which leads to another world where everything she wants is possible. That changes when her parents go missing and now she has to save them.

This is a nice little kid’s tale that does serve a valuable lesson. It can be said that lesson is no matter how much you think your life sucks you may not like it as much if everything was given to you. There are things that you will not like.

One intriguing thing about this story is the mystical elements. On the other side of the door, there are people with buttons for eyes. Why buttons? Well, it can be said that they have buttons because this world is supposed to be made by someone. One thing that does have buttons for eyes is dolls.

Or it can be Gaiman being creepy.

Coraline is also an interesting character. She may be a little girl, but she forces herself to be brave. She also has a ton of ingenuity as seen how she was able to make the Other Mother agree to allow her to find the souls of the three ghost children. Even how she defeats her is ingenious.

One complaint about the book is that the writing can come off as too basic. This may be a kid’s book, but that doesn’t mean the writing has to suffer.

The graphic novel is scene by scene of the novel which is awesome. The art by P. Craig Russell is top notch. The creepy scenes do look creepy, the character designs look great and the backgrounds perfectly fit the mood of the story.

Now for the movie. What’s there to say except it’s Tim Burton. It has his creepy, gothic style which is a bit of a turn off in some ways. The book may have some horror elements, but it’s supposed to look like real life. Eh, it’s Tim Burton. The movie does adapt the book pretty well so that’s a plus.

Ask anyone what the worst thing about the movie is and they’ll say “Wybie.” This is a character that did not appear in the book at all. His is annoying, uninteresting and is only there to save Coraline at the end. Yes, instead of Coraline using her wit to beat the Other Mother she “messes up” and Wybie comes and saves her. To quote every Gaiman fan, “bullshit.”

In all, Coraline is a great story with some great imagination. The graphic novel is also worth a read and the movie is OK despite a bullshit new character.

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Raising Steam Review

Yes, this is yet another Terry Pratchett post. This is the last one for a long while, I swear.

Raising Steam is the second to last Discworld novel that is part of the Moist Von Lipwig storyline. Here moist is once again tasked by Lord Vetinari to take on another job: Bring the railroad to the Discworld after some country bumpkin has figured out how to make a steam engine. The problem is a bunch of drarves called the Grags want to make sure the rail road comes nowhere near their mountain.

That’s right, it’s Moist Von Lipwig VS a bunch of terrorist dwarves.

This is not Discworld. Discworld stories are a lot more complex than this, plus the old Terry Pratchett would’ve made fun of this type of story. The Grags are boring. They are nothing more than evil dwarves that you’d find in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The old  Discworld “villains” had a lot more going for them. Look at Teatime: he was manipulative, calculating and he had a brilliant plan. He was complex to the point where people love the character.

Let’s also look at the main leads. Moist is not the same character that Pratchett would’ve written. Here he reads like he was written by a fan fiction writer. His plans are basic, he is not charming and he is missing his usual sarcastic wit. This goes for every character in the book. Vetinari acts like a genric villain, Adora Belle is boring and…

Actually, this entire book was boring.

The story plods on for pages without anything interesting happens. Seriously, ask anyone what happens in this book and they won’t even remember.

The new characters are also forgettable. Harry King does nothing but complain about the cost of the rail road, and Dick Simnel is nothing but a poor man’s Carrot if he decided to become a engineer instead of a watchman.

I have never been so disappointed in a Discworld. Humorless, poorly written, boring and uninteresting characters. It’s like this was not written by Sir. Terry but by a fan who only had an basic idea of how to write a novel. This goes to show that every novelist has at least one bad book in them.



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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Review

If you’ve been following me since this blog started you know my stance on movies based on books. For those who don’t, my stance is they’re fine if done properly. I’m also not expecting the movie to be 100% like the book because what works in a book does not work on the screen. What I do take offense to is making a story that is nothing like the source material.

That brings us to today’s topic: Edge of Tomorrow, based on the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. That actually should be loosely based on seeing as how much they messed up the book.

Have you ever seen that Nostalgia Critic episode where he reviewed the animated version of The King and I? Remember at the beginning he threw and then shot the book Mongkut: The King of Siam? Well, that’s pretty much what I (metaphorically) did after five minutes of the movie. Which means finding any similarities to the book are a moot point.

Anyway, the movie is about a near future earth where earth is slowly being destroyed by an alien race known as mimics. Leading the fight is Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise.) when I say leading, I mean doing join the ADF commercials in a safe place. The ADF decides to kidnap him, strip his rank down to private and force him to fight. He ends up dying on the battlefield, but he also is able to relive the previous two days over and over again. Now he must figure out how to stop the mimics and get out of the time loop.

Anyone who has read the read has just hanged themselves after reading that plot summery. Again, they stripped 99% of the book and made a movie. The movie itself is a mess. The first twenty minutes are pretty entertaining with Cage getting his ass handed to him and having Rita kill him a bunch of times to start over is hilarious. The problems start after that. The events here are boring. Yes, there’s action going on, but everything that happens comes off as generic action movie fluff. After the 80 minute mark you will stop caring.

Do you know what else you will stop caring about? Who the hell all these characters are. We do kinda get an introduction to the members of Cage’s squad, but they are so generic, lifeless, boring and devoid of any personality that they are nothing more than scenery.

Rita (Emily Blunt) is also boring. She comes across as another generic gung ho Valkyrie. Even when the movie tries to but some kind of characterization into her it’s hastily done and it becomes a mute point because cage “restarts” afterwards.

As for the acting, it’s a Cruise action movie. Were you expecting good acting? Just watch any of cruise’s action movies and you’ll get the basic gist.

Some people do find Edge of Tomorrow an interesting movie for what it is, but it’s a pretty generic action movie that will be forgotten in a few years.


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