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Tuesday: Shark Night

Avoid this one at all costs.

Shark Night
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For as long as I can remember, I have always found sharks to be extremely interesting. There's so much we have yet to understand about them and so much we may never discover. However, many filmmakers utilize them to create what they find to be either scary or fun. Most of them don't even come close to achieving either one of them. Jaws is most certainly the best shark film created. It digs under the skin and really invests its viewers into the story. While not about sharks, Piranha still uses fish underneath the water to make a fun movie. It obtains this status by giving audiences exactly what they want, no more no less. Lots of gore, nudity, and plenty of B-movie cheesiness for us to enjoy. I was hoping for a similar type of fun from Shark Night, until it received a PG-13 rating. This instantly tells us that there won't be very much blood and little to no nudity. Even if you're looking for B-movie cheese, this is a huge letdown.

A weekend of island beach-house debauchery turns into a hellish nightmare for a group of friends when one of them loses an arm in a vicious shark attack. Worse, the pals soon discover that the waters are infested with dozens of the sharp-toothed predators. I don't expect the greatest accuracy from a flick called Shark Night, but it's ridiculous that we're supposed to believe that many of these saltwater sharks can survive in the fresh waters in which this film takes place. The script isn't just bad, but it's horrendous. All of the characters are some of the dumbest people I've seen on the big screen. The ending is absurd and leaves you wondering why you wasted your time watching this. I wasn't looking for a gripping story from this movie, but it's been done so many times before that it leaves me wondering how this even got the 'okay' to be made. To be blunt, Shark Night is beyond dull. Male viewers hoping to see some female nudity are completely out of luck. This is one of the most tame horror affairs with sharks I have seen. This includes the blood department. Have you ever found yourself watching a movie and simply not caring what happens and just wanting it to end? Well, that's how Shark Night feels, although it's magnified in this case.

As expected, the acting is horrible. The cast is composed of Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katherine McPhee, Joel David Moore, and a few others. To be quite honest, the performances are such garbage that they aren't even work dissecting. They are equally horrible as a whole. I'm surprised that Joel David Moore chose to be even be in this. I enjoyed him in B-movies such as Hatchet and even bigger budget productions, such as Avatar. However, he took a huge step back in his career by starring in this trash. The dialogue is already bad to start with, but the poor acting simply makes it even worse. If you're still interested in checking this out, be prepared to constantly be rolling your eyes due to horrible delivery from actors who can't even make the simplest of characters believable.

As mentioned earlier, there's an extremely small amount of gore and no nudity. If a shark movie is able to capture the audience without any of that, but be captivating and interesting, then that's fine. However, these cheesy shark movies have nothing going for them, except for the carnage and bodies. The movie is visually uninteresting. The shark CGI is very noticeable. They're all a bit too cartoonish looking for my tastes. It takes away any feelings of intimidation from any of the sharp-toothed predators. I fortunately didn't see this in 3D, although it's obvious that it's intended for 3D due to objects randomly flying towards the camera. One of the only positive comments I can make about Shark Night is the audio presentation. While the dialogue can be a bit buried underneath the booming music at times, the surrounds are used very well. When a shark is on screen, the surround speakers are utilized to their full potential.

Containing a horrendous screenplay, some truly bad actors, and tacky visuals, Shark Night is disappointing even with unbearably low expectations. When the teaser trailers were introduced, audiences expected to see an exciting bloodbath with some awesome sharks. Instead, we are handed an excruciatingly boring flick with no flare. There isn't anything that occurs on screen to keep our attention. The movie itself isn't well-made and the only gimmick it uses is 3D, not the blood and nudity that this sub-genre is known for. What audience are they trying to attract? Shark Night feels way longer than it actually is. Avoid this one at all costs.

My Rating = One Half of One Star

Next movie: Cowboys & Aliens

Thursday: Cowboys & Aliens

Despite the very well-known and talented names involved, Cowboys & Aliens is a little under mediocre.

Cowboys & Aliens
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There are plenty of movies out there that audiences attend due to the people behind the project. However, viewers should become more aware nowadays that they can't depend on big names to guarantee a well-crafted motion picture. Cowboys & Aliens is such a cheesy title, which I'm sure turned many people away. Those who looked a bit closer at the movie became aware of the big names involved on and off the screen. Despite the title and questionable plot, the viewers that did decide to check out the movie primarily due to the cast and crew. I was initially part of this group of people. Once early buzz was released, it was mostly negative. I took the advice of those individuals and waited for the Blu-ray release to rent it from Netflix. I'm very glad that I decided to wait for the Blu-ray release and didn't spend money on this in the theaters.

Amnesiac gunslinger, Jake Lonergan, stumbles into the Wild West town of Absolution, where he's confronted by potent enemy Col. Dolarhyde and a terrifying problem. There are invading aliens. Jake is aided by the lovely Ella and a posse of the townspeople while Dolarhyde's minions and local Apache warriors fight off the extraterrestrial threat. To be blunt, the entire screenplay is a mess. If audiences have anybody to place blame on, its the writers. Seven screenplay writers took a stab at the script, yet it simply fell apart. The film lacks a core. It has a lot of fluff and nothing underneath it all. To be honest, it isn't even very much fun. The entire point of an action sci-fi flick is generally to be fun, whether the script is good or not. However, Cowboys & Aliens fails at both of those tasks. One of the biggest issues with the film is that it tries too hard. The trailer certainly builds the movie up to be something it's not. It definitely isn't as epic as the teasers built it up to be. Not only do we not really care about what happens to the characters, but the 'epic' final battle is anti-climatic and disappointing. Cowboys & Aliens is all talk. It promises to have incredible action sequences and has merely mediocre fight scenes.

To simply name a few actors that I was excited to see in this science fiction flick are Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, and Sam Rockwell. These are generally crowd pleasing actors that I'm quite surprised that they chose to star in this movie. It leads me to wonder whether or not they actually read the final script or if they entered the project by who's involved behind the camera. However, the cast does their best with what they have been given. The dialogue isn't very good to start with, so they couldn't polish it very much. The performances aren't awful, but there isn't much that could have been done.

Director Jon Favreau has proven to do quite well behind the camera when he directed the first Iron Man. It appears that his heart wasn't in Cowboys & Aliens very much. I expected a lot more from the visual effects. The CGI used on the aliens is disappointing. I didn't even like the design of them, I've seen this type of creature way too many times in different movies over the years. However, the audio transfer is the complete opposite. The audio transfer couldn't be any stronger. The sound stage utterly immerses its audiences. The dialogue is loud and clear, the sound transitions from speaker to speaker has an incredible amount of clarity. Each of the surround speakers are excellent. The bass is powerful, yet has control. It doesn't overpower the dialogue, but certainly makes its presence known. It would be nice if the film itself could have been as strong as the audio presentation.

Despite the very well-known and talented names involved, Cowboys & Aliens is a little under mediocre. It isn't absolutely horrid, but it isn't good. Some critics exaggerated just how bad it really is. The script is a mess, but the actors perform their best and the audio transfer is brilliant. Those who spent money to see this on the big screen I'm sure were disappointed and didn't feel they got his or her money's worth. I see this movie as a rental flick. Something that may be worth watching merely as a rental and not spending money on a movie ticket. However, even then, you may feel disappointed. Cowboys & Aliens could have been much better as my final verdict is that it's a bit below mediocracy.

My Rating = Two Stars

Next movie: This Means War

Saturday: This Means War

I wouldn't recommend rushing to the theaters for this one, but it's worth a one-time viewing as a rental.

This Means War
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This past Tuesday was Valentine's Day. This is the one day of the year where not only do couples get together, but a few cheesy romantic flicks are released. There's always at least one. This Means War was supposed to be released alongside The Vow for a special Valentine's Day release. However, it was pushed back to be in wide release on February 17th. I was invited to a review screening, courtesy of 20th Century Fox, and essentially knew the verdict upon walking out. I'm never going to expect a masterpiece from a romantic comedy. These generally aren't very good, although there are exceptions. There have been some reviews that have broken the embargo, most of which are negative. After looking through them, I believe that quite a few of them are a bit harsh. They left me wondering why they judged this film as if they were watching a possible Academy Award nominee. I walked into this one expecting nothing more than a fun motion picture.

Two CIA operatives are inseparable partners and best friends. They soon discover that they've fallen in love with the same woman. Deciding to keep the friendship a secret from her, they pull out the variety of fighting skills and high-tech gadgetry in order to be the better man. The story itself doesn't escape from the typical rom-com. The plot is very straight forward. This Means War is predictable from start to finish, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the journey. I was able to guess who got the girl before even seeing the film. The script incorporates comedy, romance, and action. Audiences won't find themselves laughing too much, but there are a few funny lines delivered. Aside from that, a majority of the dialogue is poor. It's pretty cheesy and isn't going to leave many viewers happy if they're looking for clever writing. One major complaint I have is that the movie makes it too obvious who will get the girl by clearly favoring one over the other quite a bit. While I was able to guess which guy it is, I still didn't like the ending. This Means War reaches its peak during the middle of the running time. It loses a lot of steaming during its finale. It attempts to bring in a large action element when there isn't very much of it until then, with the exception of the very first few minutes. Perhaps it could have been more effective as an action flick first and a romantic comedy second. At any rate, the screenplay is weak, although I didn't expect much more from it.

Audiences are sure to be drawn to This Means War by the group of actors. Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, and Chelsea Handler are all big names. All of the performances are fine. None of them are spectacular, but that is generally very difficult when the script isn't too fantastic to begin with. Reese Witherspoon is entertaining as the woman the two men are fighting over. Tom Hardy is a phenomenal actor, but doesn't receive the attention he deserves in this role. Chris Pine is fine, but similar to the other actors, he has delivered much stronger performances. Chelsea Handler is hilarious out of the movies, so I'm sure her audiences will be interested in checking out This Means War. She is simply a supporting role, so she doesn't receive as much screen time as Witherspoon, Hardy, or Pine. However, she delivers the funniest lines the film has to offer.

As I previously mentioned, there isn't a lot of action to speak of. There's a little bit in the beginning of the film, and the final act composes of the last bit. Everything in between is a pure romantic comedy. The last action sequence delivers much better than the beginning. It offers flipping and exploding cars, shooting guns, and plenty of unbelievable stunts as other action flicks offer. Otherwise, there isn't very much to discuss regarding the visuals.

I have some mixed feelings about This Means War. It surely isn't the perfect movie, although it isn't as horrible as some critics want you to believe. If you're expecting a well-crafted award-winner, then you're sure to hate it. However, if you simply are looking for a fun Valentine's Day flick that can work for both genders, then this is worth checking out. The script has its issues, the cast does its job as they should, and the visuals deliver. I don't think it would be fair to expect too much more than that. This Means War is average. I wouldn't recommend rushing to the theaters for this one, but it's worth a one-time viewing as a rental.

My Rating = Three Stars

Next movie: The Human Centipede

Sunday: The Human Centipede

The Human Centipede doesn't deserve the popularity it has received.

The Human Centipede
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Director Tom Six has unfortunately created a film that has become a name in pop culture. The Human Centipede is currently well-known by many audiences, whether they've seen it or not. It's known for the torture-porn and initial plot. Most audiences went to check this one out due to the internet hype that was built over a period of time. Sure, the concept is nasty, but does the movie accomplish much more than that? Is it even fair to assess this as a horror film? Opinions are sure to vary from moviegoer to moviegoer, although I find it to be a disgrace to the horror genre.

After their car breaks down while in Germany, Americans Lindsay and Jenny wind up at a remote villa. They soon find themselves trapped in a nightmare. Dr. Josef Heiter kidnaps them for his demented experiment to create a human "centipede." The plan includes removing their kneecaps so they must walk on all fours, then surgically connecting them to a Japanese man to create a bizarre human chain. Once you get over the initial shock of the premise, then you'll realize that there isn't anything left. The entire screenplay is based solely on the shock value of these three characters being connected. I never once found myself feel sympathetic towards any of triad of characters. As expected, the dialogue will have most viewers laughing and rolling his or her eyes throughout. Many people tried to defend the film by saying it contains deeper meanings concerning society and that it isn't meant to be taken seriously. I believe that this isn't meant to be taken in a certain context, but I absolutely disagree regarding the state that this explores a message of what's happening in society. This human "centipede" was rumored for a long time to be one of the sickest, most controversial movies to be made in recent times. Well, it's quite tame compared to other movies. I'm glad that I didn't have to see a woman eating a man's crap in too much explicit detail, but the film has a lot of false hype. The ending is predictable and left me feeling that I wasted valuable time of my life that I could have spent doing something much more productive. Take away the disgusting initial concept and The Human Centipede has nothing to attract viewers.

With such a sick idea, how many good actors are going to volunteer to take a part in this filth? Not very many. The three roles in the human "centipede" are Akihiro Kitamura, Ashley C. Williams, and Ashlynn Yennie. None of them are very convincing. Especially the two girls. Williams and Yennie have the skill level of an actress in a pornographic flick. Before they're connected, those who have seen the movie will know what I am talking about. The dialogue may be bad, but both the delivery is even worse. Dieter Laser performs as Dr. Heiter. He's clearly the strongest role in the movie. He's a sick doctor that's believable in the creepy type persona. Even if a good director was behind the camera, these actors didn't stand much of a chance to begin with. Dr. Heiter has the only acceptable performance from the cast. The other actors are beyond bad.

With all of the buzz surrounding the movie, audiences expected this to be a blood fest. However, there's actually a very small amount of blood. The ass-to-mouth contact is thankfully kept underneath bandages and we never see that blatantly on screen. After seeing the sequel, The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence, Director Tom Six has done a much more tasteful job with the original. The visual department isn't trying as hard as the sequel does. Six keeps a lot to the imagination in The Human Centipede.

To be bluntly honest, The Human Centipede is a piece of shit that Six is trying to force us to swallow. The buzz that was on the internet is what brought about a lot of the audiences. However, it's not that the movie is that brutal. It's rather tame, but the movie itself is just awful. I don't consider this to be horror. It doesn't try to provoke fear, make us think, or even shock us in a horrifying way. Instead, it tries to use a gross premise with horrible actresses and expect us to bite. I suppose this type of film is an acquired taste that I'm glad I don't possess. The Human Centipede doesn't deserve the popularity it has received.

My Rating = One Star

Next movie: Takers