Monday, July 28, 2014

Cat Run (2011)

Number Rolled: 28
Movie Name/Year: Cat Run (2011)
Genre: Independent
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: R
Affiliated Companies: Lleju Productions, Universal Studios (Distribution only)
Executive Producer: Ram Bergman, Derrick Borte, Peter Principato, Max Winkler, Paul Young
Director: John Stockwell
Writer: Nick Ball, John Niven
Actors: Paz Vega, Janet McTeer, Alphonso McAuley, Scott Mechlowicz, Christopher McDonald, Karel Roden, D.L. Hughley, Tony Curran, Michelle Lombardo, Radik Golovkov, Branko Djuric, Gordan Kicic, Jelena Gavrilovic, Albert Perez, Caleb Vela Poquet, Heather Chasen, Michael Sopko, Vanja Govorko, Jovan Krstic, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Milorad Kapor

Anthony has done his best to distance himself from his family. He even moved out of the U.S. and opened a restaurant on another continent. Business wound up kind of sucking and when his best friend finds him and gives him the idea to start a detective agency he folds. Their first case, though, takes them further into danger than they ever expected.

I hate the word “derivative.” In fact, the only time you’ll ever see it used in one of my reviews is when I’m making fun of it. Why? Well, when a critic uses the word to describe a movie, they’re basically just saying that the film was imitating another one. In a lot of cases, I find that it’s less imitation and more inspiration. I mean, directors grow up watching movies and honed their styles in the memory of their favorites, right? So almost every one of them has been inspired by something someone else made. If a critic simply means the movie is cookie cutter or unimaginative – then they should just say that. I feel like it’s just a word those people use to sound more elitist.

Cat Run was not well liked by critics. I think the lot of them were watching the wrong movie or something, because I thought the film was hilarious.

There’s a lot of sex and nudity, but considering the main plot it makes sense for there to be a lot of sexuality. There was also the buddy-detective aspect because of the two main characters. Most of Cat Run actually seemed like an episode of Psyche with different actors. It did have some relatively original parts, though, and I thought the characters came alive through the actors.

There were some plot holes. The only one that I can mention without adding a spoiler alert, however, is that it’s never explained why Anthony has such superior observation skills (his skills are revealed roughly 10 minutes into the movie). I would have liked to know the story behind it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 14%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 33%

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.3/5
Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Movie Trailer: 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Wicker Park (2004)

Number Rolled: 39
Movie Name/Year: Wicker Park (2004)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 114 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Affiliated Companies: MGM, Lakeshore Entertainment
Executive Producer: Georges Benayoun, Gilles Mimouni, Harley Tannenbaum, Henry Winterstern
Director: Paul McGuigan
Writer: Gilles Mimouni, Brandon Boyce
Actors: Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne, Matthew Lillard, Diane Kruger, Christopher Cousins, Jessica Pare, Amy Sobol, Ted Whittall, Joanna Noyes

Matthew is just starting down a new road in his career. Just before an important trip to China is about to begin, he convinces himself that he’s seen the girlfriend who disappeared a couple of years earlier. Obsessed with finding out what happened, he puts off his trip in order to find her.

Josh Hartnett (Penny Dreadful, Girl Walks Into a Bar, Black Hawk Down) and Matthew Lillard (The Bridge, Fat Kid Rules the World, SLC Punk) are the two reasons this movie found its way onto my list. With the romantic qualities it’s right up Hartnett’s alley and it shows off his puppy dog quality that makes his fans swoon. Matthew Lillard… well… I think he should be in everything. I seriously believe every movie would be better with a dash of Lillard. He can do anything, but his main talent is that drop of comedy that keeps movies like this from being stale.

Why did Wicker Park need that comedy? That’s an easy question.

In short, the movie spends the first half hour competing for the title of “most boring.” Aspects of the story start to appear, but without the connections that come later on it feels confusing. Granted, in psychological thrillers there’s usually a “what the fuck’s going on here” aspect; that feeling is usually coupled with an undertone of dread and curiosity. In Wicker Park, it’s not coupled with anything.

Without Lillard’s unique, and necessary, brand of comedy it would have been a lot more difficult to suffer through the beginning.

Once the threads of the plot began to connect and I got to start seeing the big picture, however, it became almost difficult to look away.

At the very end, the movie left me satisfied. All my questions were answered and I looked back on the story fondly.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 25%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 80%

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.1/5
Trust-the-Dice Score 3.5/5

P.S. Wicker Park is a remake of the French film The Apartment (1996)

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Unscheduled Leave

You may have noticed that I missed my last two blog entries. I apologize. My back was injured and this is the first time I've been able to get to a computer since my last blog entry. Expect normal posts to resume on Thursday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Skeleton Key (2005)

Number Rolled: 4
Movie Name/Year: The Skeleton Key (2005)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Affiliated Companies: Universal Pictures, ShadowCatcher Entertainment, Double Feature Films, Daniel Bobker Productions, Brick Dust Productions LLC, MFPV Film
Executive Producer: Clayton Townsend
Director: Iain Softley
Writer: Ehren Kruger
Actors: Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands, John Hurt, Peter Sarsgaard, Joy Bryant, Maxine Barnett, Fahnlohnee R. Harris, Thomas Uskali, Jen Apgar, Forrest Landis, Jamie Lee Redmon, Ronald McCall, Jeryl Prescott, Isaach De Bankole

Caroline is a hospice worker trying to get enough experience to become a nurse. When she finds she disagrees with the heartless nature of the hospice she works at, she sets out to find a client of her own. After finding an ad in the paper, she finds a strange old couple to work for.

Despite the decent cast there was really nothing spectacular about this movie. I wasn’t startled when I should have been and the plot was ultimately predictable. I enjoyed the ending otherwise it would have been a complete waste of time.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen a great deal of hoodoo-based movies/shows, but it feels like writers do the same things over and over again. They build up the dispute of the subject so much that it loses its edge.

The best way to describe what I mean is by using The Matrix as an example. There will be spoilers in the next paragraph, but the film’s been out for 15 years. The grace period to see it is over, spoilers are now just kind of recaps.

When Neo first meets Morpheus, he doesn’t quite get what the matrix is or his role in it. Even when he’s training it hurts to get hit or to fall. So, when Neo believes the matrix is real, an agent holding a gun to him is terrifying. Even though he can dodge the bullets, he fearfully calls for Trinity. However, by the end of the movie the matrix makes sense to him; the gun does not exist, so he doesn’t even bother dodging. There’s no fear.

Hoodoo movies and shows tend to stress that the magic is only frightening if you believe in it. So, I wind up staring at the screen wondering why the victims don’t just walk away. The script itself denies that there’s any actual danger for the character, so there’s no fear.

A great hoodoo script wouldn’t outright say that the magic can’t hurt someone if they don’t believe. It would let that be an unspoken rule. Only then would the psychological terror become more realistic.

The mind is a powerful thing. If a writer tells me the main conflict is a lie, I will believe it’s a lie.

And I will be bored.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 38%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 58%

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.5/5
Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Movie Trailer: 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

State of Emergency (2013)

Number Rolled: 67
Movie Name/Year: State of Emergency (2013)
Genre: Horror
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: NR
Affiliated Companies: Clay Bros. Motion Pictures
Executive Producer: John Will Clay, Turner Clay, Jim Kehoe, Jason Price
Director: Turner Clay
Writer: Turner Clay
Actors: Jay Hayden, Andy Stahl, Tori White, Scott Lilly, Kathryn Todd Norman, McKenna Jones, Loren Albnese

After the explosion of a chemical plant in a small town, people begin to mutate. They become violent and cannibalistic. Failing to save his fiancĂ©, Jim holes up in a stable to try and stay alive until rescue. When a group notices him, they call him over to a warehouse they’ve been staying in. Together, they believe they will have better success than they would have alone.

First thing I need to do is explain why I added the “zombie” label to this movie. From the art, one would automatically assume that’s what they were getting, but it’s debatable. I’d be more likely to describe the creatures in this movie as monsters or mutations, but they do possess some basic zombie-like qualities. In fact, there are only a couple of points in the film where the definition didn’t really fit. So, it’s more like Turner Clay took the zombie experience and evolved it for his own use than anything else. It’s not a bad thing, but it is new.

Hey, at least they don’t sparkle.

This movie was much better than I expected it to be. Both when I added it to my list and when it was finally chosen. I expected a B-movie attempt at a World War Z type storyline. That’s not what I got. The effects and costumes were really pretty good and so was the acting.

Alright, Jay Hayden now has the title of “King of Slow Turn and Look in a Horror Movie,” but aside from that, nearly everything was believable.

Not only would I watch State of Emergency again, I’d recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 27%

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 3.1/5
Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

The Random Rating: PG-13 – For moderate horror, blood and action

Movie Trailer: 

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Mooring (2012)

Number Rolled: 91
Movie Name/Year: The Mooring (2012)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: R
Affiliated Companies: In House Media, Lionsgate
Executive Producer: James Edington, Jeff Scott Edwards, Hallie Todd, Glenn Withrow
Director: Glenn Withrow
Writer: Ivy Withrow, Hallie Todd, Glenn Withrow
Actors: Hallie Todd, Thomas Wilson Brown, Karli Blalock, Anna Goodwin, Larissa Hayden, Lilli Hendrickson, Erin McIntosh, Olivia Meyer, Hailee Naccarato, Jessica Pepeli, Katie Simpson, Brooklyn Tate, Christopher Goodwin

Several girls land themselves in trouble and are sent to take part in a kind of technology rehab. During their introduction to the program, their phones and cameras are taken away and they are given a run-down on what’s expected of them. The next day, they all board the boat that will take them to the campsite.

The script was lazy. There’s no other way to describe it. For some reason, the writers believed that a five second speech made by one character about the others constituted an in depth background.

When the hack-and-slash started I was just bored. How could I have possibly cared about any of the screaming characters? I didn’t know a single thing about them except what landed them in the group! They were all faceless characters in what was essentially a snuff film with no damn point.

It’s my understanding that the film was based on a true story. If that’s the case, it’s a terrible story that’s frightening for those who were a part of it. Unfortunately, some true stories just don’t translate to the big screen, regardless of how tragic the circumstances were.

I will say one thing for the movie: those teenage actresses were amazing. For most of them, this was their debut and I sincerely hope the terrible quality of the script doesn’t hold them back. I genuinely believed what the girls were selling me.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 2.2/5
Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

Movie Trailer: 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012)

Number Rolled: 31
Movie Name/Year: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012)
Genre: Children & Family
Length: 86 minutes
Rating: PG
Affiliated Companies: Universal Pictures, Illumination Entertainment
Executive Producer: Ken Daurio, Audrey Geisel, Cinco Paul
Director: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Writer: Dr. Seuss, Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio
Actors: Danny DeVito, Ed Helms, Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate, Nasim Pedrad, Elmarie Endel, Danny Cooksey, Stephen Tobolowsky

Living in a town made completely out of plastic, where fresh air only comes from a delivery man, is all the rage. Ted sees no problem with it, until the girl he has a crush on admits that all she really wants is a tree growing in her backyard. Curious as to why anyone would care about some weird, dirty thing that serves no purpose, Ted seeks out the only one who can give him the answer.

I love Dr. Seuss. When I was a little girl, I made my mom read me One Fish, Two Fish so many times she STILL has it memorized – word for word. She’s none too shy about reminding me, either. There may be other Dr. Seuss books she can recite from memory, but that’s the one she’ll pull out on me whenever it’s convenient to embarrass me. It’s kind of amusing, but I will never tell her that (and she’s a technophobe, so there’s no way she’ll read this).

Love of Dr. Seuss aside, this movie wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be. There was nothing wrong with the voices or the animation. Parts of the script were frightening, but considering the social commentary, that was kind of the point. I guess the music wasn’t bad, nothing all too memorable, though.

That’s the issue. Dr. Seuss is memorable. You won’t find work like his anywhere. So to honor his one-of-a-kind author with a relatively forgettable movie, it’s almost offensive.

In the end, it wasn’t bad. It’s better for kids 12 and under than adults, but I probably wouldn’t groan if a kid made me watch it. Just don’t expect to be blown away.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 54%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%

Netflix’s Prediction for Me – 4.5/5
Trust-the-Dice Score3/5

Movie Trailer: