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#43: Skyline

So, I went in to Skyline having read the reviews, and knowing from the start that it was currently coasting along at a 10% at Rotten Tomatoes. Not a good sign.

Turns out, expecting to see the worst movie of the year is a pretty good setup to seeing Skyline.

It's NOT the worst movie of the year (that's still a dead race between The Lovely Bones and the remake of Nightmare on Elm Street), but it's EASILLY the most disappointing movie of the year. Because the trailers were really interesting looking.

The fact that this is, in the end, a boring movie is kind of a shock. The special effects were rather good... but turns out a movie needs more than good special effects to be a good movie. Skyline's main problem is its script, really; it's put together from all the best parts of a dozen or so OTHER movies, but without any skill at writing dialogue. And then the script attempts to present a really grim, ultimately quite dark movie in a no-gore PG-13 sanitized manner. Had this movie been written or directed by David Cronenberg, Clive Barker, David Fincher, or John Carpenter, in full-on R-rated mode with no-holds barred and as a full-on horror movie, and had someone with talent written the screenplay and dialouge, it could have been an INCREDIBLE movie. But it wasn't.

Skyline: D+


#42: Unstoppable

Unstoppable is about a train that, in the end, is stoppable. That's not a spoiler, because the movie has to end sometime! It's nowhere near as good as my favorite runaway train movie, which is, of course, "Runnaway Train." Of course, the fact that "Runnaway Train" was based on an Akira Kurosawa script gives it an immediate boost above all other movies.

That all said, Unstoppable is never boring. Which is more than I can say for movie #43.

Unstoppable: B


#41: Paranormal Activity 2

I was relatively fortunate to not have a lot of annoying chuckleheads in this audience... there WERE some chuckleheads, but not enough to really distress me.

I went in to this one with pretty low expectations; I really REALLY love the first one, but a lot of its strength lies in the fact that it did a lot of things in a new way. The sequel carries on the tradition, and doesn't do what I feared it would do (go overboard with special effects and turn the movie into a spectacle), but neither does it ever achieve the bonecrushing horror and tension of the first one. Still, some great scares and some cool tense moments here. The backstory of the demon that's doing the haunting gets some more clues, and it kind of diminishes the horror for me a little to find out there was a specific reason for it to be doing what it's doing rather than just picking a victim at random, though...

Paranormal Activity 2: A–


#40: Hereafter

Clint Eastwood doesn't do supernatural movies that often, so when I heard about "Hereafter" I was, of course, intrigued. Alas... the movie's not his best. It's still a quite good movie, though, with a REALLY powerful opening scene that is quite incredible and breathtaking; I won't spoil it for you but if you've seen the trailers you know what it is. Fortunately, the sequence has quite a bit more going on in it than what's shown in the trailers.

Anyway, the movie's more of a romance than a drama, really, and as such not really my cup of tea... yet it's still a really well-made movie with some great performances in it.

Hereafter: B+


#39: Let Me In

Now, I'm not a fan of remakes of foreign movies. That said... when a remake actually equals or improves on the original, I'm delighted. This doesn't happen often, and when it does, it's almost always because the remake has the good fortune to be in the hands of a visionary director.

"Let the Right One In" was the best vampire movie I'd seen in a long time, and "Let Me In," although it's the American remake, is the best vampire movie I've seen since that. The original is a HAIR better, but only because it was first. "Let Me In" is very well made, stays absolutely true to the original and adds some new surprises and developments. Incredibly well acted. And most assuredly NOT for the kids; this is about a young kid who falls in love with a young vampire... but it's about as far from Twilight as you can really get. When these vampires hit sun, for example, they don't sparkle. They burst into flames so violently that anyone standing nearby is going to burn to death.

Very well done movie indeed.

Let Me In: A


#38: Monsters

So they say that "Monsters" only cost $15,000 to make, and that it effectively only had a crew of two people during filming, and the director did all the special effects on his laptop computer. If that's true... then this is all the proof I need that making a great movie is now something that ANYONE can do. Sure, we've seen things like Blair Witch Project and the like... but "Monsters" feels actually epic. In that it's about, well, monsters. And not little ones. HUGE ones, the size of skyscrapers. They look like a cross between an octopus and a giant spider, and flash with internal luminescence.

Now here's the thing, though... when I say it's about monsters... that's kind of a lie. It's actually about two people stranded on the wrong side of where the monsters live (they came from space and basically infested/took over the upper half of Mexico), and in order to reach safety, the two characters have to basically walk through the infected zone. There's actually not a lot of monster action in the movie at all, to the point where the monsters are almost a side plot. Yet neither do they disappoint when they show up. Incredible movie, but don't go into it thinking you're gonna get Cloverfield or Godzilla. The monsters in this movie could certainly take on any other kaiju if they wanted... but they don't really want to. It's a really unique giant monster movie. I hope that they make more. Hell, for $15,000 that's almost at the point where I can help them make more!

Monsters: A


#37: The Town

So the thing about my experience seeing "The Town" was that the movie, as good as it was (and it WAS good!) it was the theater experience that was the best. I went to the "Gold Class " theater here in Redmond, and while the ticket to see the movie cost me $22.00, it was worth it. Because the theater had reclining seats, blankets if you wanted them, free soda, and a button you could push whenever you wanted an attendant to come to you so you could order food or booze or whatever. I ordered some onion rings, and they were DEEELICIOUS. Overall, a great experience. I won't be seeing every movie there, but if a movie I particularly want to see ends up there and I suspect it'll either draw chuckleheads (aka is a PG13 horror movie on opening weekend), or if it's a movie I've been REALLY anticipating, I'll pay the extra bucks. It's worth it if only for the guarantee that everyone else there paid a lot as well, so they're not going to be jerks and talk and make fools of themselves.

ANYway... "The Town" was quite good.

The Town: B +


#36: Machete

Machete don't text!

Machete: A


#35: The Girl who Played with Fire

Huh. Got the movies a little out of order. I actually saw this one a month ago and just forgot to post a review.

So I watched "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" on DVD and loved it. An EXCELLENT crime drama made even better by two of the most interesting characters I've seen in movies this year. Then I found out that movie was the first in a trilogy... and that Part 2 was playing in theaters RIGHT NOW! And even better, it was playing at "The Big Picture" in Redmond!

The thing about The Big Picture is that you have to be 21 to go see movies there. Not because they show pornos. But because they serve alcohol and because they want to show movies in an environment where folks who love movies don't have to endure immaturity and wailing babies while they watch the movie.

Anyway, I got to see both of those movies almost back to back, and it was great. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is the better of the two, because it's a self-contained complete movie. "The Girl who Played with Fire" builds right off of the first movie, continuing several plot lines and introducing new ones that you don't realize until you see the first movie were actually introduced in the first movie. Very tense, great acting, cool characters... good times! But then it just ends! SUPER ABRUPTLY! Which kind of annoyed me. It was like how "Kill Bill" ended. You weren't done watching the movie; it was still good!

Ah well. Part 3, "The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest" comes out in a few months, so I don't have THAT long to wait.

The Girl who Played with Fire: A (but only if the next movie finishes the trilogy up good; if it doesn't, this'll prolly drop to a B+)


#34: The Last Exorcism

NEW RULE: Do not go see PG-13 horror movies on opening night.

Just got back from "The Last Exorcisim," which turns out was a very effective, creepy, moody, and quite scary little movie. Plot: A priest who's lost his faith sees one too many reports of exorcisms causing more harm than good, and hires a documentary crew to interview him and follow along with him as he performs a "fake" exorcism on a family who thinks it's a real one. Of course... it being a horror movie, turns out there's quite a bit more going on with the young woman who's supposedly possessed by a demon than this priest might initially think.

A pretty fine movie, truth be told.

But the audience I saw it with was the worst-behaved collection of troglodytes I've had the displeasure of sharing a theater with for years. In fact, the last time I had an audience this disrepectful, noisy, stupid, and lame was at "Cabin Fever," also a movie from Eli Roth (although that time as a director, not a producer). The police came in to escort a belligerent family of white-trash hoodlums from the theater during "Cabin Fever." And that same thing pretty much happened tonight at "The Last Exorcism," where a family had a SHRIEKING CRYING infant that they simply would not bring out of the theater. Management eventually intervened, but not before a significant portion of the middle of the movie (a point which, once the movie was over, was one of the KEY bits of dialogue, I suspect, in setting up the surprise ending of the film) was more or less completely ruined by the combination of a shrieking baby and folks elsewhere in the audience mocking the baby and causing most of the theater to erupt into laughter.

Also featured in this showing: several people who kept texting on their phones, a row of noisy teenagers who I actually got to shush (it mostly worked, but not completely), and believe it or not, some brainac with a green pocket laser who thought it might be fun to zap the screen now and then. Unbelievable.

It's been a long, long time since I came out of a theater with this much anger and disappointment and frustration at an audience. I guess I was due for one. But in the future... PG-13 horror movies get viewed when America's Finest are out doing other things. Like hopefully getting arrested.

The Last Exorcism: A – (estimated; I'll need to see it again to confirm without the audience annoying me)