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Sinister just isn’t evil enough

5 Aug


Last week, my buddy told me that he felt that Sinister was scarier and better than The Conjuring. Intrigued I decided to watch it at night with all of the lights off to get the full effect.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his family move into a house where a horrific crime happened. He hopes it will help him write a new book that will turn his career around. He finds some 8mm home movies and uses it as his source material, but he ends up finding some frightening facts about the films.

Sinister had potential. I was hooked from the beginning and thought for a moment that my friend may be right, but then I found myself losing interest during the second and third acts to the point I was rolling my eyes at the absurd ending. I appreciate Hawke’s effort, but the twists do not work and Sinister just isn’t evil enough.


Adam’s Grade: C

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Pacific Rim is a monstrous mess

28 Jul


Acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is finally back behind the camera in the enormously disappointing Pacific Rim. Giant monsters versus Giant humanoid robots. There really isn’t that more to tell as far as the story is concerned. It lacks emotion, humor and character development. I love Idris Elba (Stacker), but he is out of his element, along with Charlie Hunnam (Raleigh) and Rinko Kikuchi (Mako).  They are forced into relationships that don’t work and a rivalry that comes out of nowhere. The only thing that saves this film from becoming one of the summer’s worst is the astounding visual effects and the cinematography. I wanted to like Pacific Rim, but it is a monstrous mess.


Adam’s Grade: C

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Red Lights is predictable, but entertaining

19 Mar


Red Lights is the latest offering from Netflix’s new release carousal, but to be honest, I hesitated at first because it was another limited run Robert De Niro film. The movie has several flaws that I should have seen coming, but I was hooked when I found actors, Sigourney Weaver (Margaret Matheson) and Cillian Murphy (Tom Buckley) as a pair of scientists dead set on disproving people’s claims of psychic and supernatural powers. Writer/Director Rodrigo Cortes starts off strong by establishing a believable working relationship between Weaver and Murphy, but the film begins to loose its hold over me when De Niro appears as the legendary psychic Simon Silver. All of sudden, my psychic gifts were able to predict what was going to happen next. Regardless, I found the story entertaining, and thought Cortes’s choice of locations and cinematography demonstrated his passion for his craft and better things to come in the future.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: C

OZ the Great and Powerful is missing more than ruby slippers

11 Mar


OZ the Great and Powerful is missing more than the iconic ruby slippers from the MGM’s 1939 film. Disney ends up producing this movie with one arm tied behind its back because Warner Brothers would not release the rights to Dorthy shoes and most of the noteworthy character likenesses, as well as not being able to cast their original choices. Sam Raimi does his best with a script that keeps repeating itself and a lead actor (James Franco) that won’t stop smiling. The wicked witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz) are the most interesting part of OZ, but they will fall trap to a one-note performance in the end when the film attempts to connect the story to the original. I’m sure children will like the film and it will lead to their parents introducing them to the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, which a good thing because then they will realize the difference between a movie and a masterpiece.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: C

The Jacket unravels at the seams

10 Nov

The Jacket is a film that mixes elements of horror and science-fiction into a psychological thriller that leaves audiences wondering what to make of it. I like this film, although parts of it remind me of the movie, The Butterfly Effect.

Jack Starks (Adrien Brody) is a Gulf War veteran suffering from periodic amnesia that is accused of murder and sentenced to an insane asylum where he is subject to strange experiments involving a jacket that somehow allows him to travel into the future to visit a girl (Keira Knightley) from his past whose future is uncertain.

Brody has a tendency from time to time to take roles that most for Academy Award winner actors would run from. Throughout his career he has embraced offbeat parts that seem better suited for lesser known actors, but his flair for the eccentric is what makes him one of the most interesting artists working in Hollywood. Unfortunately, The Jacket unravels at the seams.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C

The Da Vinci Code is better left unsolved

24 Oct

There is a double edge sword every time Hollywood attempts adapt a best selling novel into a film. On the one side, there is great material to work from with interesting episodes and characters, where as on the other hand the expectations placed on the film are very high.

Ron Howard’s interpretation of Dan Brown’s novel feels rushed. The most interesting parts of the story are skimmed over to keep the film moving from murder to murder, but the action does not generate enough suspense to keep audiences interested for long. The chemistry between Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou does not work. Individually, both actors are wonderful, but together there seems to be a disconnection where audiences are left indifferent about their partnership. It is almost strange to say, but it is rare when Howard and Hanks make a forgettable film. Unfortunately, The Da Vinci Code should have been left unsolved.


Chuck’s Grade: D

Adam’s Grade: C

Resident Evil spawns a zombie franchise

16 Sep

The first installment of the Resident Evil franchise shoots its way into the zombie genre with its video-game like approach to the film’s story and action. Action films usually inspire video games, but in this case the opposite is true. The premise is simple and director Paul W. S. Anderson wastes no time letting loose the T-virus in an secret underground research facility. The Umbrella Corporation sends in a special unit to stop the outbreak, but encounter a mysterious woman named Alice.

Milla Jovovich takes command and transforms Alice into an iconic zombie killer. There are many female actors that have tried their hand at the action star genre but have failed. Jovovich successfully turns her mediocre scripts and sup-par supporting casts into her favor by allowing her intoxicating screen presence to carry Alice to another level. Resident Evil does not measure up to George Romero’s genius, but the this film entertains its video game followers and zombie movie fans.


Chuck’s grade: C+

Adam’s grade: C

Snow White and the Huntsman is not the fairest in the land

10 Sep

I come from the Disney generation that has the iconic images of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs stuck in my head forever, but Rupert Sanders’ Snow White and the Huntsman takes the Grimm Brother’s story to a much darker forest.  The evil queen played masterfully by Charlize Theron contracts a melancholy Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track down Snow White  and kill her. Stewart does an admirable job with role and her star power makes her the logical choice, but I just don’t see her as the ideal Snow White.  Hemsworth fits his role, but I would not categorize as a signature performance like his Thor. The real reason to see this movie is Theron and Sanders’ interpretation of the evil queen. The queen’s back story places her to the film’s forefront and its special effects only accentuates the film’s dark character. The original film will always be the fairest, but the Huntsman is a worthy interpretation.


Chuck’s Grade: B

Adam’s Grade: C

J. Edgar’s career makes for a long movie

6 Sep

Clint Eastwood directs Leonardo DiCaprio as the controversial FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. I cannot speak on the accuracy of the biopic, but Eastwood drives home the fact that Hoover was a patriot that would “protect” the United States by any means necessary–legally and illegally.  Basically, the film recounts the man’s major achievements in law enforcement, as well as reveal the relationship he shared with his long time Associate Director, Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). I think Eastwood could have went deeper with both areas. It felt like he was only willing to open the door a crack to let us peep in, but never really allow us to look to long. DiCaprio turns in another great performance and Judi Dench’s role as Hoover’s mother is perfection.

For me, this film was wonderful to watch at home, but I don’t think I would have been comfortable sitting in a theater watching this story about a hard to like political figure.


Chuck’s Grade: B-

Adam’s Grade: C

Reign of Fire is not very hot.

4 Sep

When you hear the leading male cast assembled for this film (Christian Bale, Matthew McConaughey, and Gerard Butler) you automatically think that this film is going to be amazing.  On the contrary, the trio’s chemistry does not work in this film because I believe the roles were miss-cast. In my opinion, I think it would have been a much better film if we McConaughey played Bale’s role, and Bale play Butler’s character, and Butler play McConaughey’s part. Even so, I am not sure these new roles could save this post-apocalyptic script of fire breathing dragons decimating the Earth to the point of mankind’s extinction. Director Rob Bowman’s prolific television success has not translated over to the big screen yet, but I think he is a talented artist that should have done much better with these three actors. Reign of Fire is something you can watch late night on the television, but on the big screen it wasn’t very hot.


Chuck’s grade: C

Adam’s grade: C