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Basic Cliché Drama
This movie is a good example of the fact that hiring famous actors is not enough make a good movie. It is badly scripted, have tons of plot holes and tries to be politically correct as much as possible.
Here are some of the things that don't make sense: ***WARNING SPOILERS***
1. Imam sends a courier with his message. Wait, what year is this? Why is Imam not using a phone or the internet? One courier is killed, so he is sending another one. Perhaps he is afraid that authorities will intercept his message? But his message is for peace! There is no need to hide such message, why not announce it publicly.
2. Noomi is an interrogator. And yet she is sent on missions to terminate the enemy in public in broad daylight! Looks like CIA is running out of employees.
3. Michael Douglas is ready to do anything for his country. He can sacrifice lives of thousands if it makes US stronger. But he avoids killing Naomi which ultimately leads to the failure of his entire plot.
Nadie quiere la noche (2015)
Very much inaccurate, Not based on facts
This movie is about the survival attempts of two women - Josephine Peary (wife of Robert Peary who claimed to reach the north pole) and Aleqasina (an Inuit mistress of Robert Peary).
Both women wait for Robert to come back from the north pole while icebound in the cruel and cold weather of the Greenland. Aleqasina (called Allaka throughout the movie) has a small igloo of her own, while Josephine enjoys the comfort and warmth of the wooden cabin.
The movie shows both women alone and not a single soul around. But in reality, Josephine stayed in the cabin with her little daughter Marie. Aleqasina was also not alone, she was with her son (fathered by Robert Peary). According to the letters written by Josephine Peary, Marie and that little boy often played together in the wooden cabin. When Aleqasina fell ill, Josephine helped her and finally Aleqasina got better.
The movie shows that Aleqasina dies in the end with her little baby - she wanders away into the terrible cold, never to see the Sun again.
But in reality, she lived for many more decades after Robert Peary claimed to reach the north pole in 1908. she gave birth to three more children, including one more son fathered by Robert Peary. She died in 1930's.
Both Juliet Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi have performed their roles beautifully. But the story is not based on facts and leaves the viewer clueless as to what they are trying to show in this movie.
*** 3 stars only for the acting.
The Lesson (2015)
Lots of blood and a few screams too
When the students frustrate the teacher too much, what will the teacher do? Perhaps those students need a lesson - a real lesson that they will never forget in their lifetime.
The teacher makes sure that the students pay full attention this time, no matter what it takes. He has all the tools for the job - nails, hammers, pliers, knives, duct tape and a brand new nail gun. And so follows a night of horror, torture and screams. But he will not stop until they learn the lesson by heart.
If you have loved Panic Room (2002), Shuttle (2009) and Saw (2004), then you will enjoy this movie too.
Crawl or Die (2014)
Celebration of claustrophobia
"Crawl or Die" is an interesting "chased by monster" movie running entirely inside dark cylindrical tunnels.
The story is similar to the "American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993)" where they are trying to save the only woman who can give birth to a baby, and "Alien (1979)" where they are trying to save their ass in dark surroundings from - well, aliens! But the small budget of "Crawl or Die" keeps it from achieving the same results as these great movies.
The monster in "Crawl or Die" has a striking resemblance to the "Alien" monster. But it is not as smart. Even though it chased TANK all the way to the end, yet it keeps standing like stupid in the end - ready to be torched any time she pleased.
But the claustrophobic environment created by the tunnels has its desired effect. The cylindrical tunnels seem never to end and keep becoming smaller in size, making it very difficult to crawl inside them. You may fall off your chair during the scene where they have to crawl under a horizontal construction with very little clearance.
In short, while the story looks partly borrowed from well known movies, the direction and the superb acting of Nicole Alonso (the TANK character) has turned it into a good thriller. I hope the sequel(s) have something unexpected and unique to offer.
Weak story, wooden acting
It is a common misconception that just by taking big Hollywood stars in your movie, you will end up with a great movie even if you use a weak storyline. This movie, LUCY, is a fine example of this delusion.
Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) accidentally consumes a large quantity of an unknown drug which initiates a sequence of ever increasing brain usage - 10%, 20%, 30% and so on until she starts using 100% of her brain capacity. At every stage, she acquires special abilities - telekinetic powers, ability to control telecommunication networks, transform her body at her will and so on. Viewers may feel at a loss to see that even with such superpowers, she cannot manufacture the drug that initiated this whole thing.
Every now and then, Professor Norman (Morgan Freeman) appears on the screen explaining what increased brain capacity can do for humans. In addition, for the benefit of movie viewers, Lucy herself seems to drop unwarranted information about what is happening to her to different people she comes across and who look at her completely clueless. It is not clear why these people would be interested in her brain capacity.
While Morgan Freeman has done his usual good acting in the little chance he was given, Scartlett Johansson has given a slightly wooden performance specially when she talks about the abilities of her increasing brain capacity.
With a very weak storyline, poor direction and at times wooden acting, LUCY is strictly for the hardcore fans of Scarlett Johansson.
A Certain Justice (2014)
Not great, but certainly good
This movie does not disappoint you if you are looking for some nice action. Many movies have been made on a similar storyline, but Puncture Wounds presents it you in a different flavor.
John (Cung Le) is a soldier returning from war. He tries to help a hooker who works for Hollis (Dolph Lundgren) and that's how matters get worse. The rest of the movie is a mixed up world of corrupt police officers, drug dealers and prostitution rackets.
Cung Le has given good performance and Dolph Lundgren has impressed like always. Vinnie Jones appears briefly but plays the bad guy role very naturally. One thing that may let down Dolph Lundgren fans is that he was not given longer screen time.
Read the Books or Wait for the Sequels
This movie is based on the first book of the Gems trilogy by Kerstin Gier. If you have not read or you have never heard about these books, then you may feel a little disappointed towards the end of the movie. The movie has a very nice and engaging plot that captivates the viewer's attention from the beginning.
The story is about a closed circle of people with special DNA structure that allows them to travel back in time. There are only twelve people, all named after gems, who can travel back in time and Gwen (Ruby) turns out to be the last anticipated member of the circle - the Ruby. Soon she is informed about her mission to collect blood from all the time travelers by going back in time. But time travel is not so much fun as she first thought.
The story has too many mysteries thrown in for a nice flavor of suspense. What is the story of the Count? What is the prophecy for the Ruby? Why Gwen's cousin stole the time machine? What will happen when they collect blood from all time travelers? None of these mysteries are solved and the movie ends.
If you have not heard about the Gem trilogy books (Ruby Red or Rubinrot, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green), then you may feel a tiny bit unsatisfied. But if you have read them, then you would know what the final chase scene with Grace and Paul means.
Overall it is a very nice fiction movie. I am sure, the sequels would be much more enjoyable.
The Secret Village (2013)
A Torture to the Viewer
This movie is titled like a true horror and mystery movie, but it turns out to be a complete disappointment. The movie starts out with a hint on the witchcraft and then many people wearing black robes appear at times. In the middle of this, the lead character, Rachel (Ali Faulkner), is going from one place to another. She is trying to talk to people, but nobody wants to talk. And..., that's your movie. Oh wait, there is a surprise near the end, if you are not asleep by then.
The way, this movie has been filmed, causes headache after some time. There are long and frequent scenes of people walking around without any explanation of what is happening. Often the scenes are not connected and the viewer is left totally clueless as to what is happening.
The movie is filmed at a very slow pace. Had this movie been filmed normally, it would have been only a 20-30 minute video. But the director seems to enjoy lengthening the scenes unnecessarily - adding to the annoyance of the viewer.
Unusual Horror Movie with Lots of Surprises
Though I did not expect much from this movie, but it turned out to be a very surprising and scary movie. Nicole Diaz is an FBI officer assigned to inspect the suspicious murders in Sarasota, Florida. It appears that the blood from the dead bodies has been sucked out by an unusual animal. Nobody seems to know about such an animal. As the hunt for this strange predator starts, more blood-drained dead bodies keep appearing. More people arrive on the crime scenes. These innocent looking people are not who they appear to be at first. Among all this confusion and distrust, Nicole Diaz has to find the predator before it hunts down more people. The movie maintains suspense and horror throughout, keeping you always on your toes. It has many surprising twists and turns that make you bite your nails with excitement.
The Frozen Ground (2013)
Nice acting but weak script
This is a movie based on the true story of a serial rapist and killer Robert Hansen. The movie starts with police finding Cindy Paulson handcuffed in her motel room. Although its a nice start, but it leaves all the details of how she was picked up by Robert Hansen, kidnapped at gun point and taken to his house where he raped her and chained her. Neither do they show how she ran away from Robert Hansen, picked by a truck driver, taken to an inn from where she went to a motel room. All these details are left out which could have made the movie more thrilling right at the beginning. Instead the movie seems to focus more on the sleazy scenes of the topless bars where nude girls are shown over and over again.
Although the movie Frozen Ground should be about all the victims of Hansen, it devotes its attention almost entirely to Miss Paulson. There are more than 20 other victims and nothing is shown about them.
On the acting front, the two big names of Hollywood - Nicolas Cage and John Cusack have done great work and made the movie worth watching. John Cusack really fits the role of a cold hearted, stammering, serial killer who loves to hunt his victims with his guns. Nicolas Cage has given outstanding performance in the role of an obsessive cop determined to catch the culprit.
Overall, the movie does not turn out to be a thrilling serial rapist - serial killer movie where the criminal and the police is playing the cat and mouse games. Rather it looks very flat and confusing at times.
The Town (2010)
Ending Spoiled the Good Movie
Most of the thriller movies have one or two side stories going on with the main story. The Town is not any different. Its main story is about a gang of people who specialize in robbing banks. The side stories are about Doug (Ben Affleck)'s mother and his unrealistic romantic relations with the bank manager Claire (Rebecca Hall) of the same bank he had robbed earlier. While the planning and carrying out of the heists is very thrilling, the side stories are boring and slow paced.
Doug and his gang successfully carry out two robberies but in the third robbery they get surrounded by the police and the FBI. Unable to find a way out they wear police uniforms and try to walk out. All of them are shot dead by the Police, except Doug. He plans to escape the town with his bank manager girlfriend Claire. But FBI is closing on them both, so he leaves for Florida alone. The criminal couple stays free. This ending leaves the viewer very much unsatisfied.
An alternative ending where the couple tries to run away from FBI with lots of car chasing scenes, jumping through buildings and culminating in the death of both of them by police firing would have been more fitting to a thriller movie.
The Conjuring (2013)
A basic haunted house horror movie
The Conjuring is a horror movie supposedly based on a true story. The story begins when the Perron family moves into a farmhouse in Burrilville in 1971. Many mysterious and frightening events soon follow. Fearful and surprised, they contact the Warren couple who have reportedly captured many demons and ghosts successfully before. After some inspection Warrens conclude that this is a powerful witch who is haunting the farm area including the house. Further analysis of the situation makes them realize that they immediately need an exorcism of the house. An application is sent to the Vatican for approval. But events take a different turn and Warrens have to start the exorcism of Mrs. Perron, whom the witch has possessed, without delay. As usual, the witch does not want to leave, speaks in Latin, levitates and tries to kill them by moving objects. But in the end, Warrens, like they have done so many times before, take over the powerful witch and condemn her to hell.
The story is based on true events, only if you take Warren's word for it. This movie gave me an impression that I am watching an episode of Supernatural TV show, only there were no wisecracking brothers. There are no special effects that have not been shown in other movies before. Most of the scary things happen in the dark only for a few seconds and nothing much is really visible. This is your average haunted house horror movie, nothing special about it.
Waste of Time
This movie is more than an hour long in duration, and nothing worth mentioning happens throughout the movie. The whole movie can be summarized in one sentence - a man enters a house and leaves it in the end - giving you ample opportunity to sleep in the middle.
The setup of the house, in which the whole movie takes place, is a pathetic attempt at making you feel a little spooky. There is only one visible actor in the movie who goes around in an empty house. In the meanwhile, he calls people over phone and the documentary-like voice of his mother keeps telling something that makes you doze off fast. And before you realize it, the movie is over.
The movie does show some special effect scenes that are supposed to blow your brains out with horror. One of them is of a cat-human like character who is really very eerie. Another one is when the eyes of a statue of an angel change and point towards something. But these both come up very late in the movie - by that time you are already bored to the bone.
Had the producer/director cared to add more visible actors in the movie, it would have become a little more lively and worth watching. But instead of the actors, they stuffed the movie set with lots of angel statues which has virtually no effect on the viewers.
This movie deserves no more than 1 out of 10 points.
Pickman's Muse (2010)
A Bad Adaptation of a Good Story
The movie is loosely based on one of HP Lovecraft's stories. If you have read that story before, then you may get some enjoyment from this fact alone. But there is nothing else. This movie does not do justice to the original story. They could have done so much more to make it a thrilling movie.
This movie reminded me of Ed Wood's movie making techniques. The painter, Robert Pickman, draws paintings but not a single painting is shown. They did not even bother to show what the painter is seeing from other worlds and galaxies. In the name of the haunter of the dark, a shadow is shown behind the curtains. If you have not read the original story, then you would be totally clueless.
The movie production looks quickly and carelessly done. When Robert Pickman signs his painting he picks up red colored brush. Red colored brush is shown dripping at a close angle. And next second, he is signing with white color.
They also missed some nice details from the original story like disfigured skulls found in church. These details could have made this movie more exciting to watch.
In general, this movie looks like a cheap TV suspense serial from 1950s in which people scream a lot trying to make the show a little frightening, but fail terribly.