5.03.2015

The Midnight Confessions Movie Show #2: Action U.S.A. (1989)





Welcome to episode No. 2 of the Midnight Confessions Movie Show. Join Rev. Phantom, Moronic Mark and myself as we endure this 80's cheese fest--er, we mean classic. Who knew Freddie Mercury was such a bad ass?



Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

DIRECTED BY
Joss Whedon

STARRING
Robert Downey, Jr. - Tony Stark/Iron Man
Chris Evans - Steve Rogers/Captain America
Chris Hemsworth - Thor
Scarlett Johansson - Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow
Mark Ruffalo - Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk
Jeremy Renner - Clint Barton/Hawkeye
James Spader - Ultron (Voice)
Paul Bettany - Jarvis (Voice)/Vision
Elizabeth Olsen - Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch
Aaron Taylor-Johnson - Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver


Genre - Action/Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Comic Books

Running Time - 141 Minutes


PLOT
During a battle with Hydra leader Baron Wolfgang von Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann), The Avengers encounter two beings who were given power through Loki's scepter - Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), who have the power of speed and telekinetic reality warper respectively. After Wanda messes with Tony Stark's (Robert Downey, Jr.) mind, he and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) decide to create an army of artificial intelligence robots to replace the Avengers so they can live normal lives and protect the Earth at the same time. However, the AI creation wakes up learning about a cruel world created by humans, feeling that the human race needs to be eradicated to achieve peace. Calling itself Ultron (James Spader) and using the Maximoffs to manipulate the Avengers into facing their fears and causing dissension within the team, the AI plans on making his dream come true with the help of his Ultron Army.





REVIEW

HITS

- The action sequences were stronger this time around than in the first AVENGERS films. Joss Whedon, who claimed directing this film almost killed him, pretty much put his blood, sweat, and tears in creating some awesome action sequences. The opening scene was nifty. The Hulkbuster vs. The Hulk scene was bad ass. And the final sequence in Slovakia was like a comic book come to life with The Avengers working together against an army of Ultrons. The first film had some great action, but Whedon seemed to be more confident in directing them this time around.

- I like that AGE OF ULTRON doesn't really take itself all that seriously, while setting up serious stuff for future films. Whedon's dialogue is very funny, with great one-liners for much of the cast, that creates a fun experience for the audience. I thought a lot of the jokes worked, especially when they winked to fans of the comics. It's also great when characters interact in a way that you find believable, understanding why all these people would want to hang out together in ridiculous clothing just to save the world. That Mjornir scene is a great example of humor done right.

- I read some people hated the cool-down moments of the film where characters were reflecting, or just having human moments that didn't involve action of any sort. I actually felt these scenes helped with good pacing away from the action, giving us character moments that were necessary to reveal backstories we hadn't seen yet [Black Widow], to sequences that were obviously there to foreshadow future events in Phase Three [Thor and Iron Man]. I'm okay with Captain America not getting much focus in terms of his mind-warp, since he's had two solo films to establish his feeling of not belonging in his new world. I'll get into Thor in the opposite section, but I felt the quieter moments were pretty great and revealed some good stuff within the context of the film, and for the future.

- The new characters are pretty great. Even though I prefer the Quicksilver of X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST due to his personality, I did like that this version was more faithful to the comic book version. I wish he had more to do honestly, but I thought the major scenes he was involved in were cool - especially near the end. Vision was awesome to see in a live-action setting. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe the character could be pulled off. But I'm pleasantly wrong. I thought Vision was used great and truly felt like his comic book counterpart. Scarlet Witch was a bad ass lady who made a great impression in this film. Of the two Maximoffs, she was the highlight as she got to manipulate people and use her powers in cool ways. Plus, I liked that Whedon gave her a sense of mental instablity that could lead to interesting things down the road. Plus, that scene with Vision saving her from danger put a smile on my face.

- Ultron. Yes, Ultron is not as good of a villain as Loki. But Ultron made for a fine edition to the rogues gallery, with great one-liners and a clear mission that most villains in action films seem to lack these days. You understood where Ultron was coming from in terms of his views on the world, making you wonder if he was right about things even when his methods were malicious - even if it happens way too fast. And while his creation was completely changed from his comic book counterpart, I thought the change was handled well. It gave us a glimpse of Tony Stark's bad side, which should lead to some great stuff in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR next year.

- While it came out of nowhere, I dug the Hulk/Black Widow romantic subplot. It got time to blossom and build to a logical place. And it never overshadowed other things going on in the film, which was appreciated.

- Hawkeye's character development was a great showcase for the character. After his misuse in the first film, I dug that the character was given his just due. His fleshing out in terms of his personal life [which was a great little nod to the Ultimate universe] and his sarcastic wit made me love the character for once in this franchise. I wouldn't mind a solo movie, or at least one with Black Widow, at some point.

- The acting was phenomenal. The old cast worked their magic again, especially Downey Jr., Renner, Johansson, and Ruffalo. James Spader was fantastic as the voice of Ultron, giving the character so much personality and charisma. Elizabeth Olsen was awesome as Scarlet Witch. And I'm glad Paul Bettany was giving the spotlight as first J.A.R.V.I.S. and now Vision. Good work by the cast.

- Won't spoil anything, but I loved the cameos and the new additions to the Avengers team. How Whedon handled all these characters, I'll never know. No wonder the film tired the guy out.

- Mid-credits scene. Oh yeah, I'm ready for INFINITY WAR.


MISSES

- Thought the story was a bit bloated in the sequel, compared to the first film. That's due to introducing new characters, while giving the old ones something new to do. I read the original cut of this film was over three hours, which doesn't surprise me. I thought Whedon did a good job cramming a lot of stuff in. But you can clearly tell some things were left out due to sloppy editing at times, which gave certain characters and subplots the shaft in terms of development and storytelling.

- I kinda felt the first film felt more epic than this film did. It's not really a MISS honestly, but I felt AGE OF ULTRON was a commercial for the stuff in Phase Three rather than its own self-contained story at times. Maybe it's because the freshness of the superhero team up is gone now, but the sequel felt like it repeated itself in terms of certain beats - just with different players this time around.

- The real issue I had was with Thor's detour half-way through the film. The character doesn't get much substance in this film, and while his visions seem to reflect what will happen in THOR: RAGNAROK, his pool scene to understand what was really going on felt a bit forced and happened way too quickly. I believe Whedon edited a lot of Thor's scenes out of the film, which is a shame. I thought Thor realizing what the gems were and the power they possessed was important to the plot, but it just came to the character way too easily and shoddily edited to boot.


THE FINAL HOWL


AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON is a great popcorn movie that also happens to be a sequel worthy of 2012's THE AVENGERS. The chemistry of the actors and Joss Whedon's script and direction create an entertaining experience for fans who love these characters and their comic book roots. The action sequences were handled extremely well. The character development was helpful for future events for the most part. And I thought the new additions to the franchise added a different flavor to the status quo, especially Vision and Scarlet Witch. Plus, Ultron was pretty bad ass and James Spader was the perfect actor for the job. I still prefer the first film, but AGE OF ULTRON is a great comic book film that promises some interesting and dark things for Phase Three and THE INFINITY WAR. Not the best MCU film, but definitely in the Top 5 in my opinion.



SCORE
3.5 Howls Outta 4



4.25.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 57: "Around the World in 8 Reviews Part 4"





It's the final episode for our 2nd annual Around The World series and we go out with a bang. First we wrap things up in Europe with EVIL ED (1995) and head home to the States with UNCLE SAM (1996). Plus the MC Crew discusses Hollywood horror vs. Indy horror...guess who comes out victorious.









 


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4.18.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 56: "Around the World in 8 Reviews Part 3"





In part 3 of our 'Around the World' series we head to Greece and visit the ISLAND OF DEATH (1976) and then we head to Denmark and pay a visit to THE SINFUL DWARF (1973). Plus we take a look at the U.K's "video nasty" list.








 


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4.09.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 55: "Around the World in 8 Reviews Part 2"





Our Around the World series continues. This week, the MC Crew visit the Philippines where we meet the DANGEROUS SEDUCTRESS (1995). Then, we head to Thailand were we are treated by some SICK NURSES (2007). Plus a throw down between Asian horror vs. American horror.







 


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4.05.2015

Midnight Confessions Movie Show #1: For Y'ur Height Only (1981)


Here's the first episode of the Midnight Confessions Movie Show. The Rev, Moronic Mark and I pretty much do "commentary" for the very fun FOR Y'UR HEIGHT ONLY. We had a blast watching this and recording our first impressions of the film. Hope you have a blast as well!


4.03.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 54: "Around the World in 8 Reviews Part 1"





This week starts our 2nd annual Around the World series. For today's episode, we visit Argentina and find out about THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1969) and then we head to New Zealand and get a lesson in BAD TASTE (1987) from Peter Jackson. Plus we take a look at the other films of Mr. Jackson as well. So buckle up because the bah-st'ds 'ave laynded!

















 


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3.28.2015

The WTF? Worst Films Extravaganza Presents: The Boy Next Door (2015)

DIRECTED BY
Rob Cohen

STARRING
Jennifer Lopez - Claire Peterson
Ryan Guzman - Noah Sandborn
John Corbett - Garrett Peterson
Ian Nelson - Kevin Peterson
Kristin Chenoweth - Vicky Lansing
Lexi Atkins - Allie Callahan
Hill Harper - Principal Edward Warren


Genre - Thriller/Horror

Running Time - 90 Minutes


Well well well - it's been a while since I've posted a written review on Full Moon Reviews. With personal issues distracting me and causing me to lower my motivation, it's been a struggle to type anything pertaining towards any movie these past few months. Hell, I've been struggling to watch movies period these days. But the itch has returned, and I plan on scratching it for your entertainment.

Unfortunately, my return coincides with the next WTF? Vault entry - this time for 2015's THE BOY NEXT DOOR, a movie that would have been on Lifetime some Saturday Night if it weren't for the starring role [and producing credit] of Jennifer Lopez. Love don't cost a thing, but my time and patience does. And while unintentionally entertaining for all the wrong reasons at times, THE BOY NEXT DOOR deserves a U-Haul to the Bargain Bin.

PLOT
Claire Peterson (Jennifer Lopez) is a beautiful high school English teacher who is going through a separation from her cheating husband (John Corbett) and dealing with an insecure teenage son (Ian Nelson). One day, 19-year-old Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman) moves in next door to take care of a sick relative. Young, smart, and buff - Noah captures Claire's attention enough for her to sleep with him one night after a bad blind date. However, Claire regrets sleeping with Noah, with doesn't set right with him. In fact, Noah becomes obsessed to the point of making Claire and her family's lives a living hell.

REVIEW
I have three words for THE BOY NEXT DOOR:

WHAT THE FUCK!?


I'm still sitting here wondering why I even watched this movie. Was it because I still find Jennifer Lopez incredibly hot? Was it because I actually think that line about loving Claire's "cookies" is terribly amusing? Or was it because I had a 90 minute gap to waste? Yeah, it was probably the last one. But seriously, THE BOY NEXT DOOR is a pretty blah experience that would have been a camp classic had it been released during the 1980s or 1990s. Instead, it's a predictable bore that makes you wish you were watching one of those Tori Spelling Lifetime flicks instead.

The biggest culprit has to do with the screenplay. In a lot of ways, it feels as if a middle-aged woman decided to write a May-December fantasy she was inspired by from the Investigation Discovery network. Lo and behold, it seems first-time screenwriter Barbara Curry is a 40-year-old woman who holds a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and an MFA in Screenwriting from UCLA. She even worked on federal cases in the Major Violent Crimes Units as an ADA for over 10 years. Why would a woman with these credentials want to attempt to write a sultry cougar-romance-gone-bad flick inspired by better movies? Why not be an analyst on those ID channel shows? Why not do some good work in helping victims in the criminal field? Besides, shouldn't she have written a better thriller if her background was on investigating and analyzing murder, kidnapping, robberies, and other crimes? Instead, THE BOY NEXT DOOR comes off as a lame version of any sex-thriller that has come before it. It's not as thrilling as FATAL ATTRACTION. It's not as sultry as BASIC INSTINCT. It's not even as campy as THE CRUSH or SWIMFAN. It's just a weak thriller that would have gone straight to video if it didn't star an A-lister as its lead. There's so much wrong with how this story is told that this review could be an essay if I wanted to discuss THE BOY NEXT DOOR in that much detail.

The characters in this film are all stupid and unlikeable. Everyone in this movie ought to know better and make smarter decisions, yet they don't for the story's convenience. Claire shouldn't sleep with a young man, especially when he goes to the school she teaches at. But his muscles distract her brain and her loins take over. And when Noah goes nuts on her, she doesn't call the cops or even attempt to stop him from spending time with her son. She even forgives him at one point, thinking he changed on a whim. And when she brings her best friend into her mess and puts her in danger, you find it hard to feel for a woman who put herself in this situation by sleeping with a dude she barely knew.


Speaking of Noah, his psychosis is a bit uneven. Yes, he's obsessed and does really bad things to Claire when she rejects him. But he also seems to care for her son, who looks up to Noah as a big brother. And when the truth is revealed about Noah, he turns on the kid like all the time we watched them interact didn't matter. It feels forced. It also feels forced that Noah, a 19-year-old, is obsessed with Homer and The Iliad - a story that Claire JUST HAPPENS to find as her favorite. He even buys her a First Edition copy of The Iliad, which looked to be in great shape since the story is over 3000 years old and the first edition is probably from 1581. Yeah, it's funny that this even exists in any movie in the internet age. Noah also seems to be a jack-of-all-trades. Not only is he knowledgeable in classic novels, but he can hack into computers, manipulate people to get his way, fix cars, and cut break lines [even though he needs a manual to do that, meaning he can create but can't destroy for some reason]. He's also smart enough to leave all his evidence on his laptop because that's what intelligent criminals do, you know. No wonder he's 19 and still in High School! It just makes the narrative even less convincing and your brain cells to slowly cry for help as they perish one by one.

The other characters are no better. Kevin is your typical teenager looking for a male role model. Unfortunately, he picks Noah who plays him like a violin against his parents. Garrett is the typical absentee father and husband who thought it was a smart idea to cheat on Jennifer Lopez. Idiot. And Vicky Lansing is the typical nosy best friend who pushes her bf on douchebags, while using all the school funding to get terrible plastic surgery on her face. Want to play sports after class, kiddos? Sorry, Vicky the Principal needs another collagen injection on her duck lips. Better luck next year.

Man, THE BOY NEXT DOOR would have been a Best Picture Oscar contender if a bomb dropped and killed everyone right after Noah banged his cougar - RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD style. Oh well.

At least the terrible dialogue and badly predictable situations are unintentionally entertaining. I'm surprised my head is still attached to my neck at the many times I just shook it at how dumb this film is. I can't say THE BOY NEXT DOOR was boring all the time, so there's that.

Those expecting sultry sex scenes with nudity will severely be disappointed. Ms. Lopez apparently has a No-Nudity clause, so all we get is side boob and side butt. Honestly, I'm not even sure if it was her boob or butt, which makes it more frustrating. That green dress she wore at the Grammys that one year was more revealing than anything we see here. At least Ryan Guzman shows off his pecs and butt for those interested. Man, if Zalman King was still alive, THE BOY NEXT DOOR would be worth talking about under his eye. Tease.

Director Rob Cohen doesn't really add all that much to the terrible narrative through his direction. I know a lot of folks who give Cohen shit for his direction on other films. But I actually enjoy some of his other films, like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, DRAGONHEART, and xXx. But those films were watchable because Cohen is good at filming action sequences and using special effects to tell stories that are style over substance. THE BOY NEXT DOOR isn't a film based around action. It's more of a narrative piece that needs to build tension and suspense to keep the audience engaged. And Cohen fails at that because it feels like a film built on cliches that have been done in other films like this. There's nothing wrong with that as long as the story, the visuals, or something at all changes the dynamic a bit. So the villain is a male this time instead of a female, big deal. The visuals don't help compensate for a bland screenplay, which is why Rob Cohen was the wrong choice for this vehicle. Is it a terrible looking film? No. But there's nothing remotely special about it, making it pretty visually forgettable.

The acting is so-so. Jennifer Lopez deserves better and should have known better [she did produce this film after all] than to star in a film like this. Lopez proved she can really act in films like SELENA, OUT OF SIGHT, THE CELL, and even in fluff like MAID IN MANHATTAN and THE WEDDING PLANNER. But she's so miscast as this naive 40-year-old English teacher, that you're never convinced by her performance. She still looks fantastic after all these years, but this role wasn't suited for her. But I'm sure the check was nice. Ryan Guzman is a bit better as Noah. While the character development was forced, I did think Guzman made for a decent psychopath who would be obsessed with Lopez. Plus, he's eye candy for the ladies and gay guys out there. So he wasn't all that bad and I'm sure this film will kickstart his career in a big way. John Corbett and Ian Nelson had nothing roles as Garrett and Kevin Peterson respectively, but they were decent in them. And I can't take Kristin Chenoweth seriously in anything. I'm not sure if it's her voice, or the fact that she needs to stop the plastic surgery that's not doing her any favors. But she did nothing for me as the best friend. And she did nothing for me as the comic relief.

THE FINAL HOWL

Honestly, if THE BOY NEXT DOOR didn't star Jennifer Lopez, this film would be shown on Lifetime every other weekend. While unintentionally amusing at times, this so-called thriller will probably make you wish you were watching the ID Network instead. Bland direction, so-so acting, and a script a first grader would point and laugh at, THE BOY NEXT DOOR is a film that fails to be so-bad-it's-good. You'll be waiting for tonight to watch something else.



SCORE
0.5 Howls Outta 4



3.20.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 53: "March Midnight Madness comes to an end"





March Midnight Madness comes to an end this week as the MC Crew look at PINK FLOYD THE WALL (1982) and HEAVY METAL (1981), two midnight movie classics. Plus we countdown the Top 5 'Not-for-Kids' Animated Movies. All hail the Loknar.
















 


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3.13.2015

Midnight Confessions Ep. 52: "Week 2 of March Midnight Madness"





This week the MC Crew delve further into the Midnight Movie craze of the 70's/80's with reviews of ERASERHEAD (1977) and EL TOPO (1970). Plus the Top 5 'Mind-Fuck' Movies of all time. So get comfy, kids. It's about to get weird.















 


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