Friday, April 26, 2013



Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols
Actors: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinney.

When I was young I lived on a farm in Ivanhoe, Illinois before we moved during my 6th grade year. I remember being out in the middle of nowhere in the back of our little strip mall and gas station. The vast weeds and grass, the horses we had, working at the gas station for my father and sneaking into my father's rock club to watch the adults and rock bands play. I remember in the summer cutting grass, walking across a few streets to play with friends. That feeling of innocence and beauty of nature and simplicity with a little darkness and reality sneaking around the corner to confront us. I thought about my childhood and these images and remembrances while watching the beautiful, haunting and powerful "Mud".

"Mud" is the folksy, beautiful and then dark new movie by the very talented writer and director Jeff Nichols. His first movie is the haunting, chilling and beautifully shot "Take Shelter" with Michael Shannon, who has a small role here. That movie is one of the only movies in the past ten years that has shook me to my core. "Mud" is not as strong but it is still a beautiful coming of age and love story that touched me in a different way than "Take Shelter" did. I thought of a few writers and legendary movie directors while watching "Mud" and thinking back on "Take Shelter". Jeff Nichols has the grace, poetry and natural storytelling skills as a John Ford or a Mark Twain. "Mud" is like a great novel as it lulls us into it's magical and touching story.

We also witness the best performance by an actor that others had given up on with Matthew McConaughey's performance of the title character. Mud is a mysterious man who two kids, Ellis and Neckbone, discover on a deserted beach after they stake a claim to an abandoned boat that has been left up high on a huge tree. Ellis is going through his parent's divorce and Neckbone lives with an uncle who may not be the best father figure. The boys strike up a friendship with Mud who looks homeless and must have a back story. He does as he is waiting for the woman he loves, Juniper, who Mud has promised to come back to so they can go away together. The boys find Juniper staying at a hotel in town and they will discover the real story behind Mud and Juniper and why Mud is alone, staying in that abandoned boat.

The power of this movie starts with the recreation of time and place as the movie beautifully captures the feel of life in a small Southern town. A town full of poor but hard working and proud people and Ellis will do a lot of growing up here. I love all the characters in this movie, all fully written and realized like they are characters in a really great book. That extends to the cast of some amazing actors playing them including Sam Shepard (who is as iconic as Ed Harris is to me), my favorite actor right now Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinney, Joe Don Baker and Jacob Lofland as Neckbone. There is a reason I thought of my childhood while watching "Mud" and it is because it so wonderfully and beautifully captures that small town feel and feeling of innocence and naivety.

The movie will also get dark but not at the expense of the rest of the story and when it gets dark it reminded me of a very great, old time film noir. This is a writng job by Nichols that is smart, brilliant and full of great poetry. The film making is full of grace and poetry reminding me of Terrence Malick though I think Nichols is better. When the movie culminates in a shootout, it is so well executed and dark that it reminded me of the poetic shootouts in many a John Ford western and a hypnotic film noir. Though the power for me really comes from the journey of discovery, adventure and heartbreak Ellis will have and then the crushing nature of love that Ellis will experience in many ways.

Matthew McConaughey gives a stellar performance here as Mud and Tye Sheridan as Ellis matches him. Sheridan and Lofland continue some exciting acting coming from some talented young actors, continuing from, for example "Place Beyond The Pines". McConaughey is now on a major roll and giving the best performances by a male out there right now. He was amazing in "Killer Joe" and was robbed by the Oscars for in my mind the best supporting performance by an actor last year with "Magic Mike". Here he is even at his very best that he has been in his career slipping into the skin of Mud and becoming him, making subtle touches that are brilliant and that is my favorite type of acting. It is a performance that is as subtly powerful as a Paul Newman, Henry Fonda or a Marlon Brando performance. McConaughey is amazing here as is Nichols who is now my favorite writer in movies. With "Take Shelter" and now "Mud" he has come up with the best one two punch any writer/director has had in at least a decade.



Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley
Directed by Michale Bay
Actors: Mark Wahlberg, Dwyane Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Ken Jeong, Bar Paly, Rob Corddry.

For my movie going money I just want something full of energy and it doesn't have to be the best movie around. I have been begging for something a little different and out there amid the sea of mediocrity of movies in 2013. "Pain & Gain" is nasty, messy, warped and dumb and it is not going to win any awards, some people will hate it. I didn't like the first half hour of this vulgar, based on actual events, mess of a movie but when it settles in it becomes a wonderful punch to the gut crime story. If you did not know this was based on an actual murder and kiddnap case, you would think the writers here were on cocaine like Dwayne Johnson's character is during the movie's best running joke. "Pain & Gain" has some great black comedy, satire, vicious violence and some great acting, I fell in deep like with it an hour in.

"Pain & Gain" is also directed by the high octane, big budget impressario Michael Bay and I am not a big fan. Here he has a lower budget and maybe he should make low budget movies more often, they are better usually. Bay is too hyper, full of himself and not the most controlled director. That works to his advantage here because we hate all the lead characters here (I actually liked Johnson's character) and Bay needs an over the top approach here. His style works here because the story here is crazy and hard to take it all in so he can have a license to go with his hyper, ADD style. The movie is brilliant and really settles down in the second hour and that is where I started to realize that the screenplay here is really good.

Mark Wahlberg is again hilarious here giving us proof again that he is under rated at comedy playing Daniel Lugo. Lugo is a fitness freak and bodybuilder who feels that his life is going nowhere. He trains another man Adrian, played very well by Anthony Mackie, who feels the same way. They go to a hilarious self help seminar given by "Hangover I and II's" Ken Jeong and are told to basically go for the American Dream. They recruit a born again Christian ex con, Paul, played by Jonhnson to join them in kidnapping a sleazy and arrogant jerk, a fast food magnate, Victor Kershaw, played by Tony Shalhoub (Monk). I love how Danny Lugo is so stupid as a human being that he is the only one who thinks he is smart thus assuming his two pals think he is smart also. Wahlberg is hilarious here and is so great at playing dumb, it is one of my favorite performances of the year.

The plot here is off the wall as they try to kill Kershaw and then move on to another jerk, business mogul. There is the usual violence, action and warped sense of humor that Bay uses like he did in the much inferior "Bad Boys" movies. Though I liked his film making here because it fits the wild story here and thus we begin to like following this crazy, unbelievable story. This may be too loud and very dumb at times but it has a certain energy and blackness that I like and it is one of my favorite crime movies I have seen in quite a long time because of it's uniqueness and freshness.

I also really love the performances here besides Wahlberg and it starts with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's best role and performance to date. His character may do reprehensible things but he has a good heart and Johnson is charming here. Paul falls back into drugs because of this crazy kidnapping and robbery but he has a heart underneath the drug troubles and violent tendencies. Tony Shalhoub is great and hilarious here as the despicable Victor Kershaw and he actually makes us feel sorry for his charcater while supplying major laughs. The movie does start off sloppy but half way in something amazing happens. The great Ed Harris comes in as a private detective, ex cop and being a huge Harris fan a big smile came to my face. Harris brings a little sanity to the movie and after he becomes a big part of the story I was toally sucked in by the movie. "Pain & Gain" is a huge surprise, it kind of sneaks up on you. I had a lot of fun with it.

Thursday, April 25, 2013



Written by Lem Dobbs based on his novel
Directed by Robert Redford
Actors: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Jackie Evancho, Sam Elliot, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Nick Nolte, Terrence Howard.

Robert Redford has aged gracefully, sometimes looking as youthful as he did in "The Natural" back in 1984, like in his new directorial effort "The Company You Keep". The movie lost me early but it always got me to thinking about Redford's past acting and directing career. It got me thinking about the late, great Gene Siskel's opinion that Redford always seemed stiff, never letting loose until he let go comically in 1986's "Legal Eagles". I didn't agree totally with Gene on that one but after Redford's latest I do think his latest directing efforts are stiff and self important. What happened to the Redford who directed the powerful "Ordinary People" and the delightful masterpiece "Quiz Show"?

Redford has taken a political topic from a novel by Lem Dobbs that deals with past mistakes and a movement that was for peaceful rebellion but turned into violence and innocent people being killed. The story introduces to "The Weathermen", a group that was protesting the Vietnam War. They went into rob a bank and wound up killing a security guard who had a wife and kids. Now the group is on the run and one of them, now a housewife, is going to turn herself in for the killing but the F.B.I. swoops in and nabs her. Then an eager reporter tries to track down others including a lawyer played by Redford. The first thing that turned me off about this story is that with the Boston bombings and other terrorist acts why should us movie goers now care about this stilted, dated political story.

I was bored by this story plus this kind of thing was done much better back in the 80's! in Sidney Lumet's powerful and wonderful "Running On Empty" which is ten times better than this story. Redford has lost his way big time with his latest two insufferable directing efforts, "The Conspirator" and the horrible "Lions For Lambs". "The Company You Keep" is much better than those two but it still is dated, corny and sometimes annoying. The saving graces are the top notch cast of wonderful actors, a few that are some of my favorites. A movie with the ageless and awesome Susan Sarandon, Sam Elliot, Richard Jenkins, Nick Nolte and Brendan Gleeson? Get out of here! That brings me to the only time that this movie is on fire, when the still breathtaking Julie Christie is on screen with Redford. They are great together and their scenes are the only ones in the movie that got me stirred up but it's way too late.

The movie really suffers when it concentrates on the reporter character played by Shia LaBeouf. I usually like LaBeouf but here I hated his character who is smug, annoying and weakly written. When the movie stops to have him hit on a woman, played by Brit Marling, who is part of the story he is working on, I cringed. The scenes with the reporter are dumb, fake and his scenes with his editor, played by Stanley Tucci are embarrassing. This story just has no juice and has nothing to say really plus it is talky and Redford is just becoming preachy and acting even older than his age. The crowd I saw it with was mostly senior citizens and they clapped in the end but I think this movie insults them, like it's good medicine being poured down our throats. Yuck! I miss the fun and powerful Redford from "The Natural", "Electric Horseman" and "Quiz Show". Where did the once influential Robert Redford go?

Friday, April 19, 2013


Written by Karl Gadjusek and Michael DeBruyn
Directed by Joseph Kosinski
Actors: Tom Cruise, Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Morgan Freeman, Melissa Leo.

I love movies and I really get why certain film makers borrow from every great writer and director they can think of. Sometimes they borrow without really knowing it. Science Fiction movies are a genre of film that gets copied a lot. The makers of "Oblivion" are certainly inspired by the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece "2001". There are many things here that pay homage to "2001" like the look of the movie and the Hal like voice here by one of the characters. "Oblivion" is a beautiful looking movie but it feels like I have seen it done before and much better. Also the movie's story takes a little from "Wall E" and mixes it with "2001" and this director's "Tron:Legacy". This pale copy of better movies is also dull, empty and stars a miscast Tom Cruise.

The movie again is pristine, very well shot and beautiful to look at but the story takes a good 45 minutes to kick in. It is like sitting down with an extremely beautiful woman until 45 minutes in you realize she has no personality and nothing interesting to say. The slow pacing worked with something like "2001" because that movie was suspenseful and the story was fascinating. "Oblivion" is just very confusing and the love story at the center left me cold. I also think Cruise is miscast here when someone younger would have been more effective. I think the film makers forgot that Cruise is 50, even though he looks 30, and his love interests here are quite younger. There is no chemistry between him and his leading ladies here adding to the very dull story.

Like the look of this film I really do like all the female performances and while Tom Cruise is good here, the women outshine him because their characters are more interesting. Andrea Riseborough is very effective her especially after seeing a much different and equally great performance in last week's "Disconnect". She is very effective here as Vika who we first see partnered with Cruise as a couple that is exploring the wasteland of Earth after a devastating war. I also like the very beautiful Olga Kurylenko as another woman that has equal ties to the Cruise character. I won't spoil the plot of this movie becase both woman's roles in the movie are part of the story's surpise.

My favorite part of this movie was the twisted character and delightful performance of that character by the great Melissa Leo. We see her on a small screen communicating with Cruise but hear her voice more often and her character is a dead ringer for Hal from "2001". It is a chilling, funny and entertaining performance and it is such a small part of this movie but it is the only part that lingers after the movie is over. It certainly is not the story which really has very little to say and I grew very tired of the numerous, boring shootouts as Cruise and others keep shooting at space orbs. You can also add that those shootouts were done much more effectively in any "Star Wars" movie. Also when you have the great Morgan Freeman in a movie and he doesn't register at all well...

So what you have with "Oblivion" is a miscast, too old Tom Cruise when a younger actor that would match the youthful, rebellious character would have been more effective. You have a pale and duller copy of better science fiction movies and a story that never grabs you. You do have some great female performances, especially Melissa Leo, and a beautiful looking movie but you also have a movie you won't even remember days after. Tom Cruise can do this kind of movie so well when he has great writers and a great director like Steven Spielberg. "Minority Report" was a wonderful and special masterpiece of a science fiction movie and I was hoping here a movie that was at least half as glorious as that classic. "Oblivion" is a very good looking beauty without any personality or imagination.



Written and Directed by Rob Zombie
Actors: Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Dee Wallace, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Sid Haig, Michale Berryman, Patricia Quinn, Judy Geeson, Maria Conchita Alonso.

When I heard that Rob Zombie was making movies there was no way I was going to take him seriously as a director. I have been pleasantly surprised by Rob Zombie the filmmaker. He really can direct and he knows how to move the camera with some nifty tracking shots and framing. From the sick but very effective and entertaining "The Devil's Rejects", to the sickening, nihilistic, ugly, dumb "Halloween" remakes he still knows how to make a movie work and he really loves movies and has a nice knowledge of film history. I hate the "Halloween" movies with every inch of my being but with "Lords of Salem", Zombie has made his dullest and least interesting movie to date.

"Lords of Salem" is a throwback to those weird, cheesy horror movies of the 70's with witches, dream sequences, awkward nudity and strange images. Those movies didn't make any sense and the film makers would just throw anything at the audience. It reminds me of a certain movie from the 70's that I saw at a Music Box horror movie marathon called "Season of the Witch". I did like Zombie's recreation of those movies and his style matches those old movies. That is not really a compliment for "Lords of Salem" is cheesy, dull, weird and shoddy just like those movies. It is an interesting movie but at the same time the story is dumb and the pacing is very slow. We wait for anything to happen, scary or otherwise, but nothing does until the very weird last half hour.

The movie stars Rob Zombie's real life wife Sheri Moon Zombie as a woman and radio DJ who gets sent a record from a band called "The Lords". She plays it on the radio and then a lot of strange things start to happen to her. We get a prologue to start things out showing a group of women being outed as witches and then burnt to a crisp. You will know where this movie will end up but you won't guess what kind of wierdness will happen. Sheri Moon Zombie is getting a lot of bad reviews like with "Devil's" but I actually like her here like I did there. I think she does very well here, much better than most horror movie acting lately like the acting in this year's ugly "Evil Dead" remake. I think Sheri Zombie is strangely attractive and sexy and she is the best thing about this movie.

"Lords of Salem" has some great casting here what with Dee Wallace (E.T.), Bruce Davison and Sid Haig among others. He nails the 70's look down wonderfully even though this is set in present day. I wish Zombie would have set his story in the 70's because this is just a pale copy of something that is a masterpiece like "House of the Devil" by Ti West. Thats is a much scarier and more effective horror movie than "Lords" because the story is much better and the movie more suspenseful and to me Ti West is the best horror film maker out there right now. Zombie just is on the cusp of making this movie work but it just doesn't go anywhere and takes so long to even get to that point. He is trying to make a fever dream movie like Dario Agento did so well in the 70's and for that his fans will be bored with this one. "Lords of Salem" is dull and very cheesy but at least it is kind of interesting.

Monday, April 15, 2013



Written by Andrew Stern
Directed by Henry Alx Rubin
Actors: Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Paula Patton, Max Theriot, Colin Ford, Aviad Bernstein, Andrea Riseborough, Jonah Bobo.

"Disconnect" has a very topical story that in these social media times is very effective, scary and sobering. It is a movie full of three interlocking stories that reminded me of the unfairly despised "Crash". It is not as powerful as that blistering drama but it will snap you to reality. The problem is that I found one of the stories here so powerful, engrossing and amazing that the other two stories pale in comparison. The movie should have been about just that one story but I still found "Disconnect" compelling and very good, even excellent when dealing with the more powerful story.

Social media can be a fun thing, it can be informative and it can get you connected with your friends. It can also be evil, vindictive and soul zapping. "Disconnect" can be a very uncomfortable movie sometimes and it is very relevant to true stories that are in our lives now. The three stories deal with a shy and introverted high school boy, a couple dealing with the loss of their child and identity theft and a reporter dangerously getting involved with an 18 year old webcam model. The story dealing with the outcast kid is the most powerful to me and on it's own it is the best movie of the year next to "The Place Beyond The Pines".

The other two stories with the reporter and the couple have been done before and they are not as strongly written as the stronger story. That story is very well acted by Jason Bateman, who can do drama as well as he does comedy, and a rising new powerful actor in Frank Grillo. The child actors playing the kids are exceptional as the young actors in the third section of "Pines" were. I felt for the shy kid in the story who has a cruel facebook prank pulled on him that will emotionally crush many lives. This story is powerful, engrossing and impeccably crafted. When it comes to the other two stories I was lost and not as involved.

I wish the movie focused on the strongest story only but this does not diminish the overall impact of this very compelling and good movie. Just the feeling this whole movie creates about connecting more with people in person instead of on the computer. It wakes us all up to what parents have to do to make sure we take the time to see that our kids and their own lives are being taken control of and not lost to the vast suck hole of social media. It is a dangerous world and the internet can be a cruel place and we have to be more alert, careful and willing to interact face to face. This is what the movie nails down so well. I just wish all the stories had the same power. The story about the couple is less effective and the third story about the reporter, I don't know where that story fits in at all in this movie actually.


'42' (PG-13) (3 STARS)

Written and Directed by Brian Helgeland
Actors: Chadwick Boseman Harison Ford, Christopher Meloni, Nicole Baharie, Alan Tudyk, Hamlish Linklater, Lucas Black, Andre Holland.

The inspiration, power and bravery depicted in "42" is palpable and blistering but that power really comes from the man himself. Jackie Robinson is not only one of the bravest and best baseball players ever but one of the most courageous men in all sports history. I am very happy that "42" was made because it is a story that will inspire youth and confront us with an ugly historical period in sports that now would seem inconceivable. "42" is a beautiful looking movie with great performances and powerful scenes, I just wish the movie was as majestic and inspiring as the man himself. I can not deny that the movie got to me in certain scenes though and I love the relationship story that frames the rise to greatness of Jackie Robinson.

"42" focuses on Robinson's rise from the minors to his rookie year with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie is picked up by General Manager Branch Rickey played by Harrison Ford in arguably one of his best performances. Rickey knows that the major's first black baseball player will get a lot of vile and hate thrown his way but he is strong willed and he is determined to get Jackie to the big leagues. He believes strongly in his talents and doesn't care what anybody thinks. That growing admiration between Jackie and Rickey is my favorite part of the movie. The stuff that doesn't work is the thinly written character of Jackie's wife Rachel. I wanted more scenes between them that lasted more than 2 minutes and more of the pain she went through.

Though the performances of Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman, who is a natural and strong as Jackie, and the relationship depicted between Jackie and Rickey is touching and carefully written. There is also a powerful and painful scene that had me choked up, angry and shocked. This is when Jackie is playing in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies and their manager Ben Chapman starts shouting racial slurs and repeating the "N" word ad nauseum. It is a tough scene that lasts a long time and it carries so much power. That is a strong segment but it seems miles apart from the rest of the movie, the power from that scene will never be duplicated. That scene feels like it's from a different movie than the other scenes and in a more fully realized and more powerful movie.

I understand and like that the movie focuses on Robinson's rookie year and how tough it was to get through the hate and racism. I just think that this would be an extrmely powerful movie if it would have been longer and covered more of Robinson's life. I hate to stir controversy but maybe someone like Spike Lee would have made a stronger, fuller movie like he did with "Malcolm X". The crowd I saw it with were all surprised that the movie ended when it did, it felt like there should be more. That being said I am reviewing the movie in front of me and I did like it a lot. I loved the relationship depicted between the two men like father and son especially when Rickey consoles Robinson after the Philadelphia debacle. The movie is beautifully shot, well acted and intriguing, it is an effective baseball movie. I just wish it was more fully developed and that it cut down on some of the cliches, obvious scenes and bad dialogue.

Friday, April 5, 2013



Written by Ben Coccio and Derek Cianfrance
Directed by Derek Cianfrance
Actors: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes Ray Liotta, Bruce Greenwood, Harris Yulin, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendolhson, Emory Cohen, Dane DaHaan.

There is a moment in "The Place Beyond The Pines" where everything all came together for me and I realized I was watching a near masterpiece in story telling. The best movies sneak up on you and before you know it, by the final frame you are wrapped up in it's power and beauty. "The Place Beyond the Pines" is a haunting, beautiful and sometimes powerful movie that is a near masterpiece. It is layered, brilliantly written, powerfully acted by it's stars and all the supporting actors. It is one of the strongest and best films that has ever dealt with fractured families or about decisions we make in life and their consequences. Director Derek Cianfrance has made another movie that will stay with me for hours, days and weeks.

"Pines" unfolds like a great novel and the funny thing is that this is an original screenplay and I had to keep remembering it wasn't based on a novel. The first half of the movie centers on one main character, Luke, played by Ryan Gosling. I don't want to spoil the wonderful story of this movie so I have to be careful and sneaky. Luke is a criminal who comes back to reunite with the ex girlfriend and mother of his baby played by Eva Mendes in the best performance of her career. The second half of the movie deals with a police officer, Avery, played by the emerging powerhouse actor Bradley Cooper. These two characters will meet half way through this movie and that is all I will say. If you have seen the trailers and think you have this movie figured out, guess again.

I have read negative reviews of how the main characters are separated here but I think it is brilliant how this movie is layered and thought out. Luke and Avery will cross paths which will lead to the second part of our story focusing on the sons of Avery and Luke. I did not expect this second half to be successful because Gosling and Cooper will give way to the two young actors playing their sons but their acting is awesome and their characters so well written. This movie involved me for it's first hypnotic hour and then in the second half it grabbed a hold of me and moved me. Director Derek Cianfrance is now one of our finest writers and directors with the heartbreaking "Blue Valentine", also with Gosling, and now this powerful and beautiful movie. He might need a little more editing to be done in the first half but he does a brilliant job holding our attention and letting his movie unfold flawlessly.

Then there is the acting and I know Ryan Gosling gets a bad rap from some for being too moody and somehow stiff. His performance as Luke here is supposed to be sullen but Gosling is brilliant here. Yes sometimes Gosling can be brooding but so was Brando and Deniro so there you go. His performance here is heartbreakinbg especially teamed with Mendes who is his equal. Then there is Bradley Cooper who is even better here than he was in "Silver Linings Playbook". This is an actor that has arrived as a major talent and his performance here is also heartbreaking, subtle, beautifully controlled and majestic. For some reason, maybe with the blue eyes, I kept thinking of the greatness of Paul Newman. This is now one of our best actors and I beg the forgetful awards people to not forget this Oscar caliber performance, the best of the year so far.

There are so many supporting characters here that are so well written and we never forget them or lose track of them. The writing here is strong, exceptional and brilliant, the direction is careful and so beautifully planned out and the camera work is stellar. I love the mood, the look and the haunting beauty of this mesmerizing drama. When I was watching it I was taking it all in at first, then in the second half I was glued to the screen, there was a plethora of very powerful and suspenseful small scenes of brilliance. Then as I am writing this now I am feeling a wave of emotion. This is a story I will never forget and the acting is so good. My amazing and beautiful mentor, the late, great Roger Ebert said once that you know you are watching a great movie when you know you can't wait to see it again. Bravo Roger and so true and that sentiment is perfectly fitting for "The Place Beyond The Pines", the best movie of the year so far.



Written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues based on the 1981 original
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Actors: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore

When did horror movies stop being fun and when did torture porn and gore substitute for good characters and true scares. The awful remake "The Evil Dead" is the most depressing experience I have had at the movies in ages. Depressing in that horror movies are supposed to be fun, they are not supposed to make us feel like a "Walking Dead" zombie. This remake is so serious and lead footed that I had to check my pulse. Add to that you have horrible acting, not one moment of humor, bad direction and not one scare at all. I yawned, fidgeted and wanted to walk out, yes horror movies are supposed to be gory sometimes but they are supposed to have charisma too or am I being stupid? "The Evil Dead" remake has nothing of redeeming quality and I mean it is not offensive, it is just dull and bad.

I have not seen the original Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell movie in ages but I know it is a tad over rated. "The Evil Dead 2" though is one of the best sequels ever made, a horror classic and it had what this remake has none of, smarts and imagination. How can Raimi and Campbell produce this and not suggest to the film makers to put some humor in here. This doesn't have to be as outrageous or as funny as Part 2 but at least maybe 10 minutes of a sense of humor in some scenes. I can't be alone in feeling that this remake has nothing at all to scare anybody because I was with a big crowd and not one person laughed or jumped in their seat. This is just a freak, gore show and I love gory movies, I just ask that they are fun. The bloodletting in this movie is really not that gory because director Alvarez films his movie with such darkness, I couldn't see anything.

There is really no plot here, it is just like the original I guess where someone opens a book of witchcraft and wakes up the dead. There are a group of younger adults (none making any impact at all here) who are trying to sober up their friend Mia who is the only character I liked. The acting is horrible here and only Jane Levy as Mia can act and has any personality, maybe because she becomes the main evil in the story. I am not joking when I say that there is not one scary moment in this movie, no one in the theater jumped! Director Alvarez tries to ape the tracking shots that Sam Raimi knocked out of the park with his "Evil Dead" movies but he fails miserably. This is one of the worst directed horror movies and Alvarez has a bigger budget and more technology! Raimi proves that you can have the smallest budget and still make a much better horror movie.

I look back to movies like "Evil Dead 2", "The Re-Animator" and John Carpenter's "The Thing" as examples of how to make really gory movies with style and a sense of fun. What is the point of making this remake so serious and grim and even showing us scenes where women are tortured. There was not any of that crap in the original movies because the camera didn't linger on dismembering and raping women. I may be too serious here in my review but if this movie had one scare or was any fun I wouldn't mind the gore and dismemberment.

One example of how this movie fails besides being unintentionally funny is that the movie sets up one scene where a woman has to cut off her arm. This resembles a same scene in Part 2 where Bruce Campbell's hand was cut off and then started to have a life on it's own attacking him and others. What does this movie do? After the woman cuts her arm off, blood spurts and then nothing. You know you are in trouble when you can't even successfully honor your own original movie.

P.S. For two better movies, much much better, that resemble this crap please check out Eli Roth's "Cabin Fever" and last year's "Cabin in the Woods". I love those two movies and they were gory but they didn't take themselves so seriously like "Evil Dead" thus they are ten times better!