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Review Oculus (2013): Absolutely terrible!

genre: mystery, horror

Sometimes you just have to be real and call things out for what they are and not what they are made out to be. Oculus is one of those things. I was very willing to accept and overlook the majority of flaws if the film at least offered something worth my while. Obviously it failed to do so.

The premise itself had a lot of potential to deliver horror goodness and more. Instead it's one pretentious event after another. For at least twenty minutes I was intrigued only to be let down by the poor imagination of director Mike Flanagan. Which is astonishing since he was on a roll in Ouija: Origin of Evil. Oculus simply is lacking those elements that makes films like these fun. There is nothing and I mean absolutely nothing that makes it stand out. In fact the film is quite boring even with the supposedly tense and creepy scenes. But the majority of these scenes are build up so poorly that by the time you are prepared for the worst you get nothing in return for your patience.

I noticed Karen Gillian and I was happy to see a well known companion of the Doctor Who universe appear in something else. She was adequate but nothing more than that. Not that she could have changed my viewing experience even if she had tried. For that a lot of elements especially the direction should have been improved. The worst offense though is the fact that Oculus is not scary. Even if I could be bothered by all the symbolism thrown at you it still would end up as a boring and lazy affair. None of the film is creepy or contains dread. The secret glass mirror lends itself for an ever present eeriness and nothing is done with this. I don't care how accomplished you are as a director or film maker. If you fail to bank on this you have done a terrible job.

Trust me I tried to be a trooper and go along with what this movie was trying to do. Except it never delivers on what it is supposed to. Real shame if you ask me.

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Review Get Out (2017): Not propaganda just very effective horror!

genre: mystery, thriller, horror

Get Out is an example how to play around with the usual horror conventions and still remain fresh and very effective.

As you might have guessed Get Out is like a twisted version of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). Just as confronting but maybe a little less serious. Although I have to say that there were times that it was hard to stomach to what was happening. Especially considering some characters like Georgina played by Betty Gabriel. Sorrow, anguish, happiness and rage are just a few of the emotions that come at you in full speed and it is incredibly terrifying.

You might have read that Get Out is nothing special or that it is propaganda. These people couldn't be more wrong. Get Out might address some issues but that is all. Because the film is a horror through and through.  I don't see how that can be seen as something bad. Like I have stated earlier the film plays around with typical conventions in horror. But it's done in a way that keeps you on the edge of the seat plus will make you laugh. Mind you for the most part the film is a serious affair but there is some comic relief in the form of TSA officer Rod Williams. I don't know about you but I love people who are slightly paranoid. They are probably more open minded and liberal then the people who claim to be. And in this film he functions as the voice of reason. Next time you come across someone who has some far fetched ideas don't dismiss them but at least think about them and view them as possibilities. Not saying that they are always right and true. Point is that it's always to remain vigilant and critical especially when things seem to be to good to be true.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised that Jordan Peele directed this film. It's far better than his involvement with Keanu. And I hope this paves the way for him to do more of these kinds of projects. Overall Get Out delivers and then some. So watch it!

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Review The Fate of the Furious a.k.a. Fast & Furious 8: It's fun but even for the franchise it's getting a little too ludicrous!

genre: action, adventure, racing

Since the change in direction since Fast of Furious 5 I have been enjoying this franchise immensely and was of the opinion that if they maintained the same quality I would not mind them making sequel after sequel. Now I am not entirely sure of that. Don't get me wrong I still had lots of fun but now I also got confronted with some elements that could hurt the enjoyment a little.

This part more than ever asks of you to suspend disbelief. And this time it was a tad too much since especially story wise they expect you to forgive and forget certain dramatic events like they hardly mattered. For the most part I was very willing to go with whatever The Fate of the Furious was preaching but there were some moments that I was scratching my head because of the ludicrousness of everything. Or it could be that this film is much more Christian than movies like God's Not Dead.

One other element that diminishes the viewing experience slightly is the duration of the movie and the pacing that comes with it. There simply is not enough story or characterization to keep your adrenaline pumping. The grand finale does make up for these issues but then again it would have had much more impact had the length been cut short. Or they could have tried to add more depth to motivations or plot developments to make it a little more interesting.

That all being said you will have more fun than not so it does make the perfect blockbuster film for this spring. Actually currently it is the only new blockbuster film playing. Why is that?  Anyway once again the franchise has delivered a fun but very flawed part. But I do hope that they will tone down on the craziness somewhat in future parts.

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Review The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016): Go in blind and you will get the ultimate viewing experience!

genre: thriller, mystery, horror

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a tricky film to review since even the tiniest reveal could spoil the fun. All I knew about this film was what I have seen in the trailer. I am happy to report that this is one of those rare trailers that doesn't give a thing away yet intrigues you to watch. So do feel free to check it out if you want. But for the ultimate viewing experience I advise you to go in blindly.

I can't tell you how delighted I was to find out that The Autopsy of Jane Doe was a very different film than I expected it to be. It does a very good job of keeping you in suspense about what is going on. But even when you find out the film manages to keep events tense since then you realize the stakes gotten higher. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch are excellent as father and son, both coroners, who are given a body (Jane Doe) to perform an autopsy on. Sherrif Burke (Michael McElhatton who you might know from Game of Thrones) needs a cause of death ASAP and therefore son Austin feels obliged to help out his father to speed up things. Normally viewing an autopsy would either be gross or boring and while the film never spares you it remains fascinating to see the coroners solve the puzzles piece by piece. Although I would not recommend eating while watching this film.

Don't pay attention to people who have been giving this film negative reviews. Whatever their beef is I can assure you that they are wrong. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is mostly old school horror with emphasis on atmosphere and buildup of tension and suspense. It's not the violent or gory type although make no mistake the autopsy as far as I can tell looked quite realistic and definitely is for the faint of heart. Director André Øvredal has impressed me and I am certainly going to check out Troll Hunter as soon as possible. A must watch if you ask me.

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Review Green Room (2015): Sorry I don't get it, what am I missing?

genre: thriller, horror, crime

Naturally I have some idea what makes this film appealing to people still I can't be as forgiving as them. The whole film relies on a concept or premise that has great potential. For me this potential has been wasted.

The whole film lacks an urgency and dread that is essential to make the film work. The monsters in this movie are far from menacing and looked more like villains in a random Scooby Doo episode. Even if some of their actions were brutal it had zero impact on me. The characters we are supposed to be rooting for are made very unlikable and all the time I was asking myself why I should care in the first place. Patrick Stewart as Neo-Nazi could have been real interesting. But his character is nothing more than the big honcho who on occasion says racist things but that is about it. I have seen and experienced far worse so not sure why director Jeremy Saulnier thinks he can impress me with his take on Neo-Nazi's. They were organized and certainly competent as criminals. Still does that make them automatically creepy or scary? Not by a long shot.

If you were planning to watch this because of Anthon Yelchin then I will have to disappoint you because there is nothing special about his acting or role that make it worth your while. In fact I could even go as far to say that this easily is his worst role he has ever played. Not that it was so bad but more that it was lazy and generic.

I truly wished I could recommend this film to you and I did try to get the most out of this. Unfortunately Green Room is not good. Even if you overlook it's many flaws and suspend disbelief it fails to put you on the edge of your seat. There is no redeeming factor or reward for sticking with it. Therefore it's a complete waste of your time.

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Review Shin Godzilla a.k.a. Shin Gojira a.k.a. Godzilla Resurgence (2016): Take note Gareth Edwards, this is how you should do it!

genre: kaiju, science fiction, action, adventure

Shin Godzilla certainly puts Godzilla back on the map like he (or she) is supposed to. After the dreadful Hollywood version of 2014 I was craving a proper one and by god that is exactly what you are getting. Now before you get all happy and cheerful you will have to contend with a few elements that might ask more of you as a viewer.

This movie treats events like they could really happen while at the same time poking fun at everything you could joke about when it comes to monster or disaster films. There is a lot going on beneath the surface provided you allow it to enter your thoughts. You could very easily disregard the political or human related stuff and just focus on Godzilla and his activities. However you would then miss out on some criticism that all people in this world should take to heart. The film takes what seems subtle jabs at certain issues in the beginning but these transform into direct insults and attacks that for me personally were very therapeutic. Next to that it was quite fun to see people respond to the unstoppable force that is Godzilla. Craziest thing is that I was under the impression this movie could not surprise me. I mean how could they still do so after so many movies featuring the creature? And yet this is exactly what happens. Mind you, it is asked of you to overlook a few bad looking effects, but the rewards are definitely worth it so that won't be a problem.

So how was the action? Spectacular. Godzilla shows it's a creature not to be messed with. I am sure he was just chillin with his homies before he got rudely interrupted by us humans with their warfare and pollution. You shouldn't mess with nature as it has the tendency to come back at you without remorse. But Godzilla also points out that humans are easily outnumbered and out gunned and should definitely eat some humble pie before they start their destruction. It's nothing compared to what good old Gojira can do.

I am amazed to find out that people seem to prefer the horrible Gareth Edwards version over this one. For one thing Godzilla is shown in full glory in many different ways. It is true he (or she) might not appear on the screen as much as I would like but still when he (or she) is on screen it's epic. But more important Shin Godzilla is actually exciting and fun. Godzilla (2014) was anything but. It focused on the wrong things in the wrong ways. Besides it took itself far too seriously. Shin Godzilla might seem like a serious affair but like I said it pokes fun at a lot of things including the men in suits concept or other designs for the creature. Shin Godzilla is very aware of what it is and what it should be. Can't wait for more featuring this Godzilla. I hope a sequel or spin offs are in the works because honestly I can't get enough of kaiju films. Especially the ones that are done well.

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Review Viral (2016): Had potential.....

genre: horror, thriller

Viral starts out interesting and compelling. Forget that it follows every cliché in the book concerning viral outbreak / zombie / infected films. Even the main character was likable. Until the events started to cause uproar and chaos. 

Then suddenly cautious Emma Drakeford (Sofia Black-D'Elia) becomes a total idiot. What is the point of a mask if you keep removing it? I swear she keeps taking that damn thing off at moments where it was needed the most. That kind of stupidity is just infuriating. Her big sister Stacey Drakeford (Analeigh Tipton) is even worse who for some reason can't be bothered to care what is happening around her outside her little world. She gets bored by breaking news reports,warnings and presidential speeches about health care and safety measures. Instead she chooses to ignore what is happening not so far from her home and party instead. She even suggests her little sister shouldn't take things so seriously. Yeah, real good advice Stacey! Still I was fine with that since I was hoping that the film at least would give us something nice on the side to chew on. Like some real hair rising thrilling scenes or some bloody and gruesome action. But no, the jump scares are predictable to a tee. And the few scary or creepy moments that could have been terrifying are ruined by the severe lack of tension or dread. The whole movie suffers from not making it clear how dire the situation is. It relies too much on the imagination of the audience and in this case I find that unacceptable. The clicker zombies or infected sounded too much like the ones in videogame Last of Us. I am not sure what to think of that. If directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman have borrowed or were heavily inspired by the fungal zombies of that game would it have hurt them to take it to next level and come with some of their own ideas thrown into the mix to make it more interesting? Predictable monsters are boring. So all you have to do is make them unpredictable to make it fun. These clickers were as scary as fluffy bunnies and cuddly bears.

I already wasted too many words on this since I can't tell you how disappointed I was. Viral had real potential. But nothing creative has been done to make this film stand out from the rest. If you have seen a million zombie / infected films like I have you expect more. This is a complete waste of your time. So do not watch this!

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Review Sandy Wexler (2017): Adam Sandler is killing it on Netflix. We want more!

genre: comedy

It goes without saying that Adam Sandler is a required taste. I happen to like most of his comedy but that doesn't mean I can't be critical of him. The Do-Over for example was not on the level as The Ridiculous 6 but yet it featured a calmer and more toned down Adam Sandler who is less loud and crazy as he is gotten famous for. Sandy Wexler follows the trend of The Do-Over but leaves out the gross out jokes and is one of the main reasons why it ends up as an incredible charming comedy.

Sandy Wexler right from the bat is a character you want to cheer for even if he doesn't seem to be that competent to take on as talent manager. But most important he has his heart in the right place and that is what matters. There are quite a few scenes where emphasis is put on the tragic side of Wexler. This makes sense since basically he is a genuinely nice guy who has to swim with sharks. For me this made him extremely likable plus also funny because of the contrast. But don't worry it's not a sad affair. There are some truly hilarious scenes that will crack you up and make you feel good.

Sandy Wexler is filled with cameos. And it's a showcase of how it should be done. I mention this because after watching Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie and Zoolander 2 I was beginning to wonder if they could do more than just letting these famous names appear on the screen. As in most of his films Adam Sandler has a lot of his friends show up and like always they do a lot in very little time and adds to the charm considerably. It looked like that all of the people involved had fun making this film. In the end that is what Sandy Wexler is, fun. Totally worth your time.

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