Lights Out

Turns out I actually missed quite a few horror films in 2016. And for that, I am sorry.

But if I am being truly honest, do I really need to see any of those ones after already seeing The Witch and The Conjuring 2? Yeah, probably not.

Lights Out is the last movie I missed thanks to going on vacation over the summer for a bit and one I only slightly even wanted to see. I had Don’t Breathe coming up and wasn’t sure if I would need any other sort of horror film around that time. (And of course I basically skipped all of the October ones).

But hey, I had 80 minutes to spare. A short film so even if it was terrible, at least I wouldn’t waste my whole day on it.

Red Light
The worst films sometimes do feel like they take all day though.

The beginning of the film takes place in a theater or movie studio. I don’t know. But Paul (Billy Burke) is working there late, and next thing he knows, there is some shadowy figure in the dark trying to kill him, and it successfully does!

Paul left behind a wife, Sophie (Maria Bello), and a young son, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). After Martin is having problems at school, mostly staying awake, his older half sister is called, Rebecca (Teresa Palmer). Paul was not her dad, her own dad was killed when she was younger and she used to have problems as well.

And honestly, really quickly do we find out that this entity has a name. Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey), something that Rebecca saw for some time as a kid and now it appears to be haunting Martin AND her again. There is a story behind all of this, and how Diana came to be, but it is too dumb to even want to spoil it.

Also featuring Alexander DiPersia as Rebecca’s serious boy friend.

Dark light
Look into my eye dots and learn to fall in love.

From its onset, Lights Out isn’t a bad idea. But in the way they told the story, it definitely seems like something that would have been much better as a short, and not a full length film. Despite its small run time, it seems to go on too long. They put a lot of effort into it to tell us why it is all happening, backstory and all, but the plot points there are just so unexciting.

The other main issue with this film is that it ends up not being scary. Maybe by making Diana an entity named Diana? A real thing? Yeah, that is probably it. Although none of Diana’s powers really make too much sense either, despite the elaborate time spent on her backstory.

This film surprisingly features a couple of well known women in the roles and given the quality of the film, it isn’t too surprising to find them not giving their best performances. All of the men are almost laughable in their acting skills, but I find myself practically disappointed in the women because I know they have been in better.

Lights Out is a forgettable horror film that will thankfully have no sequels. IT WILL HAVE NO SEQUELS, I SAY! It didn’t even end with some shitty teaser that the Diana is still alive, it just ended like a normal film, thankfully.

1 out of 4.

The Choice

Oh hey look, a Nicholas Sparks film. There have been ten of these before The Choice, and most people would start to wonder if he has any originality left in the tank.

Every single one of them are about romance. Most of them are about a death or a tragedy and bringing the unlikely couple together. Some of them do feature twists and interesting angles I have never considered. I still like The Notebook and I thought Dear John was quite clever, but still not living up to its potential.

And I didn’t see The Choice when it came out to theaters. I didn’t even see it when it hit DVD. His 11th attempt at a movie didn’t even try to advertise itself that much. Were there posters? Were there trailers? Is there another of his movies coming out this year?

I have no idea, they sort of just show up and we have to accept them.

Couple
Look at the happy couple. I wonder what Sparks will do to fuck it all up.

Gabby (Teresa Palmer) is a medical student, living with her dog, in the most romantic place in the world, Wilmington, NC. She has her own small place, despite being seriously involved with her boyfriend, Ryan (Tom Welling). Ryan is already a doctor, Gabby needs to still pass her exams, so she picks a quiet place to be alone to study without distractions.

Until she finds out her neighbor is playboy Travis (Benjamin Walker). He likes to party, sleep around, has a pseudo girlfriend (Alexandra Daddario), and he loves to blast his music at night.

And then Gabby’s dog gets pregnant, so she blames it on Travis’ dog. She goes to the vet angry and hey look, Travis works there, a vet himself, son of the head vet (Tom Wilkinson). And Travis’ dog is fixed! Oh ho ho, how silly.

Anyways, needless to say, they both fall in love, ruin each others relationships, and despite the starting of their relationship being over 2/3 of the film, none of what I said involves the titular Choice and it will just eventually show up. Also starring Maggie Grace!

Dog
Cold beer. Red shorts. Lazy dog. This man loves to party!

The Choice ends up being like a lot of Sparks stories, except somehow feeling overall trashier and dumber than most.

First of all, one of our two characters is in a committed relationship. He might not 100% entirely get her needs, but she is the one who starts fooling around with our main guy, with her boyfriend away for business reasons. In fact even after this, she still gets engaged to her boyfriend. So Gabby doesn’t really feel like a great gal. And Travis doesn’t look or seem to fit the charm that people say about him in this film. I don’t see it, and I can fully admit to understanding the charm of charismatic men.

Their chemistry isn’t super apparent either, so they have to hide it behind montages. And once again, the main crux of the movie, what is the choice and why, doesn’t happen until way late late late into the film. So much of the film is about their initial meeting and relationship (Sparks’ bread and butter), they have to rush the prequel to the choice into another montage showing them getting married and having kids.

Now this choice has no emotional context for us. It is jarring seeing them older (while looking identical of course), but suddenly kids. And of course “The Choice” ISN’T A FUCKING CHOICE AT ALL. He doesn’t make a choice, he keeps things the same as they were, and of fucking course he would. They hype up this god damn choice, so when it happens, I was just sitting there annoyed because it offered no additional tension.

This movie needed to take place with them already married with a family. Throw in some SMALL flashbacks if you want to show how they met, but let us really get to see them being in love and how their lives are before anything bad can effect it. But then Sparks couldn’t have enough romance in it.

This is a romance film that they didn’t know how to make different or tragic. The last act feels stapled on, isn’t heartfelt, and the whole thing becomes a waste of time.

0 out of 4.

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge, like most movies I saw in the month of October, I went in without knowing the actual plot and without seeing a trailer. I love it.

Here is what I did know, though. I knew it was about World War II. I knew it was directed by Mel Gibson, who hasn’t directed a war film in a long time. You know, Braveheart. And I naturally assumed it was at least 2.5 hours long and it would be unexpectedly graphic.

Oh and hey, it of course has Andrew Garfield. A generally solid actor, who has been solid post Spider-Man. 99 Homes was a surprising treat and I expect great things from him here.

Punchy
Like I expect him to be able to take a hit from Private muscles over there.

Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) is a weird guy. His dad (Hugo Weaving) served in WW1 and has never been the same, making him an alcoholic abuser of both his kids and his wife (Rachel Griffiths). After an incident where he almost killed his brother (Nathaniel Buzolic) in a fight, Desmond vowed to never hurt a soul again, going full Christian.

Years later, World War II is starting and his brother had left for the war. In fact, all of Desmond’s friends left for the war. It is his duty as an American Patriot to join his friends to help stop an evil threat right? But can he do that and NOT kill? Well, he has always been interested in being a doctor but didn’t even graduate high school. After he meets and falls in love with a nurse, Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer), he is able to gain some knowledge.

So he decides to sign up as a conscientious objector, refusing to even touch a gun, wanting to serve as an unarmed medic. And yeah, a lot of problems happen, in boot camp mostly, but he is able to metaphorically fight his way through and get sent to Japan to face horrifying conditions, with one goal: Save a few lives. Also featuring Vince Vaughn as the Drill Sergeant, Sam Worthington as their Captain, and Luke Bracey as fellow private and asshole.

You want your group of soldiers and commanders that also appear in this film? Well, hold on to your helmets. We got Michael Sheasby, Firass Dirani, Luke Pegler, Ben Mingay, Nico Cortez, Goran D. Kleut, Harry Greenwood, Damien Thomlinson, Ben O’Toole, Richard Pyros, Jacob Warner, Milo Gibson, and of course, Richard Roxburgh.

Save!
And countless more names play rag doll dying soldiers on both sides.

Gibson is a sunnova gun if there ever was one. Because Hacksaw Ridge is a movie that just seems to hit every note perfectly. It is cheesy and gory. It is loving and unforgiving. It is a few types of movies all rolled up in one.

The time just flew by as well. I was worried that the film would end right after he finished boot camp. Boot camp had so many issues and struggles for him to get through, after what felt like a very detailed introduction,
and also a courtroom scare. It had so much going on, and we didn’t even get him over to Japan yet! That is the main crux of the film!

Because he has to do something in order for his story to be told. They advertise he is the only person to win a medal of honor without ever firing a weapon, so he must have saved his entire division somehow in very difficult conditions. As to how difficult and what he did, well, that is what the movie is going to show. But the things he went through are basically awe inspiring to anyone who would watch, even knowing there must be some level of fib being told.

And yes, the main character is Christian. That is an extremely vital part of the film: his faith and his beliefs. We are told them again and again, but it never gets hokey, it never gets annoying. It feels real and earnest without rubbing it in our faces. This is what a Christian film should like. Something where someone’s actions speak louder than words without hearing Jesus every minute. It has been straight up probably decades since we have had an actual great movie with a strong Christian focus, and that is the most incredible fact about this film.

Desmond Doss is an amazing American hero, and Mel Gibson gave him an amazing movie for us to remember him with.

4 out of 4.

Knight of Cups

I cannot stand Terrence Malick films. No I haven’t seen a lot of them. I haven’t even seen The Thin Red Line.

But I have seen The Tree of Life and To The Wonder. The former I couldn’t get behind at all, despite some lovely visuals, and the latter was just a complete train wreck from my point of view.

Some people call him pompous, some just refer to him as art house, and I just cannot stand his movies as of right now. So sure, I will give Knight of Cups a chance. But I am going in with a huge bias on my shoulders that I cannot shake. I will never get the time I lost from To The Wonder. Never.

Metaphor1
Given the director, you have to assume every shot, no matter what, is actually a metaphor.

Also given the director, describing the plot of the film can be a bit tricky. So let’s run to IMDB for some help:

A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

Our writer is of course Rick (Christian Bale), whom is apparently good at his job and sought over, but he cares not about his job that much. He cares about his past and who he is going to fuck next. And that means he has more than six relationships in the film, as there are a lot of unnamed girls without speaking roles.

The six women include: Nancy (Cate Blanchett), his ex-wife, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a museum enthusiast, Helen (Freida Pinto), a model, Della (Imogen Poots), a free spirit, Karen (Teresa Palmer), a stripper from down under, and Isabel (Isabel Lucas), who, I dunno, likes beaches I guess. They all like beaches though. Beaches are kind of a big thing here.

Oh and he has family! Wes Bently plays his brother, Brian Dennehy his dad. Antonio Banderas has some role of significance, if you can call it that. But I don’t know what or why. Some rich guy.

Metaphor
There has never been a more metaphor-y beach.

I tried, I really did, to understand this movie from a different light. To think about the bigger themes that he might be getting at. To imagine the scenery as its own character. This was all advice people gave to me about Malick movies. Despite my hatred for the last two movies, I knew I had to watch this one do my best to review it fairly, because only watching movies I will probably like does not make me a great film critic.

But this movie just felt like a waste of time. It is two hours long and it felt like it was over three hours. The film felt like it was about to end three separate times before it finally showed the credits. The story that was told could have ended at any moment, because it is hard to say that there really was an actual ending they had in mind. It was all very spiritual and airy. Rarely do you see any character actually talking. Most of the dialogue is spoken over scenes of characters living and interacting with each other. And of course other dialogue is made by never seen characters, some talking poetically, or telling random stories, or…just who the hell knows.

Knight Of Cups is a confusing film. It is broken down into sections named after Tarot cards, which is also where the title comes from. And if you try hard, you might figure out why a section with the characters in it is called The Moon, or Freedom, or Death. Knight of Cups is presumably made so that you can derive your own opinions on the film based on what you get out of it.

And what I get out of it is a big waste of time. Sure, there are some well shot scenes. A whole lot of beaches, and some Californian mountains and death valley. But if I cared about well shot pictures of nature, I’d be watching Planet Earth, not a film that should have a basic story.

0 out of 4.

Triple 9

Say what you will about Triple 9‘s vague title, but I think we can all agree that it is a better title than just 999.

This is one of the rare fun times where I actually know nothing about the film outside of movie posters and actors involved! But the director is John Hillcoat, who also directed Lawless and The Road, two films I adore.

And the cover gives a nice terrorist/angry gunman feel to it. A bit dark, something that feels more like a September film, not a February film.

Cops
Some rumors say this is actually the real True Detective Season 2.

Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his group (Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie, Clifton Collins Jr.) are robbing a bank. Why? Well, working for a client. They are all friends, but more importantly, they are all ex-military, special forces, or cops. Current cops.

So they know how to get shit done. However, when they deliver the package to Irina Vlaslov (Kate Winslet), they don’t get paid, she demands a second, harder job (for more money), and also ends up killing one of the crew to shows he is serious. Michael can’t walk away, because his son is basically a hostage in this situation.

However, the second job involves breaking into a Department of Homeland Security building. They have guards, private security, and the cops have it on speed dial. So they decide that the only way they can pull off the heist is to do a code 999. Kill a cop. Then everyone in the area will report, because every cop wants to get a cop killer. They know who to pick too. Chris Allen (Casey Affleck), who is one of their new partners, just transferred over, and the son of Sergeant Detective Jeffrey Allen (Woody Harrelson) who is also on their case.

But can they do it? The team is a unique group of individuals. Some are shit, some are good guys deep down in bad circumstances, and some are just train wrecks.

Also starring Gal Gadot, Teresa Palmer, E. Roger Mitchell, Luis Da Silva Jr., Michelle Ang, and Michael Kenneth Williams a transgendered prostitute.

Heist
That last note is really all the reason you need to see this film. Even if it is just one scene.

First of all, let me just talk about Kate Winslet. She is a goddamn chameleon. I had no idea it was her in this movie. Just like I had no idea it was her in Steve Jobs. Her role wasn’t as good as it was in Steve Jobs, but it was unique and I just couldn’t tell it was her at all. I love these surprises in the credits.

Triple 9 has a lot of twists and turns, and honestly, most of them were not easy to predict at all. It was keeping me on the edge of the seat throughout the film. In fact, it begins like we are already in the middle of a story. It can take awhile to catch up, but it gradually gives you bits and pieces to help put the whole story together, to find out why these men know each other and why they are in this situation.

It is a great way of doing things, but it is perhaps its biggest downfall.

Triple 9 is also a crowded film. There are a few plot lines going on, all at the same time, and not everything makes sense. Not just unexplained plot points, but character actions. For the life of me, I don’t understand how a criminal organization, wanting an almost impossible job to be done, would kill one of the five member crew before hand to show they are serious, making it even more impossible. Dumb criminals are the worst, especially when on screen they are played off as being intelligent and calculating.

Harrelson was also disappointing in this movie. His character felt like a shit version of his character from True Blood. Less accent, but all the self destructive behavior. There was no way this man was the lead detective for any precinct, as he acted like some beat cop the whole time.

The action is great, the twists are good, but in all honesty a lot of the plot is generic/incomprehensible. Worth watching at least once, just from the comfort of your own home.

2 out of 4.

Kill Me Three Times

Kill me once, kill me twice, kill me deadly, as Lita Ford kind of almost once said.

Ms Ford couldn’t count to three, much like Valve, but it is for good reason. Kill Me Three Times? That is definitely excessive. Two is usually excessive as well, unless you believe in resurrection, but most cultures don’t have double resurrection as far as I can tell.

Now, this could be some strange Beetlejuice situation, where the only way to die is killing the entity three times. Maybe the person in question is a third cat and two thirds human (how to genetics work?), so they only were given 3 lives instead of 9.

Actually, yes, that is my official answer going into this movie. A movie that must be about a man who is one-third cat. And no, I hope it isn’t anything like Catwoman.

GUN
Although wearing all black and having a sexually awakened pose does give me pause.

In the Australian action thriller comedy (?) we’ve all been waiting for, we get to see Simon Pegg play a hit man! Sure, Charlie Wolfe is a bit eccentric, with a mustache and all. And maybe he doesn’t take out his targets in one well placed sniper kill. But you know, he eventually gets the job done! And right after getting the job done, he gets a call to do another job! Ha ha! Life is good, plenty of work, people to kill.

It is simple, Jack Taylor (Callan Mulvey) wants his wife, Alice (Alice Braga), killed and he wants Charlie to do it. A nice lump of sum for the job too. He wants her dead for the reason anyone would, getting cheated on. She cheated on him with a MECHANIC, Dylan (Luke Hemsworth), which makes sense, given that he is the third (and oldest) Hemsworth.

However, the issue is that Charlie wasn’t the only one who was hired to kill Alice! Enter mild mannered dentist, Natahn Webb (Sullivan Stapleton). He has a bit of a gambling addiction and owes some powerful people a lot of money. His wife and receptionist Lucy (Teresa Palmer) is going to help him out, and they are going to be awkward about it.

Also featuring Steve Le Marquand and Bryan Brown. And other shenanigans and twists occur of course, but if I told you them, you’d have no reason to watch the movie.

Knife
Like, omg, how did that knife get in his hand?!

Kill Me Three Times was actually a bit harder of a film to describe for two reasons. One, the story isn’t told in standard chronological order. It jumps around a bit. Why? Just to see things in different points of view, and get some flash backs. That is why. It could be fine, but in this case it didn’t enhance the movie at all.

Two, the movie was boring as fuck. I am so disappointed by how uninterested the film went as it dragged along. This element of course made the scenes where we were able to see events again from a different point of view even more dull. I was bored the first time they showed it to me, now I get to be bored from a new angle!

I don’t remember laughing at all. I thought some scenes may have been amusing, but no outright guffaws bellowed from my diaphragm. Was it a bit dark? Sure. And there was technically a little bit of action to make it interesting.

Pegg wasn’t terrible, but his character also felt underutilized. There was a bit too much advertising his character for how much of the movie was about all the other characters as well, if you know what I mean.

Overall, I would describe Kill Me Three Times as a bad cluster fuck. A movie that wanted to be a Tarantino film and dropped the mark a few yards before a first down.

1 out of 4.

Love and Honor

I saw the trailer for Love and Honor accidentally before the movie As Cool As I Am.

I didn’t like As Cool As I Am, and usually I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch a movie that I saw previewed before a lame movie, if I have never heard of it.

But here I am! The trailer made me kind of interested in the movie. War! Love! Going AWOL! Hot and sexy topics, and all dealing with the little brother of Thor, who of course never disappoints.

Liam Hemsworth
Except for Paranoia, Empire State and The Last Song.

This story is set in 1969, so we get to hear Spirit in the Sky and Magic Carpet Ride, because sometimes filmmakers don’t want to be creative with their song choices anymore.

Dalton Joiner (Austin Stowell) and Mickey Wright (Liam Hemsworth) are both soldiers in the US Army, over at Vietnam. They are volunteers and are halfway through their year long tour. After six months, they have earned a whole week off! They get dropped off in Hong Kong to have a week of fornication, tomfoolery, and who knows what else, as long as they are back at that airport to leave in 7 days.

But Dalton has other plans. He was dating this girl, Jane (Aimee Teegarden), but she broke up with him while he was away from the war. The only thing keeping him going was the thought of going back to her, so he was super good at finding traps and shit. His plan is to fly back to America, because troops fly for free, see her again, and that will rekindle everything they had, and she will know that waiting is the best thing.

So of course his buddy Mickey goes along for the ride.

But when they get back to the states, things have changed. Jane has become Juniper, and she is living in a house of war protesters. Hippies. She broke up with him because she couldn’t support the war (and probably started protesting because it took him away!). She is a free spirit now, perhaps too free, but Dalton doesn’t care. They lie and say they abandoned the war in protest, in order to help win her back, but the lies build, and bad things happen. Also Mickey falls in love with Candace (Teresa Palmer). That is important too, I guess, because they become our main characters.

Girl Liam Likes
Hey, girl from Warm Bodies (warm bodies). I like Aimee better, no lie. But you are cool too.

The movie being set in the 1960s was actually surprising. I mean, it makes more sense, but I am still surprised.

From the trailer, it looked like bad stuff would go down hard. Like they didn’t make their flight in time and getting arrested for AWOL charges, then presumably a big political affair that would change everything and end Vietnam.

But when they were arrested? They solved the problem in a few minutes, tricked one officer, and that was it. Too quickly, leaving me with nothing but romance based drama. Silly, romance based drama, because it is just all based on lying to loved ones, like most uncreative movies. I give this one props for technically trying a different angle, only by setting, but this isn’t a fantastic romance story in any way, and the romance between Stowell and Hemsworth doensn’t feel real at all. No chemistry, no tissue box for my tears.

1 out of 4.

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies, Warm Bodies.

Unfortunately, due to hearing that title said twice in a row, I really can’t stop doing it. It adds effect. It makes it creepy. I like creepy.

I kind of hate zombie based fan ficiton. More specifically, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a terrible book, seriously read it. It is P&P with another guy throwing in some zombie fight scenes and changing some words. But his writing style is so different than Jane Austin’s style that it is painfully obvious. But that was Zombies and Romance. How about Zombies WITH Romance?

Angsty
You see the whole thing is a metaphor. A metaphor, for uhh, to be emo is to be dead.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie. Not much to talk else to mention about his life, he is a damn zombie. He doesn’t remember his old life, or his old name or anything. He has a “Friend” in M (Rob Corddry), but that means they sometimes go out on hunts together for food and grunt some.

On one of those faithful hunting missions, they run into a group of survivors looking for meds. That is where he meets Julie (Teresa Palmer). But something is different, something has changed. He doesn’t want to eat her body. Well, not in the traditional sense.

Could this be love? Necrophiliac love? Analeigh Tipton plays her best friend, Dave Franco her boyfriend, and John Malkovich her dad.

Warsss
This is also a metaphor. A metaphor, for uhh, war. War is bad.

From what I can tell, the movie has differences from the book, but the author of the book is fine with it. He saw the movie and likes it, so I definitely won’t judge the two apart (not that I ever do that anyways). But I can say that after watching the movie, I want to read the book. Already ordered it online, can’t wait. The only other movie that I did that with was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Which, I might add, I liked the book as well and there were differences.

I thought the intro the movie was pretty dang hilarious. It begins with a nice monologue from R, as he shuffles about his normal zombie life, and we learn the ins and outs of his mind and actions. It just felt brilliant.

Rob Corddry stole the show with his zombie, but he was given the funnier lines, because he wasn’t currently in love with a living woman.

The movie has obvious references to a famous love story, which I figured out halfway through. I am glad they kept it somewhat subtle, I was afraid they would smash it over your head at the end, but thankfully they didn’t.

Shit, the only thing I really disliked would be that the change happening the zombies could have been more gradual and obvious. For R, it was slow and the signs of him getting better were clear, but for the rest of the zombies it felt rushed.

Fuck it. I loved this movie. Here is a high ass rating.

4 out of 4.

I Am Number Four

Here is a movie that started out interesting, but got boring by the end. Relying on teen angst, bad special effects, and a “oh man sequels?” ending to attempt to bring it to the big time.

Shit, do I even need a review anymore after that?

What science
Everything I just said is described in this picture.

I Am Number Four is about Aliens! When I first heard that, I assumed it was a spoiler. Turns out that is a very obvious and told right away fact of the movie. Main dude, played by Alex Pettyfer is the main character. Turns out when they were kids, their home planet was destroyed. Nine babies were taken to Earth. For some reason, they can only be killed in numerical order. So Four (the main guy) cannot die until One, Two, Three area dead. Cool for four. But what the fuck does that mean for one? Was he the “slaves child” or something? That is some bullshit for him.

Well it turns out the first three are dead! By the same evil aliens who took over their old planet. He also has a protector dude, played by Timothy Olyphant. Thanks to fucking up, he had to move again, this time to Ohio. He meets at school outsider/photographer Dianna Agron, and new friend Callan McAuliffe.

Blah blah. Eventually bad guys show up. Turns out they are supposed to protect Earth from them. Number Six (Teresa Palmer) shows up out of no where (And you know, isn’t afraid of dying). Blah blah blah. And yeah. End of movie. Looking for more survivors. He doesn’t end up boning Dianna Agron.

Shame Dianna
Which is a shame, because she is so Bumpable when she isn’t singing.

But as I said, it was way more interesting at the start of the movie. Then it just took some weird turns and made it less appealing, and then yeah. Ended. For shame, I Am Number Four. For Shame.

1 out of 4.