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The Wolfman (2010)
The Wolfman (2010)
2010 | Horror, Mystery
During the golden age of cinematic horror, Lon Chaney terrified audiences with his portrayal of the Wolfman which launched the character as a cultural mainstay.

Over the years there have been countless updates to the tale which ranged from Michael Landon in “I Was a Teenage Werewolf, to the more contemporary “An American Werewolf in London” and “Dog Soldiers”.
With remakes being all the rage in Hollywood, Universal has returned to the original source material to offer an updated version of the original classic.

Set in England near the start of the twentieth century, the film stars Benicio Del Toro as an actor named Lawrence who is summoned home when his brother goes missing. Upon returning to the lavish familial estate, he is greeted by his estranged father, (Sir Anthony Hopkins), who informs him that his brother mutilated body was discovered earlier.
Dismayed by the condition of his brother’s remains, Lawrence decides to stay and get to the bottom of the mystery. When a clue provided by his brother’s fiancé leads him to a Gypsy encampment, Lawrence learns of a curse, but before he can obtain the information he desires, the camp is attacked by a mysterious creature that leaves a horrific path of carnage in its wake and leaves Lawrence badly wounded from a bite.

Lawrence makes an amazing recovery from his wounds and in doing so raises the suspicions of the locals who now see Lawrence as cursed and a threat to their society.

Lawrence has also raised the suspicions of Scotland Yard Inspector, (Hugo Weaving) who is convinced that Lawrence may be a key player in the local horror, as he was confined to an asylum in his childhood following the death of his mother.

At first Lawrence is outraged at the accusations, but when he transforms into a deadly creature and embarks on a deadly killing spree during a full moon, he soon learns a dangerous secret that places not only his life in danger, but endangers all those around him.

In a desperate race against time, Lawrence attempts to get to the root of his troubles and set things right before the next full moon, when his animal side will take over once again.

The film is a stylish update of the original and the cast is strong. Sadly they are given little to do with the by the numbers plot, and spend much of the time looking like they are simply going through the motions which makes it difficult for the audience to develop a deep sympathy or attachment to the characters.

Oscar winner Rick Baker has done some amazing makeup work and the effects of the film are solid. It was reported that the film was delayed so Universal could punch the film up by adding some new fx and sequences.

The final result is a mixed bag as while the film is a nice update on the original, audiences have seen more so many variations of the story over the years it is hard to be surprised by anything in the picture. Despite the best efforts of the creative talent, there is little tension or drama in the film and by the time the finale plays out, many may think they have seen it all before.

Universal has released the 1941 original Lon Cheney version of the film on DVD and for those who like film history; they may gain a new insight into the film by watching the original version prior.

In the end, “The Wolfman” works as a matinee or a DVD rental, but I would not suggest it as a full priced theatrical experience for anyone other than those looking for a piece of nostalgia.
A Kiss of Madness
A Kiss of Madness
K.B. Everly, Stacy Jones | 2018 | Contemporary, Romance
2.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Starts out good (0 more)
Too much smut (3 more)
Unbelievable plot
Underdeveloped and unlikable characters
Book is confused about the plot
Reads More Like a Rough Draft
I love reading books about mental illness, and even more so if they take place inside an asylum. When I saw A Kiss of Madness by K.B. Everly and Stacy Jones, it seemed like the perfect read for me. Unfortunately, I was left very disappointed.

The synopsis for A Kiss of Madness sounded very interesting. It could have been a very interesting book except there's too much going on in the story. Lydia gets sent to Brocker's Center for the Criminally Insane after having a vision and throwing a chair through a window as well as attacking an innocent bystander. She could have chose jail time or to voluntarily commit herself to Brocker's. She chose the latter. While there, she gets feelings about people and doesn't feel like she belongs. She meets three guys who are patients with their own issues. However, she ends up thinking they're hot, and they also think she's hot. The guys all agree to be her boyfriends and end up following her everywhere. When one of the other female patients goes missing, Lydia tries to uncover what really happened putting herself in grave danger. I was confused if A Kiss of Madness was trying to be more of a romance novel, a mystery/crime novel, or a paranormal novel. I got the insane asylum vibe for a few chapters, but soon this book lost its whole mental illness vibe. I felt like the insane asylum setting was just thrown in there to make this book sound more interesting than it actually was. It soon turned more into an erotic novel which made me like the book even less. There was just too much pointless fairly graphic sex for my liking. I feel like all the fairly graphic sex and sexual references really took away from the story. I also didn't like the ending. It just felt too rushed. Actually, the whole story just felt really rushed. I also didn't understand how one character who had a violent past could have such a great job. I won't go into further details because it's a spoiler.

I started out liking Lydia and was on her side for the first few chapters or so. However, I found myself losing the connection I felt with her the more I read. She just came across as being very irresponsible and immature. I didn't really care for Pierce, Emmett, or Mason/Jason either. None of the characters in A Kiss of Madness were fleshed out enough to be likable or believable.

The pacing starts out great in A Kiss of Madness. However, it soon slows down once the sex scenes come into play. Then it slows down and becomes more of a smut novel instead of a decent read. Luckily this is a short read or I would have given up on it when I got to the sex parts.

Trigger warnings for A Kiss of Madness include violence, murder, mental illness, attempted sexual assault, fairly graphic sex scenes, sexual references, and profanities.

Overall, A Kiss of Madness started out great. However, it soon went downhill close to halfway through the book. I feel like this book feels more like a rough draft on what could be a decent read. It just needs a lot more work to be good. Get rid of a lot of the pointless sex scenes and references, bulk up the story and characters a bit, decide on what angle to go with, and give this book some guts! At this time, I would not recommend A Kiss of Madness by K.B. Everly and Stacy Jones.

Emma @ The Movies (1785 KP) rated Synchronic (2019) in Movies

Nov 7, 2019 (Updated Nov 10, 2019)  
Synchronic (2019)
Synchronic (2019)
2019 |
7.0 (4 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Contains spoilers, click to show
I'm not sure quite what I expected from the synopsis, it didn't sound like it was going to be very sci-fi, and it wasn't... but it was. I know I'm not making sense. It felt much more like a crime drama than something with sci-fi in it. The sci-fi action blended well with everything around it that you almost don't notice it happening. If there was a fence I'd be sitting on the fence.

Anthony Mackie is only someone I've come across in Marvel movies ready so it was nice to have him in something a little different. His role of Steve has a lot of emotions behind it and I thought he managed to capture them really well. There are a lot of hints to something in his story and the balance between what he shows and his reality helped to sell Steve's reaction. This really makes me look forward to seeing him in more films.

Jamie Dornan has only really been on the periphery of my film watching, I certainly wouldn't have been able to tell you any films he's been in, as an introduction to him as an actor I was impressed. Again, there's a lot of emotion as his daughter goes missing and the tensions between Dennis and those around him were just right.

The two together made a great mix as friends, the bond felt like brothers and was an accurate depiction of the relationship and tension that comes with the horrible truth of illness and the burden that holds.

I liked how Mackie's story unfolded. Half the battle with illness is finding a focus and the mystery in this gives him that. He almost appears to be better while deteriorating in other ways. His purpose is a race against time just like his illness and he is able to choose a more noble cause for what may be all the time he has left.

Whether the science behind Mackie's illness is accurate or not I don't know but they give you a plausible explanation to follow throughout. There is however a moment that breaks the idea of the story... I think. Taking the drug sends the young users back in time, when they come down they are brought back to their present. This means that each pill is a two way journey. When he gets stuck in the past because he moves too far away from his incoming destination he figures he needs to take another pill (that he luckily has on him) and travel back. Fine. He does that successfully but he doesn't then acknowledge the fact that in 7 minutes he should be popping back to where he came from, I'd have been up off my arse a going for a run so I didn't accidentally pop back again. The other issue is that in the present when you pop a pill you go back in time... yet when he takes a pill in the past he comes to the present... Oh hell, I've opened up a can of worms thinking about this now.

The way they've done the effects around the sci-fi bits is very good, but massively affecting as you're drawn into the transitions, especially the first time because you don't know what they're leading to. It almost seamlessly blends together and the stages it takes work so well, and as I said above it doesn't feel very sci-fi

Synchronic was a nice surprise of a film, an interesting mix of genres that managed to keep itself from getting too unbelievable.

Full review originally posted on:
Dogville (2003)
Dogville (2003)
2003 | Drama, International, Mystery
Humanity sucks!
The town of Dogville is a simple one. Set up in the mountains, it only has one main thoroughfare dividing its rows of homes and businesses. Its simple folk mostly keep to themselves or occasionally adjourn together. Some have a craft or livelihood which passes their time, others mostly stay to themselves contemplating their thoughts or maybe waiting for something interesting to happen.

Enter mysterious stranger, Grace.

Grace arrives in Dogville on her own without much fanfare or explanation other than mysterious gun shots heard in the distance and the brief appearance of a vehicle with a mystery occupant. It appears she might be more interesting than initial reaction. A Dogville resident, Tom, meets Grace and talks with her. He says he will discuss her situation with the locals at their next meeting and assures her they will protect Grace and allow her to stay in Dogville if they deem her worthy of friendship. She has to gain their friendship and trust within two weeks in order to do so.

As Grace starts to move within the townspeople, she discovers their interesting, eccentric personalities and tries to figure out any "work" they have either around their houses or within their businesses she can assist them with to further show her devotion to being a good person. Although after making the rounds she does not acquire much work, the members of Dogville eventually open up and welcome Grace to assist them.

Grace starts to fall for Tom who is also smitten with her.

The police eventually arrive to post a sign of the missing Grace and to attempt to gain information on her. The town is unsure what to think and some folk start to question whether Grace is being truthful. A dark and winding road eventually develops and Grace is put through some difficult travails and her will tested. Emotions run high.

Writer/director Lars Von Trier produces another truly unique film. Not as shockingly, visually jarring as some of his other work, this time the screenplay is the ultimate star producing vast emotional turmoil and shocks with words and deeds instead. All the characters presented have quite the emotional arc during the 3 hour run time of this film and it is so interesting to endure the ride. Grace really disrupts this small, mountain community and helps the folk show their eventual true personalities in all their various forms.

The physical setting of the movie is an actual "sound stage" look of the main main street strip of Dogville shown only in building outlines with minimal props or decor within. When looking from above where extensive sections of the film are shown, the audience can view almost the entire township engaged in their daily activities either among one another or by themselves. A lot of the view from the street feels very real as the camera weaves through the conversations almost like another human being.

The slow erosion of the township to Grace, her situation and the way they treat her is the crux of the film. The way human beings can be so kind to each other and then the opposite is what struck and moved me while watching Dogville. Von Trier really took the time to use the right amount of words and craft them in a loving and vicious way made the film tough to watch at times, but also captivating.

I haven't always been the biggest Nicole Kidman fan; however, her performance in this film is amazing. She cautious vulnerability and warming personality have the town be initially enamored with her, then her willingness to please erodes her relationships down the hole of darkness and betrayal. Her quirky smile and subdued emotion suits the character perfectly as you are truly trying to unravel her character's mysteries.

Really enjoyed this one.

Asina C | 2018
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Book Rating
Lithium by Asina C is not the typical book style that comes to mind when I think about a fiction book based in Chernobyl. Normally I would expect such a book to be full of zombies or mutants who go around terrorizing a group of tourist that get lost but that is not the case with Lithium. Instead, this book mixes truth with science and a little bit of fantasy and gives readers a different type of story altogether. This book also talks about the Red Forest in Chernobyl and it sparked an interest in me to look up some pictures of the forest. I also did not notice too much that widely away from the actual facts about Chernobyl, though I would by no means consider myself to be well informed on the subject.

Zurin has lived with her mother for all of her twelve years in a small shack in Pripyat. Her mother has always kept Zurin inside her home for fear of radiation sickness and being seen. This is in part because the area in which they live is believed to be uninhabitable because of all the radiation still in everything following the explosion. Zurin has always been obedient to her mother’s rules until one day when her mother goes to get supplies and Zurin decides to step outside for the first time but may have been seen by someone.

Then one day, shortly after her birthday Zurin wakes up to find her mother gone and blood on the floor. Zurin then ventures out into the Red Forest in search of her mother but gets extremely lost and succumbs to radiation sickness. Luckily she is found by a young couple who work for a travel company and snuck into a restricted area of Chernobyl to take pictures for their website. The couple takes Zurin to the hospital and adopts her once she gets better. As fate would have it months later Zurin returns to Pripyat in search of her mother yet again and finds herself in an abandoned hospital. It is in this hospital that she learns the truth about her mother and her life up to this point. Her only hope is to team up with a doctor she is not completely trusting of, the young couple, and a man she has never met before.

What I liked best was the idea of people still being able to live in a highly irradiated area such as Pripyat with few side effects was interesting. The book also offered some mystery as to who Zurin and her mother are and why they chose to continue to live in an isolated area such a Pripyat. What I liked least was a little more complicated. I understand the fact that people exposed to nuclear radiation and or uranium may mutate both physically and/or mentally if they survive. What I did not understand was Nikolav’s goal by purposefully mutating the patients who survived the explosion but were trapped in the mental ward of the hospital.

This is definitely a young adult book, but for many, after high school, I feel like it would quickly lose its strong appeal. It is a good book but I feel like it would need to be a little more detailed, making the book a bit longer in order for it to have more of an appeal to adults. I ended up rating this book a 2 out of 4. This is because while I enjoy books set around Chernobyl (especially if mutated people or zombies are involved because it offers a plausible explanation for it) this book fell short of my expectations. One of the main issues I had was how the book fails to give solid reasoning and jumps from one topic to another.
The Lodge (2019)
The Lodge (2019)
2019 | Drama, Horror, Thriller
The Lodge made my long shortlist for films I wanted to see at the London Film Festival last year and I rounded out the event with this chilling tale.

Mia and Aidan are reluctantly spending time with their step-mom-to-be in a remote cabin for the holidays. Where their father has to leave for work the three of them have to make the best of a bad situation.

A snowstorm sets in and the almost amicable atmosphere they've got starts to change when strange things start happening and the children see a side of Grace they didn't know.

All credit to this film for amazing me right out of the blocks. It hands you such a strong start that it takes your breath away, as hooks go it's a pretty good one and it's well presented.

The story focuses heavily on the mental health of Grace and that's what stopped it from crossing into the horror genre for me. As a decent into madness it does a great job. Grace's attempt at a normal life is hindered by her backstory and the manipulation that moulded her into the person she is, while she might be free of the cult her life still has toxic aspects in it and her inability to truly escape that makes her an easy target. Adding to her woes with paranoia, fear and sadness easily derail her forward progress.

There's a certain point in the film where you work out what is going on, but my mind was telling me I couldn't be right, and looking back on the film I wish I hadn't been. The film throws a few explanations/ideas at you and all could have worked but I think leaving the ending with some uncertainty would have been a much more chilling way to end the story.

Riley Keough as Grace takes most of this film in her stride, the things Grace is being put through are reflected in every scene until she comes full circle, it's a wonderfully strong performance and regardless of my feelings about the outcome of the film it was a great success for her.

Jaeden Martell (Lieberher) playing Aidan and Lia McHugh as Mia both support the story well. Perhaps there was some room for growth but they were consistent throughout until the end of the film, at that point their parts became less believable.

Lastly we've got mum and dad. I would have liked a little more Alicia Silverstone, but as she got the strongest piece of the film I can't be too mad. Richard Armitage as Richard is probably the only role I just shrugged my shoulders at. He's a good actor but I think you could have put one of several different actors in his place and got the same effect. This is not a reflection on Armitage, more on the rather underused nature of the character.

The setting is largely at the lodge in a snowy landscape, it adds a certain bleakness to proceedings, though I'm not sure that it's used all that well. Interactions with it are somewhat cliche and expected. Apart from that there's a strong connection between two of the sets in the film and it gives an extra layer to the mystery but again, it's not great, partly it felt and little abstract and partly the greater meaning for the story. The overall tone of the locations, fit well though and helped develop some of the drama of the piece.

Yes there are flaws in The Lodge but it's still an interesting, and at some points, distressing film. Even with the strong performances from Silverstone and Keough the areas of missed potential can't be overlooked though and I think there really would have been something great in this had it explored some of its possibilities more.

Originally posted on:
Phoenix Incident (2016)
Phoenix Incident (2016)
2016 | Mystery, Sci-Fi
6.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Today’s selection, for your consideration, is another movie from the ‘found footage’ genre. I know I know. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … ‘The Blair Witch Project’ pretty much broke ground and played out that genre in the timespan of a single film. Hear me out though, cause the folks responsible for today’s selection tapped into the world of science fiction and ufos (and somewhat of a larger budget) to make this movie and the result is I believe a movie worthy enough to add to the selection of your Friday/Saturday night scary movie marathon. I’d even give it B-Movie/Cult Film status.


‘The Phoenix Incident’ is a documentary/sci-fi/thriller written and directed by Keith Arem and stars Yuri Lowenthal, Travis Willingham, Jamie Tisdale, Liam O’Brian, James C. Burns, Troy Baker, and Michael Adamthwaite. Based on the infamous ‘Phoenix Lights’ ufo incident which occurred on Thursday, March 13th 1997, the film merges the fictional disappearance of four local men and a military conspiracy with the factual account of thousands of people seeing what was described as a squadron or fleet of ufos seen traveling from the Nevada state line all the way to Phoenix, Arizona and later as far south as Mexico. The whole event was later attributed to a series of flares deployed as part of a trading exercise by A-10 Warthogs of U.S. National Guard (accounts vary by reports made by various media, law enforcement, and military outlets).


After overcoming a brief car accident outside of town and a brief but hostile encounter with a local religious fanatic, four of the five friends take off on their ATVs for an afternoon in the desert terrain surrounding Phoenix. As the friends are traversing the terrain and recording live video of their afternoon they suddenly spot a huge military presence consisting of warplanes, troop carriers, and attack helicopters racing into the desert at high speed. Intrigued and perhaps far too curious, the group of friends decide to try and follow the aircraft further into the desert as seen through their own camera footage. Darkness soon falls and the men become witnesses themselves to the mass UFO incident occurring over their town. Soon after though, their outing descends into absolute chaos as they become witnesses to something else. Something horrifying that will lead them into the unknown where their ultimate fate will become a mystery all its own. Included with the footage of the group are interviews with family and friends of the four missing men as well as interviews with law enforcement officials who each have different theories on what happened to the four friends. Intertwined with this footage is the account of the military exercises the men witnessed by an anonymous Air Force officer and his knowledge as to what REALLY happened to the four men that evening.


For a film made on less than a million dollars, I give this one major props. It’s definitely falls into the X-Files niche only without Mulder and Scully. I’m wondering if the filmmakers weren’t fans of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ back in the day when Robert Stack hosted cause it has a similar bone-chilling aspect too it at some points. They didn’t CGI the hell out of the special effects either which I think is a real issue today in film and television. The acting ‘doesn’t look like acting’ either. The majority of ‘footage’ genuinely looks like a bunch of friends that start off spending the day goofing off and hanging out only to have their fun filled afternoon descend into utter hell.

I’ll give this one 3 out of 5 stars. Definitely worth the money for the digital download. Watch during sunset or at night to enhance the ‘thrill factor’ and checkout the bonus features included with the film as well. You’re liable to get caught up in it though and forget it’s fiction.


Or is it?
The Burning Dead (2015)
The Burning Dead (2015)
2015 | Horror
4.0 (1 Ratings)
Movie Rating
So, If you’re on the east coast you’re no doubt experiencing the unusually harsh ‘arctic waves’. If you’re on the west coast you have to deal with the unseasonably warm weather.

Whether it’s trying to stay warm and keep the fires burning or finding the shade and a cool beverage, either you or someone you know is going to bring up the following idea ‘ … B-Movie Horror Marathon’.


Today we’ve got a prime candidate for just such a marathon. ‘The Burning Dead’ staring the legendary Danny Trejo! Now, When I describe a B-movie of the horror genre, I’m not talking about legendary franchises like ‘Friday The 13th’ or ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’. No no no no no. I’m talking about a movie worthy of getting critiqued by the original crew of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’. Something like an episode of the ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ T.V. show minus the awesome cast, a smaller budget, questionable computer-generated special effects, and no Joss Whedon at the helm. This movie isn’t without merit though. I mean c’mon. It’s got Danny Trejo in it so it definitely deserves a shot right?!


‘The Burning Dead’ stars Danny Trejo, Thomas Downey, Adam Gregor, Nicole Cummins, Moniqua Plante, Julia Lehman, Robert F. Lyons, Kyle T. Heffner, Kevin Norman, and Jenny Lin.

Our story opens with the Native American warrior Night Wolf (Trejo) and several members

of his family gathered around the campfire as he begins to share the tale the infamous ‘Donner Party’ and the madness that engulfed the early settlers was caused by an evil spirit that resided in the nearby mountain after defeating a ‘good spirit’ many years early. Fast forward to present day, Sheriff Denton is supervising the evacuation of a town in the shadow of the mountain after it begins to show signs of an impending eruption. Little do he and the townspeople know that

there will not only be a volcanic eruption, but the evil spirit residing within will unleash a horde of flesh-eating zombies that spit hot lava and ravage everything in their path!


Yeah yeah. I little too dramatic I know. I gotta give it some credit though. The actors and actresses do give a great performance under the circumstances attempting to be as serious as possible and the ‘lava zombie’ effects are quite well done considering. When the zombies ‘go to work’ there’s a definite ick factor too. Certainly not ‘Walking Dead’ gross but they get the point across. The soundtrack is almost annoying though as its the same track or variations of on a loop over and over again. I think from time to time, the writers may have consulted the ‘scary movie’ handbook because at one point, they do throw in hot chic who randomly shows up at the mountain during the evacuation, sets up a camera in front of the volcano and proceeds to strip while the camera is photographing the mountain in auto. We all know what happens to the ‘hot chic’ in a scary flick that strips down to her underwear or more yes? Predictable but mildly entertaining.


Honestly, I was expecting and hoping to see Trejo show up a lot more in the movie and kick some bad guy ass or in this case, some zombie ass. I think how I described it earlier is the best way to sum it up, ‘ It’s like a really bad episode of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer ‘ minus the cast and character line up and no Joss Whedon at the helm. I’m giving it 2 out of 5 stars. This one just barely scrapes by. Definitely NOT one for the kids. Don’t waste your money on seeing it in theaters. Take my advice, and add it to the lineup for a B-Movie Horror marathon at home.

Sorry Danny … You just barely saved this one.
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Reacher (2012)
2012 | Drama, Mystery
6.9 (15 Ratings)
Movie Rating
Leaping straight from the pages of author Lee Child’s long-running popular novels and short stories, the tough-as-nails Jack Reacher has arrived on the big screen as the latest starring role franchise for Tom Cruise. Although described by Child as 6’5”, 250 pounds, with blond hair, Cruise does an admirable job of bringing the no-nonsense former military investigator to life.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Reacher first appeared in the 1997 novel Killing Floor and has appeared annually in new novels and short stories. Adapted from the tenth book, 2005’s One Shot, the film tells the story of a horrific sniper attack on the citizens of Pittsburgh. Faced with overwhelming evidence against him and being coerced into confessing to avoid the death penalty, the suspect in the shootings simply asks for them to find Jack Reacher.

This is easier said than done as after leaving the military, Reacher lives pretty much off the grid. He travels by bus, and aside from making occasional deductions from his monthly military pension, there is very little to indicate his existence since he doesn’t keep too much of the trappings of a traditional lifestyle or routine.

But thanks to a shared past with the shooting suspect, Reacher goes to the police after seeing the news reports and agrees that the evidence against the suspect is overwhelming. Reacher also admits to having past encounters with the suspect which explains his arrival as he promised that should the accused shooter ever get in trouble again, Reacher would be there to ensure that justice prevails.

At this point the accused’s attorney Helen (Rosamund Pike) enters the picture and informs Reacher that she seeks to ensure the accused gets a fair trial. A big chunk of her motivation comes from the fact that the district attorney prosecuting the case is her father. Helen believes that his perfect record is due largely to the fact that suspects get badgered into signing confessions to avoid the death penalty rather than having their day in court.

The presence of Reacher does not prove popular. The district attorney who pleads with his daughter not to use him in her case because Reacher’s credibility is highly suspect due to his unconventional existence. Undaunted Reacher does what he does best which is solving cases and in the process stirs up plenty of trouble as he quickly realizes everything is not as it seems. The supposedly open and shut case is just the tip of a much larger conspiracy in which he and Helen now find themselves squarely in the crosshairs.

The film cleverly mixes humor, action, and drama with a very credible plot that rarely strains plausibility. The characters have very clear-cut motivations and flaws and do not come across just polished and flawless cinematic heroes. Cruise keeps enough mystery about Reacher to keep the character interesting even though throughout the film I was very aware that I was watching Tom Cruise play the character rather than becoming the character.

There is some solid supporting work in film especially by Robert Duvall and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie does a great job with the pacing of the film as well as providing a framework for Cruise to do what he does best. This bodes well for the future as the duo is scheduled to team up again for “Top Gun 2”, and the next “Mission Impossible” movie.

While there are segments the film that are a little slow in the buildup, the payoff was highly satisfying if slightly Hollywood cliché-ish. Thanks to a great cast and a clever script the movie does hold your attention. I, for one, am hoping that there are further cinematic outings for Reacher in the near future.
Scream 4 (2011)
Scream 4 (2011)
2011 | Horror, Mystery
Over a decade ago, director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson breathed new life into what had become a very stagnant horror genre with the release of Scream. The film was a clever twist on the killer-on-the-loose theme that had dominated the genre since the 80s and scored huge with audiences who loved the twists and turns of the film as well as the characters who quoted rules for surviving a horror film. With the huge success of the film, two sequels followed. But by the time Scream 3 was released, the series had lost its momentum and was becomeing the very cliche of a horror film that the series had originally made fun of.

Now in 2011, Craven and Williamson have returned with Scream 4, which is the planned first film in a new trilogy for the series with hopes to breath new life in a genre that has once again grown stale with ghost films and the so-called torture porn of the Saw films. Scream 4 is set 10 years after the events of the first film, and with a new book to promote, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), has returned to Woodsboro as a best-selling author, thanks to her book on self-empowerment, a direct result of her experiences in the previous three films.

The return of Sidney is a happy moment for Sherrif Dewey Riley (David Arquette), but not so much for his wife Gale (Courtney Cox), who is facing a bad case of writer’s block and is not exactly thrilled with her fade from the spotlight and life as the wife of the sheriff in the small town. Things get shaken up when a couple of gruesome murders are discovered and before long Sidney is being targeted by a killer who seems to be repeating the pattern of killing that had haunted her in the past.

When the killer strikes again and taunts Sidney with a disturbing phone call, Gale sees the chance to regain her former glory and despite the wishes of her husband Dewey, sets out to solve the mystery of the killer before it is too late.
What follows is a twisting and turning plot that has you seeing suspects everywhere as the body count piles up.

The film introduces some new faces into the series and Hayden Panettiere and Emma Roberts make the best of their roles and actually bring some depth to their characters. Of course there are numerous horror and pop culture references in the film which not only lighten the tension but help with the plot. The killings are graphic and the mix of comedy and horror is in good balance. As usual, people are really dumb just before they get theirs and do not do things like phone for help, take a safer route, and so on, but the film is still enjoyable from a horror fan’s perspective.

There are some nice celebrity cameos in the film and while the film did drag a bit in the final act before the conclusion, the film did redeem itself in the end. While it is not in danger of being cited for a deep plot, original story, or deep characters with wide character arcs, Scream 4 knows who its target audience is and what the audience expects. Some may say the series stayed away top long and has lost its edge and simply repeats the pattern and plot lines we’ve seen in the previous films. In the end, despite some issues, Scream 4 delivers a welcome return to the franchise and paves the way for future sequels in a manner which should delight fans of the genre and franchise.