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Posts Tagged ‘Vudu.com’

Upgrade” (2018) — movie review
Today’s review is for the SciFi / near future / revenge / action / drama which stars Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace (the husband / “good guy” / hero), Melanie Vallejo as Asha Trace (the wife who dies), Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen (the “main” bad guy and creator of STEM), Simon Maiden as the “voice” of STEM, Benedict Hardie as Fisk Brantner (the secondary “main” bad guy), Betty Gabriel as Det. Cortez (the police detective trying to solve the murder case) and Linda Cropper as Pamela Trace (Grey’s mother).
Basically, a couple are in a staged accident and the wife is killed while the husband is paralyzed.  The husband is offered a chance to regain the use of his limbs and he seeks to use this as the means to get revenge against the men who killed his wife. Blah, blah, blah, lots of bloody action set pieces.  Blah, blah, blah, the detective suspects the star / “hero”.  Blah, blah, blah, big fight with the action bad guy.  Blah, blah, blah, movie twist at the end and no resolution.
Is this a “good” SciFi movie?  How about a good action movie?  How about a good movie?  No.  Yes.  So-so.  I was looking forward to seeing this movie at the theater, but then never got around to it.  I picked it up for Vudu at a sale price which was less than the movie price, but over my normal $5 rate because I “really” did want to see it.
The movie is set in the “near” future and “biological enhancements” are a “common” thing.  The visual effects of the future are pretty good in wide-screen shots.  Actually, the over-all special effects are pretty good to very good.  The near-future setting allows the production to save money on most of the movie’s other (close-up) sets.  The “science” in the SciFi is mostly fiction and / or just unexplained. Really, for a SciFi movie, most of the plot does NOT bear consideration — or afterthought — for that matter.
Final recommendation: moderate.  If I was rating this as “just” an action movie, I would say it was a strong recommendation, but I am not.  The martial arts choreography is good to great, but the overall movie story isn’t smooth enough to prevent the viewer (me, anyway) from stopping to ask “why did that happen?”  When that is happening or happens too frequently, the viewer gets removed from the fantasy and you just have to try to enjoy the movie and hope it ends making sense.  Unfortunately, this movie really doesn’t (make sense).  That’s not to say the ending’s twist isn’t good or surprising…  It just doesn’t redeem the rest of the film.
The movie is not appropriate for young children (far too bloody / violent), but (for adults) it’s entertaining enough for its action scenes.  And, yes, Logan Marshall-Green is a dead-ringer for Tom Hardy (LoL).
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On This Day In:
2018 Come November 6th
2017 Hearts And Memories
2016 Tremendous Energy
Beyond Trying
2015 Tell Me…
2014 Live Forever (To Remember Me)
Orange October (VI) – Giants Win Game 4
2013 More Than Just Words
2012 Egotist, n.
2011 Good And Bad

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Readers:  CAUTION – this LONG post is a review of three movies which are not very good.  Unless you are really interested in the movies (or my writing skills enthrall you), I would just skip this post and come back some other time…  You’ve been warned!
Today’s review is for the three movies in the Cruel Intentions series: Cruel Intentions (1999), Cruel Intentions 2 (2000) and Cruel Intentions 3 (2004).  Of the three films, only CI:1 had a theatrical release.  Both CI:2 and CI:3 were straight to DVD.  (And, yes, there was a reason for this.)
First a little background…  I haven’t seen any these movies before.  I like Reese Witherspoon.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m a “fan” as I can only recall seeing her in “Legally Blonde” and “Sweet Home Alabama“.  I did see her in “Walk The Line“, but, to be honest, although I am a Johnny Cash fan, I didn’t think much of the movie and didn’t even remember Witherspoon being in it until I looked her up for this review.  To tell the truth, I used to get her confused with Meg Ryan.  Anyway, Witherspoon was showing as one of the main characters in the CI:1, and the series was on sale on Vudu bundled three for a tenner, so I thought I’d check them out.  After all, how bad could they be?
Cruel Intentions — movie review
The first (chronologically) in the series, this movie stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kathryn Merteuil (the rich bad girl), Ryan Phillippe as Sebastian Valmont (the rich evil step-brother), Reese Witherspoon as Annette Hargrove (the nice girl), and Selma Blair (the dumb rich girl).  Anyway, the rich sister and brother just like to spend their time ruining other peoples lives, so they set out to ruin Annette’s and Selma’s.
Blah, blah, blah, the evil brother ends up falling in love with the nice girl and dies saving her from being hit by a car.  He gets hit instead.  Annette and Selma then get back at Kathryn by publishing Sebastian’s diary with all of its stories about Kathryn.
Is this any good?  No.  Not really.  It’s kind of interesting to see Geller and Witherspoon in early roles, but other than that, there is not much to recommend this film.  It is supposed to be a “dark comedy”.  I guess it’s dark, if you call teenagers being sadistic towards one another “dark”, but it’s NOT funny.  The movie is rated “R” for language, drugs and suggestive sexual activity (straight and gay).  The movie received numerous MTV awards (back in the day), for whatever that is worth.  I gather it is / was popular with teens and I guess you could also say that Geller’s character is a strong female lead role – if you are into defining “strong” as cruel, evil and manipulative.
Final recommendation: weak.  I really don’t think today’s 18+ teens will think watching mid-twenty-somethings play high-schoolers, will appeal to many folks these days.  Having said that, it is the best of the three.
Cruel Intentions 2 — movie review
Although this movie was the actual sequel, it is meant to be the prequel which introduces Kathryn and Sebastian as step-relations and kind of kicks them off as sophomores in their “la-de-da” high school.
This time Kathryn is played by Amy Adams and Sebastian is played by Robin Dunne.  This time the two nice girls are played by Sarah Thompson and Keri Lynn Pratt.  There is a twist at then end where one of the “nice” girls ends up being a bad girl working with Kathryn to humiliate Sebastian.
Is this any good?  No.  Not really.  Amy Adams is the only actor I know from this movie.  That’s not to say the others haven’t done well.  I just never watched their TV roles and I’m not aware if they’ve made it in movies.
Anyway, another “R” rated movie.  Again, language, drugs and sexual themes (including some nudity).  The production quality is not as good as the original.  If there is one saving grace, it is this movie actually has brief scenes which have humor.  I didn’t find them “Ha-Ha” funny, but they were “smile a bit” funny – which is more than can be said for the original.
Final recommendation: weak.  Again, other than seeing Adams in an early role, there is very little to recommend this film.
Cruel Intentions 3 — movie review
This is an “un-sequel” sequel.  The characters are rich, but they are in California, not New York City, and they are in college, not in high school.  So, as a “teen drama” it’s not very “teen”.  The only relation to the to other movies is there is a “Merteuil” in the movie: in this case cousin Cassidy, who I guess is Kathryn’s cousin.
Kristina Anapau plays Cassidy Merteuil (still a rich bad girl), Kerr Smith plays Jason Argyle (another rich kid from the same NYC high school, but apparently no relation), and, Nathan Wetherington plays Patrick Bates (another rich bad boy) a random rich kid who gets assigned to room with Jason.
Again, another “R” movie with language, drugs and sexual themes and scenes.  In this case, there is an actual (though brief) sexual scene.  They are not pornographic, but this is probably just a shade from being “X” rated.
So, is there any plot?  Three rich college students are bored with casual sexual relationships, so they set up schemes to ruin the lives and relationships of other students – just to prove they can.  Yeah, basically the same plot as CI:1 and CI:2, but at college.  Blah, blah, blah, twist at the end to punish Patrick for being a rapist, before Cassidy and Jason both go back to being jerks – on their own and together.
Final recommendation: very weak / skip it.  The acting is slightly better than CI:2, but there is none of the humor of CI:2.  The actual camera work is better than CI:1 or CI:2, but just having a sharper picture, doesn’t make for a better movie.  This is the least interesting of the three in the series.
Series final recommendation: given ’em all a miss.  I guess bored rich kids being manipulative jerks is (or was) the definition of “teen drama” at the turn of the millenium.  I would compare this series to the “teen horor / slasher” series from the ’90’s, but (again being honest), I tended to only watch one “I Know What You Did” or “Jason” or “Holloween” movie and never went back.  I probably should have followed my better instincts at the end of CI:1.  The better part of six hours of my life wasted when there are so many good movies out there to watch (or re-watch).  Oh, well…  Someday, I’ll learn.
If any of you who’ve suffered through this post were teens (or twenty-somethings) twenty years ago (when these came out) AND you watched these films, I’d be interested to know what you thought of them at the time.  Please do NOT feel the need to re-watch them to update / refresh your opinion on my behalf.
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On This Day In:
2018 United States
2017 Out Of Luck
2016 Wavelengths Of The Earth
2015 God Said What To You?
2014 Not Saying
2013 Ears And Tongue
2012 The Story Of Joe (Middle-Class Republican)
2011 Happy Birthday, Diana
Depending On Kindness

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What Dreams May Come” (1998)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the 1998 movie starring Robin Williams.  If you haven’t watched this movie and intend to AND want to avoid spoilers, stop reading now and come back after you’ve seen the film.
Okay, Robin Williams stars as Dr. Christopher James “Chris” Nielsen, Annabella Sciorra plays his wife: Annie Collins-Nielsen, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Albert Lewis / Ian Nielsen (Chris’ son in disguise), Josh Paddock plays Ian Nielsen (Chris’ son), Rosalind Chao plays Leona / Marie Nielsen (Chris’ daughter in disguise), Jessica Brooks Grant plays Marie Nielsen (Chris’ daughter), and, Max von Sydow plays The Tracker / Albert Lewis (Chris’ mentor when he was a young doctor).  I’ve now given away most of the movie…  You were warned!
Chris is a pediatrician.  Annie is a artist / painter and art restorer.  They meet in idyllic circumstance and fall immediately in love.  They have a wonderful life, but trouble is on the horizon.  Suddenly their two children die in a car accident.  Life is turned upside down and there are hints of other “issues”.  On one of their anniversaries, Chris is also involved in and dies during a car accident and Annie is left alone.
Through a series of flashbacks we discover the “issues”: Chris was unable to deal with the death of the children and throws himself into his work to avoid the pain.  Annie had a nervous breakdown.  In the end, they comeback from the brink of divorce and are restarting their lives when Chris dies.  Chris is not ready for death and seeks out Annie as a “ghost / spirit”.  Annie is not ready for the loss of her love, has another breakdown and commits suicide.  There follows a lengthy, colorful and brilliantly imagined (sometimes disturbingly illustrated) imagery of heaven, hell, life, death, self-sacrifice, the meaning of love and, finally, reincarnation.
The film won two Oscars for Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction and it was almost certainly deserving as some of the imagery is at times beautiful and horrifying.  This is an adult drama and although rated “PG-13” is really not appropriate for children.  Some teens could deal with the imagery, but I am not sure they will get a lot of the philosophy.  Heck, I’m not sure most adults will, either.
Anyway, is this movie any good?  Did I enjoy watching it?  Did I find all of the philosophy reasonable and / or explained well?  Yes!  So-so.  And, mostly yes.  To start off, I purchased this movie as a one-off on discount with Vudu.  They had a sale of 5 films for $20 and I figured, what the heck, I usually enjoy most of Robin Williams’ work, so I’ll take a chance.  Just after that, one of my followers (and a blogger I follow) said in a comment that this movie was one of her favorite movies.  (If anyone is interested, she goes by “Cubby” and her site is: https://reowr.com/)  …So, I bumped this up my list of films to view sooner rather than later.
Good decision…   As mentioned, the visual effects are imaginative and stunning.  Imagine heaven as your own personal painting and you get to wake up in it and move around in it.  At first, it is blurry and “van Gogh”-ian (if that is even a phrase).  After about three minutes, it is almost funny because it makes “perfect” sense.  Well, it did / does to me anyway.
So, it is a great “viewing” experience…  But, did I enjoy watching it?  No.  And, yes.  Mostly, yes!  This mixed answer is because there are multiple levels of “enjoyment”.  The sound was variable and dipped to barely audible at points.  Because this is a “deep” movie, I had to replay some of the scenes to catch the dialogue.  This breaks the “fourth-wall” between the film and the viewer, but I recognized almost immediately that I would miss too much of the film if I couldn’t hear or didn’t understand all that was being said.  There are two other things which made the movie “uncomfortable” for me.  The imagery (some intense – as mentioned above) and the plot revolving around losing one’s family through chance accident.  The latter has always terrified me personally.  It’s never happened to me (thankfully), but it is a common plot device in movies and music and I never like it.
Anyway, this is a movie which you come to for the entertainment and stay for the philosophy – or at least I did.  Everything, and I MEAN everything in the movie is meant to make you think.  If you like that in a movie (I do), then you will enjoy / love this movie.  Does it explain “philosophy” well.  No.  It’s a movie!  It’s trying to get you to think about life and love while still entertaining you.  I think it does that.
Final recommendation: highly recommended movie.  Again, this is a sit, listen, watch and think about movie.  It may make you cry (I did).  It may leave you cold – it is not very “Christian” in it’s overall philosophy.  If you can’t get past that part of the film, you will almost certainly NOT like this movie.  If you have ever felt like you found the love of your life, not “just” a lover or a spouse, this movie will probably touch you.  It did me.
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On This Day In:
2018 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2018!!
2017 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2017!!
2016 Happy Valentine’s Day – 2016!!
2015 To My Special Lady
2014 Awakening
2013 Drowsy In Comfort
2012 Happy Valentine’s Day
2011 Own Your Bible

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Today’s “binge” review is for the series “Lie to me*“, which aired between 2009 and 2010.  I purchased two of the seasons (I haven’t seen Season 3 – from 2011) on VUDU while on sale for $5 each.  Season one has 13 episodes and season two has 22, so I watched about 26 hours of the show over the last week (ish).  Season three (13 episodes) is not currently available to purchase on VUDU, and even if it becomes available, I’ll still wait until it’s on sale for $5.  (Cause I’m just cheap / thrifty that way.)  Which means I may be waiting some time before I see / review the final season.  I believe the series was cancelled for lack of audience.  My brother referred this series over a year ago (he said it was terrific / must see), but when I told him I was watching it, he claimed to not remember it at all.  Go figure…
The series is basically a crime drama / investigation / police procedural starring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, Kelli Williams as Lightman’s partner, Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, a graduate student / employee of the Lightman Group (Lightman and Foster’s company), Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, another employee, Hayley McFarland, as Emily Lightman (the Dr.’s daughter) and Mekhi Phifer as FBI Agent Ben Reynolds, muscle assigned to work with the Group.
The company specializes in “reading” body language and micro-expressions to act as human lie detectors.  The premise is Dr. Lightman is a “genius” at this and can tell if anyone is trying to lie.  Hence, he gets lots of work from the government and various police forces.
The show is based on the actual scientific studies and work of Dr. Paul Ekman who serves as a consultant for the show and who actually performed these duties for real agencies, in the real world.  I was completely unfamiliar with “micro-expressions” or the work of Dr. Ekman.  I read “Body Language” by Julius Fast, way back in the early 1970’s when it was a best seller, so I have been “kind-of” familiar with the general concept of “reading” people for most of my adult life.  Fast’s book was published in paperback in 1970, which is the version I read.  Dr. Ekman has loads of books and has been publishing for over fifty years.  You can find some of his videos on YouTube if you are interested in the topic.
Is the show any good?  Does the “science” work?  Yes and who knows for sure…  I thoroughly enjoyed the series after I got over my initial doubts that ANY of the premise is actual science.  If the show works (as entertainment), who really cares if the science is real or not (see StarTrek, StarWars or any of a million other series).  It IS entertaining.  Mostly because Roth owns this role.  I’m not familiar with much of his other work, so I don’t know if he’s acting or doing a John Wayne (playing himself in every role, over and over again).  I remember Roth from one of the Hulk movies and kind of remember him from “Reservoir Dogs“, but I haven’t seen that in ages, so, like I said, I’m not sure.  The other actors are mostly ok to good in their roles, but to be honest, it’s all mostly attractive yuppie stuff, so I wouldn’t say I’d go out of my way to look for any of them in other roles.
Final recommendation: Strong, but with reservations. I did enjoy the series and found the premise interesting enough that I will look into the scientific basis if I happen to stumble on a used book on the topic of micro-expressions / lie detection / body language, but I doubt if I would ever really try to use any of the info I might glean from the book.  Generally, I think I’m a bit too narcissistic to care about other people’s body language now that I’m retired.  I’m not sure their “truth” is worth all that much effort on my part and I certainly would not devote enough time on it to become expert level.  Like I said: interesting premise and entertaining series.  I’m looking forward to viewing season three.
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On This Day In:
2017 Give And Keep
2016 No Change Here
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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