View Single Post
Old 06-27-2020, 07:50 PM   #40
Zhuge1 Zhuge1 is offline
Blu-ray Guru
Jan 2019

Starting a new post for these reviews since original one seems to have hit the limit for characters in a single post. Previous reviews (from January 2020 through May 2020) are here.

November Reviews:

Space Force: Battlefront -- (5/10) -- This is a low budget sci-fi film set in the future when humanity has found a way to set up a sort of "jump gate" to a nearby planetary system and have established a presence. The film opens when a mishap occurs during their latest supply delivery and the crew of the space station must figure out what's going on.

Overall, this was pretty good. The main gripe would be that there's no real ending, so by the time I got fairly engrossed in the film, it was over (with little resolution). It seemed like a pilot to a TV show and in looking more into it, the film was originally called Deep Six and may have just been one of those web series that attempt to get picked up as an actual series. The main actor in it was Tahmoh Penikett (who has been in various TV shows in recent years), but he was on screen for maybe 3 minutes total. Overall, I would like to have seen more from these characters/setting.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: Lobster Claus is Coming to Town -- (7/10) -- This was fairly entertaining. It's the Christmas episode from the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatball TV series (which I've never seen before) and focuses on the Christmas practices of Swallow Falls, where instead of getting presents from Santa Claus, they get gifts from Lobster Claws. When Sam Sparks sends a letter to Santa Claus asking him to come to Swallow Falls, it sets off an epic showdown between Jolly Old Saint Nick and the present-giving Lobster. Overall, it was quite funny and worth the quick watch.

Robert the Doll Triple Feature -- (4/10) -- This 2 disc set includes the first three films in the Robert the Doll series (currently, there are 5 total films in the series). The films are extremely loosely based on a real doll named Robert that's supposedly cursed. Supposedly, Robert was also the inspiration for Chucky in the Child's Play movies. These films aren't horrific at all and are, at times, unintentionally quite funny. I'm not sure they'd be worth paying $1 individually, but to spend $1 on the first three together seems reasonable. The first film focuses on a family who inherits Robert from their recently dismissed nanny. The second film is set in a museum where a collector has obtained Robert and added him to one of the exhibits. The third film goes back in time to show some of the origins of Robert (just before the outbreak of WWII). Interestingly, the male lead from the first film (the father of the family) ends up in the other two movies playing a different role -- the toymaker who creates Robert. Overall, they aren't good movies, but they were entertaining, low budget campy horror. I'm not going to score them each individually, but the overall set gets a 4 -- the first movie is certainly the strongest of them.

Free Birds -- (7/10) -- Iíve watched this a few times and picked it up several waves ago. I may have previously reviewed it, but canít recall. Regardless, this is about a turkey named Reggie who somehow goes from being picked as the yearly pardoned Turkey (by the President) to being a time traveler who goes back in time to the very first Thanksgiving in order to save turkeys from their Thanksgiving fate for all time.

The movie features the voices of Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Amy Poehler, George Takei (and several other notable actors). Overall, I find it hilarious and itís one Dollar Tree pickup Iíve watched more than once. There arenít that many Thanksgiving movies that Iím aware of, but this was well worth a dollar.

Safe -- (3/10) -- This is a drama/thriller centered around Frank Kovac (Jason London), director of the NSA, who has had his daughter kidnapped by a person he formerly convicted for being connected to Edward Snowden. The kidnapper wants Kovac to upload a program to the NSAís system that will expose the private data of a number of US citizens. Kovac is helped in his efforts to recover his daughter by his loyal colleague Brenda (Fiona Dourif). While working from a command center in the NSA, Kovac and Brenda attempt to get ahead of the kidnapper while using field agents to track him down.

Overall, this was not that great. Thereís a bit of a twist at the end (but itís not that unexpected), and a lot of the action takes place off screen (so the majority of the movie centers on the two main characters in their pseudo command center).

Lady Antebellum: Own the Night World Tour -- (6/10) -- Iím not overly familiar with this band, but Iíve heard some of their music before. Although not a huge fan of country, I thought this was pretty decent. They almost sound like a soft rock band to be honest. The bluray mixes in concert performances from their world tour with various backstage and band history segments that were moderately interesting. The breaks in music can be a bit distracting when compared to other concerts on bluray/DVD that typically record an entire event and just have the extra stuff as bonus material. The bluray does feature some extra features such as additional songs. Three of those songs are covers of Sweet Emotion (from Aerosmith), This is Gonna Be a Good Life (OneRepublic), and Black Water (Doobie Brothers), which features Darius Rucker. Overall, itís worth a dollar and certainly something I can easily play in the background while working from home.

Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket: Includes 2 Bonus Movies

Annabelle Hooper and the Ghosts of Nantucket -- (5.5/10) -- Teenage Annabelle Hooper, an aspiring mystery writer, is taking a vacation to Nantucket Island with her family when she runs into a real-life ghost mystery. Along with some new-found friends, Annabelle attempts to discover the true story about the ghosts while foiling two bumbling thieves, who work for a mysterious mastermind. This is basically a family film aimed more at pre-teens and stars Bailee Madison, who has had roles in a few TV shows and several made for TV films. Robert Capron, who has had roles in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films, has a supporting role as one of Annabelleís new found friends. Overall, itís a bit predictable, but was an entertaining enough movie.

Spy School -- (4/10) -- This was originally titled Doubting Thomas, which honestly makes more sense. The movie is about a middle school kid, Thomas, who lies constantly. Heís also a bit of a loner who struggles with bullies. His school is the site of an impending visit by the Presidentís daughter and Thomas inadvertently overhears of a plot to kidnap her. He decides itís up to him to save the day.

Overall, this was okay Ė itís a decent kidís movie aimed at the pre-teen crowd. I assume they changed the name to try to take advantage of the Spy Kids franchise since the lead character (Thomas) was a small, red headed boy similar to one of the Spy Kids characters. Thereís really nothing about spying in this film and the art for the movie poster is a bit dubious.

The Bracelet of Bordeaux -- (1/10) -- Initially, this wavered between a 1 and a 2 only because the production quality is better than most low budget movies. Unfortunately, it continued trending down in terms of quality. To quickly summarize, this is a slow movie thatís hard to get through and thereís a lot to dislike about it.

Helen and her family move to Chem City, Texas, where her father grew up. Upon arriving, they find that their new house has been robbed of all the furniture and their next door neighborís granddaughter has been tied up and her dog stolen. Helen decides to help Marie, her French neighbor that lives with her grandparents, find her dog. Along the way, they learn about Marieís ancestor who resisted the Nazis in Bordeaux, France during World War II, and find her bracelet which gives Helen some oddly defined super powers.

In reading on IMDb, one of the trivia pieces indicates the movie was community funded such that actors paid for the privilege to be in the movie. I have no clue if that information is accurate, but wouldnít be surprised given the poor acting overall. One of the major problems with this film is that most of the actors arenít that likable. The two heroines are okay, but when Helen attains her powers, she certainly doesnít use them responsibly or in a heroic way by exacting revenge on some town oddballs. The townspeople are bizarre and seemingly mean for no reason. A shop owner extorts money from children for ďadvice,Ē an ice cream vendor carelessly gets hair in the ice cream he sells, and an elderly neighbor hates dogs for no obvious reason; and the cops are untrustworthy and unhelpful. Helenís parents are oddly out of touch. The dognappers iare town punks who are connected with some local mafia members and demand $10,000 each for the kidnapped dogs.

The storyline is basic, yet certain scenes make little to no sense. After Helenís dog is also kidnapped she has some odd dream in which sheís in a jazz club as an adult listening to music while waiting by a furry phone (as best I understood). The family drives a Hummer, yet the daughter basically begs for ransom money from other community members after her parents do nothing to help.

In addition, this movie is Dove approved for families, yet there is a lot of questionable stuff in it. In one scene, one of the punks threatens to burn a small child. In researching the past of the bracelet, Marie comes across pictures of Hitler youths and begins mimicking the Nazi salute before being stopped by her grandmother; thereís an entire scene of dogs farting; and one odd scene in which one lady is heavily smoking and talking quite harshly to the children.

Overall, the main movie in this collection is the Annabelle Hooper one and this is listed as a ďbonusĒ film, yet, thereís not much of a bonus to it. Itís quite bad.

October Reviews:

Halloween III: Season of the Witch -- (6/10) -- The third installment in the Halloween series deviates from the Michael Myers films to go in a new direction. The notion of having separate movies with various Halloween themes was short lived however as this was the only outlier in the series. The Silver Shamrock company, headed by the very strange Colonel Cochran, is selling Halloween masks to children all throughout the country and have plans for a big televised giveaway on Halloween night. The movie begins when a badly injured man winds up in a hospital ranting and raving. Dr. Challis, who is on call at the time, tends to the injured man and ultimately gets sucked into a far larger situation than he could have ever imagined.

Thereís definitely mixed reactions to this movie, but I actually liked it. Iíve only seen it once before (during an AMC marathon of all the Halloween films), so it was fun to watch it again unedited just before Halloween. The DVD quality is not great, but itís good enough given the price. There are no special features or extras on the disc.

Scooby-Doo! & KISS: Rock & Roll Mystery -- (7/10) -- This is definitely one of the weirder Scooby-Doo movies Iíve watched. A witch is haunting KISS-land, the new theme park dedicated to the rock band KISS. Scooby and the gang happen along and attempt to assist in solving the mystery. Their services are initially not well-received by KISS, who apparently (within this story) are also mystery solvers. However, when StarChild notices Daphne he convinces the band to allow Scooby and the gang to help out. The movie features lots of the bandís hits throughout and goes into some psychedelic scenes that are both bizarre and quite entertaining. While itís a bit outside of the norm for Scooby-Doo movies, I really liked this one.

Hey Vern, It's Ernest: The Complete Series -- (7/10) -- This was a rare Dollar Tree find, but I was happy to pick this up. The DVD comes with a digital code for Mill Creekís Movie Spree service as well which is a nice addition. This is a childrenís series that was first broadcast on Saturday mornings by CBS and featured Jim Varney as Ernest P. Worrell in a variety of situations each week. Each show has a specific theme introduced by Ernest at the beginning. There are also a variety of skits and segments that occur in each episode (such as Ernest visiting a barber and getting a haircut thatís not quite what he asked for; a magician named Existo who struggles with his tricks; a family in which the father is a clown; etc.). Those skits typically tie into the main theme of the show (holidays, sports, etc.). I remember this when it first aired, but havenít seen it since and it was nice to revisit it. Despite winning two daytime Emmy Awards, the show was canceled after 13 episodes. Although itís a hokey 80ís kidís show, itís held up well enough to still be entertaining.

Vampire Dog -- (5/10) -- This is a kidís movie about a boy (Ace) who moves to a new neighborhood and starts a new school where heís struggling to find new friends and fit in. As the son of the schoolís new music teacher, heís a talented drummer, but has severe anxiety that makes performing in front of people impossible. After moving to his new neighborhood, he finds that heís inherited a dog (Fang) from a recently deceased relative. It turns out the dog is actually a vampire dog, who despite having a lot of vampire characteristics, subsists off red ďjellyĒ (Jell-O). While Fang helps Ace get acclimated to his new surroundings, a pair of misfit hucksters discover that heís a vampire and endeavor to capture him in order to develop anti-aging pharmaceuticals from his vampire genes (or something like that). Overall, while not a great movie, I found it pretty entertaining and it would definitely keep kids entertained. It looks like it was filmed in Canada and the primary known actor is Norm MacDonald, who provides the voice of Fang. The main villainess had a role in the WolfCop movies.

Witch's Night Out -- (5/10) -- Witchís Night Out is a Halloween special from 1978. A group of youths decide to hold a party at a seemingly abandoned old house, rumored to be haunted. The witch, who lives there, wants to be in on the fun and begins turning kids into whatever they want to be for Halloween. Things go awry when her magic wand is taken by someone else and itís up to her and the kids to save the day.

Overall, this was pretty good, and definitely obvious as being from the 70ís. The disc includes several bonus cartoons. Some of those are extremely short (like the Three Stooges cartoon which is about 3 minutes) and others are a bit longer (such as a 4 part story arc from Space Angel). They are hit or miss overall. I did enjoy watching Space Angel though as Iíd never seen that show and found the Synchro-Vox lip technique (which I read up on after watching the show) interesting.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut -- (6/10) -- I was happy to find this for a dollar since itís a classic sci-fi movie that Iíve never seen and stars an actor I quite enjoy (Harrison Ford). The movie (from 1982) is set in the future (2019) and focuses on Rick Deckhard (Ford) who is a Blade Runner Ė a policeman who tracks down and ďretiresĒ replicants, bioengineered humanoids who are on Earth illegally. Despite being a sci-fi fan, I wasnít overly enthused with the movie. It was good, but not great in my eyes as it felt a bit long and boring at times. Iím glad to have the DVD cheap, but donít feel the need to upgrade to bluray unless I also see it at Dollar Tree.

Lake Fear 3 -- (1/10) -- Itís an impressive feat to be worse than the first two films in the series, but somehow this manages to achieve that lofty goal. Lake Fear 3 is the direct sequel to Lake Fear (Lake Fear 2 has nothing to do with the series). The film begins with Revel, who has been actively searching for her missing sister, and her friend Chloe arriving in a small town near the cabin where her sister disappeared (in the first film). They wind up at some sort of convention and meet Vincent, a host of a paranormal investigative TV series who claims to be a psychic. They enlist his assistance in attempting to find Revelís sister and eventually connect up with Remington, one of the survivorís of the first film. They learn a bit about what happened in the first film as well as the origins of the cabin and Remington (or at least, I think thatís what was discussed Ė itís quite hard to follow the logic). From there, a bunch of stuff happens and the film comes to some sort of ending (with a post-credits scene to set up a sequel no one would want). As in the first film, the audio quality is terrible. They also added in lots of slow motion sequences that make little sense. Overall, this movie is quite bad.

Lake Fear 2 -- (2/10) -- A group of college students are on spring break in Florida when they decide to take a trip out to the everglades on an airboat. When the boat captain unexpectedly dies, they are left to try to get to safety and find a remote cabin with a generator that seems to be a saving grace. Unfortunately, things go badly for the students when they become prey for a duo of maniacal hunters. This film has no connection to the first Lake Fear movie. On a positive side, it has far better audio and most of the dialog is understandable throughout. That said, itís oddly named considering it has no connection to the first film, doesnít involve a lake, and is a slasher movie (rather than a supernatural horror picture like the first film). The film has lots of gratuitous nudity, and is very basic in script and plot. That said, the movie makes far more sense than the first one and the dialog at least seems written versus improvised (despite being very basic). As a disclaimer, I also didnít purchase this one Ė just watched it on Tubi which has all 3 movies in the series currently available.

The Langoliers -- (7/10) -- Iím pretty sure I saw this back when it was first broadcast and Iíve seen it overall a couple of times at least (Iím fairly sure my college roommate rented it at least once from Blockbuster back when that was a thing). Anyways, the premise is that a flight from LA to Boston encounters an unexpected situation which leaves a small group of passengers as the only ones left on the flight, trying to figure out where everyone else went (and whatís to become of them). Making things worse, one of the survivors is seemingly going insane. This is a 1995 miniseries based on a Stephen King novella. The special effects are quite cheaply done (they actually look like someone played around with a graphics program on a Windows 95 computer ), but I felt the acting was quite good Ė particularly the work of Bronson Pinchot. The DVD is full screen, but I think thatís the only option for this film. After grabbing it at Dollar Tree, I realized I actually already had it in a Stephen King set and that copy is also full screen. That said, itís quite watchable and certainly worth the time.

Lake Fear -- (2/10) -- Four teenage girls skip out on school and decide to go on a weekend trip to a remote cabin they learned about on the Internet. Things go awry in the creepy cabin and they are faced to deal with the horrific consequences of their bad decision. To be fully honest up front, I didnít purchase this Ė I saw it (as well as the two sequels) available on DVD at several Dollar Trees and when I was looking for some mindless horror to watch late at night, I noticed it on Tubi. Despite having a few decent special effects for a low budget film, the audio is horrible. There are many scenes where itís nearly impossible to hear the dialog (although thatís not always a bad thing) because either the mic is seemingly located near one of the four characters or because theyíve added in some terrible echo effect. In addition, whoever wrote the film did a terrible job. Certain scenes seem improvised (such as when the girls begin their trip and have awkward banter in the car), and many of the others make little sense (although some of that could be attributed to not being able to understand the dialog). The movie also doesnít seem to end, rather it justÖ stops. Perhaps it picks up in Lake Fear 2. Overall, Iím glad I didnít buy this. Iím giving it a 2/10 because although itís not good, there were a few scenes that were maybe a bit creepy and a few decent effects given the low budget.

September Reviews:

Rubber -- (4/10) -- Rubber is an absurdist comedy/horror film. The premise of this movie is that a tire somehow develops sentience as well as telekinesis and then goes on a killing spree. There are other characters that consistently break the fourth wall. Itís really hard to say much more about the movie without giving away much of it. Despite the ridiculous story, the film comes off as a bit too artistic. Thereís not quite enough humor considering the movie is about a murderous tire, and thereís quite a few parts that are very slow. Overall, while I appreciate what the film makers were attempting, I found the result a bit disappointing.

Secret Window -- (7/10) -- Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp) is a successful writer going through a divorce. To get away from the turmoil in his life, he relocates to his lake house. Soon after arriving, heís confronted by a stranger that claims Mort plagiarized one of his stories. He demands Mort fix the issue or face the consequences. The film is based on a novella by Stephen King. I originally saw this in the theater when it was released, but havenít since then. It was entertaining the first time I saw it as well as during the second watch.

Global Meltdown -- (4/10) -- A scientist shows up in a small town for some field work just as global tectonic events begin to unleash havoc across the world. The local townspeople band together with her and a news helicopter who crash landed in the area after escaping the events in one of the larger cities. In order to escape, they need to rely on Amos Cade, a former soldier and town pariah that also subscribes to conspiracy theories. As the group struggles to avoid the disaster, thereís internal strife between Cade and the leadership group of the scientist and local townís mayor. I actually streamed this film first on Amazon Prime, but liked it well enough to grab the DVD when I saw it again. It comes with a nice slip cover and the movie is decent enough for a made for TV film. In some ways, it reminds me of an episode of The Walking Dead (just in the way Amos Cade was portrayed Ė I thought Michael Pare did a solid job in the film). Overall, below mediocre, but somewhat entertaining.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World -- (4/10) -- This is the fourth film in the Spy Kids series. I havenít seen the first three, so this is the first one. Itís obviously a movie aimed at younger kids and while it has some entertaining sequences, it relies on a lot of potty humor for the comedic elements. Overall, Iíd say itís slightly less than mediocre.

Conspiracy Theory -- (1/10) -- This is a found footage movie about a film crew who work on a show called ďAlien Engineers.Ē The show is something of a spoof of Ancient Aliens Ė the host goes around and interviews people to try to make the case that alien technology was used to engineer and build various structures (the Hoover Dam, various sites in Las Vegas, etc.). As part of one of their episodes, they take off on a trip to Area 51 in order to interview a former news reporter that was fired from her job for trying to expose the truth about aliens. A traumatic experience leaves the crewís lives changed forever during the trip. Honestly, this movie is not good at all. Itís roughly 80 minutes and the first hour is just various clips of the crew hanging out in hotels, driving around, and filming various segments. The ďeventĒ happens in the last 20 minutes but itís not much of anything and only lasts for 4-5 minutes. Ultimately, thereís nothing interesting in the movie.

Crystal Skulls -- (3/10) -- I assume this is a made for TV movie Ė perhaps even for the SyFy channel. It focuses on an archaeological professor John Winston who is researching the legendary crystal skulls, which his father had also studied. At the same time, the well-known billionaire (Mr. Hadden) has his own interests in the skulls and sets out to find them all. When he locates 12 of the 13, there are disastrous consequences, and he needs the assistance of Winston to save the planet. The movie is about 90 minutes; features some cheesy scenes, and some bad overly dramatic acting. That said, it had some entertainment value despite a dubious ending.

August Reviews:

Dinosaur Island -- (5/10) -- This is an Australian movie aimed at kids (probably elementary school age). Lucas is a young boy who has been having a tough time. Heís a highly intelligent kid that sometimes comes off aloof and struggles to make friends. His parents have recently told him that his grandmother has had to be confined to a medical facility due to mental illness, which is troubling for him. While on an airline flight for vacation, his airplane goes through a storm and Lucas finds heís the only one remaining on a plane heading for a crash on an island thatís inhabited by dinosaurs. He ultimately has to find a way to survive and attempt to get back to his family. Overall, this is a decent kids movie. Itís not great as there are some plot holes and the big surprise is predictable very early on. But for a low budget film from a first time writer/director/producer, itís certainly watchable.

False Flag -- (4/10) -- Iíll say up front, Iím probably overrating this with a 4. Itís not that itís very good, but honestly, I expected it to be absolutely terrible and it wasnít. Itís written and directed by a guy with no acting background, who also plays a large role in the film. Similarly, Krampus: The Christmas Devil and its sequel (Krampus 2: The Devil Returns) are also low budget, indy flicks written and directed by (and starring) a guy with no real background in film making and they were horrendous, yet False Flag was watchable and actually had me interested in the characters at one point. The movie is a found footage story which covers a bad situation in a small town where local government protesters end up squaring off with a paramilitary force whose authority and mission are unclear. The wraparound of the film is an underground news agency that keys in on conspiracy theories who use the footage to reinforce their news storylines. For indy actors with little background, a low budget, and a first time writer/director with no experience, this was decently watchable. It also came in at around 80 minutes, so it wasnít a burden to get through.

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil -- (5/10) -- After joining the Happily Ever After Agency, Red has taken a leave of absence to train with the Sister of Hoods, an elite group which her grandmother was a member of. While sheís away, Granny, the Wolf, and Twitchy are still on the case and face off with an evil witch who has kidnapped two young children (Hansel & Gretel). Things fall apart in their rescue efforts and itís up to Red to return and help resolve the situation. This sequel was okay. While the first movie was a bit more of a standout with the flashback sequences telling different aspects of the same story, this sequel is more of a standard kidís movie with a few smart jokes for adults scattered throughout. Itís entertaining enough but not as good as the first one.

Hornet -- (2/10) -- This is a found footage film from The Asylum that seems like it may have been aimed as a knockoff of Bumblebee (although the storyline doesnít really match up). Three college kids develop an advanced robot designed to protect humans. They drive out to a deserted area to run it through some field experiments but things go awry as they run into an alien invasion. Much of the film is told in flash backs as the main protagonists have been captured by government operatives who want to know what happened. The movie starts off a bit hokey, then has a few minutes that make it seem as if it may turn around and be decent, and then finishes up in hokey fashion. Overall, itís not that good.

Dragon Age: Redemption -- (5/10) -- This is basically a 6 episode web series that's strung together as a movie and is based on a video game series that I have no knowledge of. It does have some actual notable actors though. It's written by and stars Felicia Day who was in some episodes of Supernatural and also has Adam Rayner (who starred in the FX series Tyrant). For a low budget (I assume) web series, it was pretty decent. It's just under an hour with about 45 minutes of extras (half of which are about the game as apparently Felicia Dayís character, Talis, appears in Dragon Age II). Iím not sure if knowing anything about the game would add or detract to the enjoyment of this, but as a standalone short film, I thought it was decent.

Night Zero -- (3/10) -- A couple on the verge of ending their relationship show up to meet two other couples in a send-off party for the hosting couple who are relocating to Boston. Things devolve during the dinner party as the friends turn from celebration to bickering. Later they find that a disturbance is going on in their city as well as many other large cities in the US Ė violent protests/disturbances, an odd fog, and potential UFOs. They begin to learn more about whatís going on and must struggle to come to terms with a difficult and frightening situation. Honestly, this movie could have been decent. For a low budget movie with unknown actors, the writing and plot line is decent. The setup is a bit too long, but eventually makes sense. The real problem is the audio. It is absolutely terrible. I had to constantly adjust the volume throughout the movie in order to try to hear what was going on. Overall, while the setup and premise is decent for an indy film, the execution ends up being just okay and the technical/audio problems severely detract from the overall quality.

Predator World -- (1/10) -- The Titan 1C (get itÖ TitanicÖ) space cruiser, a luxury space craft on par with modern seafaring cruise ships, is on a New Yearís Cruise when it runs into an unexpected meteor causing many of the crew and passengers to depart the ship using life pods. One group of survivors end up in a pod while 4 of the passengers are looking for a private area to experiment with a new designer drug used for sexual arousal. The meteor shower brings another problem in the form of an alien life form that incubates within humans, and some of the eggs from that life form on the escape pod which crash lands on a nearby Earth-like planet. The survivors must endure a harsh desert-like environment and survive an antagonistic alien life form. Honestly, the film is like a mash-up of a skinemax film and a bad Sci-Fi movie from The Asylum. Thereís lots of nudity and sex scenes (including ones dealing with aliens trying to impregnate the females). The storyline is poor. The acting is bad. The CGI and special effects are horrible. The only positive thing is that unlike a lot of low-budget indy films, the audio is actually well-done. The only actor I was familiar with is Shawn C. Phillips (coolduder from YouTube) who has a very small role as a video-based cruise director (and clearly it was filmed long ago, back when he was still quite overweight). Overall, I was hoping for a low-budget sci-fi Predator knock-off that might be semi-entertaining, but this just wasnít entertaining on any level.

Krampus 2: The Devil Returns -- (0.5/10) -- I didnít find this DVD at my local store, but was curious about it and found it (as well as the first movie) streaming via Tubi. Up front, I canít imagine anyone would expect this to be very good, but itís not even bad enough to be humorously entertaining. Itís not related to the Universal movie from 2015. This is the sequel to Krampus: The Christmas Devil (which is is very bad). This is somehow worse. And, honestly, if you havenít seen the first one, this will make little sense. Several scenes are so dark itís impossible to see whatís happening. The character Krampus looks different from the way he looked in the first movie and has a different voice. There are a couple of CGI scenes that are really bad even for a low budget film. The audio levels are terrible, with many scenes being nearly inaudible. The storyline is a direct continuation of the first film, but the script and dialog are weaker. The first movie would rank a 1/10, because thereís at least some scenes to make fun of. The sequel isnít to that level because you constantly need to squint and adjust the volume to attempt to watch it.

Adventures at the Chocolate Factory -- (6/10) -- Adventures at the Chocolate Factory is a Swiss movie, and up front, I can say that it is visually appealing. The colors are quite bright and vivid and some of the Swiss scenery is visually interesting to look at. The movie centers on Mr. Moll, who works at the local chocolate factory, which is known for producing chocolate marmots. When his boss leaves for an important meeting, he asks Moll to watch his two children and take them to the zoo along with his own three children. Unfortunately for Moll, he doesnít realize that the bossís two children are bullies who find entertainment in tormenting his own three kids. While at the circus, things go awry when the chocolate factory calls Mr. Moll to come in and deal with some major problems. His kids end up ďliberatingĒ a dog from the circus who was mistreated. Things continue to go downhill for Mr. Moll as he has to deal with the police, the antics of his children, the poor behavior of his bossís kids, and more problems at the factory (which is running at high capacity to try to meet an important order). The cover art to the bluray gives one the sense that the movie is somewhat reminiscent of Willy Wonka and the flying car reminds me of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. That said, the chocolate factory itself is really not the main focus of the film, and thereís certainly no flying car (which makes it an odd addition to the cover art). Overall, this is decently entertaining kids movie.

The Archies in Jugman / Dennis The Menace: Cruise Control:

Dennis the Menace: Cruise Control -- (6/10) -- After his latest accident directly related to his young neighbor Dennis, Mr. Wilson (voiced by Tom Arnold) decides he needs a vacation and decides to book a 3 week long cruise. While relaxing on the first day, he discovers that Dennis and his family (as well as Dennisí friends Joey and Margaret) have all booked the same cruise. When a young island princess arrives aboard the ship, Dennis seeks her out and ultimately helps her discover fun in spite of her overbearing guardian (who has his own designs on taking control of their island nation). This was pretty entertaining. Thereís a few special features (hosted by Inspector Gadget) for the movie that provides some background on Dennis the Menace

The Archies in Jugman -- (7/10) -- When Riverdale converts their entire town to be energy independent by using geothermal energy, they inadvertently awaken a long-frozen caveman that just happens to be an ancestor to Jughead Jones. Although the JugMan initially gets Jughead into trouble when others confuse the two lookalikes, the eventually bond and the JugMan is able to help save the day at the Riverdale HS football game. Overall, I found this pretty entertaining Ė slightly better than the Dennis the Menace movie.

Hoodwinked -- (6/10) -- The movie begins at the end of the Little Red Riding Hood fable. The police show up to find Little Red, Granny, the Wolf, and the Woodsman all still in Grannyís house. Their focus is finding thief who has been stealing recipes for tasty treats. Through flash backs, each of the four suspects recount their version of events to the detectives leading up to the woodsman breaking into the house to ďstopĒ the wolf. Itís up to the police to determine what really happened and to find out who the real thief is. Overall, this was pretty entertaining. Itís definitely something I could see watching again and certainly makes me look forward to the sequel, which I also grabbed at a Dollar Tree sale.

Little Miss Dolittle -- (5/10) -- Liliane Susewind, an eleven year old girl, has a special gift Ė she can talk to the animals. Unfortunately, this special ability often results in her having problems relating to other kids and establishing friendships. After causing a nasty situation with the local town mayor, her family enrolls her in a new school and she promises to only talk to the family dog going forward. But, a field trip to the local zoo results in Liliane discovering something not quite right as many of the animals start disappearing. She uses her talents to investigate whatís going on in order to solve the problem. This movie is from Germany and dubbed into English for the US release. Itís a kidís movie and will probably entertain many of them, but does rely on a lot of (animal) potty humor. The cover art shows the title character atop a lion alongside a bear, elephant, kangaroo, and with a parrot on her shoulder. In the actual movie, she talks to an elephant, a piglet, a dog, a donkey, and a cat; and primarily the dog is the main animal used. Overall, itís okay Ė I wavered between a 4 and a 5.

Peter Pan Live! -- (6/10) -- This is from a few waves back and is the DVD release of the 2014 live NBC broadcast of the Peter Pan stage play starring Allison Williams and Christopher Walken. The set includes a CD of the sound track and also has a relatively nice sipcover. If you check IMDb, thereís quite a lot of criticism of the production, and some of it rings true. The play starts off a bit flat, with Allison Williams initially struggling a bit with the opening scenes. But, as things progress, her performance picks up substantially and by the mid-point (and the performance of ďI Wonít Grow UpĒ), sheís seemingly adapted well to the role. Christopher Walken, on the other hand, is quite awkward as Captain Hook throughout the play. He has some scenes that are far better than others, but overall, it feels more like heís playing Christopher Walken versus Captain Hook. Given his age, he does well with some of the dancing sequences, but the singing ranges from really bad to passable. Overall, this was entertaining enough and worth keeping in the collection. The special feature is a ~43 minute documentary about the creation of the live production, which I havenít yet watched.

F.R.E.D.I. -- (4/10) -- F.R.E.D.I is a family-friendly movie focused on a high school kid who finds an experimental robot produced by a weapons company. F.R.E.D.I. is stolen from the weapons company by one of their scientists (Kelly Hu) who disagreed with the corporate vision for F.R.E.D.I. Although the movie is relatively low budget, it has a solid cast with some actors that have appeared in many other movies and television shows such as Angus MacFayden, Kelly Hu, Christina Cox, and Tyler Christopher. It also has really good sound quality, unlike many low-budget movies in which the sound levels alternate from inaudible to roaring requiring often volume adjustments while watching. Despite the solid cast, the movie drags a bit. Even though it focuses on a robot, you donít actually see F.R.E.D.I. in the movie until 30 minutes into the 90 minute film. Also, although the robot is designed for defense capabilities, the primary things you get to see it do is defend the protagonist against water balloons, repair a flat tire, and keep a kid from falling in a reclined chair. Overall, itís mediocre at best to be honest, however, it will likely have higher appeal to some younger kids. The DVD has two special features. The first is 2-3 minutes on the robotics used in the film, which isnít terribly interesting since they were pretty minimal. The second is a 3-4 minute piece on the special features, however, thereís no narration so itís not always clear what they are attempting to show. On a positive note, the DVD does come with a nice slip cover.

July Reviews:

Transsiberian -- (8/10) -- Roy (Woody Harrelson) and Jessie (Emily Mortimer) are a couple that just finished a church sponsored trip in China. For Roy, a train enthusiast, the end of the trip is an opportunity to ride the Trans-Siberian Railway from China to Moscow. Early in the journey, they encounter a young couple (Carlos and Abby) who they share a cabin with. Things go awry when Roy misses the train during a stop. Jessie, who has her own dark past, begins to learn more about their traveling companions. At the same time, Inspector Grinko (Ben Kingsley) has his own mission that leads him to cross paths with the American couple. Overall, I thought this was a great movie. Itís a nice combination of suspense and drama, and the acting is very well-done. Roy reminds me of an older Woody from Cheers, so itís interesting to see Harrelson portray that folksy, innocent everyman role again. The bluray also has a 30 minute documentary on the making of the film, which the first portion of is quite interesting since you see a lot of actual footage of the areas and the director talks about his own past trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway after college.

Bill -- (5/10) -- This is a BBC comedy about the historical beginnings of William Shakespeare. Williams (or Bill in the film) is a hapless member of a lute band who gets kicked out of the group and decides to make his way to London in order to fulfill his new ambition of becoming a writer. At the same time, King Phillip II of Spain has decided to hatch a plot to kill Queen Elizabeth of England. The two plot points converge as expected with some farcical British humor mixed in. Overall, this was pretty good and it features a minor appearance by Damian Lewis. I wasnít familiar with the rest of the cast, but the major players all had several roles in the movie which was entertaining. The humor reminded me of Monty Python (even borrowing from the ďBring out your deadĒ scene), although certainly not as well done. There were several special features on the disc, but none are really that interesting. Even though I thought it was mediocre, I could see re-watching it at some point.

Brave New Jersey -- (4/10) -- Set in 1938 during Orson Wellesí War of the Worlds radio prank, the people of a small New Jersey town named Lullaby become embroiled in the drama and prepare to defend their town from invasion. The movie tag line is ďAn alien invasion comedy where the aliens never show up,Ē which sounds quite entertaining. The major problem is that aside from a few small spots, the comedy also doesnít make an appearance. So, youíre left with a drama thatís moderately entertaining. Itís a low budget film, but does feature a competent cast, led by Tony Hale. Overall, itís okay.

Army of Frankensteins -- (5/10) - The plot of this movie is pretty basic. A mad scientist is making his own ďFrankensteinís monsterĒ using body parts stolen from graveyards. At the same time, a young man struggling to pay his rent has finally decided to propose to his long-term girlfriend. Things go awry for both when a rip in the space-time continuum sends the young man, the mad scientist, his youthful assistant (aptly named Igor), and the monster all back in time to the Civil War. And, at the same time, identical monsters from parallel universes are also sent back to the Civil War. The young hero needs to find a way to save the day and get back to his own time in order to propose to his girl. This is a Scream Factory release and has no extra features. The film uses primarily amateur actors (or those with little experience), and while some of the acting is a bit rough, the lead does a pretty solid job. The special effects and story overall are campy as one would expect given the plot (lots of ripped off arms, crushed heads, and other ridiculousness). While not a great movie, I found it to be pretty entertaining and it also features an original song that was also quite entertaining.

It Comes At Night -- (6/10) - The description of the movie is, ďIn the aftermath of an unknown global disaster, a man lives in safe seclusion with his wife and son, until a desperate family takes refuge in their house.Ē The cover art and name makes it appear to be a horror film, but itís really more of a low budget suspense/mystery that seemingly takes place within the setting of a horror film. Itís a low budget, minimalist film, but it does have some notable actors (such as Joel Edgerton) and the cast does a great job. Itís hard to say more about the movie overall without giving away details and spoilers. Special features include a 30 minute documentary on the making of the film which I also watched because I had a lot of questions afterwards. Overall, the movie kept me engaged the entire time, provided a pretty good storyline, and left a few questions open to interpretation such that I was still thinking about the movie for a while after finishing it (and prompting me to watch the making of documentary which I donít always bother with).

June Reviews:

Phantom 2040: The Ghost Who Walks -- (6/10) - The Phantom is a pulp/comic strip character from the 1930s. Known as The Ghost Who Walks and The Man Who Can Not Die, the mantle of Phantom has passed from father to son, beginning in the 16th century when pirates attacked a sailing vessel killing nearly everyone aboard except the son of the captain who was rescued by Bandar tribesman from the fictional African country of Bangalia. Raised by the tribe and learning their ways, the boy vowed to avenge his father and eliminate piracy, injustice, etc. The role then began passing down through his direct descendants.

In 2040, it has been 16 years since the last Phantom disappeared (and was presumed dead), leaving a gap in the line of the Phantom for the first time in nearly 500 years. Kit Walker Jr. has come of age and discovers that itís time for him to take on the role of the costumed superhero when his fatherís associate Gundar finds him with his overprotective Aunt in Metropia.

This ďmovieĒ is basically the first 5 episodes of the Phantom 2040 television series from 1994-96 combined into a single storyline. It features notable voice talents including Mark Hamill, Leah Remini, and Margot Kidder. The storyline overall is pretty solid, especially for 1990ís animation. Itís pretty interesting to see how the writers envisioned the world ~40-50 years from when they wrote it.

This one is honestly hard to score. The animation isnít very good and overall video quality of the DVD is poor Ė the transfer quality looks as though it was pulled from the original VHS that was released, so this is certainly watchable but, it could really use some improvements. That said, the storyline is pretty good.

Last edited by Zhuge1; 12-09-2020 at 11:00 PM.
  Reply With Quote
Thanks given by:
keke (08-27-2020)