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Showing posts from February, 2014

Gravity (2013)

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This movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but it is all about Sandra. Sandra is 49 years old at this point, and she still brings impressive performance and she is clearly capable of carrying a movie with just a little help from others. This movie is kind of like Cast Away in space.

Sandra plays a specialist who is in space for this particular mission because of her unique capabilities. The problem is that they comment about her coming home from the hospital, so I guess she's an MD, but she was also supposed to have built the communications device, yet she knows nothing about the amateur radio when she makes a contact on Earth. Despite the problems with the character, Sandra does a great job - as you would expect. I will really be surprised if she doesn't get the Academy Award for her role.
George had a slightly bigger part than I had expected, but it still wasn't much. He is the mission commander (presumably) who has his head screwed on right and knows what the h…

Home Sweet Home (2013)

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Believe it or not, there were three - count 'em THREE - movies released in 2013 with the name Home Sweet Home. This is the only one I've seen, and I'm not eager to see the others, even though they have nothing to do with this movie, because this appears to have the widest release, biggest budget, and best reception.

This movie brings out the big guns with the voice acting talent of Barbara Gordon. No, she's not the famous daughter of James Gordon, police commissioner for Gotham city. She is not Batgirl. Instead, I last saw her in the first sequel to Cube. I also saw her in her fine role in Kung Fu: The Legend Continues; one episode, at least. And she plays the mother who is a voice on the answering machine. Stunning job.

The other actors don't do quite as good of a job, but they have the handicap of being on screen at some point and having to put facial expressions to feelings and other acting stuff. That's a hard thing to pull off for most of them. Meghan Heff…

Red Line (2013)

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Do not confuse this movie with Redline, the movie from 2007 with Eddie Griffin and lots of supercars CG racing to hell and back. This is Red Line from 2013 about a train that gets bombed by a terrorist and the people who survive and have to figure out a way to continue surviving as the rescuers make their way in.

This reminds me of Last Passenger in the way it limits the scenery and sets to the point that money can be spent on pretty much any other part of the movie. I guess they didn't have a budget, because they didn't spend much on the rest of the movie. It's okay, a movie doesn't need a big budget in order to be good.

So, boom goes the dynamite, and we have a few passengers struggling to hold on, some dead, and some who are miraculously without injury. Oh, and one guy who was injured but is still mobile. From here, we struggle to figure out what happened and what to do next. And... is there a terrorist among them?

Acting is generally not bad through the film. There…

Palm Speciale Belgian Ale

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It's PALM. It's hard to tell from the gigantic PALM written across the label, but that's the name. Love that horse on the front, too. Seriously, I know your label is probably steeped in history and all, but you need to get a label that is a little less stodgy.

The color is a slightly more brown copper. The head does not stick to the sides very much, but it leaves a fairly even skin across the top with a decent amount forming a ring around the side. The aroma is a little sweet and flowery with malt sitting in the background. It's a promising start, at least.

First sip is a little more harsh than I expected. There is bread that has a metallic taste added like someone tried to staple a loaf of wheat bread. They stapled it to a peach that was well past its prime. I was really hoping for more, and maybe I'll get it with a proper swig.

Tip-in is bread with a bit of lemon and grass. The carbonation spreads across the mouth as the middle takes hold. The middle is a world o…

Leinenkugel's Hoppin' Helles

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The first Leinenkugel beer that I had was a pretty good one. So, I hope that the oddly named beer can produce again. I like a nice, hoppy beer, and this one claims to have loads of hops. Hopefully, this will meet my expectations.

It's a clear golden color with a little coppery color shining through. Even though my glass was meticulously clean, it somehow found points of nucleation to send more bubbles to the top of the beer. The patchy head doesn't grip the sides at all, but it does create a protective ring around the edge. The aroma is hoppy, floral, and a bit sour. It reminds me of the Censored Lagunitas I recently had.

First sip is an interesting one. It has some hops in there, but it's not the level of hops that I had expected or had experienced with other beers that proudly proclaim their hops on the front of the beer in big letters. The hops that are there are more floral than I'm used to, and their is a lot more malt taste than I had expected. I expect the malt …

Harp Lager

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Harp is brought to us by the makers of Guinness. No, not the actual makers of Guinness - at least not anymore. More like the makers of Guinness Extra Stout, which kind of sucks. Guinness of Canada is like the incredibly stupid stepchild of Guinness, but at least they didn't start off by putting a widget in a bottle to make the best Guinness Draught and then get rid of it afterward for no damn good reason.

The color is a solid gold. The head is sticky and lumpy, but it's not thick. The aroma is malty and has lots of floral scent added. Yes, I have had this beer before, and it is like greeting an old friend. The aroma doesn't drift all that well, but that's not particularly odd for a lager.

First sip is that memorable floral and sweet malt taste, but there is something a little different from the last time I had it. Maybe I'm psyching myself out, but I think I can actually taste the difference between the Canadian Harp and the Irish Harp. Time to make sure with a pro…

Stella Artois Premium Lager

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I first think of the billboard that Stella produced that said, "It's a chalice, not a glass." They really aspire to be a cut above the rest, and that means that they have to produce a beer that can more then just stand up to other beers. I expect this to be a shining example of what lagers should be. It NEEDS to be better than Batch 19, which was excellent.

Color is a very clear pale yellow. The head creates substantial lacing on the sides with gloppy groupings floating on top. The aroma is a very gentle malt and a little fruit or something. Honestly, it's nothing to write home about.

First sip... a lager. It's a fairly bland lager that that. I know they try to sell their brand as higher class and more for aficionados, but the beer is pretty middle of the road for a lager. It's better than Budweiser, but that's not saying a whole lot. The taste has bits of refined corn and is relatively crisp, as lagers are supposed to be, but it's not special.

A bigge…

Ironclad (2011)

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Let's start with the basics: this movie is not about ironclad Civil War battleships. I know, I was just as disappointed as you. There don't seem to be many good, historically accurate depictions of the awesome (though generally ineffective) battle between the CSS Virginia and the USS Monitor.

So, this movie is about the siege of Rochester Castle by King John in 1215. The fact is that the battle happened, and the result was similar to what is depicted in the film, but the embellishments are significant and pervasive. Still, you don't need a story to be true in order to enjoy it, do you?

Paul Giamatti plays the worst mad king ever. He lacks the gravitas that would be expected for the role, and his relatively short stature doesn't help. He really tries to get those crazy eyes down, but they never mature. It's like when a dumb man tries to play a smart man - it usually doesn't work out at all.

Brian Cox would have been great in the role, if only he wasn't preocc…

Highland Brewing Thunderstruck Coffee Porter

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The overtly Scottish brewer is from Asheville, North Carolina. I've had their very good Devil's Britches Ale and (before I even started this site) their Gaelic Ale. Both of those were very good beers, and I am not sure this will continue the trend, as I am not a fan of coffee. I chose this beer because I hadn't had it and also because your typical chocolate or coffee porter doesn't necessarily actually contain chocolate or coffee. The tastes are brought forward by the treatment and type of malt. In this beer, I see coffee on the label.

The color is black as the heart of an ex-girlfriend. The tiny little bubbles stick very well to the sides, and they leave a thin skin across the top. The smell is all kinds of coffee. I mean really, really coffee. I can smell it from three feet away. It's not like fresh brewed coffee, either. It smells more like coffee grounds, if that makes any sense. As I lift it up to smell it, I also get the sensation of the cold that makes it fe…

Jug Face (2013)

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Accept that there is a backward community of people who worship an unseen creature in a pit. Accept it, because that's where we find ourselves. Just a bunch of hicks worshiping a pit. On the plus side, the pit actually has supernatural powers.

In order to please the pit, a sacrifice has to be made periodically. A local jug maker makes a jug with the face of the person who should be given up in some way (it's not made clear for a while). So, it's bad to have your face appear on the jug.

Our heroine, fresh from coitus with her brother, stumbles upon just such a jug with her own face on it. In a panic, she hides the face and pretends not to know that one was ever made. She confides in her grandfather, who was shunned by the community for an unknown reason and cannot speak, and then she moves on with her life. Lauren Ashley Carter plays the girl, and she does a fine job of showing her inner conflict with the added growing concern for her unborn child.

Sean Bridgers doesn't…

Last Vegas (2013)

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Four friends - four old friends - get back together so they can throw a bachelor party for one of them.

Michael Douglas, age 69, plays the groom. He's going to marry a 30-something year old woman, and his friends take him to Las Vegas. Michael can't really be too bothered to act at this point in his career. Fortunately, there are enough guys with acting chops and no real need to use them in this movie, so he doesn't really have to do anything. He shows up, he collects a paycheck, and he goes home.

Robert De Niro, age 70, is the curmudgeon of the group. He doesn't want to go, doesn't get along with Michael, and he has been mourning his dead wife for a long time, yet he still wears his ring. He gets tricked into going to Vegas, and he's not happy about any of it. So yes, he's the one you're supposed to love. He does a good job with a role that he has played many, many times; he's the grumpy tough guy. He even punches some people.

Morgan Freeman, age 76…

Blackstone Winter Seasonal Oatmeal Stout

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So far, Blackstone hasn't exactly rocked my world. I WANT to like it, as it is a Nashville brewer, but their beers just haven't stood up to the competition very well. The Chaser Pale Ale was a definite NOT recommend, while the APA and Nut Brown Ale both got middle of the road (but slightly below average) scores that were kind of a gift.

This beer is a wall of black from which no photon shall escape; it's a good color for a stout, then. The dense head dissipates to a thin froth that failingly attempts to cling to the sides of the glass. The aroma is strong and sweet. It has that burnt oatmeal smell that indicates that the brewmaster probably knew what he was doing. I seriously hope so. I want to enjoy this so much.

First sip is more bitter than I expected. You can definitely taste the oatmeal in there, and it is properly well cooked and smoky, but the hit of bitterness is a bit more overwhelming. There is a bit of coffee taste in there fighting, too. Coffee is a bitter drin…

Look (2007)

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You know, I thought Stoker was an odd duck, but this one is much more odd. This entire movie was shot from the perspective of actual security cameras - at least, that's what the director claims. There are some that are obviously not such as the cell camera footage and a single film camera, but I also question the legality of installing camera in dressing rooms.

So, the whole thing is played out in front of us as a "found footage" movie like Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity. There are several storylines that we are exposed to, and we are left to try and figure out which ones actually intersect. Not all of them do.

The main thrust of the movie is to get us to think about all the ways we are being recorded each day and how that may impact our lives or even how we might act if we always thought someone was watching. What with the NSA ignoring their charter to not spy domestically, it could very well be the case, but the cameras we see are not government controlled, they ar…

Lagunitas Censored (Kronik) Rich Copper Ale

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This was sold in the "High Gravity Beer" section of a nearby liquor store. Now, what I know about the gravity of beer is pretty shallow, and there simply isn't enough information on this beer in particular for me to come to a conclusion about that. I am told that the "gravity of a beer in this state actually refers to the alcohol content. This one is 6.7% ABV and consequently can't be sold in a regular beer store.

The head is thick and sticky like a good Lagunitas beer should be. The fact is, this is currently my favorite brewery, and I hope this is my new favorite beer. The color is very, very copper - I would almost guess that they fine-tuned it with food coloring to get it so exact. The aroma is strangely malty with a kind of sour twinge added in there and notable grains.

First sip is unexpectedly gentle. It has a smooth yet bitter tasting malt with quite a heavy floral influence. There are notes of something sweeter tucked away behind the almost lemon sournes…

Haunter (2013)

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Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb

Remember Groundhog day? That song was how he started off each day, and the day would just repeat over and over no matter what he did. Well, welcome to Haunter. They decided that Groundhog Day, a comedy with Bill Murry doing wacky, funny things would be a great horror story.

Step one: Change the main character.
So, we replace Bill with a 15-year-old angst-ridden girl played by Abigail Breslin. I last saw her as Little Rock in Zombieland (a great movie). She does an okay job here acting like a teenage girl who is moody and generally bored; I suspect method acting. She needs to work on her scared and upset acting.

Step two: Set the mood.
Good news - the production team got themselves a brand new fog machine, and it is in tip-top form. That sucker is spewing out more fog than you can imagine. They even set it on low and pump a fine mist into the basement. Outside, though, it is as thick as pea soup, …

Full Throttle Strawberry S'loonshine XXX

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After my experience with the Apple Pie Moonshine, I have decided to add ice right away. The Apple pie was strong tasting, but it had no punch. This one simply reeks of alcohol and is 35%ABV, which isn't really that much, is it? It's about double that of wine.

Color is just about right for moonshine - it's clear as water. It's unexpectedly thick, too. When I poured it, it seemed to be a little more runny than syrup. As I mentioned before, it has a very heavy alcohol smell to it. It also smells of strawberries, but there is something else - like a burned out filament or something. I will say that I'm having second thoughts about drinking this at this point, but I'm going to give it a go for you - my two or three visitors.

First sip is lighter than I had expected. It is sweet strawberries - like a strawberry cream candy (have you ever had the Life Savers Strawberries and Cream swirl ones?) If you soak one of those in a small glass of lighter fluid for a few hours a…

Ender's Game (2013)

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Ever watch a movie after you've read the book? Ever love that book and really want the movie to be great? Ever set yourself up for disappointment? Ever try to explain that the good movie was actually based on a spectacular book that should really still see the big screen?

If you know nothing about Ender's game, this movie presents it as a kind of version of Starship Troopers. In this version, they are looking for the smartest child to learn tactics and anticipate his or her opponent, as adults lack the imagination and ability to ignore consequences that is inherent to having little worldly experience. So, they will be more daring and consequently more frequently victorious.

Their enemy is a bunch of intelligent bugs clearly hell-bent on the destruction of humanity. They came to our planet once, and one brave man managed to lead humanity to victory. Now, they are looking for a second great tactician to save them from the looming bug menace. We can all assume, based on the title…

Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale

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I had a friend that lived near me a few years ago and was from Texas. That guy loved his Shiner, and he was sure I would like it, too. I wasn't aware at the time that Shiner made so many different types of beer. I just had the Black Lager, and I kind of liked it. The Farmhouse Ale was pretty much middle of the road. Now, I get to try the Wild Hare Pale Ale thanks to a different friend at work.

The color is a reddish copper with a frothy head that never quite goes away. In fact, it sticks around as clumps on top of the beer with substantial lacing all around the glass. The effect is quite nice, and I am ready to drink it. Nevertheless, I have to explain what it smells like. It smells sweet, a little floral with hops being the biggest component. There - I smelled it. Happy now?

First sip is not what I expected. It doesn't have the taste of those hops I smelled (at least not most of it). It's fairly watery with a sweetness from all the malts. This has more malt than pretty mu…

Getaway (2013)

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This is an hour and a half long Shelby Super Snake commercial. A former NASCAR driver is forced to drive a car and do stupid things in it in order to save his wife from the whims of a deranged and brilliant psychopath.

This car has been specially outfitted with cameras all around so that the driver and the action can be watched from wherever the evil genius is. It has also been armored (in less than two days) to the point that it survives multiple head-on collisions with other cars, trucks, rails, and other assorted stuff. Only by the end does it seem to show any of the dents or scrapes that it has been getting through the movie, and they are not appropriately significant.

Our hero, Ethan Hawk, does a lot of scowling and grumbling, but, even though he is on camera most of the time, acting talents aren't exactly strained. Occasionally, he will go so far as to look concerned, but this is about the car, isn't it? Mind you, it's a very nice car. I wouldn't scoff if someon…

Europa Report (2013)

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Not everyone is going to like this movie. I happen to be one who did - to a point.

One of the problems you tend to run into with these kinds of movies is that Hollywood writers are not rocket scientists, but the people involved with a strategic, manned mission to Saturn's moons really would be rocket scientists. And I've learned that Hollywood just cannot relate to that kind of intelligence that is not emotional intelligence.

This was put together as a Blair Witch-style fake documentary where a certain amount of footage was pre-recorded by NASA, and a certain amount was recovered footage. The mission was to examine the moon of Saturn called Europa where real scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson actually suspect a that life could exist. They are to examine a portion of the surface where liquid water may be accessible, and where we have found water, we have found life. At least so far.

The cast is a bit of an ensemble. It's hard to pull one person out as really good or anoth…

Visible Scars (2012)

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Tom Sizemore kills a prostitute rather than bothering to pay her the $200 he owes her and then steals her babies to take back to his wife, as his wife is "too ugly" to have babies of her own. Let's just go ahead and establish what a horrific character he has come to play and what a questionable story this movie has to offer.

From there, Tom says that the twin girls will have to stay in the basement of the house so no one knows that he stole them. We then are treated to what this movie is mostly made of - jumps in time. These aren't the planned, meticulous jumps in time that you would find in something like Cloud Atlas, which was already a needless mix of timeframes.

Well, we jump to 2000, where we see the girls dealing with their daddy and asking where mommy went. Daddy tells them to eat their meat so mommy can be a part of them.... get it? Cannibalism! Yea! The staple of creepy backwoods families for years now comes to you with a helping of Tom Sizemore. We then jum…

Mimesis (2011)

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This is not a review. This is a warning. Stay clear of this movie.

The only way to watch this movie and not feel like your life is being sucked into the screen by an evil director and writer who are laughing while nourishing themselves on your life is if Starship Titanic or Rifftrax does a parody of it. Even then, you are not completely shielded from the cruel intent of the creators.

The acting is worse than pretty much any movie I've seen so far. Yes, that includes A Common Man. None of the actors - none of them - should ever be allowed to work in a movie or TV show or Theater or TV commercial or even allow themselves to be seen in public again. I suggest a group walk into a helicopter blade.

The directing was pretty clearly done by an eleven year old who had never actually been allowed to see a scary movie for his whole life, and this is kind of what he imagines it would be like. He also probably has a significant speech impediment and twitch that make it difficult for the camer…

Riddick (2013)

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This is just the third in what is only a trilogy so far, but Vin Diesel will beat this franchise into the ground before all is said and done. We start off with Riddick stranded on a planet, and we will have to work our way backward to figure out how he wound up there. First, Vin will have to deal with like five or six different kinds of odd creatures that are a mix of good and bad - mostly bad - CG. One dog-like creature will become a main character, and the CG doesn't get any better as the movie goes on.

I'm not sure where that line is when a property that made its money on believable CG can morph into bad CG and still be believable. I mean, even the ships aren't believable. Seriously, how do you produce a movie on a budget of $38m and have ships that aren't believable in 2013?

Speaking of not believable, the mercenaries that show up in this movie are very much not believable. I like the addition of Starbuck, and she is probably the most believable of the bunch, altho…

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)

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I liked Pitch Black a lot. I'm not even sure I really know why I liked it so much. Vin Diesel has been in many roles, and he tried to play a bad ass in pretty much all of them, but Pitch Black really introduced a unique character that you could really do a lot with, given the correct writing.

Not all writing is correct, and this movie tries WAY too hard to try to come up with an entire universe for Riddick to play in, but they do what that first movie did with the creatures that could never have survived on the desert rock they somehow evolved on - they ignored the way THIS reality works in favor of something more exciting. The problem is that these rules are so new and different that they make the transition from what we are used to very jarring.

There is a race of bad guys who are mostly part of a religion of death worshipers (yes, it's more complicated than that, but that's what I'm going with). They are hopping from one planet to the next, converting as many people …

Pitch Black (2000)

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It's hard to believe this movie was made in 2000. Admittedly, I've seen better CG, but this CG isn't that bad. They knew enough to keep the monsters mostly in the dark, and that makes the CG more convincing.

The idea is that a ship crashes on a planet, and the survivors need to figure out how to survive and get off. Unleashed with them is the criminal Riddick, played by Vin Diesel, who is distressingly dangerous. Cole Hauser, playing the custodian of our anti-hero, scares everyone in to believing that Riddick will kill randomly and is the most vile creature ever. Cole explains this to the docking pilot, religious dude and his two sons, a self-important ass, a boy who idolizes Riddick, and a few others who really aren't all that important to the story.

On this desert planet with three suns - yes, three - there is no night. The entire surface (which is, as far as we know, all desert) is bathed in light at all times except for once every 22 years when there is an eclipse.…

Shiner Bohemian Black Lager

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From the state that thinks it is its own country comes Shiner. It's a black lager, and I've had one or two of them. The Guinness stands out as pretty bad, but that brand has been making a lot of bad decisions lately.

It's not really black. It is more of a really, really, really dark red. The head is thick and creamy, and it doesn't dissipate quickly at all. The fairly thick 1/4 inch of foam that just stays there right on top looks really nice. The aroma is a bit smoky with slightly burnt malt and a bit of an indistinct tin or metallic smell. Do I also smell cherries?

First sip is a straight-forward dark lager. It's all filled with moody malts, a bit of smoke, and a bit of chocolate. I didn't expect the chocolate from a black lager - I always thought that was the purview of chocolate stouts and the occasional porter.

A bigger swig brings a tip-in of gentle malt and refreshing water. It then turns smoky with some carbonation burn on the tongue. The carbonation b…

Hell Baby (2013)

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I have seen Scary Movie, and I have not liked Scary Movie. While I like comedies and generally like horror movies, the fusion of them is really hard to get right. The original Army of Darkness was a great example of properly combining the two, and even the original Scream did a good job of lampooning horror movies while on its way to becoming a series ripe for spoofing itself.

Rob Corddry is the main character in this movie, and I have liked him since he was on The Daily Show. He, and his wife played by Leslie Bibb, just bought a house in New Orleans that they plan on fixing up and living in. It's in a bad neighborhood, and the locals refer to it as the House of Blood among other names. So, it's clearly not going to go well. Things are further complicated by the fact that Leslie is pregnant with twins.

Keegan Michael Key does a fantastic job with the quirkiest character, F'resnel. He's kind of like the next door neighbor, but he's more of a squatter in the house it…

The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman (2013)

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Shia LaBeouf needs to die. Well, he needs to die in the film, because the title says so. In real life, he just needs to stop making movies. I wouldn't say that he necessarily makes every movie he is in bad, but he tends to make them worse.

In this movie, he plays a greasy guy in his 20's whose mother died and then told him to go to Bucharest. So, he hopped on a plane and flew there. In the process, he has a conversation with a guy in the seat next to him. That guy also dies and then tells him to deliver a message to his daughter. So, we haven't gotten into the meat of the movie yet, and Shia has already talked to two dead people.

So, they try to develop the character, but they are severely limited by the acting ability of the man playing him. He plays the character like the long-haired, scruffy-bearded version of the guy from Transformers. It doesn't matter if he's supposed to be high, scared, angry, passionate, or pretty much anything. I mean, he's just awful.

The Last Days on Mars (2013)

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Two words: Space Zombies.

Have you hooked yet? What do you mean it sounds stupid? Well, what if they did it right? Did they? Well, I guess that's a complicated question. Okay, it's a simple question, but it's kind of a complicated answer.

For starters, we have Liev Schreiber. He's the headliner here, there's no question about that. I've seen him do a decent job in the Scream series, a very good job in Salt, and an excellent job in Defiance. He can be a very good actor, and he's shown it. He can also pick loser scripts to go with - and X-Men Origins: Wolverine pretty well showed that. In this movie, he tries to bring some acting, and I give him credit for it. The acting was not the problem with this movie.

Many of the special effects were very good. The ones in space were faultless, for example. The ships landing - very good. There are nice, sweeping shots of the landscape that really give you a feel for this being otherworldly, and the same background for t…

Bounty Killer (2013)

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Please leave your simple human logic at the door.
No, do not bring it in here. There is no place for it in this movie.

The idea for the post-apocalyptic world here is that corporations became so powerful that they eventually went to actual war with each other, destroying most of the planet. Now, the executives of the corporations live in luxury while everyone else is in squalor. Well everyone except for the Bounty Killers who compete with each other for fame and fortune by hunting down the CEOs.

It has a Mad Max feel to it while reflecting a bit of Elysium with the dramatic separation between the haves and have nots. Elysium went out of its way to explain the financial situation and how exactly order is kept, money is still able to be used to buy things, and what the social structure is. In this movie, we get no explanation, so the massive amounts of cash that the Bounty Hunters earn can't actually be used for anything, as there is nothing backing up the currency. With no faith i…