Movie Review: Death Wish

I have often wondered about Hollywood board rooms and conference rooms and discussions executives have about money and what works and what does not work with new movies, movie franchises and decisions to remake a movie. Why are some movies considered possibilities for remakes and others not? Why Death Wish? Perhaps one reason could be the setting of this movie in Chicago that in the last few years has been one of the most violent cities in US history.

Death Wish has also been remade in other forms over the years, with Kevin Bacon in “Death Sentence”, 2007 and Jodie Foster In “The Brave One” that also came out in 2007. The premise for these movies are all the same. A horrible crime has been committed, the police and the courts can do nothing to find the criminals and the person suffering incredible grief goes on a shooting rampage to achieve justice and revenge. I found it very disturbing that in the trailer for this film, it is said that 1 in 4 people will become a victim of a violent crime. Of course the averages go way up around cities like Chicago.

Bruce Willis used to be a huge star in Hollywood for many years but unfortunately his last Die Hard movie “A Good Day to Die Hard” just about ruined his career and destroyed a very strong movie franchise. Since then he has made a string of movies that have gone right to DVD and have never been released to movie theaters, proving once again just how fleeting movie success can be and with only one big bomb the whole miracle of you’re acting career can be over very quickly.

As far as this new Death Wish movie remake, directed by Eli Roth, I thought it was well done and believable, and about as good as the original Death Wish that was released in 1974 starring Charles Bronson. The actor Dean Norris is perfectly cast as the police officer in charge of the case, and since his performance in Breaking Bad, Norris could just about be one of the believable actors to play a police officer. Unfortunately for Bruce Willis the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are very low, only 14%, so the odds are that this film will be in and out of the theaters relatively quickly.

Overall, I thought this movie was just OK and I do recommend it.

Movie Review: Red Sparrow

In 1993 a very good movie called “Point of No Return” was released starring Bridget Fonda, who has dropped out of the movie business in 2002, an unfortunate fact because she was a very good actress. The new movie “Red Sparrow” follows the exact same idea of Point of No Return. “A down and out woman is recruited to be an operative or a spy for their country and she is trained by her country using cruel tactics to turn her into a killer”. Unfortunately Red Sparrow is a very bad movie starring Jennifer Lawrence that has a mixed up disaster of a story that is impossible to follow. Rather than having a down and out woman recruited to be an operative, Lawrence plays a Russian Ballerina who breaks her leg, which in itself makes no sense because wouldn’t she have too much fame in Russia to be a Russian spy? It seemed to me as I suffered through this 2 plus hours of an insane plot that they hired 14 screenwriters to write this mess, threw the script on the floor and then slapped the pages back together, hoping that maybe when they cut the film it might somehow miraculously become a movie. No such luck.

I believe that the producers knew for sure that this movie would be a bomb while they were making it so they came up with an idea and with probably another few million dollars convinced Lawrence to do a nude scene, which is something she swore she would never do. There are also several sexual situations even during the training the operatives go through, which was another failed attempt by the producers help the box office. Then with every appearance on every talk show, they made sure that she mentioned the nude scene, in the hopes of saving this movie. Considering the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and how bad this movie is, I cannot believe that one nude scene will be enough to save this disastrous mess of screenwriting.

Do yourself a favor and skip this mess and see Point of No Return instead. That was a very good movie.

Movie Review: Murder on the Orient Express

The new movie “Murder on the Orient Express” is a remake of the original made in 1974. I always ask myself, when there is a remake of a movie like this, why a remake? Was the movie important enough or memorable enough to make another one? Very often and including this time, the answer to that question is no. Murder on the Orient Express is one of the most famous of all the Agatha Christie novels, but in my opinion the ending of this story is too unbelievable and convoluted to really believe possible and for that reason, and for the reason that the entire movie was quite boring, I cannot recommend this movie.

There are many known actors in this film, including Johnny Depp and
Michelle Pfeiffer, but their appearances are not enough to have any reason to recommend this film.

Movie Review: IT

I can only speculate about what Steven King who wrote the It: A Novel many years was thinking about, but I think that it had to be that he was fascinated about the bullying so many young people have to endure in school. As most of us have heard in this country, bulling is an epidemic and now its even worse than it has been because of social media and cyber-bullying. We have all heard about news reports where some young person has committed suicide because of bullying or have gone on school shooting sprees, killing many people in retaliation.

Movie Review: The House

What is funny? Both Will Ferrel and Amy Poehler were two of the best to performers on Saturday Night Live for many years and they are both funny. Both Ferrel and Poehler are great in comedy sketches and Will Ferrel has the very rare talent of just making a face or doing something with his eyes and getting a huge laugh just for showing up. What is not funny is the movie both of these talented people are in, titled “The House”.

The premise of the House is a very good one. Two parents facing the nightmare of trying to face the incredible cost of sending just one child to a good college. Right at the start, trying to make paying for college funny is a daunting task because there is nothing funny about putting your financial future in jeopardy by taking a second mortgage out on a house or risking your health by working more than one job. The couple in this story try to pay for college by opening up an illegal gambling house and while this story may have started out a little funny, the whole idea took a very bad, unfunny and stupid turn and in the end turned out to be a pretty bad movie. This is too bad because both Ferrel and Poehler are very talented but the problem has always been finding both a screenplay and a great idea that actually results in a funny movie and in my experience this has been very rare.

I thought there was one scene in this entire movie that was funny, when Ferrel thinks that he has 401,000 dollars in his bank account and his accountant tells him that he is has a 401K account. That was a very good line, but unfortunately the only funny line in this entire movie. I thought it was unusual that the actor Jeremy Renner appears at the end of this movie, but the scene where he is set on fire was not funny and the scene where one of his thugs lost a finger and bleeds all over Will Ferrell was also not funny.

This movie should have gone right to DVD and should be missed.

Movie Review: The Circle

I have been very surprised to see the very low reviews on both IMDB (5.5) and Rotten Tomatoes (16%) for this movie.  I thought this movie was about average but not overly bad. The message of this film is a very good one, “when has technology gone too far”, or “when do the good things about technology infringe too much on basic human privacy”. This movie stars Tom Hanks, who probably has about 6 scenes and 20 lines and Emma Watson who is the real lead actor of this movie, so the trailers are somewhat misleading. The late actor Bill Paxton also has a small role in this movie as Watson’s father, who has Multiple Sclerosis. I found it rather depressing to see Paxton in this movie so soon after he died of a heart ailment at only 61 years old. The actor John Boyega also has a relatively small role in this film as a disgruntled employee of the Circle but he seems to be a character that was added on at the last minute, rather than having any significant reason to be in this movie.

As this film progresses we see that this huge internet company called “The Circle” hires Watson and very slowly demands more and more of her personal information and personal time and very quickly you can see she is living in an insane world that believes that information is everyone’s business. Tom Hanks plays the CEO of the Circle and early in the film, he introduces a new kind of camera the size of a marble that the company has placed all around the world. This sophisticated camera is not only able to create pictures from all around the world, but also record all aspects of the environment it has been placed in. Considering the small cost of creating such a small camera and the ease they can be placed anywhere practically anywhere, one can understand that a device like this can get out of hand very quickly.

I thought it was brave of the producers of this film to show the campus of the circle as looking almost exactly like the new Apple Campus that is opening this month, (see video below). As a producer, I would think that doing something like this would be too risky considering the possibility of litigation from Apple concerning the negative aspects of this story. I was impressed by the message at the end, which I thought was if the person who believes that all aspects of someone else’s private information are everyone’s business, how would they feel if that very same spotlight was turned on them? Another way of looking at something like this is; if the people who vote to send young people to war would have to go to war and get killed themselves, would they still vote yes?

Despite the obvious flaws in this movie, I give it a marginal recommendation.

The Circle – Book Amazon

Movie Review: Free Fire

So many movies have been made over the years that if you want to get a movie production greenlighted, it has to be different, sometimes very different. The challenge for any screenwriter, when you realize that so many movies have already been made about so many different ideas, is that you have to not only be different but also write a high-quality script. The movie “Free Fire” is without a doubt a very different kind of a movie when you recognize that the entire film is shot in a broken down warehouse after an illegal gun deal goes bad. What follows are people getting shot and killed and crawling around cursing at themselves and each other. I thought the dialogue throughout this film was interesting and unusual however not up to Tarantino standards. The action was good enough for this story but it’s impossible to make gunfire and injuries from gunfire any different that what we all have seen so many times in movies.

This movie stars Brie Larson who has made some pretty average movies since she won the Academy Award for best actress for Room 2 years ago, the most recent one was King Kong: Skull Island. Once you win the Academy Award and you’re at the top of the very fickle movie industry and in demand, it is so important to select high-quality movies. For this reason, I was surprised to see her in this film mainly because I thought it should be beneath not only her standards but below the standards of a very recent Academy Award winner. This movie also stars Armie Hammer, so perhaps there was some kind of a deal made to have 2 named actors in this pretty average movie.

This is a good movie as far as a violent gun play but there is not much of a real story here. The unusual differences with this film are not different enough to make me consider this as a good movie and for that reason, I am giving Free Fire a very marginal recommendation.

Movie Review: Unforgettable

from Dictionary.com:

A framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

It should be obvious now to anyone who goes to movies with any regularity that the very specific paradigm of some crazy woman who wants some other woman’s husband or boyfriend and then goes through an insane series of events to get him back, is something that producers in Hollywood believe will ultimately make money.

There have been so many movies like the movie “Unforgettable”, and it all started with the first film, which was the only good one of this type that was released 30 years ago, Fatal Attraction. Probably the main reason why Fatal Attraction was the only good movie is that it was the original and all the clones that follow are just pale imitations. I am more amazed that this exact story has been made so many times, with a storyline and action scenes that are so similar to the other movies. There is always a crazy unstable woman, this time played by Katherine Heigl and always a nice woman who is the victim, played by Rosario Dawson. There is always a scene where the two women fight, sometimes to the death. There are always several scenes where the insane woman plots to discredit or ruin the relationship of the other woman. There always seems to be some young child involved who can possibly be harmed during this insane conflict. There is nothing new in this entire story, other than to try and explain why Heigl’s character is so crazy because of her overbearing mother who is played by Cheryl Ladd, who looks extremely good for her age, 65. The comedian Whitney Cummings also has a small part in this movie as the advisor and friend to Rosario Dawson and she seems completely out of place in this story.

This film could be considered some kind of a comeback attempt for Katherine Heigl and it’s a shame she chose this bad movie to make but perhaps due to her problems in the past this was her only option. I have not seen Rosario Dawson in a movie for a while and perhaps she was in the same boat as Heigl and had no other options. The title for this bad film “Unforgettable” is unfortunate because not only will everyone forget this movie very quickly, you actually want to forget you made the decision to see this film while you are watching it. A better title for this bad film would be “Missable”.

I thought this movie is not the worst of all of the many clones that have been made in the 30 years since Fatal Attraction was released, but it’s definitely a film that should have gone straight to DVD.