11-1-10:  Review--The Walking Dead (Episode One)

by Brian LeTendre

Given what Frank Darabont did with "The Mist," I was very interested to see his interpretation of Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead," as they are similar projects. Both stories are filled with monsters and set against the backdrop of an apocalypse, but both are really about how normal people respond to those situations and the remaining humans around them.  After watching the first 90 minutes of "The Walking Dead," I felt like Darabont not only did the source material justice, he improved upon it.

The first episode of "Walking Dead" essentially covers the first issue and a then some of the comic, and Darabont adds a layer of depth to what Kirkman originally wrote. 

In the very beginning of the episode, a conversation between Rick and his partner Shane establishes that Rick and his wife Lori are having marital issues, which we know plays a huge part in the story, especially the first arc. There are also signals that Shane is interested in Rick's wife, which really sets up the later reveal that Shane and Lori are having a relationship and also plants the seed that Shane and Lori may have had something going on long before the zombies showed up.

What I loved the most about the first epsiode though, are the additions Darabont made to the story of Morgan and Duane Jones. Their story in this episode is so much deeper than what we see in the comic. Watching young Duane react to seeing his mother among the zombies and then seeing Morgan's struggle to put her down was gut-wrenching. Not to mention, Lenny James is a fantastic actor and completely owns the role of Morgan Jones. Duane and Morgan's story is eaily the high point of the first episode, and it demonstrates taht not only does darabont get what Kirkman wanted to do with Walking Dead, but that he is the right person to bring this tale to the screen.

Darabont also does a great job of establishing both big and small moments. The scenes where Rick slowly discovers the devastation that occurred when he was unconcious are epic. But there are also great smaller shots, like when Rick has to shoot a former co-worker who has become a zombie, or the scene where he gets his first close look at at one--excellent stuff.

As expected, the zombie effects by KNB EFX were amazing. Greg Nicotero and crew are in my opinion the best in the industry, and their attention to detail is evident in every zombie that shambles across the screen. It's a joy to see the things these guys and gals create.

I loved the first episode of "The Walking Dead." We can all breathe a sigh of relief now, because these guys got it right. Bring on the rest of the series.

5 out of 5 Walkers

If you have no idea what all the fuss about "The Walking Dead" is about, you can read the first issue of the comic over on Newsarama here.

10-20-10:  Review--Survival Of The Dead

by Brian LeTendre

As a horror fan, I revere Goeorge Romero as one of the godfathers of horror, and the man responsible for creating an entire genre of movie, the zombie flick.  Sadly however, I think that genre has finally passed him by, as his latest effort, "Survival of the Dead," is barely good enough to be a SyFY Saturday Night movie, let alone a standout zombie flick.

Survival of the Dead starts off well enough, as we meet Sgt. "Nicotene" Crockett, a National Guardsmen who goes rogue with a few of his colleagues after deciding the military has completely lost control of the whole zombie plague thing.  Crockett is actually a character that we met in Romero's previous film, "Diary of the Dead," so there's a strong link both to that film and to the universe that Romero's created in his latest "Dead" films.  

Unlike "Diary of the Dead" however, this movie has a terribly boring and cliched story that drags down what could have been a decent zombie movie.

The movie follows Crockett and his crew as they try to find someplace to hole up where the zombies aren't.  They travel to a small island off the coast of Delaware, thinking the zombies will have a tough time getting there.  They end up running into bigger problems, as there are two families living on the island--the O'Flynns and the Muldoons-- who are locked in a 'Hatfields and McCoys'-style fued that has torn apart both families and endangers any who come to the island.

In all of Romero's "Dead" films, he uses the zombie apocalypse as the backdrop to tell another story about human behavior, polictics, etc.  He just fails to execute that at all here though, which means the only leg the movie has to stand on is the strength of its zombie action.  Sadly, it fails in that category as well.  The zombies in this movie are few and far between, and you never see more than a handful on screen at any point in time.  The practical effects are overshadowed by the bad CGI, which gives away the fact that this is a really low-budget movie (it cost about $4 million to make).

So, to summarize, terrible story plus lackluster zombie action equals a lousy zombie flick.  Don't waste your time on it, as it will only tarnish your image of Romero.  I would recommend watching "Diary of the Dead" instead.

1.5 out of 5 Rotting Movie Carcasses 

9-6-10:  Review--Machete

by Brian LeTendre

Like most people who went to see “Grindhouse” in 2007, I thought the fake trailers were the best part of the movie. And of those trailers, “Machete” was one of the ones I really wanted to see make into a full-length film (“Thanksgiving” and “Don't!” being the others). Three years later, it has been, and for the most part, “Machete” was worth the wait.

With Machete, Rodriguez has made another great homage to 70's exploitation movies. Danny Trejo (in his first starring role) plays an ex-cop from Mexico who lost his family and was left for dead by a drug lord (Steven Seagal). He crosses the border to begin a new life in Texas, only to get sucked into a political scheme that turns out to be a frame job, setting him up as the poster boy for the anti-immigration campaign of a conservative senator (Robert DeNiro). Machete then allies himself with an immigration officer (Jessica Alba) and a resistance fighter (Michelle Rodriguez) to take down the senator, his campaign manager (Jeff Fahey) a racist militia leader (Don Johnson), and the guy behind it all—the same drug lord that killed Machete's family.

The action in “Machete” is great. Rodriguez is like a kid in a candy store when it comes to Machete killing bad guys—he wants at least one of everything on screen. Machete slices and dices countless goons in every way imaginable, from lopping of heads to using intestines to rappel down the side of a building—you name it, it happens. Through it all, Trejo is perfect in his stone-faced portrayal of Machete as a Jason Voorhees-like killing machine that will not stop until everyone pays.

The rest of the cast is great as well, with Michelle Rodriguez and Jeff Fahey being the standouts. Heck, I even liked Jessica Alba, and I usually can't stand her. Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Tom Savini, Don Johnson—they were all good, and they all clearly got what the movie was going for—cliched archetypes. The self-questioning law enforcement officer, the scheming mastermind, the champion of the people, the “guy who left that life behind”--they're all here, which is how it should be in a movie like this.

My one knock on the film is that it suffers from poor pacing, which seems to be the most common flaw of movies these days. At 105 minutes, it's a little bloated. You could easily cut 20 minutes from this movie and it would be all the better for it. Rodriguez spends a little too much time harping on his message about how short-sighted and ridiculous some of the anti-immigration thinking is in this country. The thing is, the characters he created deliver that message loud and clear, and he actually takes away from the message by spending too much time reiterating it.

Pacing problems aside, “Machete” is an action-packed, gruesomely fun time that will make you yearn for the days of the drive-in.

4.5 out of 5 Lohan Body Doubles

8-23-10:  Review--Piranha 3-D

by Brian LeTendre

"Piranha 3-D" was exactly what I was hoping it would be-- a bloody, crude, campy horror film that tips its hat to the same movies it's making fun of. It's easily one of the most fun experiences I've had at the movies in a while.

For those that are not familiar with the franchise, "Piranha" is a franchise with a lot of big names attached to it. The original 1978 film was directed by Joe Dante and produced by Roger Corman. It was a horror/comedy that was a send up of "Jaws" (which had come along 3 years earlier) featuring genetically enhanced piranha who could survive in salt water. 1981 saw the release of "Piranha II: The Spawning," which was the directorial debut a guy you might have heard of--James Cameron (sort of--it's a long story). This one featured another breed of gentically altered piranha, but instead of living in salt wter, these particular breed could fly. That's right--fly. If you're an 80's horror fan, you've at least seen the cover art for the movie, which featured beachgoers running terror from flying piranha.

Fast forward to 1995, when a Roger Corman-produced remake of the original movie appeared on Showtime, starring the Greaterst American Hero himself, William Katt. The movie also featured a young Mila Kunis (That 70's Show) as well as Soleil Moon Frye, TV's Punky Brewster. The movie itself wasn't great, but then again, neither were the first two.

On to 2010, then. Alexandre Aja, the guy behind "High Tension," "Mirrors" and the "Hills Have Eyes" remake, set out to make a good old-fashioned campy horror movie in the vein of the 1978 original. And boy, did he. "Piranha 3-D" is straight up drive-in fare, with tons of blood, laughs and adult themes (translation: boobs) that combine to make it an blast of an experience. In fact, save for a couple of missteps, it's easily one of the best horror films I've seen in years.

The setup in "Piranha 3-D" is simple, as it should be. An small earthquake undeneath Lake Victoria (Lake Havasu, Arizona) opens up a much older underground lake, which happens to be the home of a school of prehistoric piranha. Unfortunately for everyone, the piranha arrive as Spring Break is kicking off, and the hundreds of inebriated college students on the water stand little chance against the razor sharp teeth of the dino-piranhas. It's up to local Sheriff Julie Forester (played by the awesome Elizabeth Shue) to not only try and save the Spring Breakers, but also her own three kids, who are stuck on a boat sinking into the piranha-filled waters.

To get the 3-D question out of the way, I'll say that it was OK at best. The 3-D in "Piranha" was done post-production, as opposed to something like "Avatar," which was filmed in 3-D. The result is that rather than things flying out of the screen at you, there is more depth to what you're seeing on screen. It's by no means bad, but it doesn't add the visual punch you'd expect.

The cast in "Piranha 3-D" is fantastic from top to bottom, and everyone gets what the movie is going for. I won't ruin the cameo at the beginning of the film, but it's awesome on a few different levels. Elizabeth Shue steals the show as Sheriff Julie Forester. First of all, she still looks great, and she is convincing as both the no-nonsense police officer and the over-protective mom. Ving Rhames is great as her Deptuy. Eli Roth, Christopher Lloyd and Jerry O'Connell have great parts, with O'Connell taking the cake as the total d-bag behind Wild Wild Girls (A Girls Gone Wild knock-off). Even the CGI piranha themselves are pretty great. There's plenty of laughs, both from the bad dialogue and the over-sexualized characatures like O'Connell, Roth and pretty much every Spring Breaker.

But the real star of this movie is the amazing practical effects work of Greg Nicotero and the gang at KNB. If you are a real horror fan, then you will truly appreciate the scope and quality of work done by these guys. The 'money' scene of this movie is a 15-minute feeding frenzy the likes of which has never been seen on film. Hundreds of people come stumbling out of the water missing arms, legs, lower halves--you name it. Hundreds more have chunks taken out of them, before they can make it to safety. The water is literally running red with blood. People get shredded, cut in half, run over by boats, scalped and completely devoured. It is a symphony of effects work, and one of the most impressive sequences I've ever seen in a horror movie, period. There's even a quick cameo by Nictotero himself, as he carries a mangled victim to safety. That sequence alone makes this movie worth seeing, and I am not kidding when I say that KNB should be up for an Oscar for their work here. An Oscar.

Really the only thing that's wrong with "Piranha 3-D" is that it takes too long to get going, which is a common weakness of horror movies. I'm sure most of the $24 million budget went into the feeding frenzy scene, so it's forgivable, but if they cut 15 minutes out of the 89-minute running time, "Piranha 3-D" would have been even better.

As it stands, "Piranha 3-D" is a really fun movie featuring some of the best practical effects you'll ever see. It's the perfect Summer movie, and you'll be doing yourself a disservice if you don't catch it on the big screen. Get a few of your buddies together and go enjoy this movie. Just don't see it before you head out ont hat camping trip to the lake this weekend.

4 out of 5 Wild Wild Fish

8-16-10:  Review--Black Label Society: Order of the Black 

by Brian LeTendre

I love Zakk Wylde.  Ever since I saw his him tearing it up in the video for Ozzy’s “Crazy Babies” back in 1988, I knew this guy was destined for greatness.  He may not be Ozzy’s main guitar player any more (and Ozzy’s worse off for it), but he is still assaulting eardrums with his own band Black Label Society.  Their latest effort “Order of the Black” may just be the most well-rounded album BLS has put out yet.

“Order of the Black” is the band’s first studio album in four years, and it’s 13 songs offer up a mix of old and new.  Right out of the gate, “Crazyhorse,” “Overlord” and “Parade of the Dead” are traditional BLS metal songs, with chunky guitar riffs, blistering solos and Zakk’s trademark howling vocals.  “Parade of the Dead” in particular harkens back to the early days of BLS, and could easily be at home on the albums “Stronger than Death” or “1919 Eternal” (considered by many fans to the best BLS albums of the bunch).  From there, the album slows down a little with “Darkest Days” featuring a more melodious, piano-driven rhythm.  “Black Sunday” and “Southern Dissolution” get crunchy again, and then “Time Waits for No One” slows things down once again, and that’s the pattern for the remainder of the album.  It’s well-paced, and each of the slower songs showcases Wyle’s singing ability, as well as his versatility.  A scorching 43-second acoustic track called “Chupacabra” offers a nice break from the formula before the last couple songs “Riders of the Damned” and “January” round it out.

Depending on where you ordered the album from, there are bonus tracks on “Order of the Black.”  I picked mine up from Amazon, and got Zakk’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as my bonus track.  He does a nice job with it, and fans of the original Simon and Garfunkel tune won’t be disappointed with his rendition.

Overall, “Order of the Black” is a very solid and satisfying album that any BLS fan should be happy with.  While many fans were disappointed with 2006’s “Shot to Hell,” you’ll hear many fans calling this a return to form.  I think it’s just the next step in the evolution of a musician who learns something from every album he puts out.  Metal fans should definitely pick this one up.

4 out of 5 Flange Pedals

8-14-10: Review--Batman: Under The Red Hood (DC Animated)

by Matman

It’s hard to believe this is the eighth film under the DC Animated banner. 

Although I’m a little upset that the proposed Teen Titans Judas Contract has been put on hold, I’ll still watch every one of these hoping for good solid entertainment. 

Batman: Under the Red Hood is an amalgam of ‘A Death in the Family’ and the ‘Under the Hood’ storylines. Both are classic tales that follow the short life, death and the resurrection of Robin number two …Jason Todd.

We start out the story where we would expect and that is with Joker beating up Jason Todd. And when I say beat up I mean pummel! To the point where I even had to look away a few times. Not so much for the violence (although this is VERY violent!), but because of the emotional toll this scene portray. The Joker, played by John DiMaggio is every bit as menacing and terrifying as Heath Ledger was in the role. Every time you see him, you just want someone to take him out. 

Following his death, Ra’s al Ghul steals Jason’s body and brings him to a Lazarus Pit. Good for keeping one immortal, not so good for bringing the dead back to life! Fast forward a few years as we see a new criminal mastermind trying to take down the Black Mask and his organization. But what is alarming is the way he’s doing it. Sort of the old fashion way; severed heads and killing those who don’t listen. Finally when Batman (who is voiced perfectly by Bruce Greenwood) finally confronts Red Hood he begins to realize who he is and that is a very angry Jason Todd.

And that is all the plot I’m going to tell you!

What I will tell you is this movie is brilliant! The story is written by Judd Winick (following story plots by both he and Jim Starlin) and moves at an incredible pace. The thing that really stands out to me is the emotion, anxiety and pain delivered by a powerful script and amazing voice talent! The final showdown between Bruce and Jason will rip into your very soul as you debate and decide who is right! Some cool appearances by Nightwing (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris) and Amazo are not wasted. Jensen Ackles who voices older Jason and The Red Hood is equally up to the task at hand. For years of hearing his voice in my head, Jensen has made it the one I’ll hear.

And of course I need to comment on the animation style. Yes, it has an anime feel to it, but nowadays that seems to be the norm. it looked great, especially Gotham from very high up, complete with Police Baloons. The final fight scene was very Gatchaman-ish and that ain’t bad!

The DC Animation folks have been putting these movies out at breakneck speed and done a very good and consistent job. If Superman / Doomsday is the worst, that Batman: Under the Red Hood is by far the best. It’s one of the best Batman features put together and has restored my faith in the character of the Dark Knight. Now I just need the comic books to catch back up!

Matman Rating – 5 out of 5 stolen Amazos!

7-25-10:  Review--Black Dynamite (DVD)

by Brian LeTendre

Black Dynamite” is a freaking masterpiece. Not only is it a send up of 70's Blaxploitation movies, but it can also stand on its own right next to “Shaft,” “Hit Man,” “Hammer” and “Truck Turner.” It's action-packed, hysterical, and a great example of the low-budget filmmaking that era was known for.

"Black Dynamite" stars Michael Jai White ("Spawn") as the title character, a former CIA agent who has to mete out some street justice after his brother is killed by an organized crime lord. He and his crew then uncover an insidious plot against the black community that has ties all the way to the White House.

Smack-addicted orphans, kung-fu prostitutes, and pimps with names like Cream Corn and Tasty Freeze are just a few of the exploitation film tropes that Black Dynamite crafts to perfection. There's plenty of action, shootouts, chase scenes and kung-fu battles (MJW is a renowned martial artist) to keep things moving along, and the entire movie is consistently funny.

What separates “Black Dynamite” from a movie like “I'm Gonna Git You Sucka” is that it plays things straight despite how ridiculous the story is. Like Leslie Nielsen in “Airplane” and “Police Squad,” Jai White delivers every line in a dead serious manner that makes everything that much funnier. It's an excellent performance for an underrated actor. Everything else about the production is spot on too, from the score to the editing, it's a love letter to 70's filmmaking.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. With Robert Rodriguez's “Machete” coming next month, this is the perfect primer. Word is that both an animated series and a sequel are on the way, so now is as good a time as any to get acquainted with “Black Dynamite.” Watch the trailer below and you'll be immediately compelled to see the whole movie.

5 out of 5 Anaconda Malt Liquors

7-23-10: Review--The Runaways (DVD)

by Matman

If you don’t know anything about the Runaways, that’s ok. They’re a band much like the New York Dolls. You know their name and legacy but probably couldn’t name one song of theirs. The Runaways were an all girl band founded by record producer Kim Fowley in the min 1970’s and featured a young Lita Ford and Joan Jett. At the time, the big name and face of the band was a beautiful blond singer named Cherie Currie and that is the focus of the movie.

Based on the Currie autobiography, "The Runaways" follows very closely the beginnings of a band and friendship between Jett and Currie. There’s is a story of rebellion and exploitation as these two young girls (they were only about 15 or so) discover the darker side of the music business. The whole focus is on their young age (jail bait) and not the music. Currie was pushed into the limelight and handled it with drugs and withdrawing from the band which ended up causing her to leave and trying to rebuild her broken personal life.

The film is very much like ‘Sid and Nancy’ and ‘The Doors’; the focus is on the tragedy and humanity behind the music. This is a depressing film so be ready. Here, you see young girls doing drugs and being subjected to things many of us can’t imagine all for the sake of their careers. It’s also important to note, this was the 1970’s when sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll was the mantra. The spirit of the times is well showcased here. 

"The Runaways" was a pretty good movie, but I felt it missed the mark on a few points. There were times when Director Fiona Sigismondi tried to be too artsy and let image force the story instead of just letting it happen. The film started off so strong and promising but sadly ended with a long whimper. Leading into Currie leaving the band and Jett’s solo career there was no emotional punch considering the build up of the characters. Looking back at the ‘true life’ happenings of Currie during this time, this was a wasted moment. Costumes were very accurate, soundtrack was hot and the acting was much better than I expected. The film got very deep as it explored the relationship between Jett and Currie; as soul mates, friends, partners and lovers. The later I didn’t know anything about.  

Kristen Stewart was excellent as Joan Jett. I would get lost in her characterization, forgetting she was playing a real person who over the years has become larger than life. The same can be said for Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. To someone who doesn’t know the bands history, you may feel she was ‘too cute’ for the role, but that is what Currie was. Michael Shannon as Kim Fowley was down right creepy! He was someone who didn’t care how he got to the top; he just wanted to get there.

Other than a few issues here and there "The Runaways" has its moments. It’s entertaining and informative. It gives us a glimpse into what made this band so important in music history. It also gets bonus points for not using ‘Cherry Bomb’ every time the band was shown playing live. If you have daughters that aspire to be rock stars, do NOT watch this film.

Matman Rating – 3.5 out of 5 Leather Tuscadero references!

7-12-10:  Review--Predators

by Brian LeTendre

"Predators" is a pretty good movie that could have been great. It's easily the best entry in the franchise since the original, but it doesn't come close to it's greatness.

"Predators" stars Adrian Brody as Royce, a hardened mercenary who, along with several other unsavory characters, ends up on an alien jungle planet, hunted by a trio of Predators. The movie starts off with a bang, as Royce literally wakes up in mid-air, having been trown out of an aircraft. Once he lands and gets his bearings, he meets up with the rest of the humans who are part of the hunt. It's a band of cliches, as there's the redneck convict, the Yakuza members, the Mexican gang enforcer, the West African rebel, the Russian soldier and a couple of mercs. They spend the first third of the movie feeling each other out and plodding through the jungle, trying to find out what's happened to them. Once they realize they're on an alien planet, and they have their first encounter with the Predators, it's your standard fight for survival from there on out.

What I loved about "Predators" was that all of the effects are practical, and they look great. The movie isn't overly gory, but the guys at KNB did a great job with the Predator suits, and when blood does get spilled, it looks realistic. There are a few action scenes that evoke memories of the original "Predator," and the group from the first movie is even mentioned at one point. It's clear that Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal were going back to basics with this sequel, and it works for the most part.

Sadly though, there's a lot of unfulfilled potential with "Predators." After starting off with a jolt, the movie slows down for the next 35 minutes. In fact, the pacing is choppy throughout the movie. There's a cameo scene with Lawrence Fishburne in the middle that pretty much grinds the action to a halt for a solid fifteen minutes. The movie feels like it's ending about three times in the last act, as if the creative team couldn't decide how to wrap things up, so they ust kept all of the alternate endings. The worst part though, is there just aren't enough fight scenes and action sequences to justify the 107-minute run time of the movie. I left feeling like there needed to be more Predators and a lot more action.

In the end, while I was disappointed the movie didn't deliver all the way through, it's still the best Predator movie since the original, and serves as a good reset button for the series. There's plenty to build on here, and the door was left open for a sequel, so I'm optimistic about the next installment of the franchise, especially is Rodriguez is a part of it.

3 out of 5 Adrian Brody Is Not An Action Stars

7-9-10:  Review--Let the Right One In (DVD)

by Brian LeTendre

Let the Right One In” is a brilliant 2008 Swedish film that tells the story of an 11 year old boy and his relationship with the girl next door, who happens to be a vampire. What makes it so great is that the vampire angle of the movie is almost an afterthought, as the film is really about two kids who are terribly alone in the world, and finally find someone each can identify with. It’s not a horror movie as much as a case study in loneliness and the power of friendship.

Oskar is a young boy in Blackeberg, Sweden that lives with his mother. Oskar is an awkward kid who is relentlessly bullied by kids at school, to the point where he fantasizes about one day striking back violently. A young girl named Eli moves in next door with her father, and the two begin to develop a relationship with one another. It’s clear that Eli is also a pretty isolated kid, but Oskar can’t figure out why initially. By the time he discovers she’s a vampire, he almost doesn’t care, as Eli is the first real friend he’s ever had.

Let the Right One In” is great on so many levels. The main theme of loneliness is what drives the movie, and even though Oskar and Eli have different reasons for being alone, they both lack any real relationships in their lives. Anyone who was bullied when they were a kid will immediately identify with Oskar, and his tragic day to day existence is perfectly conveyed by director Tomas Alfredson. The pacing is also excellent, as is the presentation. The score is very minimal, and scenes play out in front of the camera without a lot of quick cuts or panning around. All of this lends to the feeling that you’re not so much watching a movie, as actually a documentary about this poor kid’s life.

Seeing a movie like this reminds you of what a great medium film can be for telling stories. It’s the exact opposite of the big-budget, Hollywood crap that makes up so much of the entertainment landscape today. I was actually sad to hear that an American remake was coming, and if the trailer is any indication, it looks terrible. Forget about that and track down this movie on Netflix or at your local video store.

5 out of 5 Expertly Crafted Tales

6-18-10: Review--Jonah Hex (The Movie)

by Matman

Anyone who knows me in the slightest knows that Jonah Hex is my favorite comic book character…ever! Add Captain America, Batman and Sgt. Rock and you have my comic book Mount Rushmore. So to say I was nervous about Jonah Hex the movie is an understatement. After all, when you have lived and died with a character, you have certain expectations. Within my own brain there were so many things that could’ve gone wrong, but most didn’t. The trailers got me a bit worried (like the Gatling guns on the horse), but I had to have faith! 

(The movie plot) Jonah Hex is a bounty hunter living in post Civil War America. Like the Punisher, he lost his family and is now is just a soulless man who drifts and does what he knows best…kill. The man who killed his family Quentin Turnbull blamed Hex for the death of his son during the Civil War when both were fighting against the union. When Turnbull ended up dead, Hex thought he could live out his days in some sort of peace until it’s discovered Turnbull is alive. Not only is he alive, but he has devised a plan to destroy the still fragile Union and bring back glory to the South.

First, the origin is Hollywood-ized, where it didn’t need to be. But we’ve come to expect that from comic book movies; making change for the sake of change. Second, it seems that some of the story was missing in spots. There wasn’t time for character development or scenes to play out…just BAM! There it is. And it couldn’t have been for the sake of time, the movie wasn’t that long.

But with those two complaints, here comes the positives. Most important, it was a real fun movie. Not a lot of distractions (except Megan Fox in her corset, but that was a GOOD distraction), and was very fast paced in a genre that always relied on the ‘slow burn’. There were some great visual nods to the comic books and the story combined so many great moments in Hex-tory, a few from the current Justin Grey / Jimmy Palmiotti run. I also really enjoyed the supernatural elements. As a character who spent his early years in a comic called ‘Weird Western Tales’, this was a very welcome element. 

As far as the cast, Josh Brolin was great as Jonah Hex; menacing and brooding. His scarred face may have lacked the big bulging right eyeball, but he carried himself the way I would expect Hex too. Megan Fox was better than I expected her to be. Her portrayal as Lilah (later to be revealed as Tallulah Black) may not have been long on screen, but her time wasn’t wasted. John Malkovich as Turnbull was convincing. He always seemed to have that look in his eyes that said ‘crazy’! A big congrats to the wardrobe department who were accurate and spot on with Jonah. Yes I was looking at everything Hex not only did, but wore! 

One of the real surprises for me was the music by Mastodon. I thought having modern music in a period film would be distracting, but it wasn’t. The score fit the scenes and added energy to an already charged film.

Many people will compare this film to the Wild, Wild West and not without good reason. You can’t have a western with advanced technology and not compare the two, but the film was much more than that. Jonah Hex is more ‘Outlaw Josie Wales’ than ‘James West’, but no one would be happy with a character that just spit, shot people and got drunk. I do wish the producers would have gone more in a ‘Punisher War Zone’ rated R direction and let the character be himself, but maybe we’ll see that in the directors cut’ DVD.

Go see this movie! Many people will dismiss it or rip it because they don’t understand the character or just because it’s a comic book movie. Don’t fall into that trap. See the movie than go grab a fist full of Jonah Hex comics. If you need recommendations, just ask!

Matman Rating -  3.5 out of 5 hidden weapons

5-27-10:  Review--MacGruber

by Brian LeTendre

Oh, MacGruber. You coulda been a contender.

"MacGruber" is a mediocre comedy that has flashes of hysterical brilliance, but doesn’t hold up over the length of its 90-minute run time. Like many SNL sketch-turned movie, it feels like a skit that goes on too long.

"MacGruber" stars Will Forte as the amalgam of MacGyver and a slew of other 80’s action movie and TV series characters. He is called out of self-imposed retirement to stop a madman named Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) who has come into possession of a nuclear warhead. The madman also happens to be the guy who killed MacGruber’s wife on their wedding day. He ends up working with his former assistant Vicki St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig) and Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) to take down Cunth before he can use the warhead to bomb Washington.

The movie uses the plot of basically every 80’s action movie, and that’s on purpose. Every scene contains at least one line or trope that’s reminiscent of at least three other movies, and in that way, it’s a clever send up of all the movies and shows we used to watch as kids. For example, every time someone is asked to join a team or the mission, they initially refuse, leading the character who’s asking to walk away saying "If you change your mind…," only to have the other character reconsider in the very next scene and say something like "I’m in!" This kind of thing happens throughout the movie, and while it’s not laugh out loud funny, I did chuckle a few times at just how many tropes those 80’s movies contain.

"MacGruber" is at its funniest when Will Forte is allowed to be a complete ass. When he casually tells a group of henchmen how he’s going to systematically rip their throats out and elbow their noses into their brain, only to then have the crap kicked out of him, it’s funny. I won’t ruin some of the best gags, but there are some truly hysterical moments in the film with forte. Kristen Wiig’s Vicki St. Elmo is the most consistently funny character in the movie, as the mousy assistant who is always the decoy for everyone trying to kill MacGruber.

The biggest problem with "MacGruber" is that it doesn’t go far enough. While there are some great absurd moments in the movie, most of the jokes are just average. The movie is rated ‘R,’ so there’s plenty of swearing and the funniest moments take advantage of the rating, but there’s too much boring material that drags it down. I kept rooting for the movie to keep up the tone of its funniest parts, but it kept slipping into mediocre mode, which led to a very uneven experience.

A good comparison would be the first "Ace Ventura" movie. Remember how Jim Carrey was just a complete idiot for the whole entire movie and he never let up? That’s what "MacGruber" fails to do—the movie takes its foot off the gas pedal, when it could have been awesome if it just embraced the insanity of Will Forte’s character.

I would still recommend renting "MacGruber" for the several really funny moments that it has. I would also recommend seeing it with a buddy who appreciates stupid comedy, as you’ll get more out of the experience. Unfortunately, "MacGruber" is a bit of a disappointment that fails to break the mold of SNL sketches that are turned into average comedies.

2.5 out of 5 Classic MacGrubers

5-8-10: Iron Man II - The Review

by Matman

The first Iron Man movie was one of the best comic book movies, ever! For me, sequels are better than the originals; The Empire Strikes Back, Spider-Man II, X Men II, Shrek II and Breakin’ II – Electric Boogaloo all surpassed the originals. Would it happen again?

Iron Man 2 was perfect in so many ways; cast, effects, story, you name it! Here we get a glimpse of Tony Stark the self destructive rock star. Boozing it up and trying to live every moment to the fullest because he is dying. As this is going on the U.S. Government is trying to take the Iron Man armor, a spy has infiltrated Stark Industry, and the son of a former Stark employee has decided to destroy Tony in revenge for what he feels Tony’s father did to his father. We meet a jealous arms manufacturer, a bunch of Iron Man clad dancers, War Machine and then the movie ends with an incredible battle scene with Iron Man fighting (then teaming up with) War Machine and Whiplash. Everything you could want and more. There is the plot with no spoilers.

As great as the story was with all the cool elements it’s the actors and their direction that makes this so good. Robert Downey, Jr. again brings Tony Stark to life in a way only he could. His scenes with Gweneth Paltrow are perfect, uncomfortable and very charming. Don Cheadle does a great job carrying the role of Rhodes and War Machine. But there were three big performances that were surprisingly awesome; Sam Rockwell as the weaselly Justin Hammer, Mickey Rourke as Whiplash and the gal whose fight scene stole the show… Scarlett Johansson. We also get more Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and a great cameo by the great Gary Shandling.

Director Jon Favreau gets Iron Man. He made a film that was funny when it needed to be, action packed when it had to and never took itself too serious. Where The Dark Knight was dark and depressing, Iron Man II is bright and fun. The special effects were seamless and didn’t look like an old video game. Favreau kept the human element on the same level with the big effects. Something that will have everyone talking is Black Widow taking down a bunch of bad dudes. She was still elegant and sexy even as she was snapping necks and punching her way into a well guarded fortress.

It’s great to walk out of a theater excited about what you just saw. But if you walked out of the theater too soon you missed the big discovery in the New Mexico desert. As the shot pans out on the edge of a smoldering crater is Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor. I don’t have any hopes for this movie at all, but that is a review for another time.

Matman Rating – 5 out of 5 Iron Man Cheerleaders

3-29-10:  Review--Hot Tub Time Machine

by Brian LeTendre

“Hot Tub Time Machine” is exactly the movie that I wanted it to be.  It's the spiritual successor to “Better Off Dead” and “One Crazy Summer.” 

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the plot of a movie called "Hot Tub Time Machine," but here's the setup:  four guys go to a run down ski resort for the weekend and travel back in time to the 80's when they accidentally activate the time machine that is their hot tub.  Even though they don't intend to change their pasts, they come to realize that their lives in 2010 pretty much suck, so they end up making a few different choices that have profound effects on their futures.

Let me calm any fears that old school Cusack fans have―this movie is very funny, and Cusack is great in it.  Equally great are Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke.  The humor is foul, and Corddry's character Lou in particular is hysterical.  “Hot Tub Time Machine” not only makes fun of Cusack's old movies, but pretty much all 80's teen comedies, and the 80's in general.  There are some great cameos, with Crispin Glover being the standout.

What surprised me the most though, is that there's actually a great message about friendship that the movie manages to deliver amidst all the laughs.  I found myself thinking about friends that I was really close with during my high school years that I miss, and it made me appreciate the friends I've stayed close with a little bit more.  Director Steve Pink does a great job channeling Savage Steve Holland, and wrapping some genuine moments in some big laughs.

"Hot Tub Time Machine" is a fun movie that you should see with some of your closest friends.  You'll laugh, you may cry, and you'll definitely appreciate each other a little more.

4.5 out of 5 Chernoblys

3-24-10:  Review--Batman Brave And The Bold: Mayhem Of The Music Meister

by Brian LeTendre

I think “Batman:The Brave and the Bold” is a great show, although I don't get to see it as often as I'd like.  Because of that, I'm a little late to the part on what I believe to easily be the best episode of the series so far: “Mayhem of the Music Meister.”

None other than Neil Patrick Harris stars as the Music Meister, a Broadway styled super villain with the power to control anyone in earshot of his dulcet tones.  In this episode, the Music Meister hijacks a satellite so he can broadcast his hypnotic voice all over the globe and rob the world blind.  Aquaman, Black Canary and Green Arrow guest star, with cameos from Gorilla Grodd, Black Manta and Clock King, among others.  The subplot of the episode is Black Canary's crush on Batman, and how she's overlooking Ollie's affection for her while pining for the Bat.

The episode plays out like a Broadway musical, and it's amazing.  NPH is so good as the Music Meister, and he showcases his fantastic voice throughout the episode.  The tunes are catchy, and run the gamut from fast paced rock to love ballad duets.  Grey Delisle as the Black Canary is also great, providing the perfect accompaniment to NPH's Meister. 

I can't recommend this episode highly enough.  Not only is it a great example of why Brave and the Bold is so good, but it will also have the family singing the songs for a while.  I may pick up season one of the show on DVD for this one alone.

5 out of 5 He Really Drives Us Bats

You can pick up the soundtrack for this episode on iTunes, or over at Amazon.com, which is selling it for $7.  Even if you don't buy it, go over and check out some of the samples to hear how great the songs are.

3-18-10: Review--The Crazies

by Brian LeTendre

“The Crazies” is a lazy remake of George Romero’s 1973 film that has some good ideas, but doesn’t really do anything interesting with them.

“The Crazies” tells the story of Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a small farming town that becomes accidentally infected with a biological weapon after a plane crashes into their water supply.  The toxin turns ordinary people into homicidal maniacs, and the US government moves quickly to try and quarantine the town and cover up the accident.  Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), his deputy Russel (Joe Clank) and a young girl named Becca (Danielle Panabaker) band together to try and survive both the infection and the soldiers that have been sent in to exterminate them.

The movie starts off promisingly, with Sheriff Dutton having to gun down a shotgun-wielding man in the middle of a high school baseball game.  The film’s first act plays out like a mystery, as only a few people are infected to begin with, and the sheriff tries to uncover the source of the problem.  The premise stays close enough to Romero’s original concept, and Timothy Olyphant plays the cool, calm and collected Sheriff Dutton well.

Once the infection becomes more widespread and the movie shifts into survival mode, things fall apart.  The action feels small, the same scenes of ‘hide and seek’ play out over and over again, and the movie becomes boring.  There wasn’t one moment of “The Crazies” that felt—well, crazy.  Not once did I feel the panic or tension that permeated a movie like “28 Days Later,” which has a similar setup.  I just kept waiting for the ‘all hell breaks loose’ moment, and it never came.

So in the end, “The Crazies” is an average, ‘paint by numbers’ remake of a decent 1970s film.  But when you decide to remake a movie, you need to really do something to justify the need for it.  “The Crazies” doesn’t, and therefore it fails as a remake.

2.5 out of 5 Don’t Drink The Waters

3-12-10:  Review--House of the Devil (DVD)

by Brian LeTendre

"House of the Devil" is a creepy, atmospheric trip down memory lane that perfectly captures the feel of late 70's and early 80's horror films.

“House of the Devil” tells the story of college student Samantha Hughes, a young woman who's looking to move out of her dorm and into a place pf her own.  She takes a babystiting job in order to make some cash, only to get sucked into a plot by a Satanic cult to make a human sacrifice in honor of a lunar eclipse.

Writer/Director Ti West is clearly a lover of old school horror films like “The Omen” and “Last House on the Left.”  Everything from the title font to the cinematography hearkens back to 30 years ago.  The film's pacing is also very measured, as the movie steadily builds atmosphere and tension for the majority of its running time.  It's a slow burn that pays off in the final act, when all hell breaks loose and Samantha frantically tries to escape her situation.

Jocelin Donahue is great as the lead character Samantha Hughes, and the acting overall is decent. Horror veterans Tom Noonan and Dee Wallace have small parts, and they're both solid.

In keeping with the time period the movie is set in, the special effects in the film are practical, not digital.  I'm a huge fan of practical effects, and there are a few good ones here that really lend a sense of legitimacy to the '80's film' vide of “House of the Devil.”  There's enough gore for splatter fans to feel satisfied, but it's well done and in keeping with the tone of the story.

I would definitely recommend “House of the Devil” for anyone who likes a good scare.  It's a well-done period piece that captures both the feel and the filmmaking style of the early 80's.

4 out of 5 Satanic Cults

3-6-10: Justice League - Crisis On Two Earths (DC)

by Matman

Boy oh boy do I love the DC Multiverse!!!! With it you can have different worlds and alternate realities that can be a whole lotta fun. The only thing better than the old Earth One / Earth Two team ups of the 60’s and 70’s was the cool backwards happenings on Earth Three. Here, Lex Luthor was the only hero and the Crime Syndicate ran everything.

Welcome to Justice League – Crisis On Two Earths

In the latest DC animated adventure, the Justice League is putting the finishing touches on their satellite headquarters when they are introduced to the Lex Luthor of another earth. Of course the League, especially Superman, are suspicious of this ‘alternate world story’ he tells until Superman runs an x-ray vision scan and finds all Luthor’s organs are all on the other side of his body! So the league saddle up and head to Earth Three to stop the Syndicate from taking over their earth and quite possibly ruining all reality! Ultraman, Superwoman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick are certainly a match for the League but its Owlman who becomes the most dangerous.

One of the positives about this movie is that this could fit right in with the Justice League cartoon we all loved. Except for Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern (instead of John Stewart), this has the feel of the old show! The animation style is similar and the pacing and feel is almost the same as well. A few bad words and some long, detailed fights make it a bit more ‘advanced’ than the show, but it could fit in.

James Woods (Owlman), Mark Harmon (Superman), Gina Torres (Superwoman) lead an all star and very good voice cast. Everyone played their parts well and seems to fit their characters. Yes, it doesn’t seem to be Batman without Kevin Conroy or Superman without Tim Daily, but it still works. 

Overall, I thought this was the best animated movie DC or Marvel has put out in the past few years. Plenty of cameos and good old fashon comic book action make this one a must watch for the DC fan who longs for the days of multiple earths and crazy backwards planets.

Matman Rating – 5 out of 5 naked Lex Luthors

2-25-10:  Review--Planet Hulk (DVD)

by Brian LeTendre

“Planet Hulk” is the animated adaptation of Greg Pak’s amazing storyline that ran in “Incredible Hulk” from 2006 to 2007.  In the comic version of “Planet Hulk,” members of the Illuminati (Iron Man, Reed Richards, Dr. Strange  and Black Bolt) decide to shoot Hulk into space, intending to have his shuttle land on an uninhabited, peaceful planet where he can live in solitude, as he’s much too dangerous to remain on Earth.  The shuttle goes off course, ends up traveling through a wormhole, and crashes on Sakaar, a savage world where Hulk is not as invulnerable as he is on Earth.  He becomes enslaved by a tyrant called the Red King, who rules Sakaar with an iron fist and subjugates its people.  Hulk forges a bond with other slaves as they are forced to become gladiators for the king’s entertainment.  Along with his newfound allies (the Warbound), Hulk gains his freedom, takes down the tyrant, falls in love, and eventually becomes ruler of Sakaar.  In a tragic turn of events, one of his own friends betrays him and causes a catastrophe, devastating the planet and taking from the Hulk everything he loves.  He directs his rage toward the men who sent him into space in the first place, and heads back to Earth, which leads into “World War Hulk.”

The animated film focuses on the Hulk’s arrival on Sakaar, and his rise to become its eventual ruler.  It’s a great chunk of the story to capture in one movie, and it makes a lot of sense why the creators chose to focus on this part of the story.  It leaves the door open for a second movie, or perhaps even a lead-in to a World War hulk movie, but this story stands by itself and really gives the flavor of what Planet Hulk was all about, which is an emotional journey for the Hulk, where he develops some real relationships and finds acceptance as the Hulk, not Bruce Banner.

I was stunned at how well the film captured the tone of the comics, as there are some very emotional moments in “Planet Hulk.”  Caiera’s story in this movie is by far the most emotional, as you get to see not only the horrors she survived as a child, but those she endures while in service to the Red King.  When she and the Hulk start to develop a relationship, it feels like they both have earned it.

‘Hulk Smash’ fans will find plenty to enjoy in “Planet Hulk” as well—there’s lots of action and carnage.  The gladiator battles are brutal, and Hulk goes toe to toe with some huge creatures, with very satisfying results.  There’s great fan nods in this movie as well.  The Guardians of the Galaxy make a few cameos if you’re looking closely enough, and the biggest deviation from the comics actually turns out to be the best fan service in the movie (I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s awesome).   

As far as special features, there’s an audio commentary as well as a great ‘making of’ that delves into the decisions the creators made when adapting the movie from the comics.  Great stuff.

All in all, “Planet Hulk” is an excellent movie stays true to the core of the source material without being shackled to it.  Fans of the comics should enjoy it, and those of you who didn’t read “Planet Hulk” will likely be scrambling to get your hands on one of the best Hulk stories ever told.

5 out of 5 Green Scars

1-6-10: Smallville - Absolute Justice (CW or WB)

by Matman

When Smallville first aired way back when, I tried to watch it. I didn’t like it. It seemed to be too Dawson’s Creek 90210; a lot of beautiful people complaining that no one takes them serious and the main character wining that he doesn’t know his place in the universe. Waaaaaaaaaaaa!

So when I heard that the JSA would be making an appearance in Smallville and that Geoff Johns was writing it, I cleared my schedule and got ready to be dazzled.

I wasn’t dazzled!

‘Absolute Justice’ was written by Geoff Johns and stars the legendary heroes of the JSA. As Chloe ends up in the hospital with frostbite, clues lead her and Clark on a murder mystery. People are dying by ice and we will soon find out it’s the son of the Icicle (Cameron) killing old heroes in revenge. We soon find out that Cameron is being manipulated by Amanda Waller and Checkmate! The surviving members of the JSA reform, team up with Clark, Green Arrow and the Martain Manhunter, take down Cameron and save the day. All this is done without Clark even becoming Superman.        

The plot may have had more in it than that but I lost interest real fast. Every ten seconds there was a moment of geek; Ma Hunkle getting arrested, Flash’s helmet in display and the JSA table being uncovered, but the novelty and wow factor went away real fast! The actors (everyone of them) seemed to be characters. Clark was sad and confused, Chloe was super spunky, and both Green Arrow and Hawkman were over acting each other. The character I was most excited to see was Stargirl. Since her introduction in 1999 she has become one of my favorite characters. Here actress Brit Irvin played her flat (like the rest of the cast so she fit right in) and very uninteresting. Bad lines like “Put down the mace Conan” and “Bring it on Big Bird” only made me cringe. And the costumes were ‘ehhhh’. Dr. Fate looked pretty good, Stargirl was ok but Hawkman was downright bad. The best part of his look was his beard.

And why do they still call it Smallville? It didn't even take place in Smallville! 

I know the majority of fans loved this episode and think the world of this show and I can respect that. But if you were trying to bring in a new audience or move the show to the next level, this didn’t work.

Matman Rating: 2 out of 5 everyone is gonna hate me!

1-1-10: Avatar (20th Century Fox)

by Matman

James Cameron knows ‘epic’! I assume Titanic is because my wife said so (and because it raked in a zillion dollars) and now we have Avatar. The hype around this movie has been incredible and reaction seems to be polarized; some loved it and some didn’t. I walked in expecting to see the most brilliant piece of movie making but feeling flat. What did I think?


From the second I put on those crazy 3D glasses, I became immersed in a world of beauty and wonder. The basic story is a universal one; man discovers something he wants (in this case a mineral called unobtanium) and feels the right to destroy anything and anyone to get it! Before they do, the humans create avatars which look like the native Na’vi and are controlled by a human in a slumber like chamber. A crippled marine gets the chance to control one, infiltrates the clan and studies the indigenous peoples. But he soon learns that their way of life and the harmonious relationship with the planet is something he not only falls in love with but wants to protect! Now I have had friends tell me they saw right through the ‘political messages’ and how Cameron used this film as a way to push an agenda. If right fighting wrong is an agenda, then I guess he did.

I will not be able to put the special effects into the proper words. It was beautiful and magnificent. I’m not sure when I stopped looking at effects and just began to watch the movie. The best part of the effects is that the Na’vi (the blue people) looked and seemed so natural. Their fluid movements, eyes and expressions are full of soul. The 3D (and those way cool Buddy Holly glasses) didn’t upset my stomach or eyes, and I do get headaches from things like this. The battle scenes are intense and well crafted as we watch technology battle simplicity. But it’s the scenes when you see the beauty of the planet Pandora and its symbiotic relationship with its people that will win you over. 

The cast of humans featuring Sam Worthington, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, and Steven Lang all did a great job not getting lost in all the effects. The only problem with the beautiful Zoe Saldana in the film is that you only saw her as a tall blue alien.  

I guess 237 million dollars can buy an incredible film. This is easily one of the best movies I have ever seen. Avatar is a great and compelling story that is not overshadowed by the visuals. Everyone will find something about it they love. The story of the Na’vi fighting to protect their birthright and way of life touched me deeply and made me feel for the losses of my ancestors. And of course I loved crap blowing up and dudes getting killed!

Matman Rating: 5 out of 5 dead sky people!

1-20-10:  Review--2012

by Brian LeTendre

So the guy who brought us “The Day After Tomorrow” now brings us the end of the world.  “2012” is filled with gigantic set pieces and impressive effects, but much like “The Day After Tomorrow,” there's  not a lot of story holding those big set pieces together.

“2012” deals with the concept that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in 2012.  Three years before the alleged apocalypse, scientists discover what is going to happen, and countries around the world band together to build giant arks that will allow a small population of privileged people to survive when the disaster strikes.  Unfortunately for everyone, the catastrophe hits before the Mayan prediction, and only a few of the arks are actually completed.  As the world starts to fall apart, a struggling author (played by John Cusack) tries to get his family onto one of the arks before it's too late.

It's hard not to draw parallels with “The Day After Tomorrow” when watching this movie.  Roland Emmerich has proven that he's good at crafting scenes of mass destruction, and he certainly delivers that in “2012.”  The West Coast drops into the sea.  The super volcano under Yellowstone erupts.  Major world landmarks crumble.  It all looks great, and there are plenty of spectacular effects that really sell the scale of just how epic the destruction is.

But, as with “The Day After Tomorrow,” when you look past the effects, there's not much story there.  The plot is entirely predictable, and although Cusack is a great everyman and does a fine job, his role could have been filled by anyone.  Same with the kids, the ex-wife, the boyfriend, the concerned scientists, etc., etc.  There's no surprises, and everything plays out pretty  much the way you'd expect it to.

Don't get me wrong.  “2012” is an entertaining movie, and most disaster flicks are not known for their story.  I was just hoping that since Emmerich had done this kind of movie before, there'd be a little something different in store this time around.  If you can manage to shut your brain off and go along for the thrill ride, “2012” is worth the price of admission.

3 out of 5 Where's Noah When You Need Hims

1-17-10: It's Alive (2009)

As a kid I used to be obsessed with the poster to the original It’s Alive film. It used to haunt me… still haunts me. Once I was old enough to sneak into the theatre to see the movie I was very disappointed. There was no way it could live up to the poster and it didn’t. Fun little move though.

So here we are some 35 years later and someone decided to remake the original. It seems that studios think this is a good idea where fans don’t. It’s Alive (2009) stars Bijou Philips as a college student who upon finding out she is pregnant leaves school. So as she and her boyfriend settle into their new life, the baby decides to come a few months early. Now there are usually health issues related to premature birth, but there the problem is for the doctor and nurses who help bring him into the world. Y’see, young Daniel decides to kill them. But it doesn’t stop there. His mother is finding dead animals in the crib and anyone who stops by is considered a meal by the little one.

And that’s it! Devil baby tries to eat and kill and mom tries to protect! 

Bijou Philips does a great job as a desperate mom trying to protect her devil spawn baby. But her acting (which is very good) makes all the other actors around her not look so good. The film does a very good job building tension and suspense by not showing the little ‘satin scamp’. My imagination went wild like it did when I used to stare at the original poster (or paperback my mom had). But at the end when we see him, it is very underwhelming. The CGI is a little too obvious and kinda took me out of it. But there is plenty of blood splatters and gore a plenty following the attacks.

It wasn’t a waste of 80 minutes, but it didn’t leave any lasting moments. After this review I don’t think I’ll even think of the film again.

Matman Rating – 3 out of 5 rambunctious babies

1-3-10: Doctor Who - The End Of Time (Part Two)


Emotions ran high as the final episode of David Tennant’s run on Doctor Who began. Since the time that Tennant announced that he was leaving the role, fans have been waiting for the ‘The End Of Time’. 

Not too much pressure, eh?

‘The End Of Time’ Part Two was like most of the Doctor Who season finales. But instead of just a season’s worth of plotline this was an entire series worth. As I let the episode unfold, I was able to forget about the build up and just enjoy it for what it was. The creators brought everything to this point, so I wanted to indulge them.

(Episode Plot) As the Master takes over every being on earth, the chronic beat he has heard in his head he finds out is a signal, implanted by the high council of the Galifrey. The goal all along has been to use him as homing beacon for their ultimate return. But the problem is Galifrey will take the place of the earth. This is obviously unacceptable to the Doctor and in the end, the Doctor and Wilfred saved the day. Timothy Dalton (as Lord President Rassilon) was a surprise and did a great job in the role; arrogant and pompous with a serious God complex. Bernard Cribbins as Wilfred was spectacular. His portrayal as Wilfred Mott every time he appeared was vulnerable and brave. And David Tennant was as usual fantastic. But this was a different Doctor he played especially in his final scenes. ‘I don’t want to die!’ he yelled as he began to regenerate. I didn’t want him to die either.  

But this wasn’t what everyone was waiting for. It was the regeneration; how he would die and what the introduction to Matt Smith’s Doctor was going to be like. And thank you Russell T. Davis you didn’t disappoint! It seemed once the Galifrey storyline was over, the show was able to breathe and move at a more natural and very emotional pace. As the Doctor sacrificed himself for Wilfred, he slowly began to die. In his last moments he went to say goodbye to the important people in his life. Each time he would appear it would be an emotional kick to the head as he came face to face with his past. He saw Rose months before, he saved Martha from a Sontaran sniper and watched Donna’s wedding from a distance. There were others but for me the one that got me the weepiest was when he appeared at the book signing of a writer named Verity Newman. She was the author of a book called A Journal of Impossible Things, based on the diary from her great grandmother Joan Redfern. This was a nod to my favorite Doctor Who episodes "Human Nature" and "The Family of Blood".

So now we wait. Wait for the 11th Doctor and his adventures. From what we saw of Matt in the Tardis, he’s going to play it with the nuttiness of Tennant (and Colin Baker) with a youthful excitement. 

Thank you David Tennant for giving my family and I a series that not only satisfied our geek needs, but did it with pure entertainment. There are no shows we all enjoy as a family, but because of what you brought to the role you touched us all. Thank You!

Matman Rating – 4.5 out of 5 ‘still not ginger’