Movies People Love But I'm Not Crazy About

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Rosemary's Baby 1968,  R)
Night of the Living Dead 1968,  R)
Night of the Living Dead
An above average schlocky horror movie that was lucky to be the first zombie movie, even though nobody in the film says the z-word. The film starts out pretty good with the famous graveyard scene, and the ending is a pretty clever anti-Hollywood ending. However, this film simply has not aged well. Most of the plot feels like the last 20 minutes of "The Birds" if it was extended to feature length. This would not be too much of a problem if the characters had been a little more interesting, and some instances of questionable acting do not help matters. Duane Jones ends up stealing the show because he is the most level-headed out of the characters and the most relatable. The gore, which made this film so infamous when it first hit audiences 1968, is pretty tame by todays standards. Despite some of these flaws, George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead" stills manages to have just enough claustrophobic atmosphere and some decently gritty black and white cinematography to keep things going. This film is interesting just to see how the zombie sub-genre was spawned, but beyond it's historical significants it is just a merely passable horror movie.
The Wicker Man 1973,  R)
The Wicker Man
There are some creepy ideas imbedded in the script, but the execution is un-even and silly. Most of the film is build up to a pay-off that may have been disturbing in 1974, but not anymore. Why does every critic call this a horror movie, it is more of a mystery/suspense thriller. The acting is pretty good, especially from Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee. Their are some moments of clever cinematography. However, the story is silly and their are moments that provoke laughter than suspense. Their is a scene where Christopher Lee dresses like a woman, which made me ask myself "Are we supposed to take this seriously?". Plus, the movie does not give the audience any reason to care for what is going on. One critic called this film, "The Citizen Kane of horror movies". I think not, that honor belongs to movies like Psycho, The Shinning, Alien, or The Evil Dead.
Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah - Giant Monsters All-Out Attack 2001,  Unrated)
The Blair Witch Project 1999,  R)
The Blair Witch Project
Starts out creepy enough but quickly descends into a boringly trite and suspense-free rip-off of "Cannibal Holocaust". It also does not help that the three students are ultra-whiney and complete idiots (I have trouble sympathizing with characters that get lost in a forest despite possessing a compass and a map).

Similar to "Paranormal Activity" where most of the scare tactics comprise of repetitive teasing that has little to underwhelming pay-offs. It also contains one of the lamest endings to a film ever.

In the end, this horror schlock is more famous for it's gimmicky "true-story" marketing and found-footage style (which was cutting-edge for the time before it was over-used thanks to the popularity of this film and "Paranormal Activity") than as a quality piece of cinema.
Paranormal Activity 2009,  R)
Paranormal Activity
The most over hyped horror movie since Saw. The movies plot reduces to two minute scenes of objects slightly moving or loud noises and ten minute scenes of the annoying couple talking about what happened in those two minute scenes. Lather, rinse, repeat. The couple in this movie is unlikable and annoying, I wished the demon would have gotten to them sooner just so the movie could have ended sooner. I've seen youtube pop up scare videos that were more suspenseful than this movie. There is nothing scary about objects slightly moving. The movie's biggest mistake is it reveals everything in the first twenty minutes. In order to make a good horror movie, some things need to be left to the imagination.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 3D 2005,  PG-13)
The Hurt Locker 2009,  R)
Zero Dark Thirty 2013,  R)
Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) 1995,  R)
The Last House on the Left 1972,  R)
The Last House on the Left
How Wes Craven was aloud to make another film after this travesty is beyond me. Wes Craven seemed to have been so focused on being shocking and grotesque, that he forgot to make an actual movie. Everything about this schlock screams amateurism and incompetence. The acting is laughable, the dialogue is ridiculous, the editing is inept, and the film's tone is all over the place. The film makes very misguided attempts at juxtaposition by playing cheesy 70's folk music and having annoying "comedic" banter between the film's two sherifs. The film's use of comedic interludes between the torture scenes with the two main girls are not only inappropriate but frustrated me at the thought that the filmmakers thought it was a good idea. Take away the film's sadistic torture and rape scenes, their is little in the way of actual artistic merit. The story is very bland and light, with absolutely zero plot twists. There is nothing horrifying, thrilling, or funny about this film, it is just a shameless exercise in sadism. This movie is neither a horror flick nor a thriller, it is just garbage made by hacks that was only made to shock, nothing more.
The Hills Have Eyes 1977,  R)
The Hills Have Eyes
More like "The Hills Have Idiots". This movie is pretty much Wes Craven ripping off "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", except ineptly executed. The cannibalistic family in this movie are a bunch of idiotic push-overs. They wear the stupidest clothing (the mother looked like a Native American while one was dressed as a caveman), and say the most laughable dialogue I've ever heard. At times it felt like the cannibal family was dying faster than the normal family, one of them was even killed by a dog. Not even the old man at the gas station seemed to have been afraid of them. The normal family in the film are bland and annoying, especially the sister in the shorty shorts. The script is very light on story and lacking in any compelling suspense or scares. The movie is not even bloody or gory, not that more blood makes a film better but so many critics hype this film up as being "brutal". It is not like the concept of this movie was too bad, but the combination of terrible direction and execution made this movie hard to watch for all the wrong reasons. Just like how the family's car breaks down and goes nowhere, this film goes nowhere. The filmmakers didn't even has the courtesy to give an actual ending, it just cuts off after a guy stabs one of the cannibals to death. How is this considered a minor horror classic? It wasn't even horrifying.
Inglourious Basterds 2009,  R)
Saw 2004,  R)
Goldfinger 1964,  PG)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969,  PG)
Byôsoku 5 senchimętoru (5 Centimeters per Second) (A Chain of Short Stories about Their Distance) 2007,  Unrated)
Byôsoku 5 senchimętoru (5 Centimeters per Second) (A Chain of Short Stories about Their Distance)
Is it beautifully animated? Yes. Is it one of the greatest anime movies of all time? Absolutely not. The animators do deserve applause for the gorgeous backdrops and attention to detail. The realistic portrayal of modern settings and aesthetics contributes to the down-to-Earth vibe that the film is going for.

The animation deserves the praise but the quality of the narrative doesn't justify this films almost 'Citizen Kane'-level of critical praise. The story is split up into three episodes in which it follows two young people named Takaki and Akari as they try to preserve their romantic relationship despite long distances. Despite it's broad themes of separation, time, and moving on with life; the plot is rather cookie-cutter. The story never separates itself from a typical one-note angst teen-romance film.

The straightforward plot would not be too much of a problem if it weren't for the one-dimensional characters and the film's pretentiousness. Takaki comes off as a constantly depressed emo, and Akari is never defined outside of being smart. The closest the film gets to a fully developed character is Kanae, and that is only because she loves to surf but even then it's hard to relate to her due to her obsessive behavior towards Takaki.

Another looming issue with the film is that it is pretentious. The word "pretentious" tends to be over-used but here it's appropriate. Even down to the title (which is just a random line that was said in the beginning that provides as a superficial metaphor for time) this film seems to think it is being more profound than what it really is. Dialogue is delivered in strange broken fragments and the music is the typical melancholy piano loops that would not feel out of place in an average indie romance flick.

From an animation standpoint this film is fantastic but great animation can only take a film so far. The under-whelming romance story hinders this film from greatness. It puzzles me why critics and fans alike love this movie so much. It is not particularly deep nor though provoking, it is just an okay straightforward romantic melodrama.
Gone With the Wind 1939,  G)
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms 1953,  Unrated)
The War of the Worlds 1953,  G)
The War of the Worlds
Extremely dated with mind-numbingly wooden acting. Some of the special effects are kinda nice to look at but their is not enough set pieces to hide the thin and uninspired pseudo-documentary screenplay. The religious overtone that comes out of nowhere in the end is face-palmingly over-the-top. The characters are cardboard cut-outs and the pacing is slower than the flying saucers. The aliens look atrociously silly because of their eyes which look like glowing "Simon-Says" toys. Not quite sure why this dumb excuse for a popcorn flick is considered a classic. However I will give the movie credit, it gave me and my friends some great laughs.
Superman II 1981,  PG)
Superman II
Replacing Donner halfway through production, Richard Lester's (A Hard Day's Night) campy slapstick tone severely clashes with the serious tone of the Donner-filmed scenes. General Zod makes for an entertaining foe but too much of the story is taken up by the time-killer sub-plot involving Lois discovering Clark's secret identity. The narrative puts the Last Son of Krypton through the dilemma of losing his powers but due to its inexplicable anti-climactic resolution and the infamous memory-wipe kiss; any dramatic potential or intriguing story opportunities are wasted.

Thankfully the special effects and still fantastic-as-ever cast elevate this flick. With the exception of the moon sequence, the special effects are very creative and delightful to watch. Seeing the powerful trio of Kryptonian criminals effortlessly destroy buildings (White House and Daily Planet sequence) is extremely fun to watch and perfectly conveys that Zod is very much Superman's equal in strength. The Metropolis wind-tunnel sequence has some impressive special effects work also but the forced sight gags and jokes undercut the dramatic tension. Terence Stamp's turn as the rogue General Zod is very memorable due to his cold-calculating nature and subtle arrogance. Stamp shouting "Kneel before Zod!" is a very memorable line.

It is a shame that the story is so ridden with jarring tonal inconsistencies, lame slapstick, cheap gags, and wasted opportunities. 'Superman II' shows signs that the franchise was already descending into the realms of self-parody that will only get worse in the ensuing two sequels.
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol 2011,  PG-13)
Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol
I don't get what the hype is all about. This movie is just a second-rate action/spy-thriller. Sure, the movie is action-packed but that does not always make a film good. Brad Bird's stylish execution does little to hide the shallow script under the surface. Putting the action aside, this movie is a dull and soulless affair. The plot in the film cannot be more stock and the villain cannot be more undefined. Halfway through I found myself forgetting who the villain was. I like that this film focuses on the team more but the actors are not given enough material to work with. Simon Pegg is the only actors that manages to make an impression. Jeremy Renner was just o.k., Paula Patton only serves as eye-candy, and Tom Cruise doesn't even bother to act. There are some action sequences that are very good but at 2 hr. 13 min., the thin plot starts to catch up with the film in the third act. The thin plot could have been countered if the film had displayed a little more personality or if the plot was spiced up a bit. Plus the final fight with Tom Cruise and the blank-slate villain is almost as cartoonish as the action sequences in MI: 2. At most, this is only a decent dumb-fun flick.
Evil Dead 2013,  R)
Evil Dead
Well, the practical gore effects are well-done, but that's about the only praise that can offered to this unnecessary retread of Sam Raimi's 1981 horror classic. Lacks the trashy gothic atmosphere, creatively intense cinematography, dark humor, or unpredictable nature of the original (so many scenes and scenarios are recycled that it feels like at times I'm watching an Evil Dead clip-show than a stand alone flick). What was once wicked fun has now been reduced to a joyless exercise in torture porn with bland characters. Pointless and forgettable, this 2013 remake of a classic is all guts and no glory.
28 Days Later 2003,  R)
ParaNorman 2012,  PG)
From the same studio that created the delightfully creepy "Coraline" comes another family horror flick that once again boasts great stop-motion animation. Unfortunately, it's a shame to report that the rest of the film is not nearly as finely crafted in other areas.

It's not like the narrative didn't contain an interesting premise, that which follows a socially awkward boy named Norman, who has the uncanny ability to talk to the dead. Norman is an immediately sympathetic figure because nobody believes in his special ability and the small town society he lives in socially and emotionally rejects him due to this, especially his parents. However, as the story picks up things become significantly less interesting (Norman's ability never ends up having any significant bearing on the plot).

The two biggest problems stem from two sources: the characters and tone. The characters are in short: boring and painfully one-dimensional. Even Norman himself goes underdeveloped, almost as if the script was way more interested in giving screen time to the supporting cast. Speaking of the supporting characters, most of them are forgettable archetypes (the fat geek kid, the jock bully, the blond girl) that mostly exist to tell jokes and nothing else. This leads to the next crippling prevalent issue, a good majority of the humor in this film fall completely flat due to inept comedic timing or being lame cliché jokes that have been used in so many other past films.

The whole affair also feels tonally confused, with the horror and family film elements not nearly as well balanced as they were in "Coraline". The main threat in this film consists of resurrected Puritan zombies and they never end up coming off as a foreboding threat. It's as if the writer's were more interesting in the visual gag possibilities of the zombies rather than establishing them as a credible threat (Heck, it seemed like even without Norman the zombies would have been easily defeated by the town's people). On one end, kids may get a kick at some of the jokes but meanwhile adults will most likely be bored with the overly simplistic drawn-out narrative and half-baked horror elements.

Once again, it's not like the film was completely unsalvageable. There is a third-act plot twist that is actually legitimately heart-breaking and leads to by far the best scene in the entire movie (at least the most emotionally charged section that was thankfully devoid of forced jokes). It also leads to an admirable life lesson about accepting others and dashes of slightly daring social commentary (at least, for a kids film) regarding society's treatment of outsiders. It's just a shame that the sequence came so late into the film because it only served as a reminder for it's wasted potential.

In the end, "Paranorman" serves as an example of a good idea that was terribly executed. Great animation and an interesting premise are buried six feet under a crappy narrative, awful pacing, poorly written humor, and jarring tonal inconsistencies.
Crazy, Stupid, Love. 2011,  PG-13)
Crazy, Stupid, Love.
The movie is crazy and stupid, but unfortunately there wasn't much to love about this film outside of the performances (Ryan Gosling's performance as the suave playboy Jacob is the most enjoyable).
Titanic 1997,  PG-13)
Avatar 2009,  PG-13)
Argo 2012,  R)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2012,  PG-13)
The Amazing Spider-Man
I was skeptical as much as many people when I heard that Colombia Pictures was rebooting a franchise that was no more than a decade old. Nonetheless, I went in with an open-mind and judged this film from the perspective as both a reboot and on it's own merits. All I can say is this movie is amazing...amazingly underwhelming. That is not to say this movie is not without it's positives. The cast is generally well-rounded (Andrew Garfield really pours his soul into the role), the chemistry between the two romantic leads is very solid, and the action is well-choreographed, with tight cinematography to boost. The core issue with this movie is lies within the script and execution. One opportunity that this reboot sorely missed is the movie doesn't take the chance to stick closer to the comic book source material. Not only does it deviate more from the source material than the Raimi trilogy but the filmmakers go for a Nolan-Batman-esque dark tone by making Peter Parker an emotionally damaged teenager. This feels completely out of place since Spider-Man is supposed to be comical and wisecracking. Parker sometimes does wisecracks but it is so sporadic that it only ends up making his character confusing. Spider-Man is not Batman, the writers tried to put elements into a character that simply don't fit. Another huge misstep was in the villain plot, which features The Lizard. Not only is the motivations of the character confusing and seem to change on the fly, but he also looks like a combination between Killer Croc and a Goomba. Halfway through it becomes obvious that The Lizard is simply another Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin villain except not nearly done as well. Plus the script is so full of plot conveniences and half-baked elements that it truly feels like this script was subjected to many rewrites. Seeing this film, it seemed obvious that the filmmakers were trying to combine the dark brooding tone of the Nolan Batman franchise along with the high-concept sci-fi elements of the Avengers franchise and none of them seem to mesh nor are they executed with the same quality as those film's. I predict that this film is going to be the 'Superman Returns' of the Spider-Man series, a complete misfire of a reboot that fails to bring any fresh momentum to the franchise. This is definitely the weakest Spider-Man movie, even weaker than 'Spider-Man 3' (I never thought that could be possible).
The Sixth Sense 1999,  PG-13)
The Tree of Life 2011,  PG-13)
The Tree of Life
The cinematography is great, and every scene vibrates with beautiful colors, unfortunately, director Terrence Malick seemed more interested in preaching his own personal philosophies and beliefs rather than telling a story. About 20 minutes in the movie turns into a Discovery Channel documentary on the beginning of the universe. This sequence goes on for 40 min. and it left my head scratching as to how it has anything to do with the family's story in the 1950's. The highly colored imagery will keep the eyes engaged, but the story is told in such a jaded and over-abstract manner that it becomes almost impossible to care because the story becomes hard to follow the more it goes along. I liked Brad Pitt but Sean Penn, who is only in the movie for a total of 10-15 minutes, looked confused like he didn't really know what was happening. I am not against abstract ways of storytelling, I actually love it when a movie experiments with less-conventional methods. However, different does not always mean good. I think the film could have benefited greatly with more conventional storytelling without sacrificing beauty or its philosophical subtext. This is a film maybe fun to debate but viewing it feels like a chore.
Day of the Dead 1985,  R)
Royal Space Force - Wings of Honneamise 1987,  Unrated)
Royal Space Force - Wings of Honneamise
Great animation for the time and the steam-punk themed world is pretty cool, it's just a shame that the story is a dreary, long-winded, directionless slog. There's being poetic, and then there is just being plain pretentious.
Life of Pi 2012,  PG)
Macross Plus 1994,  Unrated)
Macross Plus
A four episode OVA series that acts as the first official sequel in the Macross timeline ("Do You Remember Love?" was an abridged version of the series while "Macross II" was quickly retconned by series creator Shoji Kawamori) that boasts groundbreaking combination of traditional cel and computer-generated animation that still looks sublime even by todays standards.

A much more small-scale and personal story, its starts out interesting enough with the deadly rivalry between two test pilots that used to be friends but are now bitter enemies (almost like a much more compelling version of "Top Gun"). Unfortunately, as the OVA goes along it starts focusing more on the test pilot's childhood friend Myung, leading to a rather uninteresting love-triangle that is not helped by the fact that Myung is such a joyless stick in the mud. After a surprisingly filler-ish third episode, the anime descends into a boring and trite rogue-AI plot containing a sloppy eleventh hour soap opera twist (creating a significant plot hole) and an ending that just cuts off anticlimactically. It's a shame because the OVA does a good job of getting into the mind-set of a test pilot, the action is cool, and it also boasts a decent supporting cast that end up being under-utilized.

On a side note: Macross Plus was one of the earlier works of Shinichiro Watanabe (co-director) and Keiko Nobumoto (screenwriter). Both would collaborate again on the anime series "Samurai Champloo" and the legendary "Cowboy Bebop". Meanwhile, the International dub features the voice-work of pre-Malcolm in the Middle fame Bryan Cranston as the arrogant test pilot Dyson. That's right, the guy who would go on to win Emmy's for his portrayal of Walter White on "Breaking Bad" was dubbing animes as a part-time job in the early nineties. That's just awesome.
Jurassic Park 1993,  PG-13)
Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg's 1993 "dinosaurs on the loose" action-fest is almost comparable to Star Wars in the way it opened audiences' mind to the possibilities of visual effects (particularly, the previously little-used CGI). Even by today's standards the CGI and animatronic effects still hold a candle to modern efforts, breathing vivid life and personality into the prehistoric beasts. Due to seeing this movie in the theaters at a young age, certain scenes such as the first T-rex appearance and any suspenseful sequence with the velociraptors are forever burned in my memory.

But how does the actual movie hold up once the nostalgia goggles are taken off? Well, the film's biggest asset (aside from the entertaining visuals) is by far Spielberg's self-assured direction and it's tight pacing. There is very little wasted time when it comes to establishing the plot and key exposition points before diving into the awe-inspiring action sequences. Also, the touchingly emotional score by the ever-reliable John Williams is absolutely breath taking and is as iconic as the film itself.

While never boring, this sci-fi adventure is little different from the "big dumb Hollywood spectacles" that infest modern-day summers. The characters are rather unremarkable and under-written. John Hammond, the fun-loving park manager that is played delightfully by Richard Attenborough, is the only person that goes through anything resembling an arc but even then it's nothing spectacular. The story seems mostly concerned with getting to the next action set piece as soon as possible with little breathing room for the characters to develop. Due to this, actors such as Sam Neil, Laura Dern, and Martin Ferrero are given very little to work with outside of clunky and cliché exposition-laden dialogue (the "show don't tell rule" is broken quite a few times in this film). Jeff Goldblum fairs a little better as Ian Malcolm despite being mostly regulated to one-dimensional comic relief, and meanwhile Wayne Knight gives way to some pretty funny moments.

The script tries to bring up ethical questions pertaining to "science vs. nature", but it's half-baked and practically dropped by the time the second-half kicks in. It also does not help how the characters act very stupid at times (Malcolm during the T-rex's debut appearance) and some pretty blatant continuity errors (the T-rex somehow sneaking up on velociraptors despite previously making tremors wherever it went).

In the end, this influential blockbuster delivers on its still-impressive special effects and infectious thrills, but stumbles with it's straightforward-to-a-fault narrative and thin characterization. While I'll always have a soft-spot for this flick, it's just a shame that as an adult what I remember so fondly makes up only a fraction of it's actual quality.
Summer Wars (Sama Wozu) 2010,  PG)
Frozen 2013,  PG)

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