Philip's Recent Reviews

Wicked Blood Wicked Blood Unrated
EOne's new thriller Wicked Blood is worth a watch for anyone that is a fan of AMC's fan favorite series Breaking Bad. The movie, which runs just over an hour and a half is an action packed thriller that despite being an indie flick, will definitely keep audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish. The movie, which stars Abigail Breslin (Zombieland, Haunter, Little Miss Sunshine), centers on Breslin's character of Hannah Lee Baker. Hannah and her sister Amber (Alexa Pena Vega) are living alone after having lost both of their parents at a young age. Their uncle Donny (Lew Temple) is the only member of their family that they can trust, despite being running his own drug business. In her attempt to support herself, she ends up getting caught up in the seedy underworld of drug dealing. It all leads up to a finale that no one would have seen coming. Writer/Director Mark Young has crafted a script for this movie that is the first of the factors that makes it worth at least one watch for any fan of the action/thriller genre. The story's pacing plays directly into the script. Being that the movie comes in below the standard two-hour mark that most major features reach, the story's pacing is quite impressive. And the acting on the part of the entire cast makes the story all the richer. All three factors noted here work together to make Wicked Blood an underrated action movie worth at least one watch.

Writer/director Mark Young's script for Wicked Blood is the central point of the success for this independent action flick. On the surface, the concept of an innocent lead character being wrapped up in the seedy world of drug dealing is not exactly anything new. However, Young breaks from the norm with his script. Instead of following the standard formula for such movies, Young adds in an element that could be argued to be a coming-of-age story of sorts for Hannah. Audiences see Hannah go from this fragile, frustrated young woman in a decidedly broken family structure to a more self-confident and determined woman as the story progresses. This is especially noticeable in her reaction to her sister Amber being beaten and left for dead by an assailant who will not be named here. He shows growth in Hannah, too when she enacts a certain plan early on that becomes the crux of the story. It shows growth in that her plan is quite brilliant and just as brave. Young makes this part of the story even more interesting because he actually leaves viewers to believe one thing about what Hannah is doing, only to reveal surprisingly that the opposite was the reality. It is just one of the secrets that makes Young's script all the better. For that matter, it's just one of the many aspects of the script that makes the story work.

The various elements used throughout the course of Young's script are key to the enjoyment of Wicked Blood. In direct connection, the story's pacing serves to make the movie better. The movie's run time just does top the ninety-minute mark. That's actually just below the standard for most major motion pictures. Though there are some rare majors that somehow manage to beat the two-hour mark. Their problem though, is that in doing so, they tend to cram too much into too short a time. This story is the exact opposite. It actually manages to balance everything together at a solid pace in that span of time. In simple terms, audiences won't be left feeling mentally or visually winded. Young spends just enough time within each scene to keep the story from feeling rushed. That ultimately helps audiences to keep up with everything going on. In the same vein, the scene transitions help with the story's pacing, too. Audiences aren't presented with open transitions from one scene to the next. The story actually begins and ends each scene solidly enough that when one scene transitions to the next, audiences aren't left questioning what had just happened or what is going to happen in the scene to come. This story element makes watching Wicked Blood even easier for viewers and more enjoyable.

The pacing and scene transitions utilized throughout Wicked Blood are both important parts of the whole that makes this movie work. The acting on the part of the movie's cast is just as important as the aforementioned aspects to its success. The cast is made up of some relatively well-known figures. So it's no wonder that each member of the cast is so believable in his or her respective role. Breslin leads the cast as Hannah. Her presentation of Hannah's personal growth is both powerful and eye opening, especially in seeing what she is willing to do to Bobby. There is a certain fire in Hannah's eyes and in her voice at that particular moment that really makes her somewhat frightening. It shows that while she may be growing as a person, it shows the depths to which she is willing to sink, too. On the opposite side of the coin, so to speak, audiences have Hannah's uncle Donny, played by Lew Temple. Temple's depiction of Donny makes him such a sympathetic character. Here is a man that is a drug user and knows it. Yet he doesn't want his nieces to get embroiled in what he has been doing for so many years. He shows that he genuinely cares about both of them despite being a drug addict. He's an imperfect character with a heart of gold. That contradiction of personalities and Temple's depiction of Donny makes a person believe that there is some good in him. It makes audiences really want to root for Donny. Co-stars James Purefoy and Sean Bean hold their own throughout the story, too. But it is really Breslin and Temple that lead the cast. It is their acting that is the *ahem* glue-audiences that have seen the movie will get that bad pun-that holds everything else together. It is the finishing touch on a movie that proves once more that indie flicks can be just as enjoyable as their major motion picture counterparts regardless of genre. It is the final piece that proves this underrated indie action flick is worth at least one watch.

Wicked Blood is available now on DVD and Blu-ray in stores and online. It can be ordered online via Amazon at More information on this and other releases from Entertainment One is available online at To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and "Like" it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil's Picks blog at
In Fear In Fear R
Independent movie studio Anchor Bay has crafted some of the industry's most surprising and underrated movies since the start of the twenty-first century. Most recently, Anchor Bay was behind the moving human drama that is Unfinished Song and the more lighthearted romantic comedy Shanghai Calling. It was also behind the release of the equally under appreciated 6 Souls and Dark Skies. Now in 2014, Anchor Bay has released yet another impressive yet under appreciated movie to its ever growing stable in the form of In Fear. While it is an indie flick, In Fear proves to be yet another piece from Anchor Bay that holds its own against any of the major horror flicks and thriller features out there today. The primary reason for that is the movie's writing. This includes its plot. Another reason for its success is the acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey). And last but not least, In Fear works because of its cinematography and associated editing. All three of these factors together prove In Fear a work that will leave any open minded horror and thriller fan in happiness.

In Fear is not a major, big budget horror or thriller flick, obviously. What it is though, is a movie that any open-minded fan of both genres will enjoy. The main reason for this is the movie's writing. The general plot starts out as one that has been done so many times before. Here, audiences see a young couple off on what is supposed to be a romantic weekend at a secluded hotel. But obviously, things eventually start to turn to the negative side of the needle for lack of better wording. This is where writer/director Jeremy Lovering takes the *ahem* high road (bad pun fully intended). It would have been so easy for Lovering to simply allow In Fear to descend to the dumbed down, overly violent level of so many major horror and thriller flicks from here. Instead, he kept the overt violence to a minimum by comparison. Where far too many major horror and thriller flicks fill their run times with unnecessary violence, blood and gore, Lovering has virtually eliminated those elements, using only what was absolutely necessary to help maintain the story's grip on viewers. And the standard exploitative sexual content thrown in to those major motion pictures is totally nonexistent here. For that reason alone, Lovering deserves a lot of credit.

The minimized use of blood, gore and general violence and the complete lack of exploitive sexual content is just one part of what makes this movie's writing work so well. Lovering keeps viewers wondering even after Tom and Lucy let Max into their car. Audiences have to admit that had they been in Tom and Lucy's position, they too would be uncertain as to whether or not Max was good or bad. So any viewer that might like to claim the movie was predictable is proven wrong through this avenue alone. That unpredictability is heightened through the use of certain elements that also lead to some "a-ha" moments by the story's end, too. Those "a-ha" moments illustrate even more the depth of Lovering's writing in his script and in turn its enjoyment.

Jeremy Lovering's script for In Fear is the cornerstone of the movie's success. The acting on the part of Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, and Allen Leech serves to strengthen the movie even more. The trio is entirely believable in its acting. Caestecker and Englert expertly exhibit the growing tension and fear felt by any normal person lost in unknown territory. Given, the odds of being lost and hunted by an unseen predator of sorts are slim to nil in reality. But the fear caused simply by being lost in unknown territory is very real as is the general fear of the unknown. And Caestecker and Englert have made that fear all the more real through their acting. Any viewer will be able to relate to them as they watch the pair try to reach the Kilairney Hotel thanks to the seriousness with which the pair took its roles. Together with the script, this aspect of In Fear makes the movie all the more gripping and enjoyable for viewers.

The acting and writing behind In Fear both are pivotal to the success of the movie. There is still one more aspect of the movie that adds to its enjoyment. That factor is the movie's collective cinematography and editing. Some of the best shots of the entire movie come as Lucy is looking out of the car, waiting for she and Tom to reach the hotel. Audiences see trees hanging ominously overhead as the sky slowly darkens. These are such subtle shots. But they are so powerful because they are so powerful. It adds to the feeling of tension and being trapped in an enclosed environment for extended periods of time. The way that editor Jonathan Amos (A.C.E.) transitioned the two shots adds so much by doing so little. Those behind the cameras are just as worthy of applause for the solid yet short shots of the figure that seems to be hunting Tom and Lucy. Audiences get just enough of a glimpse to know that there is something outside that car that doesn't want the pair around. And the shots are just plentiful enough to add to the movie's fear factor, too. Again, it shows the expert work of Amos and his co-workers behind the cameras. There are far more examples of how the cinematography and editing make In Fear a horror/thriller worth seeing. Audiences will find even more examples when they purchase or rent the movie for themselves on DVD and Blu-ray.

Whether for the cinematography, the editing, the acting or for the general writing, any open-minded fan of the thriller and horror genres will find plenty of reasons to check out this latest underrated and under appreciated release from Anchor Bay Entertainment. The movie is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered direct from Anchor Bay Entertainment's website at More information on this and other releases from Anchor Bay Entertainment is available online at,, and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and "Like" it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil's Picks blog at

Philip's Favorite Movies

12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) 12 Angry Men (Twelve Angry Men) PG
This is possibly one of the best movies of all time in any genre. With the exception of the first five minutes of the film, the entire thing took place in a jury room. There are likely books written on the different aspects of it. One could say that perhaps ithe heat of the room and the weather outside caused the conflict. Perhps it was the differences of the 12 jurors. Pehaps it was something else. But the conflict flt entirely real. What's more is that none of the men gave doubt a chance until one man stood up and cast doubt on the case. That was one of the any storylines that go on in that little jury room. The wonderfully interwoven storylines, combined with the odd absence of a soundtrack make the movie so fully enjoyable. The lack of that soundtrack with the exception of the beginning and the end disprove the need for muisc throughout a movie to make it good. Not only that, but all the cast and crew had to work with was that single jury room. Yet the movie was so enjoyable. That is proof that so many modern movies far too often go over the top with special effects and soundtracks. One could go on and on about this movie. But the fact of the matter is that it is not only the original legal drama, but one of the best movies of all time, next to Citizen Kane.
The Wizard of Oz The Wizard of Oz G
So much has been said and written about The Wizard of Oz since its debut way back on August 25, 1939. It's one of the longest running movies on tv every holiday season. And it's one of the most discussed movies both among moviegoers, and students of the theater and film arts. The discussions range from topics such as choreography, music, and cinematography, to the infamous conspiracy theory about the alleged death of one of the munchkins, among others. Yes, it's largely different from the book from which it was adapted. But that aside, it's still one of the most outstanding movies that's ever been created. It's been over seventy years since The Wizard of Oz originally debuted. That it still generates so much discussion on so many topics proves how much of a landmark movie it is. One of the main discussion topics that it still creates to this day is the alleged death of one of the munchkins. So to start off, that myth needs to be debunked, for those who still believe it. The myth in question is that one of the munchkins committed suicide in one scene. That never happened. Here's the reality of that old myth: There was a large bird walking around in the scene that introduces the Tin Man. It looked like a pelican, or some such. Later in that scene, as he, Dorothy, and the Scarecrow are readying to get back to their journey again, that same bird (or a second one), is seen in the far background moving around. What looks like a munchkin comitting suicide is actually just the bird in question flying around far off in the background. So what is possibly one of the greatest mysteries in film history has now been solved, much to the distate of probably thousands of audiences. But there's the answer. Speaking of the bird being far off in the scenery, the scenery is another reason for the success of The Wizard of Oz. The scenery/set art, and costumes create a lot of discussion among theater students at college campuses nationwide. The people behind the scenes obviously paid a lot of attention to the detail of both. For a movie of that time to so smoothly mix actual physical scenery with painted backdrops took a lot of skill. Not to mention, making them so colorful to match what heads of the movie wanted. The costumes had to have taken as much time as the sets (if not more) to create because of the amount of detail for each character's outfit. The sets and costumes were only one part of what made The Wizard of Oz as great as it is. The music and choreography add their own enjoyment to the movie. It is a musical, after all. So, these two are just as important as, if not more than, the costumes and sets. Probably the most time intensive scene for choreography was the initial scene when Dorothy first landed in Munchkinland. Considering the size of the cast in that scene, one can only imagine how much time and effort went into choreographing the dancing, and making sure everyone sang together. The movie is loaded with lots of other scenes that had to have required immense planning. But this was easily the biggest one of them all. The music, choreography and sets used in The Wizard of Oz are some of the most impressive of any musical to date. But they aren't the only factors that have made this movie as timeless as it is. It's created discussions on each of the aforementioned topics. But there are other topics that have been born from the story. The most well known discussion topic is that of industrialism versus agriculturalism. In the discussion, the Scarecrow supposedly represents agriculturalism. And the Tin man is supposed to represent industrialism. Some people argue that the Tin Man not having a heart is the basis for that. The Scarecrow's kind personality, but lack of a brain is argued to represent how farmers were seen by the industrial leaders at the time. And the Wizard himself is argued by some to represent the political figureheads that the ordinary people would talk about, but rarely ever get close enough to, in order to talk to them. Whether or not any of these arguments hold water, the fact that they still happen so many decades later shows just how much staying power The Wizard of Oz has. It's been over seventy years since The Wizard of Oz debuted. Since that time, few films have managed the success that it's managed. It serves as a beacon for theater students thanks to its music and choreography. The discussion topics generated from its story are more than enough for any film studies course, or for discussion among any group of film afficianados. And most of all, it's one of the greatest family friendly films of all time. It may not be the greatest movie of all time. Though it definitely is among that list. But it goes without saying that it is the single greatest summer movie of all time.

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