Tag Archives: movies

2013: The Parting Glass

Now that 2013 is officially in the rearview, I’m not as hung over as I expected to be, but I’ve long known I’m a social drinker and when the party is small, so are my drinks. The party last night was just that—small—and in a way, quite reflective of the year I’ve had.

I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

At any rate, I know a lot of my fellow writers are doing a “this is what I did with my writing” or a “this is what I’m going to do with my writing” post for the New Year and this is kind of like that, sort of, in a weird way.

What do you mean by weird, Chris?

Well, in 2013 I didn’t do shit all in regards to my writing. Oh, I wrote things; I just didn’t publish them. I went to some conventions and sold a few copies of my first novel, Necromancer, and met some cool folks out on the road. The awesome Nelson W. Pyles podcasted a few of my short and flash fiction pieces on The Wicked Library, but that was the extent of where my writing went the last 12 months.

Halfway through the year I freaked out about this. Of course, by the time June/July came around, I’d only subbed one piece (which ended up shortlisted and ultimately rejected). After the PMPress Writer’s Retreat at the end of July, I subbed two more pieces, and then another near the end of August. All three were (obviously) rejected by the respective editors. Looking back now, at the start of the new year, I’m more like fuck it. It is what it is. I did write, I just didn’t publish, and it’s about the former, not the latter.

One thing that I did do was get back into reading novels. Before some of you have a conniption over a writer “not reading,” let me explain: for the past several years, I’d read almost exclusively short fiction as the editor for Title Goes Here: and it was awesome; I was able to read and publish writers like Alison Littlewood, Paul Anderson, and Alexis A. Hunter. But it didn’t leave much time for novel reading. Sure, I’d squeeze in a couple here and there (and those were familiar books I’d read before), but not like I used to read. This year, I’m happy to say I put to rest 32 books over the last 12 months. The only book I attempted to read and didn’t finish was The Talisman by King and Straub. Sad to say this is like my third time trying, though I did make it further than any other attempt.

I will finish that book this year.

But, here’s the list of books I did read. You know, for the curious.

01)  Back Roads & Frontal Lobes by Brady Allen – 5/5
02)  They Thirst by Robert McCammon – 5/5
03)  Lucky Man by Michael J Fox – 3/5
04)  Phantoms by Dean Koontz – 4/5
05)  The Talisman by Stephen King & Peter Straub –
06)  Throttle by Stephen King & Joe Hill – 3/5
07)  Quarantined by Joe McKinney – 3/5
08)  The Hunt by Joseph Williams – 4/5
09)  The Rising by Brian Keene – 2/5
10)  Coraline by Neil Gaiman – 3/5
11)  Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill – 4/5
12)  Pavlov’s Dogs by D.L. Snell & Thom Brannan – 3/5
13)  Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar – 3/5
14)  (dis)Comfort Food by Brad Carter – 5/5
15)  Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist – 4/5
16)  Demons, Dolls, and Milkshakes by Nelson W. Pyles – 5/5
17)  A Trail in Blood by J. David Anderson – 5/5
18)  Losing Touch by Christian A. Larsen – 5/5
19)  Draculas by Crouch, Kilborn, Strand, Wilson – 3/5
20)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 4/5
21)  War of the Worlds by HG Wells – 2/5
22)  Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – 4/5
23)  1984 by George Orwell – 4/5
24)  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – 4/5
25)  I, Robot by Isaac Asimov – 3/5
26)  Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – 3/5
27)  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick – 3/5
28)  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – 4/5
29)  The Dispossessed by Ursula K. LeGuin – 3/5
30)  Children of Men by PD James – 3/5
31)  Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand – 3/5
32)  The Hand of God by Tony Acree – 4/5
33)  The Wolf’s Moon by Patrick Jones – 2/5

I started building a reading list for this year a couple weeks ago, which includes several old King books I haven’t read in a decade or so, plus some other things I found on the bookshelves here I hadn’t read. I also received four Jonathan Maberry books for Christmas. They’re on the list, too. I can’t even speak to the number of books I have on my Kindle. I’ll read some of those, too.

I watched many movies in 2013. I can’t say I’m completely proud of this, but it’s a fact, and I do love movies. The number I watched is about double the number of books I read, but this list does include the few movies I saw at the theater and Netflix movies. Here’s that list, too, for the curious folk.

01)  Diary of a Nymphomaniac – 4/5
02)  Apartment 143 – 3/5
03)  Sector 7 – 3/5 (Korean, subtitled)
04)  Trollhunter – 4/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
05)  The Tall Man – 3/5
06)  Dead Season – 2/5
07)  In the Spider’s Web – 1/5
08)  Good Neighbours – 3/5
09)  The Rig – 2/5
10)  The Lost Tribe – 1/5
11)  Airborne – 3/5
12)  The Innkeepers – 3/5
13)  The Devil Inside – 2/5
14)  Black Death – 3/5
15)  Cashback – 3/5
16)  Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness – 2/5
17)  Intruders – 3/5
18)  Rango – 3/5
19)  The Day – 2/5
20)  Dead Snow -3/5 (Norwegian, subtitled)
21)  Chernobyl Diaries – 2/5
22)  The Thirst: Blood War – 2/5
23)  Red: Werewolf Hunter -2/5
24)  Cleopatra’s Second Husband – 2/5
25)  Pontypool – 4/5
26)  Total Recall (2012) – 3/5
27)  Jack the Giant Slayer – 3/5
28)  Evil Dead (2013) – 4/5
29)  Byzantium – 3/5
30)  The Lords of Salem – 3/5
31)  Battleship – 2/5
32)  Chronicle -2/5
33)  TMNT (2007, animated) – 3/5
34)  Behind the Candelabra – 4/5
35)  Extinction: The G.M.O. Chronicles – 2/5
36)  The Last Stand – 3/5
37)  Sanctum – 2/5
38)  Hanna – 2/5
39)  Cowboys vs. Aliens – 2/5
40)  Darkwolf – 1/5
41)  Wrath of the Titans – 2/5
42)  Trip to the Moon (1902) – 3/5
43)  The Great Train Robbery (1903) – 3/5
44)  World War Z – 3/5
45)  Frankenstein (1931) – 3/5
46)  The Public Enemy (1931) – 3/5
47)  This is the End – 3/5
48)  The Heat – 3/5
49)  Rear Window – 4/5
50)  His Girl Friday – 3/5
51)  Storage 24 – 2/5
52)  The Frankenstein Theory – 2/5
53)  Oklahoma! – 2/5
54)  Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) – 4/5
55)  Pacific Rim – 2/5
56)  The Wicker Tree – 2/5
57)  Spiders – 2/5
58)  The Conjuring – 3/5
59)  State of Emergency – 3/5
60)  Compliance – 4/5
61)  Shame – 4/5
62)  R.I.P.D. – 3/5
63)  Dredd – 3/5
64)  Infected – 2/5
65)  Stevie – 3/5
66)  Fatso (Norwegian, subtitled) – 4/5
67)  Battledogs – 2/5
68)  Apollo 18 – 3/5
69)  John Dies at the End – 4/5
70)  War of the Dead – 2/5
71)  War of the Worlds (1953) – 2/5
72)  The Sessions – 4/5
73)  Frankenstein (2005) – 3/5
74)  Mimic – 3/5
75)  Children of Men – 4/5
76)  Paranormal Activity 4 – 2/5
77)  The Possession – 2/5
78) War of the Worlds (2005) – 3/5

For the extra curious, you can read my post on how I derive my ratings here. If you don’t care, don’t click.

Overall, 2013 was a decent year for me and I’m happy in the growth I made as a writer. Personally, it was up and down. Probably the best part was finding out that grandfatherhood (BAM! just made up that word) here in a few months (March), while the worst part was fighting against depression and lethargy. I’m used to these spells just not for this long.

Funny truth…

On 12/31, before the drinking started, I did this Facebook “mental age test” and answered the questions honestly (c’mon, you know you fudge those fucking quiz answers to skew the results to whatever you think they should be) and my mental age was 16. Those of you who know me are aware I’m on the far side of 16 x 2. I don’t feel 16; I certainly don’t act 16 (though my wife may disagree with that). I believe it’s a sign I still hold a somewhat romantic and optimistic view of life and people, while masticating the shit sandwich I have every day for lunch.

Strangely, though, I’m okay with that.

Good night and joy be with you all.

Hello, 2014.

Movie: Pacific Rim

So, I saw Pacific Rim Monday night. My initial impression remains solid: the movie was lacking. Before people start slapping me around, I did enjoy it, but it’s rare that I don’t enjoy a movie. A film has to be really, really bad before I’ll say skip it and give it the low rank of 1 on the Brown Scale.

Oh, there will probably be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t read the rest of this post. You’ve been warned. Don’t bitch at me.

pacificrim

For what it was, Pacific Rim was excellent. It was a big, loud summer action movie. I’m a guy and, fuck yeah, I loved the idea of big robots fighting big monsters. It’s almost like a wet dream.

Almost.

Then I realized I’m a thirty-coughhackcoughcough year old man and I need more than a hot blonde with rosy red lips to throw me into overdrive. Let’s face it, I’m at the age where I need to be fondled a little, coaxed, maybe even teased before I get aroused. In other words, I want to fully enjoy myself, not just get a quick, hard fuck in a back alley. I have my go-to movies for that sort of thing and, being at this discriminate age, I’m perfectly content with those. I don’t need to branch out, find a younger replacement; it all ends the same for me.

I think, in ten, maybe fifteen years, Pacific Rim is going to be that movie for the younger people watching it now.

Pacific Rim hits all expectations in the arena of CGI and graphics, of making the kaiju and the jaegers look stupendous. It’s really a marvel what del Toro and the FX team did. But really, when you break it down, that’s all they did. They give you the hot blonde (in fucking spades, man), but she’s nothing but a scared little girl underneath all the makeup and flashy clothes; she’s just playing dress up.

The filmmakers try to give us characters we can care for. Honestly, I’m not sure if they tried too much or if they didn’t try hard enough. Fuck, it’s the apocalypse, so everyone has suffered loss (entire cities are GONE), so here are my impressions.

Raleigh loses his brother in a kaiju fight. Now, this happens while connected in the “drift” piloting their jaeger. While you know Yancy dies, the film gives you beautiful shots of the malfunctioning jaeger instead of a moment with Raleigh. Oh, sure, we see him scream for a few seconds and then we’re back to the big robot again. Stunning CGI supersedes human emotion. For the loss.

Mako loses her whole fucking family during a kaiju attack. This flashback is better. Much better. A young Mako is seen running down the street, a single red shoe in her hand, screaming for her parents. Kid scenes always get to me since I have young kids and my cold dead heart comes alive for them. She’s filled with hatred for the kaiju (but who wouldn’t be?) and this is where the movie fails her character. She’s so goddamn meek and doesn’t stand up for herself to Stacker; he’s the one who tells her she can’t pilot because revenge will cloud her judgment, etc. Thank you, fucking Yoda.

At one point, the film tries to explain this away as her having respect for Stacker, admiration, and love. It’s a throwback to old Asian customs, I suppose, but really, we’re at the end of the world in modern times, so I only bought it the first time she walked away. After that, I wanted her to own up and stand her ground.

They even try to make you feel for Stacker, the hard ass military man. You know he has a soft spot for Mako from the start, mainly because Idris Elba is a fascinating and talented actor, and every time he looks at Mako, there’s love written all over his face. Of course, we have no idea why this is until much later in the movie… unless you’ve seen any action movie in the last decade or so, in which case it was obvious. So, yeah, he saves her as a kid (he’s the pilot of the jaeger that kills the kaiju that kills her parents) and raises her and now we have the whole father figure/mentor (ta da) role. He’s not just the hard assed military man trying to save the world with lines like this to Raleigh: “All I need is your compliance and your fighting skills.”

I’m not even going to talk about the humorous element provided by the scientists. They seemed a bit too whacky to fit into the obvious gloom and doom of the movie and I didn’t laugh once when either one of them were on the screen. Other than what they contributed to the plot by way of their discoveries, they could have not existed for me and the movie wouldn’t have suffered at all.

I do think the movie addressed the mutual attraction between Raleigh and Mako well. It was there, you could see it, but it was never overtly stated, only hinted at. The closest the movie comes to pointing it out is when Raleigh admits that he never had a reason to look forward to the future, until now. I memory serves, that’s in the middle of a jaeger/kaiju battle, though, so his timing is a bit… off.

But these are pretty stock characters and emotions in the action genre. We have the actual hard assed military guy who likes only his dad and his dog, the exotic oriental fighters (CRIMSON TYPHOON), and the stalwart Russian pilots (CHERNO ALPHA). Sure, there’s the unifying message that we must all coexist and work together if we’re going to beat the world ending problems (insert personal metaphor here) we face today. There’s the message about how even the screw-ups, the underdogs, the alternative to what’s current and popular all contribute to saving the day. It’s all there, man. Just as you’d expect it to be. None of them really rises above their intended stereotypes and the portrayals are mostly flat.

Let me compare Pacific Rim to the movie Battleship, another summer blockbuster that was, quite universally (critically, anyway), panned. Pacific Rim had a budget of 180 million dollars and Battleship 209 million, so they’re comparable. The special effects were just as good on Battleship as they were on Pacific Rim, keeping in mind Battleship wasn’t quite as grandiose. But nothing looked obviously fake, nothing was too far-fetched in the world they created.

In both movies, aliens attack from the ocean, we’re provided with a bleak scenario, our screw-up and underdog character that rises to the challenge after losing someone he loves (incidentally, it’s a brother in both movies), the hardnosed (with a soft spot military man), and a geeky scientist that acts as comic relief. Both had some minor continuity/plot issues, but nothing that really detracted from the extravagance.

Holy hell, they could almost be the same movie.

Battleship, based on a board game and not anime culture, is somehow considered less of a movie by folks. I’m not sure how that works. Battleship is every bit as good as Pacific Rim, if not slightly better. Why? Because Peter Berg lets you have time with the characters, lets you feel their losses as they mount up.

In the long run, though, Pacific Rim is just another action flick, and it gets the same ranking as Battleship, which is 2/5 on the scale. Go see PR for the spectacle, but don’t expect much more.

Unfortunately, I expected more. I don’t apologize for wanting intelligent sci-fi to come back. I’m tired of the stereotypical blonde fantasy and I’m not ashamed to show my age and admit to needing more to get my rocks off.

Movies: The Frankenstein Theory & Storage 24

I’ve decided to put my dinky movie reviews on the blog instead of on Facebook/Twitter. The blog feeds to both anyway; it’s all about the streamlining and shit.

I’m currently taking a film appreciation class, which means the movie watching time is being ate up by plenty of older flicks. Despite all that, I did manage to get two movies in last Friday. Neither of them was that good, but that’s okay; I didn’t hold out much hope for either one.

“The Frankenstein Theory” throws us the idea that maybe Frankenstein’s monster is real. Mary Shelley wasn’t a genius, but rather an author who used real letters to construct a fiction. Using some far-fetched data, a scientist (related to the original scientist Dr. Frankenstein was based on) manages to figure out where the monster may be due to migrating food and unsolved murder cases. They show up, thinking the creature is going to be all roses and understanding; it’s not, they all die. I rated it 2/5 for the interesting aspect of putting Frankenstein into a different spin.

The second movie was “Storage 24” and I was hoping for so much more. It’s a pretty bad alien movie and the premise is that this disparate group of unfriendly people are trapped inside a storage facility (hence the title) with the alien. It’s not friendly (of course) and eats far more than just cats. The creature itself seems to be hybrid Predator/Alien/Human and isn’t very original in looks or the way it moves. There’s a bit of interesting character stuff thrown in, but not enough to save the film as a whole. I thought the ending was unique, though, as the survivors make it out of the facility. I generally enjoy Noel Clark and Colin O’Donoghue, but I suggest avoiding this one unless your movie palate is as unsophisticated as mine. I give this flick 2/5 and that’s all I have to say about that.

Opinion: Sexism or Taste?

I just finished doing the dishes and drying my now soft-and-lavender smelling hands on a clean towel. I then used that towel to clear up some water off the counter. I also clean bathrooms, do laundry, and change diapers. Well, I did change diapers when needed, but my youngest is now potty trained and all we deal with now are the occasional accidents.

I used to think that all meant I wasn’t sexist. While none of the above qualifies for me anything remotely cool (like being a metrosexual, since I don’t shop enough nor care about appearance enough), I did think it meant gender roles and misogyny were not present in my life. And don’t take that the wrong way; I don’t hate women (love them, in fact) and I don’t think there’s any harm in a man doing any household chore or making less money than a woman.

But, after going to the movies twice this week, I realize there is sexism and misogyny present.

Let me explain.

Day or so ago, the wife and I went to see the Seth Rogen flick “This is the End.” As you can imagine, it’s a foul-mouthed, physical, ridiculously raunchy comedy. I didn’t love it (though, when Michael Cera is impaled by the street lamp, I did love it a little bit), but I did enjoy it. It’s not every day you get to see actors do shit like that, you know, making fun of each other and their professions in such a way. At one point, James Franco and Danny McBride have a three-minute argument about coming all over each other and their mothers and everything else. There’s fart jokes, fat jokes, piss jokes, cock jokes; it’s fucking garbage humor. Who can say or do the most outrageous fucking thing next.

Male humor.

Today, the wife and I went to see “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. It’s a generic buddy cop movie with your stiff partner and your over-the-top, nutty one. If this were a reimagining of “Lethal Weapon”, Bullock would be Murtaugh and McCarthy Riggs. McCarthy is a foul-mouthed, violent cop. I think every third word out of her mouth is fuck and well, if you know me, you know I appreciate the word fuck. Carlin and I agree on its many uses.

And the movie was okay; it certainly didn’t completely suck. I chuckled at times, even laughed out loud once or twice. However, if someone gave me a choice between “This is the End” and “The Heat,” there’s no contest. I’m watching a house full of dudes make dick jokes and drinking their own piss.

I wondered, momentarily, if this was more to do with “The Heat” being the overdone buddy cop movie. There’s more than a few of them, for sure. Turns out that’s not it, either. How do I know? Because I’ll watch “Lethal Weapon 4” before “The Heat” and LW4 was fucking horrid. We all wish Murtaugh would retire and Riggs along with him.

Okay, Chris, you’re saying. What’s your point?

Well, after the movie was over, the wife and I were debating the merits of each movie. This was, of course, before we left the theatre itself. Most of the people had already cleared and the usher was sweeping the aisles. He stopped and looked at us, we looked at him, and he goes, “Weren’t you the two in here the other day arguing over that other movie?”

We agreed we were (though, argument is too strong, see above and DEBATE) and he nodded, laughed. I’m sure he sees this kind of thing all the time. Then he leans in, almost conspiratorially, to my wife and whispers something.

“Say what?” I said.

“He said this movie was better,” my wife answered.

Gah!

We left the theatre and things ran through my head. What was it about this movie that put me off? It wasn’t either of the actresses: I haven’t seen McCarthy in much and I don’t mind Bullock. Granted, I tend to stay away from Bullock’s movies because they are, by and large, chick flicks… AHA! As we were driving past Kroger, it dawned on me that “The Heat,” branded a chick flick, was off my repeat radar for that single reason alone.

That’s when I got home and did the dishes, cleaned the counter, ate an oatmeal scotchie cookie, drank a cup of coffee, and started typing. I’ve tried to determine if this is just a one off, you know, the exception to the rule. And no, no, it’s not. I haven’t rewatched “Titanic” or “Pretty Woman” or “27 Dresses” or anything and none of those (except maybe 27 Dresses) are horrible movies. In fact, “Titanic” and “Pretty Woman” are pretty fucking good. I may be biased with “Titanic” though; it was the movie my wife and I saw on our first date.

It might be prudent, considering the topic, to point out that “Titanic” was her movie choice, too.

Now, some might be saying, it’s like a genre thing. But is it? Is “chick flick” a genre? Let’s face it; I love horror and science fiction movies. War movies and comedies are next. Dramatic movies are at the far end of the likability scale.

Before we call chick flick a genre, we need to develop a workable definition. Is a chick flick a movie about love only? Is it a movie with primarily female leads ala “Bridesmaids?” There’s very little love in “The Heat,” at least in regards to romantic sense of the word. So are chick flicks just movies bogged down by emotion? There was emotion in “The Heat” but there was also emotion in “48 Hours.” And believe me, no one would ever mistake that particular Nolte and Murphy movie as a chick flick. “Schindler’s List” is highly emotion and so is “Saving Private Ryan,” but they’re not chick flicks, despite Nathan Fillion’s turn as a whiney soldier in the latter.

It’s obvious (at least to me) that chick flicks must encompass more than this romantic or emotional base, so let’s also throw in movies that have multiple female leads, and the movies focus on the majority of these characters. So while Sigourney Weaver was the lead in the “Alien” franchise, the movies were far more ensemble in nature and therefore don’t qualify. The same thing goes for like “The Hunger Games” or “Tomb Raider.” Romantic movies make up the bulk of the chick flick genre, but I think it’s important to note that subgenres do exist.

The buddy movies, such as “The Heat” and “Thelma and Louise.”

The horror movies, such as “Descent” and “Ginger Snaps.”

The sci-fi movies, such as… well, I can’t think of any here. Surely someone out there knows of a female led sci-fi movie or two?

The comedies, such as “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect.”

Other than the movies in the horror subgenre, none of the others was particularly bad, just not what I’d watch again.

I don’t think it’s a matter of taste, either. But maybe that’s all it is. Yeah, you know, I don’t rewatch movies with lots of women in them. It’s not that I don’t like these movies, I like them fine (well, not the rom/coms, those suck), so is it “Hello, welcome to Sexism 101?” I doubt I’m the only one, but fucking hell, the guy at the movie theatre was up front that he liked “The Heat” more.

Speak up, people. Men and women, I want to hear your thoughts, so weigh in. Good, bad, ugly, I want it all. Do you share my sexist movie preferences, do you feel it’s just my “taste,” or do you have different ideas?

Opinion: Evil Dead, Remakes, and Adaptations

I’ve been called a purist—you know, one of those people who think movie remakes, by and large, should never happen and that most book to movie adaptations are for shit. Examples of each of these are abundant.

Bad movie remakes, just to name a few:

  1. Fright Night
  2. I Spit on Your Grave
  3. Arthur
  4. The Bad News Bears

Book to movie shithouses are even more common:

  1. I am Legend*
  2. Harry Potter 3-7
  3. Thor (movie title is Bad Moon)
  4. The Relic
  5. Conan the Barbarian (new)*

I can go on and on and on. I’m sure you have some you can add to the list as well. Feel free.

The asterisks above mean that at least these books had decent movies made based on the source material. Matheson’s seminal vampire work was adapted to “The Last Man on Earth” with Vincent Price, which is a great movie. And the original “Conan the Barbarian” with Governor Schwarzenegger was also a decent adaptation. While both movies altered the source material some, they still stayed true to the characters and the themes that were prevalent in the literature they were based on. But these are certainly the exception to the rule and the rule is that adaptations fucking suck.

So, let’s get to the actual title of the post, which concerns the Evil Dead remake that hits theatres in a little more than ten days. I’m worried, people. Really, really worried.

I know there’s a camp out there who thinks it’s stupid to worry about the whole remake thing. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it, etc. and yeah, I get that, but when it comes to movies like Fright Night, the original Elm Street, and Evil Dead, I can’t. These movies helped shape me as a writer. It wasn’t all books and stories and plays, you know. I grew up in this blossoming visual world and I’m not afraid to admit it. When I was fifteen, I hadn’t read Hemingway or Vonnegut or Faulkner, or Fitzgerald. I’ve read them all now and their work is, frankly, amazing, but back then they weren’t what lit my fire. It was the movies and works by Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and F. Paul Wilson (among others) that did it.

You just can’t up and change (or, as these people call it “reimagining”) something as influential as genre-defining movies and books. They are classified as such for a reason. So when some Hollywood studio greenlights a remake of something that impressed the shit out of me twenty years ago, it’s like telling me my parents really aren’t my parents, that they were free-range hippies back in my youth and now, with some reimagined medication, we have a new version of your mom and dad. Hope you like them, hope they do the same things for you as the hippies did, and good luck, Chris, because we all know they’re not going to cut it.

You can’t give me the whole “new generation” excuse, either. The new generation can go watch the old fucking movies. The stories are generally better, the acting is most certainly superior, and the only thing improved (and keep in mind this isn’t always the case) are the special effects. And let’s face it, if your movie relies on special effects to be scary or pertinent, you don’t have a good movie, and updating the FX is not going to change that.

All that being said, I will still go plop down my $9.00 to go see Evil Dead when it releases. This after missing The Hobbit, the new Die Hard, and other movies at the theatre, I will not miss Evil Dead. Why? Because it’s horror. Because it’s special. Because it’s the Evil Dead. It’s the same reason why I shelled out the money to see Will Smith’s version of “I am Legend” at the theatres, and the remakes of both “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” To say I was disappointed in all of those would be an understatement. I’ll take the originals, thank you very much. Every time.

But, it’s also why—if they ever get made—I’ll spend my money on the remakes of “An American Werewolf in London,” “The Crow,” and “Escape from New York.” And yes, I’ve read articles about remakes on all of these projects, so I’m not just blowing smoke out my ass. Whether or not they ever come to production remains to be seen, and really, I hope not. Hell, they’re even planning on remaking “Westworld” with fucking Russell Crowe. Yul Brynner and Michael Crichton are probably rolling over in their graves.

So what’s your take on remakes and adaptations in general?

Opinion: My Movie Rating System (Because people keep bugging me)

A blog post was promised and will now be delivered. The category of this post is somewhat undetermined, which means it’ll be labeled opinion. I think that’s fitting anyway, considering it concerns my rating system for movies, and those are nothing, if not my opinion.

People also need to keep in mind that the majority of the movies I rate are not major theatrical releases (though, of course, some will be) but B and C movie titles that are straight to video or had a fleeting glimpse of theatre time in their day. I say that because most people, in my experience, want to compare a B movie about dwarves and dragons with no budget against say “The Hobbit,” which is wholly unfair. I believe each movie has to be examined in the proper context, which means looking at all parts of the film, not just its failures. So, without further ado, this is what I’ve been getting:

“You talked about this movie like it was horrible, but you gave it a 2 rating?” or “You gave this a 3 rating but said it was awesome. What’s up with that?”

I’ll tell you what’s up with that.

Let’s take a few examples. On 02/23, I wrote on my FB page “I don’t want to talk about last night’s movie. Seriously.” in regards to the movie “The Thirst: Blood War.” I didn’t attach a rating to the post (which I should have done) but it’s a 2 out of 5.

As a comparison, I rated “In the Spider’s Web” a 1 on January 9th. In this movie, the plotline was bad, the acting was bad, the CGI was bad, the horror was bad, just everything about it was bad. Unlike “The Thirst: Blood War,” which was coherent from start to finish, didn’t rely on bad FX to cover poor plotting, and in my opinion, was decently made. It just wasn’t anything special. And for those reasons, it deserves to not be shit on by getting a 1 rating.

So for anyone keeping score, a 1 is a definite skip. There’s nothing redeemable about the movie at all. When I rate a movie a 2, it’s not really worth watching, but it didn’t hurt me to do so. I wasn’t shaking my head throughout the whole thing saying, “I could be picking lint out of my dryer right now” or something similar. If you’re a hardcore movie guy like me, a 2 might be worth watching just to say you did.

So how can I rate a movie a 2 when I can’t even talk about it? Easy. As a writer, I know what it’s like when someone pans your work. It hurts you, emotionally, and it hurts sales, views, and everything else. I’m not all about being a dick to any artist, so it gets a rating and I move on, not focusing on the negatives I found. Sometimes I’ll throw in a few positives, such as with the “Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness” movies, but usually not.

A 1 rating is rare, but you know, some shit just deserves it, and the public should be warned.

So, with the low ratings out of the way, let’s get into the middle ground, the 3. This is my “okay” rating, despite it being more than halfway to the perfect mark. Most movies fall into the 2-3 range for me. These are the movies we’re not going to be talking about six months from now, but have enough decency in them that you go, “Yeah, it wasn’t bad. You should check that out. On Netflix.” Or Redbox, or whatever your preferred movie watching happens to be. I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time after watching a 3 movie and I usually come away with something, however small. A good example of a 3 for me was “The Tall Man” with Jessica Biel. The movie itself was okay; I enjoyed the twist, but more so than that, I enjoyed the reason for the twist. Many people bitched about it, said it ridiculous, stupid, offensive, etc. I’m not invalidating their opinion (they are entitled to them) but it’s another of the reasons why it gets a 3. So, decent acting, decent storytelling, FX (if needed), all add up to a 3.

When I give a movie a 4, it has a heaping of awesome in it. These movies have many redeemable qualities that far outweigh the movie’s problems. A good plot coupled with good acting, good CGI and/or FX (if needed), and it’s also either very fun, or it tackles a tough problem in either a positive or interesting manner, or reinvents/reuses a trope in some excellent way. My most recent 4 star movie was “Pontypool” with Stephen McHattie. It’s a zombie movie, which are a dime a dozen (if not cheaper) but, it spun the trope on its axis, gave us a zombie virus that was relevant and allegorical all at once. These are just all around excellent movies that are well worth watching. Like a 1 rating, these are rare.

I’d tell you what constitutes a 5 rating for me, but I’ve never given one, so I don’t even know. Go figure, right? However, it’d have to be better than a 4. That’s a genius observation, I tell you, and I’m happy to have made it.

So far in 2013, I’ve watched 25 movies and here’s my current breakdown per rating:

1 star: 2 movies
2 star: 9 movies
3 star: 11 movies
4 star: 3 movies
5 star: 0 movies

And there you have it, the basis of how the rating system works. It’s mine and believe me, people disagree with it all the time. You very well may, too, but that’s cool. I enjoy a good discussion as much as the next person on just about any topic of interest. So, as usual, comments will be open. Hit me with your best shot.