action, movie, movie review, sci-fi, thriller

October 18th, 2017 Movie – A Sound Of Thunder

a sound of thunder

Now this was a movie I was excited to watch because it used one of the more famous cliches when it comes to time travel; what happens if you go back in time and step on a butterfly. I find it funny how many movies and stories make some reference to this concept and try to use some variation of it in their plot. Now, I never heard of this movie coming out in theaters, otherwise I would have gone to see it, but when I first saw it at Blockbuster, I decided to just go ahead and buy a used copy. Now let’s see if it was worth the impulse buy as I watch today’s movie, A Sound Of Thunder.

The plot: In the year 2055, the Time Safari company allows people to travel back in time and hunt dinosaurs. To keep from messing with the timeline, the group travels on a specialized path of hardened air molecules, use weapons that shoot hardened ice bullets, and only kill animals that are known to have died due to natural means. After the latest hunt, Dr. Travis Ryer is doing some research with the computer TAMI when the company’s owner, Charles Hatton, comes to remind him that he must mingle with the clients as part of his contract. Travis reluctantly heads up to the party, telling John Wallenbeck that the video disc of their hunt shows that he was the one to bring down the allosaurus. Suddenly, Dr. Sonia Rand interrupts the event, spraying the attendees with red wine while yelling that they will destroy the future if they keep messing with the past. As she is being escorted away by security, Travis stops them and talks with Sonia, learning that she was one of the people that developed TAMI but due to a clause in her contract and a nondisclosure agreement, didn’t receive any credit for it. Sonia is upset that her work is being used for people to kill dinosaurs and mad at Travis for going along with it but Travis shows her that he is working there for a different reason. Taking her to the zoo, Travis explains that since hunting and a mysterious virus wiped out most animal life on the planet, he has been using the jumps to get DNA recordings from animals before the virus occurred so that he can clone them. Back at Time Safari, Marcus Payne knocks over some liquid nitrogen tanks and after putting them back upright, goes to talk to Jenny Krase, unaware that one of the tanks is leaking onto Travis’ gun. The next day, Travis leads a new hunt with clients Eckels and Middleton, explaining all of the rules they need to follow for the hunt. As they proceed with the jump, Eckels is extremely nervous and jumpy, attempting to shoot a butterfly that startles him. When the allosaurus appears, Travis’ gun malfunctions, preventing anyone from firing their guns. Travis uses a flashlight to lure the allosaurus away from the group, telling the clients to hide while Marcus works on repairing the gun. Marcus eventually gets the gun repaired and Travis is able to kill the allosaurus and they all leave, unaware that one of the clients had stepped off the path while hiding, as evidenced by a muddy footprint left on the path. The next day, the city experiences an increase in temperature and humidity while fish suddenly start beaching themselves and plants are suddenly increasing their growth rate. Travis leads a new group on their hunt but they find that the allosaurus is still lying dead in the swamp from their last jump and the nearby volcano erupts sooner than it was supposed to. After making it back through the portal before the volcano kills them, Travis and the others try to figure out what is going on but Clay Derris, the federal agent that oversees the project, shuts them down so they are unable to access TAMI. As Hatton argues with Clay about shutting them down, Tyler goes to see Sonia and talk to her. After getting inside her apartment, Tyler tells Sonia what happened and after telling her when it occurred, Sonia has him look outside and he sees a time wave approaching the city, knocking him off his feet when it occurs. Sonia starts to explain about the time wave when they hear a scream and are suddenly attacked by a swarm of beetles, forcing them to run from the apartment. As they are heading back to Time Safari, Sonia explains that the time waves will change evolution in stages, starting with the climate and then lower life forms, with humanity being altered in the last wave. Convincing Clay to let them try and fix things, Travis attempts to jump back before the Eckels/Middleton hunt and turn them back but he finds himself in the old west just as another time wave is about to hit. Travis makes it back through the portal but the time wave knocks out power to the entire city and Sonia explains that they can’t make it past the “ripples” of the time wave. After checking the footage reveals no indication as to what happened, Marcus checks the logs and finds that they came back a few grams heavier. Hatton reveals that he had the bio-filters turned off in order to save money, though in reality it was to pay off Clay, and after searching all of their gear from the trip, realize that it must have been one of the clients. Figuring that Eckels was the likely suspect, Marcus modifies the weapons to fire individually and Travis, Sonia, Jenny, Marcus, and Dr. Lucas head out to find Eckels. As they make their way through the city, finding it completely overgrown with plants, they see evidence of some type of creature and hear it calling out in the distance. Marcus gets poisoned by a thorny vine and as they are helping him walk, Lucas is grabbed by a strange creature which is a cross between a baboon and a lizard. Travis chases after Dr. Lucas and manages to kill the baboonlizard and he and Lucas quickly run as more creatures appear. Marcus can’t walk so he chooses to stay behind and fend them off as long as he can, allowing the others to escape. They eventually make it to Eckel’s apartment, finding it barricaded by the inhabitants but after saving two people that had gone to get food, they convince the people to let them in. They make their way up to Eckels’ apartment and while Travis and Sonia talk to him, Jenny and Lucas scan his suit and find it is clean. Realizing it was Middleton, Eckels tells them that he has been staying in his office and where it is. Lucas hotwires a car and they make their way to his office, noticing a strange flying creature passing overhead. Reaching the office, Travis and Sonia head inside, leaving Jenny and Lucas to watch the car. They find that the people have killed themselves after being driven mad by the brambles’ poison and Middleton is infected as well, killing a security guard before killing himself. Travis and Sonia search his gear and find the remains of a butterfly so they quickly head back to the car to find Lucas and Jenny firing into the air. As they drive back to Time Safari, they are attacked by bat like creatures, which manage to peel off the roof of the car and grab Lucas. Another time wave hits, causing the car to crash into the building, and they find that the jump station is flooded and inoperable. Sonia says they can use the particle accelerator at the university to use as a substitute and goes to grab TAMI’s hard drive. Travis goes to get a jump suit and finds Clay hiding in one of the lockers. Clay tells him to be quiet and motions above them and they see the baboonlizards sleeping from the ceiling above them. Sonia grabs the hard drive and they leave and Clay decides at the last minute to try and follow but he is killed by the baboonlizards. Deciding to go through the subway tunnels to reach the university, they end up crawling through a damaged subway train when the tunnel suddenly floods, trapping them in the train. Travis goes to smash a window so they can swim to safety when something breaks through the window and grabs Jenny, dragging her away. As the train floods, Sonia and Travis go to escape but Travis is attacked by a strange, eel like creature but the tunnel collapses some more and kills the creature while Travis almost drowns but is saved by Sonia. They reach the university as the baboonlizards arrive and start to attack the building. Making their way to the particle accelerator, Sonia works on getting everything set up for a slingshot jump while Travis secures the room and then prepares for the jump. As the baboonlizards start to break in, Sonia activates the time jump just as another time wave occurs, with Sonia ending up transformed into a human/catfish hybrid. Travis jumps to 1 year beyond the normal jump time and then he bounce back to the time of the hunt. Seeing the group with the allosaurus, Travis yells at Jenny to record him, telling her what happened, then goes and stops Middleton before he steps on the butterfly, vanishing as the timeline is restored to normal. As the group returns through the portal, Jenny tells Clay she knows about the bio-filters and tells him to turn them back on, causing Clay to nervously talk to Hatton. Jenny then grabs Travis and hands him the recording, telling him she told Hatton that there was a malfunction and a disc doesn’t exist, and tells Travis he needs to watch it. The next day, Travis goes to see Sonia and tells her about the recording and asks her help in exposing the dangers with Time Safari and how to stop them.

A Sound Of Thunder was panned by the critics, holding a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Choppy logic and uneven performances are overshadowed by not-so-special effects that makes the suspension of disbelief a nearly impossible task.” The movie was based off of a short story by Ray Bradbury and originally supposed to be directed by Renny Harlin but he was fired after having a disagreement with Bradbury. The movie was a box office bomb, only earning $11.7 million off of an $80 million budget.

This was your classic case of a good idea bogged down with problems. The acting was ok, with Edward Burns (Travis), Catherine McCormack (Sonia), Jemima Rooper (Jenny), and Sir Ben Kingsley (Hatton) was pretty good. The story was very interesting but there was one VERY big flaw in the concept. If they keep going to the same time to hunt that allosaurus, the different hunting parties should overlap but of course, this is Hollywood and logic has no place whatsoever in a sci-fi movie. As for the whole evolution changing with each time wave concept, I thought that was kind of cool and made sense as a way to make the movie longer, though I am curious if that is actually what would happen if such a thing occurred. The special effects were a mixture of good and bad; with the creature designs actually being really good, but some of the background shots used some pretty poor blue screen effects. Problems aside, I enjoyed this movie but accept that it probably isn’t going to be for everyone.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review

October 15th, 2017 Movie – Sorceress (1982)

sorceress 1982

Ahhh, the early 80’s. A time where the sword and sorcery genre of movies had reached it’s height of popularity. The problem with this is that there tends to be an overabundance of such movies and studios would start looking to make them fast and cheap in order to cash in on the popularity. Enter Roger Corman, the man who is known for making movies quickly and on a limited budget. Now I had heard of this movie but never got around to actually watching it until a few years ago, when I bought a batch of Corman movies during an Amazon binge. So let’s see how this stacks up to some of his other works as I watch today’s movie, Sorceress (1982).

The plot: The evil wizard Traigon and his men ride through the woods and attack a camp full of people, where his wife was hiding. The wife tries to flee with her midwife to the house of Krona to seek his protection but she is cut off and everyone in the camp is killed except for the wife. Traigon approaches with the intent of sacrificing his first born child to honor a promise to his god Caligara but he is shocked to discover that she had given birth to twin girls, Mara and Mira. Traigon demands that she tell him which was the first born but when his wife refuses, he has her tortured. Krona suddenly appears and quickly kills Traigon’s men but when he goes to confront Traigon, Traigon uses his magic to stop Krona. Suddenly, Traigon’s wife stabs him in the back and kills him, then begs Krona to watch after her babies. Krona tells her that he will teach them to be great warriors and she tells him that they are “girl children” before she dies. Krona passes on his sorcery and fighting skills to the babies, then takes them to the home of a nearby farmer, Dargo, and asks him to raise the two children as his own, warning him that someday people will come looking for the girl children so he should raise them as boys. After 20 years, Traigon has been resurrected and sends his men out to find his twin daughters. Meanwhile, Mara and Mira have grown up into two women, but don’t know that they are women. As they are bathing, they spy a satyr watching them and are curious about the “horn” between it’s legs, and quickly climb out of the stream and attack it causing it to run off. After getting dressed, they head home only to find that Traigon’s soldiers have killed their family and set their home on fire. Mara and Mira quickly begin attacking Traigon’s soldiers and easily kill them all, then shoots the general Khrakannon in the back with an arrow as he tries to escape but he survives. When the battle is over, they are greeted by the viking Baldar who is accompanied by Pando, the satyr they saw earlier. Baldar offers praise for their victory and condolences on the loss of their family and helps them to arrange a funeral pyre. As they light the fire, Krona arrives and after taking their hands, gives them the last of his power and tells them that Traigon was the one to cause this. After giving them a last piece of advice by saying to remember the name “Vittal”, Krona then steps into the funeral pyre and burns himself alive. As he is on a quest of his own, Baldar suggest they work together and Mara and Mira agree to travel together. They head to the city, where Baldar looks for Erlick, a barbarian he is friends with. They find gambling in a back alley filled with prostitutes and when a fight breaks out, they help him defeat the men that he was cheating out of their money. When soldiers head towards the fight, Erlick helps hide Baldar, Mara, Mira, and Pando, and they take refuge in an abandoned house but once inside, Baldar and Elrick discover that Mara and Mira are women. They question the twins on if they never noticed that they weren’t boys and Mara and Mira show their naivety on the differences between the sexes. Baldar, Elrick, and Pando leave the twins to wash up but after they leave, one of the prostitutes tricks the girls into following her into a trap, where Traigon’s soldiers capture them. Pando sees this and goes to tell Baldar and Elrick, who agrees to help Baldar rescue them. Meanwhile, the twins are taken to the center of town, where a test is performed to determine which one is the first born. After determining which one it is, the girl is fitted with a slave collar but before anything else happens, Baldar and Elrick save them and they ride off, with Pando causing the soldier’s horses to stop obeying orders before following after them. As the soldiers try to regain control of their horses, Delissia, Traigon’s chief priestess, orders Hunnu, her ape-man servant, to find out more about Elrick. Mara, Mira, Baldar, Elrick, and Pando take refuge in the forbidden forest but they are attacked by Hunnu and several other ape-men, who use gas-filled fruit to cause them to laugh uncontrollably. Mara and Elrick are taken captive but Baldar is able to rescue Mira. Mara and Elrick are taken to see Traigon, who explains to MAra that he is her father and says that she has been lied to about his intentions. Confused over what he said, Mara pleads with him to spare Elrick’s life but when it is discovered that he has loaded dice in his possession, Elrick is sentenced to death. As his execution is about to commence, Hunnu finds a medallion which causes Delissia to halt the execution, as she recognizes it as being from an ancient house and Traigon order him to be taken back inside the temple. Elsewhere, Mira has visions of what Mara is seeing and tries to explain it to Baldar as they figure out how to rescue their friends. Back in the temple, Delissia has her servants tend to Elrick, then bewitches him into helping her by saying that he needs to sleep with Mara and then sacrifice her but as he leaves, Traigon appears and Delissia tells him that she was able to get Elrick to help them. Elrick heads to Mara’s chambers and ends up seducing her while at the same time, Mira feels the sensations that Mara is feeling, causing Baldar to become uncomfortable watching her writhe on the ground as he realizes that Elrick is with Mara. Baldar and Mira continue to rescue their friends but unknown to them, Delissia has bewitched Mara as well as Elrick, and uses Mara’s ability to see what Mira sees to lay a trap for them. When Mira and Baldar approach the temple, they find themselves surrounded by Traigon’s men while a bewitched Mara and Elrick exiting the temple. Baldar ends up getting an arrow shot into his arm as Traigon appears and uses his magic to send both Baldar and Mira down into the catacombs, collapsing a wall over the opening to trap them there. As Traigon goes to perform the sacrifice, he is grabbed by Hunnu and Delissia explains that he was promised Mira but Traigon strikes him to the ground and walks away, with his guards laughing as they follow. Hunnu grabs Baldar’s sword and heads off into the forest, meeting up with several others of his kind, who tell him where to find Pando. Meanwhile, Mira tends to Baldar’s injury and then they explore the catacombs to try and find a way out, unaware that the skeletons inside are starting to move. Hunnu eventually finds Pando and hands him Baldar’s sword and after explaining what happened, Pando takes the sword and heads to the temple, with several of the farmers and villagers taking up arms and following him. At the temple, the planets reach the necessary alignment and Traigon calls out to Caligara as Delissia hands Elrick a dagger to use for the sacrifice. Back in the catacombs, Mira and Baldar are attacked by the undead and as they start to become overwhelmed, Mira recalls Krona’s words and shouts out “Vittal”, causing the undead to freeze. When Mira shouts it out again, Mara shouts out “Vittal” as well, freeing her and Elrick from Delissa’s control. As the two begin fighting Traigon’s guards, Vittal taking the form of a giant winged lion, appears in the sky above the temple. Seeing his plans going awry, Traigon grabs Delissia and sacrifices her to Caligara, who appears in the sky and unleashes energy blasts into the ground, creating openings to the catacombs that allow the undead warriors to emerge. Baldar and Mira crawl out of one of the holes and help Mara and Elrick, just as Pando arrives with the villagers to help with the fight as well. Elrick confronts Khrakannon and manages to kill him but when he confronts Traigon, he uses his power of illusion to get Elrick to drop his weapon. Traigon picks up the sword and goes to kill Elrick but he is shot in the back by both Mara and Mira and disappears in a flash of energy. With the battle over, the villagers all disperse and Baldar jokes with Elrick when he sees Elrick exiting the temple with his arms around both Mara and Mira.

So this is one of those so bad it’s good movies, except that it is really bad and only marginally good. The acting was ok, with Leigh and Lynette Harris doing decent jobs in their roles of Mara and Mira while Roberto Ballesteros was somewhat over the top with his delivery, making his portrayal of Traigon a little more humorous than intended. The basic premise of the story was just that; pretty basic and about what you would expect from this type of movie. However, the details that were added to flesh out the movie and make it more interesting actually tended to make it more confusing. The main source of humor in this movie tended to revolve around the twins naivety about the different sexes and some mild adult themed humor. The special effects were laughable bad, as were the fight scenes, and were one of the reasons why the director asked for his name to be written out of the film. If you enjoy bad movies, then you might like this movie but it is definitely not going to be for everyone.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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action, crime, movie, movie review, thriller

September 7th, 2017 Movie – Snakes On A Plane

snakes on a plane

In the summer of 2006, was there any movie that had a bigger buzz on the internet than today’s movie? All summer it seemed like there were memes and jokes coming out left and right about this movie. Personally, as soon as I heard about this movie I thought it was going to be some B-movie that would be debuting on Syfy but low and behold, this was going to be a big budget picture in theaters. Well this just screamed out for me to go watch it and of course, I did and enjoyed it immensely. Now it’s time to have some fun and watch today’s movie, Snakes On A Plane.

The plot: In Honolulu, Hawaii, Sean Jones is riding his dirt bike through the mountains but as he stops for a break, he sees a man suddenly fall from a bridge, tied by his ankles to the top. Sean goes to help the man but he tells Sean to run as some men come down from the bridge. Sean hides and watches as Eddie Kim, a gang boss in Los Angeles, proceeds to beat the man, who is a federal prosecutor, to death with a bat. Sean makes a run for it and the next day, sees the news report about the murder. When he turns off the TV, he hears a noise coming from the front door and sees 3 men trying to break in. As he goes to hide on the balcony, he is grabbed by FBI Agent Neville Flynn, who shoots two of the assailants and helps Sean to escape. After introducing himself and driving off, he takes to the local FBI building where he and his partner, Agent John Sanders, try to convince Sean to testify to witnessing the murder and he finally agrees to go through with it. At Honolulu airport, flight attendants Claire Williams and Tiffany are talking about this being Claire’s last flight and she is surprised to see Grace and Ken are crewing the flight as well. In an airport waiting area, Sean and Flynn are watching the police guard a private plane that is set to leave for L.A., but that is a diversion hoping to fool Eddie Kim as Sean will be flying a commercial red-eye flight instead. As bomb dogs are sent through the plane, Claire is told by the pilot, Captain Sam McKeon, that the FBI is taking over first class to protect a witness and that she is responsible for telling the first class passengers that they are now flying coach. However, Kim’s men find out which plane Sean is flying on and plan a trap, spraying some leis with a pheremone which are then given to the passengers as they board the plane. Once the passengers are boarded, the plane takes off but unknown to everyone, Kim’s men have placed a crate full of dangerous snakes in the cargo hold with a time release set to trigger halfway through the flight. When the timer goes off, the crate opens and the snakes begin making their way through the cargo hold and into the cabin. Kyle and Kelly, a couple who snuck into the restroom to join the mile-high club, are the first people to die as some snakes enter the restroom through the smoke detector that Kyle had disable and bite them, as is another man in another restroom. As the plane starts flying through a storm, more snakes begin slithering through the cabin while some other snakes have managed to short out the avionics. Captain Sam heads down to reset the board while his co-pilot, Captain Rick, keeps the plane steady but while he is down in the hold, he is bit in the neck by a snake but Claire and Rick didn’t see the attack and think he had a heart attack. Claire informs Flynn and Sanders about what happened and Sanders suggests turning back but Rick tells him that it will take longer to fly back than to keep going, then heads back to pilot the plane, informing LAX of what has occurred. As the turbulence from the storm continues, some snakes begin crawling out of the console and when Rick sees them, he starts hitting them with his clipboard, causing the oxygen masks to deploy in the cabin and more snakes to fall onto the passengers. The snakes begin attacking the people and when Sanders goes to see what is going on, he freezes up due to a fear of snakes and ends up being bitten. Flynn heads down and starts directing people to the front of the plane, then has them make a barrier out of the luggage that is there. Mercedes, a rich socialite, had been knocked unconscious during the initial panic but she is saved by another passenger, Chen Leong. Meanwhile, Grace hears a baby crying and heads back to rescue the mother and baby but is bitten by a snake and dies from the venom. Flynn helps Sanders back up to first class but Sanders dies from the venom so Flynn calls Agent Hank Harris in L.A. to explain the situation. Claire and Flynn check on Tommy and Curtis, two kids that were flying solo on the plane and when they see that Curtis has been bitten, one of the passengers works to suck out the venom. Harris goes to see Dr. Stephen Price, an expert on snakes that customs uses for animal smuggling cases. Back on the plane, the passengers are getting angry and demand answers, forcing their way up to first class to get them and Sean tells them that the snakes are on the plane in an attempt to kill him before he can testify. Flynn speaks with Price on the phone and tries to describe the snakes to him but Mercedes suggest using her phone to take pictures and email them to him. Meanwhile, Rick is attacked by a viper and falls into the cargo hold and when Claire notices the plane tilting, she goes to check on him but is confronted by the snake. Claire manages to kill it as Flynn enters the cockpit and they work to try and pull the plane out of it’s dive. Unfortunately, the dive causes the drink trolley’s to crash through the barricades, sending the snakes into the front of the plane. Sean tells everyone to head up to first class, as the snakes begin killing more people but as everyone rushes up the stairs, a giant Burmese python crashes through the overhead lights and begins slithering around. The passengers overcrowd the stairs and several of them end up breaking through the rails and falling to the floor, with several of them being impaled on objects below. As the python heads towards them, a British businessman named Paul throws Mercedes’ chihuahua Mary Kate at the snake to distract it and Mercedes attacks him, but stops as the python encircles Paul and begins constricting him. Everyone makes it up to first class and they seal the opening using a life raft as Flynn and Claire finally manage to pull out of the dive. Rick emerges from the hold and Claire ties a tourniquet around his arm to slow the flow of venom and Rick continues flying the plane but they soon realize that the air conditioning is no longer working. Flynn decides to head down to reset the breakers and Claire makes him a makeshift flamethrower to use as a weapon. With Claire guiding him by walkie-talkie, Flynn makes his way to the breakers, killing snakes along the way, and resets them, restoring air flow to the plane. Meanwhile, Price figures out the dealer most likely to have sold the snakes to Kim and Harris takes him out to the desert to confront the man. When the man is bitten by one of his own snakes, Harris withholds the anti-venom until the dealer tells him which snakes were placed on the plane and confirming that Kim was the one to order them. Harris calls Flynn to tell him the good news but they discover that Rick has died and there are more snakes in the cockpit. When Claire asks if anyone can fly the plane, Three G’s, a famous rapper, says his bodyguard Troy can fly it. Flynn comes up with a plan to clear the snakes out of the cabin by shooting out a window and allowing the explosive decompression to clear the cabin, then he and Troy head into the cockpit, while the hole widens and ends up sucking the life raft out the hole and then clearing out all of the snakes in the plane. Troy contacts LAX to tell them he is landing and though his only experience is through flight simulator games, he manages to safely land the plane. The authorities arrive to help everyone off the plane and give anti-venom to those people still alive. Sean and Flynn are talking when Sean is struck in the chest by a snake that managed to survive. Flynn shoots the snake, knocking Sean down the emergency slide and then jumps down to help up Sean, who survived due to his wearing a bullet proof vest. Afterwards, Flynn asks out Claire while Sean ends up getting the phone number and a kiss from Tiffany, who he saved earlier. Some time later, Sean and Flynn are at the beach in Bali and Sean is helping to teach Flynn how to surf.

Snakes On A Plane met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 69% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Snakes on a Plane lives up to its title, featuring snakes on a plane. It isn’t perfect, but then again, it doesn’t need to be.” Supposedly, Samuel Jackson’s agent wanted the movie title changed saying that Jackson could not work on a movie with that title but when he heard about it, Jackson demanded it be changed back saying, “That’s the only reason I took the job. I read the title.” The movie had finished shooting in 2005 but reshoots were made in March of 2006 to change it from a PG-13 to an R rating, including adding Jackson’s famed line, which was added due to it being used in an anticipatory Internet parody of the movie. With all of the buzz surrounding the movie, the studio thought it would be a big hit but it ended up being only mildly successful, earning $62 million off of a $33 million budget but would become a cult hit when it was released on video and began airing on TV.

This is one of the most honest movies you will ever see because it gives you exactly what it says it will; snakes on a plane. The acting is pretty good, with Samuel L. Jackson (Flynn), Julianna Margulies (Claire), and Nathan Phillips (Sean) all doing good jobs in their roles. I also like Kenan Thompson (Troy) and David Koechner (Rick) as they added a good bit of humor to the movie in the scenes they were in. The story was as simple as it was ridiculous and made for some very entertaining viewing. I will give them props for trying to explain how the snakes suddenly started attacking people instead of just leaving it to people’s imagination. The special effects regarding the snakes were pretty good, though there were plenty of times that the snakes looked a little too fake as they were slithering around or attacking people but that just added to the humor of the movie. Make no mistake about it, this is not a good movie in the classic sense of the word, but this is definitely an entertaining movie and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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October 4th, 2017 Movie – Snake Island

snake island

Ahh, I am back to my favorite type of movie, the killer animal movies. Now I actually remember renting this movie years ago when my cousin came down for a visit but didn’t get a chance to watch it as neither her nor my wife wanted to watch it. I never got around to renting it again and then while I was wandering Movie Stop (not Blockbuster this time), I happened to see it and went ahead and bought it. So let’s see if my impule buy was worth it as I watch today’s movie, Snake Island.

The plot: A group of tourists are on a jungle river cruise in Africa when they make a stop at a hunting resort called Snake Island. As the boat captain, Jake Malloy, and one of his crew, Righteous, help resort owner, Eddie Trent Jones, take some supplies back up to the lodge, the rest of the passengers (Malcolm Page, Heather Dorsey, Lisa, Lance, and Carrie) stay behind with Ronnie, his other crew member. When the three men arrive at the lodge, they find it abandoned and as Eddie goes looking for his staff, Jake and Righteous grab a beer before heading back to the boat. On the boat, the passengers hear an animal screaming in the bush and try to get a glimpse of it when Carrie notices a cobra on the roof of the boat. When it drops onto the boat, Malcolm tries to kill it but ends up puncturing a hole in the fuel drum before Jake arrives and is able to get it off the boat. With no choice, the group all head back to the lodge and Jake speaks with Eddie to see if he has any fuel and when he doesn’t, he asks to borrow his boat. Eddie says his boat is missing and that his radio isn’t working but offers the guest free lodging until they are able to leave. Jake has his crew start searching the resort to see if they can find anyone and Malcolm ends up searching with Jake. They find a couple of dead snakes and some cages and Jake explains that Eddie and his partners have a side business of selling illegal snake skins and meat. Suddenly, the two run into a spitting cobra and cover their eyes as they start to back away but they are saved by Eddie, who shoots the cobra. One of Jake’s crew finds a body with a baby snake crawling out of it and screams as he leaves the room, bringing Jake, Malcolm, and Eddie to the room. Eddie kills the baby snake and they theorize that Eddie’s other worker, Lloyd, had used the boat to get help instead of moving it to the other side of the island like Eddie thought but as they leave the room, they don’t notice another snake slithering away, or Lloyd’s body falling out of the closet. Eddie take Jake, Heather, Carrie, Lance, and Ronnie out on the hunting trail while Malcolm, Lisa, and Righteous stay behind. After spending a day out looking at the animals, they stop for a picnic lunch but don’t notice a snake dropping into the jeep. As they head back at night, Jake notices the snake and Eddie ends up wrecking the jeep as they all jump out and he kills the snake. The group walk back and Jake talks with Malcolm about what happened, saying it looked like the snake was deliberately going after Eddie. As the group has dinner, Lisa turns on some music and begins dancing, doing an impromptu strip tease. Ronnie joins in and they convince Malcolm to dance with them while Lance and Carrie head to their own cabin and Heather approaches Jake and they head off and end up having sex in the hot tub. Eddie meanwhile gets drunk and wandered off, complaining about his losing money, and ends up being attacked and killed by multiple snakes. Lance and Ronnie are starting to have sex when Carrie decides to change into some lingerie but when she comes back into the room, she finds that Lance has been killed by a cobra and as she goes to run, she is killed as well. Back at the main area, Lisa gets sick from drinking too much and Righteous escorts her to her cabin so she can throw up. Ronnie tries to convince Malcolm to sleep with her but he tells her he is married and doesn’t want to cheat on her and Ronnie gets upset. When she sees Jake returning with Heather, she gets upset and slaps Jake and Righteous, who had just returned, takes her away towards the boat. As they are walking, they find themselves surrounded by snakes and they Heather heads off to her cabin while Malcolm and Jake talk for a while and Malcolm shows Jake some information that he found about the previous owners of the island. Meanwhile, Lisa finishes throwing up and goes to take a shower but when she finishes, she is bit by a snake and she tries to run for help but collapses to the ground and dies. Heather gets ready for bed but she finds a snake in one of her pillows and screams, alerting Jake and Malcolm, who show up at her room as she is killing it. Meanwhile, Ronnie sees Ramalo, a local boy that delivers supplies to Eddie, approaching the dock and goes to tell Righteous but he has a snake crawling inside his shirt and as she goes to kill it, they both fall out of the tree. Ramalo reaches the dock and drops off the supplies, then goes to leave the bill but he is attacked and killed by a cobra. Back at the lodge, Jake grabs a shotgun and hands one to Heather, who says she knows how to use it, and tells them to get the others while he goes looking for Ronnie and Righteous. Back in the jungle, Ronnie regains consciousness just as a snake drops down on her and she screams as she is bit. Jake hears the scream and finds their bodies, with Ronnie briefly grabbing him before she dies, and he sees Ramalo’s body on the dock. Jake returns to the lodge to find it swarming with snakes and he helps Malcolm and Heather fend them off while learning that the others are all dead. After securing themselves, Jake comes up with a plan to get off the island, theorizing that Lloyd never left the island so the boat is on the other side of the island. After making some protective suits to wear, Malcolm heads towards the docks to get Ramalo’s boat, saying he will meet Jake and Heather at the other side of the island. Jake and Heather find the path overrun with snakes so he uses the riding lawn mower as a vehicle, running them over as he and Heather head for the boat. Meanwhile, Malcolm makes his way to the dock but he ends up falling down a creek and as he climbs out, he comes face to face with a cobra. He goes to shoot it but misses, then feels two pains on his back and realizes that her was bit by two baby snakes and collapses. Jake and Heather reach the river and don’t find the boat there, then see that they are surrounded by snakes. As they shoot some of the snakes, Heather sees a boat down at the bottom of a cliff and they are forced to use a zipline to reach the bottom. They make their way to the boat to find that Malcolm is inside, having barely survived the snake’s venom, and the three leave the island. Some time later, the island’s owner is trying to sell it to some new investors, who were interested in it after reading Malcolm’s latest book.

Wow, this was a pretty ridiculous movie. The acting was ok, with nobody really standing out, but I will say that towards the end where they were fending off the snakes, the overacting was just laughable. The story was an interesting idea but it felt too fake (yes, I know how that sounds) . The special effects regarding the snakes were rather cheap and there were some stupid moments with them, primarily when Lisa and Ronnie were dancing, as one snake was moving to the beat of the music while a cobra was moving it’s head back and forth looking at the two of them and it’s tongue was just hanging out. There was also the ridiculous dream sequence that Heather had towards the end of the movie that made absolutely no sense. Good for a few laughs but there are better snake themed b-movies out there to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, martial arts, movie, movie review

September 3rd, 2017 Movie – Snake Fist Dynamo

snake fist dynamo

Two martial arts movies in a row. It’s been a while since I have watched multiple martial arts movies. So once again I find myself annoyed over the fact that martial arts movies tend to have multiple titles and sometimes, those movies don’t match with the titles given. Now to find out what kind of movie I have on hand today as I watch Snake Fist Dynamo.

The plot: A teacher is doing some martial arts training while his students watch and cheer him on but he is more of a buffoon than an actual master. When they return to the classroom, they find a man there trashing the place who wants to kick them out of the building. The teacher tries to placate the man but when he tries to fight him, the teacher lures him outside and manages to embarrass the man, who quickly runs away. When the teacher is told that the man will be back with his brothers, he decides to leave so as to avoid causing more problems, and when the man returns with his brothers, they find the class being taught by the teacher’s oldest pupil. The teacher travels through the country and, after being attacked several times by snakes, stops at an inn to rest. While he is there, two ruffians come in and assault the owner and the wife begs the teacher help her. Another patron tells him that he will fight with him and the two end up chasing off the ruffians. The teacher continues on his way and meets another traveler and they begin traveling together, stopping to let a funeral procession go by. As they reach the next town and get something to eat, they realize they have no money so they stage a fake fight to get out of paying. When the townsfolk start chasing after them, they manage to escape but the teacher gets caught up in a fight among the funeral procession, who are fighting over some gold that was found on the hill. As the rumors of the gold on the hill persist, the mayor is asked to put an end to the rumors but things are still going crazy in town so he decides to hire a new security chief and the teacher is hired and he has his new friend help him. The teacher has a run in with some of the mayor’s aides, who are jealous that they were not chosen to be the security chief and they start a fight but the mayor quickly placates them. Later that night, the teacher attempts to break up an illegal casino but the two aides yell at him for doing so. The female workers begin attacking him, while the two aides attack his friend, but the fight is stopped when the mayor arrives and tells the teacher to let it slide. The next day, the teacher encounters the innkeepers wife, who was thrown out by her husband and had been at the casino until he shut it down. She attempts to seduce the teacher into telling her if there really is gold on the hill and he tells her no but there is a cave far off that supposedly contains treasure. The mayor and his assistant release two criminals that the teacher had captured and try to follow them to the treasure but they are killed by a mobster instead. The next day, the teacher and his friend are approached by his former student and the man who attacked them at the school, who begs the teacher to teach him martial arts. As they are talking, they are approached by the mobster and his boss and a fight breaks out between them. The two mobsters are being overwhelmed but the other patron at the inn that helped the teacher shows up with two more men and with their help, they are able to capture the two mobsters.

Ok, this was a short, confusing mess of a movie. The acting was ridiculous, made more so by the dubbing. The main character was an absolute goofball and the dubbing just made him seem completely incompetent. The story made no sense and just seemed like they threw a bunch of ideas out to see what stick. I’m serious, I had no idea what was going on in this movie. The fight sequences honestly looked poorly done and somewhat sloppy, which is saying something considering some of the movies I have seen. The only redeeming quality about this movie is that it was short, but that is about it.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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action, martial arts, movie, movie review

October 2nd, 2017 Movie – The Snake, The Crane, The Tiger

the snake the crane the tiger

If I might have a brief moment of your time, I would like to offer my condolences to the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas. I hate waking up in the morning and the first thing I see is another pointless mass shooting. Now as to today’s movie, I get to go back to watching a classic martial arts movie. It has been a while since I saw one of these and a nice change of pace as far as movies go. So let’s see what is in store for me with today’s movie, The Snake, The Crane, The Tiger.

The plot: The Ming Emperor’s kingdom is being overrun and the emperor decides to deny his enemies the pleasure of killing him by killing himself. His daughter, 3rd Princess Chang Ping, pleads with him not to kill himself but to escape so he can rebuild his kingdom but the Emperor cuts off her arm in an attempt to kill her. When the enemy forces enter the chamber, they find that everyone has committed suicide but Chang Ping has escaped so the leader, Li-Tzu Chang, places a bounty on her. Chang Ping gets word of this and makes plans to leave the city and meet up with her aide later so she can plan her revenge. As Li-Tzu Chang’s men search the city, three of them harass a girl as she is eating when Ping’s aide stops them and embarrasses them and they quickly return with more men but they find she has already left and taunts them with a basket of eggs and a note. Meanwhile, the princess hides from some more men but as she goes to leave, a stranger tells her that she is going to die. She makes her way out of the city and hides in a field but the stranger follows her and tells her to come out. When she doesn’t, the stranger leaps through the air and begins slashing the grass, killing several men that were hiding in the grass. Another man emerges from the grass and offers the stranger a job working for Li-Tzu Chang but the stranger refuses and after a brief fight, kills the man. The stranger then tells Chang Ping to come out and when she asks for his help, he says he will help if she sleeps with him but when he learns she is the princess, he agrees to help her. That night, they attack Li-Tzu Chang but they are outmatched and the stranger tells the princess to run and helps her escape before he is killed. Chang Ping makes her way to a small house in the mountains where she finds a man, Hai Yu-Sha, playing a flute and reciting poetry. Hai Yu-Sha has his servant help the princess but when the emperor’s men arrive and try to take her, he kills them. He then speaks with Chang Ping and has his servant hide her as more men arrive but when they find no sign of Chang Ping, they leave. Meanwhile, Chang Ping’s aide, Tsu Yu, searches for her but finds no sign of her. That night, Hai Yu-Sha tells Chang Ping of how he wants to kill Li-Tzu Chang and she tells him of a secret passage they can use to get into the palace and kill him, unaware that they are being watched by Hai Yu-Sha’s servant. As they reach the palace, they find themselves surrounded and see that Hai Yu-Sha’s servant had betrayed them. However, it is revealed that Hai Yu-Sha was actually the one who betrayed Chang Ping, while the servant is a patriot who kills Hai Yu-Sha and helps Chang Ping escape but is killed in the process. Chang Ping soon falls into a trap but as she fights, Tsu Yu shows up and helps her defeat the soldiers, then tells her where she has gathered some other patriots to help fight but they are unaware that one of the soldiers survived and heard them. Chang Ping and Tsu Yu arrive at the temple but learn that Li-Tzu Chang’s soldiers are coming and so they all hide. As the soldiers hunt for them, Tsu Yu cuts off her arm in order to pose as the princess and tells Chang Ping to hide. When the soldiers find Tsu Yu’s body, they believe it is the princess and take it back to Li-Tzu Chang, but one of the soldiers knows it is Tsu Yu but chooses not to say anything. Li-Tzu Chang decides to go ahead and hold a coronation ceremony to make him king and hangs Tsu Yu’s body in front of the palace. When Chang Ping sees this, it drives her mad and she ends up starting a food fight between two merchants but it is broken up by Butcher Tu. The next day, Chang Ping continues to cause problems in the merchant’s area but when the other store owners capture her, Butcher Tu tells them to leave her alone. That night, Butcher Tu is surprised to see Chang Ping had followed him home and he decides to help her out by giving her a job helping him. When his sick mother asks about Chang Ping, he tells her that she is the girl he will marry, in order to please his mother before she dies. Meanwhile, Li-Tzu Chang learns that a general of the former emperor is heading there with the intention of overthrowing Li-Tzu Chang so he decides to hid in the mountains. The wedding ceremony commences and Butcher Tu tries to explain it to Chang Ping, who seems subdued, but when he goes to tell his mother that he is going to help the other patriots kill Li-Tzu Chang, he finds that she has hung herself, leaving her a note about how she is happy he found someone. In the mountains, Li-Tzu Chang and his men are attacked by the patriots and after killing several of his men, Butcher Tu faces off against Li-Tzu Chang. Li-Tzu Chang is able to get the upper hand and is prepared to kill Butcher Tu but heis saved by Chang Ping. As the last of Li-Tzu Chang’s men appears, he sees the princess is still alive and fights with Li-Tzu Chang to spare their lives. Meanwhile, Chang Ping goes to check on Butcher Tu, who asks why she married him when he learns that she is the princess. Li-Tzu Chang goes to kill them but is eventually killed, though the soldier and Butcher Tu die from the injuries they suffer while Chang Ping goes on to become a nun.

This was a decent movie but a bit confusing. The acting was ok as far as I could tell while the dubbing was the typical ridiculous terribleness that you would expect. The story was confusing as they didn’t seem to clearly explain what was going on half the time. The pacing was also pretty bad as the movie seemed to jump around all over the place and didn’t really give you time to focus on what was going on until the end. The fight scenes were definitely the best part of this movie but there were not a whole lot of them to keep you interested for long, while the story telling portions were just boring. Something to have on in the background but there are better 70’s martial arts movies to watch.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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