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Verdict: ★★★ 1/2

First of all, let me say that I have always loved Brendan Gleeson’s work and he just. keeps. getting. better. I love how much humor he can bring to a crotchety old man (see: Mad Eye Moody), or how much sarcasm he can bring to a peaceful small town sheriff (see: Sheriff Hank in Lake Placid). His dark, searching eyes and pursed lips speak volumes!

In The Heart Of The Sea is yet another he can add to his resume of memorable characters that moved me. This is a seafarer’s tale of intense adventure, coming of age among sailors on a working ship, and a big, pissed off whale showing man that he is decidedly NOT in charge. Tom Nickerson (at first, played by Gleeson and in flashbacks played by the new Spiderman‘s Tom Holland) is an old man with a grave secret that he’s not told anyone about for decades… even his wife. And when a persistent novice author named Herman Melville comes calling, asking him to tell his tale so that he can write a new book, Nickerson finds himself facing the dark corner he’s kept hidden all these years.

Flashback to when Nickerson was an adventurous young boy, new to whaling aboard the Essex, out of Nantucket in 1820. He finds himself under the leadership of Cap’n Pollard (Benjamin Walker) and first mate Chase (Chris Hemsworth) as they are the last whaling boat to leave harbor that fateful year, promising to return with 2000 barrels of whale oil.

At first, things look good. Whales seem abundant in the south Atlantic… when suddenly they all disappear and for a full year, the Essex rounds Cape Horn and tries for the Pacific instead. They do find whales nearly halfway across the ocean and come across a particularly disruptive white whale that makes the Essex look like a bucket.

Directed brilliantly, as usual, by one of my all-time favorites Ron Howard, ITHOTS is a finely crafted sea story, one that people who have ever loved Melville’s, or Hawthorne’s, or Stevenson’s books of adventures will really enjoy. Gleeson, as stated, brought his A-game to the production and Tom Holland surprised me with the depth of character he gave as a young, naïve boy who doesn’t want to go through Hell, but finds himself facing it and takes that step with one eye closed.

However, as much as I like Hemsworth, I found him a bit distracting and not in a way my wife does. He kept slipping back and forth as if upon an unswabbed deck between a thick clam-chowder Massachusetts accent, and Thor’s deep, European huntsman articulation. Right when the whale guano hits the fan in several scenes, Hemsworth says something emotional to a fellow crewman with his JFK voice, then suddenly stands up as a leader of men breaking out in his Thor delivery and I fully expected to see Mjölnir the hammer in his hand.

A small thing, yes. But in a movie of this epic nature, it pulled me back out of the story a few times and into real life again for just a moment. That’s the worst, when you’re one of the sailors right there in the action and something is happening… and suddenly you look around and remember you have a lawn to mow later. Crap! Oh wait, the movie. Right! But still, it’s a small thing and the ENTIRE rest of the movie more than covers the balance.

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Verdict: ★★★ 1/2

About twenty years ago, I read a small blurb which described Schwarzenegger having gotten a hold of a script that dealt with a lonely man (he wanted to play the lead) who was the last human on earth after everyone else became vampires. It was sort of a take on I Am Legend, and the script followed the man as he continued to lock himself up in his house each night as the vampires screamed and taunted him from outside. Then every day he’d re-build what they’d torn up, do his chores and whatever, then lock up as dusk fell again. Definitely a character study, the movie would have required amazing emotional depth to carry it through.

The movie never was realized, but I was immediately reminded of the script he’d read when I watched Maggie. I remember thinking back then that there was no way Schwarzenegger had the acting chops to pull off a movie of that magnitude without some sort of fast paced action sequences. I may have been right, I don’t think he did at that time. But now, 20 years later, he indeed may!

In the monster movie genre, there are action packed zombie flicks… there are goofy, funny zombie flicks… there are character study zombie flicks… then there’s Maggie. Schwarzenegger throws us a curveball with this change of pace from his usual blast furnace of heart-stopping action and gunfire, and slows us down to a nice, passive walk on the farm as Wade Vogel, a small town Midwestern man who speaks with an Austrian accent that no one seems to question.

Wade’s daughter goes missing just as the zombie apocalypse happens and he finds her in a nearby city with a bite on her arm. Bringing her home instead of taking her to “Quarantine”, he breaks all the rules and promises to um… take care of it when she does finally turn. Apparently turning into a zombie takes weeks because this ordeal Wade and his daughter go through is a gradual, cruel meander toward certain death with plenty of time to be afraid and think about your humanity.

Maggie (Abigail Breslin) is your typical teenaged girl, with boys and a diary and cute colors on her nails. As she turns, and her skin mottles, and her eyes milk over, and she starts to show traits of zombie cannibalism, her friends try to comfort her and invite her to parties and all that. But the overshadowing horror of unspeakable things lurks ever in the shadows of this world and she finds that no matter what she does or how she acts, nothing is the same as it once was. She grows up entirely too fast in those few weeks for a girl her age.

Her daddy, Wade, meanwhile has to keep that brave face which is getting harder and harder to do as other zombies (neighbors they once knew) continue to show up and Wade has to deal.

Maggie is more than a zombie movie… it’s a study in humanity and love. Beautifully done, yet a little slow paced, it keeps you wondering how things will play out and if Wade will actually “take care of it” when the inevitable happens. One thing is clear, however… Ahnold has the chops to pull this off and I look forward to more emotionally driven roles from him in the future!

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The Hobbit
An Unexpected movie review!

Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert! AAAOOOOGAH! AAAOOOOGAH!!
Turn back now if you don’t want any flick deets!
You’ve been warned!

This post is designed as a discussion for those who have already seen the movie. If you haven’t seen it yet, drop what you’re doing and go now then come back! (laughs) If you have seen it, by all means, let me know what you think!


Okay, this movie was nothing like the book… but it kicked butt anyway. The only thing I really saw that was similar to J.R.R. Tolkien’s 330 page paperback (across which they made three full sized, 2+ hour movies) was the names of the dwarves, Gollum and the Ring, and the fact that there are orcs in it. I’m sure there are other similarities that I just don’t remember.

I am discovering Peter Jackson’s knack for organizing Tolkien’s words and making them into a more streamlined and easier to understand adventure. I gotta be honest, I almost didn’t make it through Tolkien’s four Ring books because they were (to me) extraordinarily scattered. I may be alone in that. I have a friend who reads the entire Ring novel set every year without fail.

The movies, however, were linear and easy to entertain. The Hobbit (first movie) is no exception. Even the opening title shot is dead on similar to the original trilogy! Again: Spoiler alert! Do not read further if you want to be surprised!! I won’t say who’s in it, but I will say this… Gandalf isn’t the only one from the original trilogy who is coming back. That’s what I really loved about what Jackson did with this. He fit it into the full series perfectly as if they were all filmed together.

Now, that said, nothing in this movie was new and would knock your socks off. I mean, at least Star Wars, Eps 1-3 had original creatures in it. This one didn’t… you’ve seen ’em all before. But, for a prequel that ties up loose ends from the LOTR movies (that we all wanted to see tied) it works.


The Hobbits 2 and 3

Wait. I don’t even remember the second movie. There was a dragon, I think. And um… Hm.

Okay, here’s the deal folks. I wrote the first review above after I saw the first Hobbit in theaters back in 2012. I saw the second Hobbit movie and was so disgruntled by the change of pace from the first movie, that I came home and took a nap instead of review it. Bilbo doesn’t change his monotone pace of dialogue at all, or the way he presents his character in expression. Everything he says, and I mean everything, is delivered with a quick look of surprise before giving a “if it’s what I can do for you, I’ll do it” sort of speech, after which everyone smiles or looks at him gratefully. That’s pretty much it. There are lots of action sequences that I’m certain will make awesome rides, especially a crazy barrel ride down a stream in the middle of a fight with those relentless orcs.

Oh! And an elf girl who wasn’t even in the book is having a game of footsies with Kili the movie’s dwarvish eye-candy. This was one of the most shallow Hollywood romances I’ve ever been spoonfed. I think I would have enjoyed this romance more if it’d been Bombur, the fat, goofy dwarf who would have had to put down what he’s eating first before saying something swoonworthy to Tauriel’s gleaming elf eyes. Then, at least, I’d have gotten a laugh out of it.

I didn’t even want to see the third one by the time the credits rolled. See, in the LOTR movies, the creatures we saw were all pretty much archetypically original. The Nazgul, the balrog… even Sauron’s minions had some originality to them. The creatures, antagonists, all had a history. The Nazgul, nine kings of men given the rings of Sauron. The balrog, a creature of ancient earth-forming origin who had been “awoken” in the deep by greedy dwarves. History means originality and originality means movie tickets bought! I enjoyed all these creatures as antagonists that the movie’s heroes had to deal with in the LOTR movies.

Not one of The Hobbit’s antagonists were original. Not one. Giant man-eating spiders… saw a better one in Return of the King and she had a name and a history behind her. Cave trolls… saw it in The Fellowship, and Boromir made a joke about it. Big dragon… saw it in Reign of Fire. Wait, that wasn’t a Tolkien flick. Oh well, it’s been done already. If you’re gonna give me a big dragon that plays games with the Hobbit, at least make it worth my time. Don’t just give me ten minutes of dialogue between the two and call it good. Strip out some of that romance time and put more dragon/Hobbit time in there. The entire trilogy built up to that one moment! But no.

Even Laketown’s Master (a mayor or whatever he was) had a Wormtongue-esque 2nd in command who was a weasel and followed him around murmuring things to change power and make the Master change his mind about how policy should be run. Seen it before in Rohan! Come on, Peter! Some originality would be good here!

So the third one comes out and I surprise everyone I know and don’t go see it. I Red Boxed it and frankly, I’m glad I did. More of Bilbo’s surprised-expressions, more relentless orcs, more sweeping scenes of thunderous armies marching toward something. The third movie carried some halfway decent fight scenes, but most of them were so outlandish they made even the Fast and Furious fight scenes look like reality. And again, the dragon… the one antagonist for which the entire journey to the Lonely Mountain was started, gets way too little screen time.

And where were the songs in the second two movies?? There were two pretty cool songs the dwarves all sang in the first one… one was a catchy little ditty they all danced to while washing Bilbo’s dishes and the second one was one they all crooned while enjoying their evening smoke! Awesome!!

The second two movies… nothing. No songs. None! What the hell?

All in all, The Hobbit as a trilogy is a very poor offspring from its wonderful predecessor trilogy and doesn’t live up to it at all. My wife wants to keep all of them on the shelf so we have the full collection, but when I asked her if she even liked the Hobbit movies, she shrugged. “Naw.”

By the way, I have The Hobbit 1 and 2 dvds for sale if anyone would like to buy them.

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Night At The Museum Secret Of The Tomb 575x343My Dad and I went to see this at the theater primarily because it was Robin William’s last live-action film . His last movie,Absolutely Anything, in 2015 will only feature his voice. I enjoyed the first one ,still haven’t seen the second one but didn’t ever feel like they were must own dvds.. With this one I do! There are celebrity cameos that very pleasant surprises, and Rebel Wilson has a delightful role as the British Museum’s Night Guard and she flirts with Ben Stiller by saying I could have been a supermodel if only I didn’t love pizza so much !

The new character of Lancelot  is really well played by Dan Stevens, and there are some great sight gags! The museum director, played by Ricky Gervais, is always fun and he should have a bigger part. There was a planned spinoff of the Owen Wilson and Steve Coogan  characters but this idea was scrapped with Robin Williams death. The movie is dedicated to both him and Mickey Rooney, who also died earlier this year at grand old age of 93

The whole audience was laughing a lot and it is a great popcorn movie for all ages, Not going to win any awards but is perfect for a holiday weekend when you just want to relax and giggle!  I give it 4 out 5 !




Now as you have probably gathered, I love movies, does not matter to me if its Silent cinema, War movies, Sci-fi, Art-House or modern cinema. I will watch anything. People always ask me what my favorite movie is of all time?, my reply is Citizen Kane, this is usually met by “why not something modern” or “Your just going along with all critics with that choice”. So what is it that makes me adore this movie so much and makes me go back to it time and kane 1again?.

The man himself Orson Welles was only 25 when he started making this film, that is as the writer, director and the star, at 25 that is one hell of an amazing thing to do, now I don’t know about you but I certainly couldn’t do that at 25. The film has a brilliant narrative that was so revolutionary for the time. It starts with a news reel telling us the story of this Charles Foster Kane and what he did and accomplished in his life.. and the scandals. This is the way of Orson Welles telling us what is in store for us and this enigmatic figure of a man he has created. The character Kane lives in his own secluded mansion called Xanadu. Xanadu is showing the perfect metaphor of what this man Kane is, Dark, Secluded and mysterious. The narrative i refer too is “ROSEBUD”, Rosebud is Kane’s last word on his death bed, he whispers it in his last breath, a news reel reporter is hired to find out who/what was Kane’s rosebud. We finally find out at the end, Orson Welles is pure genius when he lets us discover who/what is Rosebud, just like that Ghostly Whisper at the start, like a metaphorical whisper, sort of paying homage to the start its wonderfully done.

The direction and camera work was amazing for a first time director, Welles goes for low angles, high angles and even having the camera zoom in through a sky light and back again. Its little touches like this that make me awe at the film. Welles could of used a cast of well know actors but no….. he brought in fellow radio stars like Joseph Cotten, who would go on to have a terrific career in the movies. The narrative, use of camera, the cast, the story and Orson himself stealing the show as Kane, whom has this sort of self cockiness that suits the character he has created. All these just help me love this film so much, yes there is probably better films out there, but every time I watch this film I take something different away from it. I would love to know if anybody else likes this film, or, what your favorite film is and what you like about it so much. Thanks for reading and keep listening to the brilliant shows these guys do.

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the-shining-uk-movie-poster-1980We arrive at 1975, this is the year of Stanley Kubrick’s costume drama Barry Lyndon. Barry Lyndon is a 18th century Irish man played by Ryan O’Neal .The film follows his rise from been a nobody on the run from the law to getting married into Nobility. Unfortunately his success doesn’t come from a genuine way of hard work, he lies, cheats and gambles his way to getting noticed, and eventually finds the power he craves by marring a Noble woman. For me it is Kubrick’s hidden gem, the way he shot the film is brilliant, the use of the English countryside and huge manors for interior shots is beautiful, well worth a watch I say.

1980, now we have Stanley Kubrick’s movie about a descent into madness, The Shining. Jack Nicholson’s performance is just brilliantly insane, the look he has in his eyes just looks wild and savage like, he really looks like something has clicked in his head and has drove him over the sanity barrier. Full Metal Jacket is next for Kubrick in 1987, this is a war movie set during the Vietnam War.  This film is like a film in two halves, the first following recruits at a training camp, the second, following the war through the eyes of one of the recruits from the first half. For me the first half of the film is stronger, in my opinion. Lee Emery plays a drill Sgt. training these recruits he is such a character you just never forget him and some of the things he comes out with. Kubrick goes back to his strong use of music too, lets say you will never see the Micky Mouse Club Song sung in any other way stranger and darker than this.

It would be a long wait for his next film, 1999 to be exact. That film was Eyes Wide Shut starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise. This film is another not often talked about gem from Kubrick. The film is like one big daydream, the use of color and long camera panning shots is brilliant. Believe it or not both leads were great in their roles too. This film I believe has a R rating in the US, believe me it needs that rating, there is a few scenes taking place in a mansion with a strange cult, these scenes are not for young eyes. This film reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock‘s work because its like a mystery cat chase mouse film. Unfortunately Kubrick never got to see the release of it he died on March 7th, 1999. The world lost a great visionary director, who tried to make every film different but also somewhat familiar with his usual tricks of music and sound. Watch his movies you will not regret it. Thanks for reading.

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After re-watching all the Stanley Kubrick movies, the thought came to me, why not make your next post on Movie Madness Podcast about his films, so here it is. Stanley Kubrick for me, made his films always with a sparkle of mad story telling, with a twist of classical music thrown in, its like he is making these films for him and no one else. For me he was a Visionary he wanted us to not just watch but also listen to and feel his movies. With what could be a controversial move I’m starting from 1960, for I feel that is the start of the genius. 1960 was the release of Spartacus. This very famously starred Kirk Douglas in one of his most famous roles. This movie was a huge commercial success earning six Academy Award nominations and winning four, this told the world that Kubrick was a great Director in the making. Next was Lolita in 1962, this film for me is hard to watch, it stars the great James Mason who plays a character who has a crush on a young teenage girl, and  follows their journey through their lives. Its great for James Mason’s acting but I could not warm to it. Next up was the brilliant Dr Strangelove, in 1964. This film was a black comedy set after World War II, and the start of the cold war. Its a brilliant watch with Peter Sellers playing three very different roles. For me this starts off the path of Kubrick doing movies that stay with you because, you are always thinking about them, even days after watching them. 1968 is here and so is 2001: A Space Odyssey.   This for me is one off the greatest science fiction movies of all time. It shows us the story of Mans rise to power and where it could lead in the future. Its worth seeing alone for the brilliant use of music and early special effects, and not forgetting Hal, who in my view is, one of the greatest “Movie Villains” of all time. 1971 and A Clockwork Orange is brought into the world by Kubrick. This is one great movie but, it is, a very violent movie. The film could be described as an exploration of violence and experimental rehabilitation by the law, and what sort of measures they could go to to stop this violence. I was glued to this film there is so much going on, it shows how far Kubrick would go to make his film stand out and get noticed. I’m keeping this short and sweet. I shall return with final part of this great Directors work.


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There were so many posters to choose from!

I don’t get out much these days, so I will begin my reviewing with some old, horror favorites. I will start with a film directed by Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci, The Beyond, aka, The Seven Doors of Death.

The Beyond is the second and greatest entry in Fulci’s Gates of Hell Trilogy. The plot follows Liza as she seeks to reopen an old Louisiana hotel she inherited, not knowing that it sits on a gate to hell. Evidently, there is no “Gates of Hell” clause in Louisiana’s disclosures in real property laws. Shoot. There is some confusion in this film, as the plot is not entirely linear, and there is a lot of surreal imagery.

The imagery is one of the crowning achievements of The Beyond. Fulci is known for his buckets o’ gore, and he does not fail to disappoint here, with the signature eye-gouging scene, but I really feel the horrifically gross special effects take a backseat to the cinematography. This film is beautifully shot. And for the people who don’t like deliberate pacing and atmosphere, there’s also a blind ghost, killer tarantulas, face melting, and a zombie attack. So there.

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Gritty, dark and depressing, Safe House manages to thoroughly underwhelm. With Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington in the lead I was expecting Safe House to be filled with excellent dialogue, thrilling chase scenes and real chemistry. Instead I found myself in a predictable repeat: rogue agent, disenchanted, dispirited and turned against the establishment. Denzel Washington is the traitor,Tobin Frost, an ex-agent that the CIA wants desperately.They finally have him.

Hunted by unknown enemies Frost turns himself in at the American Consulate, South Africa. Guess what, the CIA has a “safe house” in South Africa manned by Matt Weston (Ryan Reynolds), a bored to tears “housekeeper” waiting for his chance at adventure. Weston gets it in torrents when Frost’s enemies break in, kill the guards and destroy the safe house. Only barely do Weston and Frost escape and manage to contact the agency. Frost, a particularly annoying manipulator, manages to infuriate Weston by constant chatter, violent attempts to escape and general uncooperativeness.

The bulk of the film is about Frost’s attempts to get free and Weston’s attempts to hold him and, once Tobin gets loose, recapture him. Unfortunately Safe House never really works. Frost and Weston don’t relate well, Frost does not garner sympathy until way to late and there is never a connection between Frost and Weston. There is plenty of action in the film, lots of good fight scenes and some great chase scenes but Safe House is not as much sheer fun as the Bourne or Transporter series, though it is more believable.

Sadly, Safe House is predictable, pedantic and derivative. The idea of safe houses available for questioning (including water boarding) placed strategically around the world is the only intriguing element to the film. Everything else has been done. Even the Safe House idea is underused in favor of the action sequences. I would have loved to see Reynolds and the CIA staff interacting more in the “house.”

Expectedly, the film has the seemingly compulsory political statement embedded: the CIA is a villainous organization that expeditiously uses its operatives then destroys them without a second thought. I think that’s part of what ruins the film…the message is forced. Oh, and also, the leadership of the agency is more than ready to torture, abuse and break all the rules, even killing each other with not a second thought. This is Bourne Identity only without the heart.

I don’t recommend Safe House. Perhaps if you’re stranded on a desert island with only a generator, TV, DVD player and Safe House it might be worth watching, otherwise it’s a great miss.

Rating 2 out of 5

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Once again were back to help you add to your Netflix instant que!! Sometimes you need a little nudge and we’re happy to help. Leave a comment with your picks.

Doug’s Pick – Rollerball: This movie is proof again that the original is almost always better than the remake. James Caan stars as Jonathan E. the greatest player ever in the ultra violent sport of Rollerball. His popularity reaches a level that threatens those in control of the game and society to take drastic measures to stop him!

Melissa’s Pick – Insidious: Insidious brought back memories of the way I felt many years ago watching poltergeist. Although it may have some of the same characteristics, this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the end.

D.J.’s Pick – At The Earth’s Core: This is a fun movie from 1976 that’s based off of an Edgar Rice Burroughs book. It stars Doug McClure, Caroline Munro and Peter Cushing. I loved this movie as a kid. It’s a cool adventure with lots of monsters. The CGI generation probably won’t like this because the monsters are all of the men-in-rubber-suit variety. I place this movie in the Doug McClure Quadrilogy which includes The Land that Time Forgot, People That Time Forgot and Warlords of Atlantis, all of them really cool movies.

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