Movies You Watched in September 2013
Ben Lott
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Mason
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of September. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: Metropolis [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked]
Yours Truly,
United States
Raleigh
North Carolina
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There must have been a moment at the beginning, where we could have said no. Somehow we missed it. Well, we'll know better next time.
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Metropolis
Got to see this projected large on the wall at my buddy's apartment.
2001 steam-punkish futuristic anime inspired by the original 1927 movie.
One of the best movies I've seen this year, one of those whose scenes will stick with me forever (like the robot detective standing down the mob, and the Ray Charles "I Can't Stop Loving You" scene at the end).

It's a very stylized anime, almost reminiscent of Tintin actually in places. Touches on issues like the role of robots in society, some parts even reminded me of some of the themes of Battlestar Galactica (the new one).

Highly recommended to anyone who likes sci-fi and/or anime.


Also saw Clerks 2. Meh. Had some moments, but nothing compared to the original.

Also saw Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. I'm so-so on stoner movies but this was an above average one, I'd recommend it.
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2. Board Game: Onward, Christian Soldiers [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:4990]
Leonard Moses II
United States
Hixson
Tennessee
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Arn, the miniseries

I watched this on Netflix instant watch. My wife opted not to see it, but now wants to. I guess we will watch our new Bluray of it. For swords and sandals fare Arn is something I would highly recommend.
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3. Board Game: Sucker [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
Luke Morris
England
Faversham
Kent
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SUCKER PUNCH

From that guy who did 300 and Watchmen (Zack Snyder right?), Sucker Punch is a film about a girl who is sent to a mental institution (rather unfairly) and makes friends there. Sounds very depressing so far right?

Well their story of trying to escape it told through alternate reality flashes including ridiculous fight scenes (such as against hoardes of clockwork German soldiers in a heavily stylised World War I trench).

The soundtrack is STUNNING (Bjork, covers of bands like Chemical Brothers etc), effects and the whole look of the film is cool too. Story is interesting enough. It's far from the greatest film ever but I enjoyed it. This trailer might tell you whether you would find it entertaining or not...

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4. Board Game: How to Host a Murder: The Watersdown Affair [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:9033]
Andy Relf
United Kingdom
Bournemouth
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So far this month I've seen...


The Perfect Host

This has been on my list of films to watch for quite a while, but found out it's not what I thought it would be at all. Odd is probably the word I'd use to describe it. Odd.

Bernie

Not the sort of film I usually watch but it caught my eye, not bad not a film I'd watch and watch over and over but definitely worth watching once.

Doors Open

A film about an art robbery. Starring Stephen Fry. Do I need to say any more?


I'd recommend watching all of them, probably Doors Open is my favourite out of these but all of them are worth a watch.
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5. Board Game: World War Z: The Game [Average Rating:4.55 Overall Rank:16548]
Ronster Zero
United States
California
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I really enjoyed this movie. I did not read the book, so I had nothing to compare it to that way.

As a movie I enjoyed the pacing and action in the movie. Not an over the top zombie flick, not a pure action movie... just about right for what it was.

I'd actually like to watch it a 2nd time when it comes out on DVD.
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6. Board Game: Pain Doctors: The Game of Recreational Surgery [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:13875]
Rob M.
United States
College Park,
Maryland
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I watched Pain & Gain. I'm still not sure how I feel about this movie. I like dark humor but this one had some real uncomfortable moments. The scene where Dwayne Johnson is disposing of some evidence had me laugh and then feel a bit disgusted about laughing at it.



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7. Board Game: September [Average Rating:5.23 Overall Rank:14612]
The root of all evil ...but you can call me cookie.
United States
Gainesville
FL
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My list will grow as September goes on but here's from the 1st week:

World's End:
The next installment of the movies by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. It was an excellent romp if you liked their previous films. Hot Fuzz is still probably my favorite of the bunch but then again seems like the middle movie is always the best one right? I laughed a lot though and will most likely see it again when it hits the cheap theaters for 2 bucks.

Pain and Gain:
I loved this one. I'm a big fan of dark humor and this one just tripped me out. I definitely found myself laughing when Dwayne was disposing of the evidence...and I didn't find myself disgusted by it...does that make me a bad person?

Dredd:
I finally saw this thanks to Netflix listing it this month. I really quite liked this one too. I find I'm liking that Karl Urban guy. I don't think playing the role of Judge Dredd is that difficult (even though Stalone couldn't pull it off) but it was really cool that he never took the helmet off even once in the entire movie. THAT'S Dredd.

Now You See Me:
Seems like I've enjoyed quite a few movies this week, this one was at the aforementioned 2 buck theater but it was on Tues. which is One Dollar day. I didn't know too much beyond 1. Magicians 2. Doing a bank robbery but it was only a buck so WTH you know. It was quite a bit different than just that premise and turns out that I liked it, a lot.

-----------------------------------
Some more I watched this past week.
-----------------------------------

The Conjuring:
I admit it I'm a fan of James Wan movies. Sure Saw I and II had it's problems but it was cool for first big films. Dead Silence was a great homage to the haunted house story and very enjoyable. Death Sentence is one of the coolest revenge films ever made in spite of Kevin Bacon. Insidious was just down right creepy and I can't wait for Insidious 2. The Conjuring however could possibly be his best film. I don't get shaken up in scary movies anymore. My blood pressure and pulse are never elevated. This movie did that to me. Some of the acting from the kids left a bit to be desired and true it was hard seeing Ron Livingston and NOT thinking of him as Peter Gibbons but the movie was great very happy I saw it on the big screen. There was a lot of nice camera work and really only a couple things scriptwise that I felt should have been addressed.

World War Z:
Ummmm better than I thought it would be...that's really all I have to say about it. The book was awesome. The audio book was even better as it utilized a full cast but was still unabridged. WWZ felt like 1/6th of the book and I suppose we'll have to see how the inevitable next movie to really say how I feel about this inevitable franchise.

-----------------------------------
Incoming...more movies I watched.
-----------------------------------

2 Guns:
I am just not a huge action movie guy. I really can't stand movies like the Die Hard series or The Expendables. Action in a film I care about the plot to is perfectly acceptable. All that said however I liked this one quite a lot and knew I would from having first watched the trailer. I mean...why didn't someone put Washington and Wahburg together before this? What a great duo and watching them together on the screen is really the only reason at all to check this one out.

Room 238:
This is a documentary about different people's ideas on hidden meanings behind The Shining by Stanley Kubrick. As the movie is so very very different from the book it stands to reason that there is some purpose in this. Not to mention most film makers cut their teeth on horror then move on to other types of films, not prove themselves with movies like A Clockwork Orange and 2001: A Space Odyssey...and THEN go to making horror movies. I found this very interesting to watch even though with about half of the stuff being presented I felt like these people were REALLY stretching pretty hard to get to the conclusion they wanted. Other elements I felt were so blatant and in your face it feels like it should have been obvious. Cool watch no doubt.

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh:
I love me some horror movies and this one was a very cool movie to watch. I know it will leave a lot of people dry as it kind of progresses slowly but I loved it. The set was so amazing it's hard to call this a minimalist movie but really there's only one actor on screen almost the whole movie long (Aaron Poole) so that seems to qualify on that side of things. I love a movie that sparingly uses a soundtrack and instead focuses on the Foley artist to create sounds and atmosphere. This movie nails it! Music comes in at the right time but the house is just down right creepy. Then that ending...I just smiled and literally laughed out loud. I was just so damn happy with the writing.
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8. Board Game: Argo [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:6601]
Randy Cox
United States
Clemson
South Carolina
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Argo

Back in January, we reserved this from the library--and were 92nd or 95th in the queue to see it. I checked after a couple of months and we were 42nd. Wouldn't you know, we got a call while away on vacation and missed our spot in line. So we got back in line, now only about 40 or so long. And we went back on vacation a few weeks later and, you guessed it, we missed or spot again.

So we kinda forgot about it until my wife was at the library last week and went to see how deep the queue was, only to see that it was in the library and available. So she brought it home and we watched it.

Of the few movies we've seen over the past few years, this one held our attention best of the lot. Even knowing the story and outcome, it was still quite compelling. Good flick.
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9. Board Game: Oblivion [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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OBLIVION


I skipped this one in theatres because of the so-so reviews. However, once it came out, I heard from a couple of people that it wasn't really that bad, and I knew it looked good, so I rented it.

OBLIVION looks great. No doubt about it. Except the scene where Tom Cruise rides through a buried bridge (San Francisco bridge?). That part looked like a video game cutscene.

I liked the drones design, the helicopter design, the home design (modern and sterile), the giant water-sucking machines. All of that was cool.

I don't mind Tom Cruise. I like him in action movies and sci-fi. I think Olga Kurylenko is very attractive and can pull a dramatic role like she was doing in Magic City (Starz series that unfortunately got cancelled). I like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, I find him a more handsome and better-acting Dennis Leary-look alike.

What I don't like it's everything else.

The story is not bad, it's just stuff we've seen before in better movies. I was puzzled by what exactly was wrong with it that my whole family's reaction was "meh". I think it is the pacing. The movie is treated as if it were more epic than what it truly was. I kept noticing the bombastic soundtrack on both mundane scenes (Tom Cruise rides a futuristic motorcycle and the music leads you to believe he's about to charge a battalion of enemies when he's just commuting) and cliched scenes (the whole ending).

The movie's plot is pretty interesting for the first third of the movie, then it chooses the most predictable and disappointing route. Some things are not well-explained, at least to me, but I did end up with a bunch of questions that my girlfriend had the answers for (ELYSIUM all over again...darn it, she's much better at picking up details than me!) yet they weren't like "oh, now I get it...now the movie is great!"...they were just like "okay...still meh".

It's too bad that they nailed some sweet visuals for a new sci-fi entity, then they retread grounds covered in both old and very recent movies, especially a low-budget fantastic little sci-fi movie known as MOON, which excels far beyond OBLIVION in both concept, plot and acting (one-man show).

I give it a 5.5 out of 10. It's not a bad movie, it's just uninspiring and will not leave you satisfied.
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10. Board Game: Tales of Ulysse [Average Rating:4.34 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?


I'm not a Coen Bros. fan. Their movies and sense of humor are more miss than hit with me, and so is their pacing and tendency to order the cast to over-act (especially in the semi-comedies), so when I saw in the credits that this revered film was one of theirs (they are critics' darlings), I steeled myself for a probable disappointment.

Luckily, it was not.

I'd say the first third of the movie is not as good as the rest. I think it takes a while for the trio of main characters to settle in as likable, and for the audience to accept the overall weirdness of the movie. I'm okay with weird like BIG FISH, as long as comedy permeates throughout.

There's a lot of folk music in here, which is good if you don't hate folk music. I'd prefer country or soul, but most sources say the soundtrack for this film is outstanding, so I guess it's their credit that I liked it enough that it didn't bother me.

George Clooney's character has the gift of gab like most of his characters, but this one is a semi-educated almost faux wiseman. He comes across as a folksy philosopher that occasionally thinks he's far more clever than he is. The other two guys (Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson) are dumber than a bag of hammers. They all over-act to the point of ridiculousness, but that was on purpose.

The movie is a mix of semi-truthful historical facts and loose mythological references (I didn't get most of them, but I read them afterwards and it's cool how they did them even if the Coens never read the Odyssey). Funny, that's how I feel about it too. In the similar spectrum of the genre, I still consider BIG FISH and FORREST GUMP better films, but maybe not THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON, but it is definitely a pretty unique movie, if only for the folk theme and the abundance of songs of that period (even yodeling!).

I give it a 7.5 out of 10, but I think most people would enjoy it more than me. It was definitely a very successful movie and my girlfriend liked it a lot. She said it was very funny and liked the music.
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11. Board Game: Now You See It [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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NOW YOU SEE ME


The pic above pretty much sums up my thoughts.

Unfortunately for this movie, there's a movie out there known as THE PRESTIGE that set the bar for smart films dealing with magicians, and it happens to be one of my favorite movies (I've seen it like 4 or 5 times).

I wouldn't be so harsh on this quick-moving-cool-but-wafer-thin-in-content had it not tried again and again to pass itself as a clever movie. That's what I've previously referred as "THE ISLAND effect".

The characters are cool (at first, but the cast is charismatic), and the overall concept is cool as well, but the execution favors the CGI and unwisely mixes explained magician tricks with impossible magic tricks, which THE PRESTIGE did better (THE ILLUSIONIST also had that problem, but I liked it more than this movie).

The final plot twist is a "shocking swerve." Made to be a cool twist, turns out to be unpredictable and overall meh.

The punishment given to a certain "villainous" character is not appropriate for his "crime."

There's a way-forced romantic relationship between characters with a chemistry akin to snail and salt.

The main cast are supposed to be folk heroes, but some of their actions are reckless and others are pointless (I know you've suffered, here, this will set you back on track...oops, didn't I say it was temporary?).

Overall, if you can turn off your brain, they are far worse movies out there.

For me, there were too many holes in the magician's jacket.

I give it a 5 out of 10.
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12. Board Game: French Revolution [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Before I start posting my remaining 3 Bond reviews I just had to take a quick moment and mention a couple films that I saw for the first time earlier this year and recently watched again...

Les Miserables = I may like it even better than the first time I saw it, if that's possible. This is a film that I think will be in the top of my ratings for a long time. I absolutely love it and do not take back the perfect rating I gave it months ago.

42 = The movie was still good, and I'm always a sucker for baseball films, but it just didn't grab me as much this time. Maybe I just need that audience sharing in the experience with me in order for all the emotional stuff to impact me fully. The humor seemed less effective this time, and I just wasn't as impressed. I think if I were rating it today I'd knock a full star off of my original rating and place it at now.
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13. Board Game: Casino Royal [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Reviews, Bond Reviews


This film has become my gold standard by which all other Bond films are measured. It sounds ridiculous because Casino Royale does not follow any of the patterns from the Bond films of the past. Famous lines are never uttered, not one nifty gadget is ever used, and heaven forbid he's blonde! But seriously, this reboot has a very different feel from any prior Bond movie. Daniel Craig's portrayal of Bond is so far removed from Brosnan's that it's almost silly to hear them both called by the same name. Seldom in the history of the franchise has Bond been more human than he is in Casino Royale. Sure he is still amazingly agile, intelligent, and brave but somehow we can identify with him. A big part of that is the fact that he experiences real emotions. Love and heartbreak actually exist in his world. Perhaps the most remarkable difference between this Bond and the Bond of the past is that he makes mistakes. Fallibility helps us connect with characters and empathize with their struggles. This Bond actually gets hurt, frequently, which also makes him feel real. I could just go on and on, but I'll spare you the gushing, suffice it to say Craig was a great casting decision.

Speaking of great casting decisions, Eva Green is perfect. She is prickly and terse at the beginning, but you can feel her slowly succumbing to her emotions and falling for Bond. I loved the little surprise reveal of Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, because I never saw it coming when I first saw the film, and it was nice to have a beloved character from the Bond novels back in action. The cast of villains are all delightfully evil, and it's easy to hate them. It's pretty remarkable how they managed to make Le Chiffre so unlikeable that I felt no sympathy when his life was threatened by some of his clients. Finally the entertaining Giancarlo Giannini gives us an old, grizzled veteran to play a nice counterpoint to the new Bond. He's left with the difficulty of plot exposition frequently, and even explaining the game of Texas Hold 'Em a couple times, but he does it in a way that you hardly notice that's what he's doing. Overall a great cast that impresses me every time I watch the film.

Oh, I'm not done singing the praises of Casino Royale. We also have some of the greatest action sequences in Bond history. The parkouring chase scene looks amazing. The fight on the airport runway is so good. Even something as simple as a Bond's first kill is gritty and intense. But what makes this film unique isn't the action, it is the love story, something that almost feels out of place in a Bond film. We're so used to Bond being a user of women, remaining emotionally detached. Perhaps that is what gives this relationship that added heart-breaking power, because we see a man who always remained distant suddenly allowing his barriers to come down. On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the only other Bond film I can remember with that kind of emotion. Although Casino Royale is quite different from what viewers have come to expect in James Bond films, I find it to be a refreshing change and the best movie in the franchise. If I were to admit any fault it would be that the film is perhaps a little long, but since I enjoy it so much I relish every minute of it's 2.5 hour runtime.
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14. Board Game: Quantum [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:398]
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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Reviews, Bond Reviews


With Daniel Craig in the role, James Bond is definitely a new man. He has edginess to his Bond portrayal that finally turns a man with a license to kill into someone who could genuinely be feared. However what's truly unique is the fact that his motivations are finally being brought into question. There's an emotional edge to him that makes you wonder whether duty drives him or a desire for vengeance. This is the James Bond I've been dying to see, and in this second film of the Craig era, he continues to push the envelope. I like the fact that this story continues right where Casino Royale left off. The continuing storyline creates an arc that adds depth to both the heroes and the villains. It also eliminates the long sequences of plot exposition and gets straight to the action. And I find the action sequences to be just as entertaining as in Craig’s first film, which is a big bonus.

This film continues to defy Bond traditions. The primary Bond girl, Olga Kurylenko never appears to have any romantic relationship with Bond at all. She is tough-as-nails, which fits the character of Camille, and her partnership with Bond is definitely a highlight. I was delighted that we saw the return of Felix Leiter and Rene Mathis in this film as well. Their characters show the kind of shaky alliances Bond is forced to make in order to continue doing his job. Gemma Arterton is actually one of the funniest characters in the film as the straight-laced Fields. Her desire to be by the book contrasts nicely with Bond’s constant need to push the boundaries. You might notice there’s one key character I haven’t addressed, but I’ll get to that in my complaints...

The downside of this film is the lackluster villain, and his pathetic plot. While we're made aware of a more intimidating organization behind Greene, he is the main villain of this film, which isn't saying much. The extent of his aspirations (at least that we're made aware of) is to become primary utility provider for Bolivia. Wow, isn't that exciting. Mathieu Amalric is good enough as an actor, but he doesn’t portray a dangerous villain, he feels more like a weasely sidekick. The saving grace is the promise of something more in the future. Quantum appears to be an organization that could become Bond's arch nemesis, something he’s been missing since Blofeld and SPECTRE bit the dust. Despite a flaccid villain, I enjoy Quantum of Solace because it is loaded with intense action and ties up some loose ends from the prior film.
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15. Board Game: Downspin [Average Rating:5.48 Overall Rank:15319]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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This is almost an exact copy of what I wrote several months ago when I first saw Skyfall, and I find my opinions unchanged after a second look so I'll just copy it here.

Reviews, Bond Reviews


The Daniel Craig era has really brought new life to the character of James Bond. Personally I hated the direction things were heading with Brosnan, so I was excited when they did a reboot on the entire franchise with Craig. The first 2 Craig films were action-packed, gritty, and emotional. Bond was shown as more than just a charming ladies-man who could kill. Suddenly Bond was real, he made mistakes, and he actually struggled with genuine emotions. Yet, with this film Bond started to slip closer to the man he once was. His romantic entanglements are of his traditional one-night-stand variety, he seemingly kills without remorse, and even his famous drink order seems to have returned. None of these are inherently bad changes, but it feels somewhat sudden based on where the last film left the character. Perhaps more awkward is the way they abandoned the entire villainous organization they had established for 2 films. It felt as though we were watching the introduction of a group that would truly become Bond's arch nemesis, and yet now Quantum goes an entire film without mention. Again, this isn't a bad change and it didn't make me dislike the film, it just felt wrong somehow.

The action in this movie was again top-notch. I've been very impressed in these films with the fight scenes and how well they have been choreographed, and that continues in Skyfall. The opening sequence on the train is great. Perhaps even better was the lethal version of Home Alone that they used for the final battle. My only complaint about any of this is that they had established earlier in the film that Bond was getting too old or out of shape to even qualify for active duty, yet suddenly by Act 3 he is the most accurate shot and can out-muscle all other enemies. It works for dramatic effect, but doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Of course the acting continues to be stellar. Daniel Craig is great as Bond, Judi Dench is brilliant as M, and Javier Bardem is deliciously twisted as the villain. The one big positive I can say about Bond's more stoic behavior in this film, is that it lies in stark contrast to Silva's psychosis that is very emotionally driven. I must admit I was a little bummed that Silva's plans were so mundane. I prefer Bond villains to have more ridiculously massive plots, like taking over the world, as opposed to personal vendettas. Still, he occasionally gets the best of Bond and the rest of MI6, which puts him in a class with the Blofeld's of the world.

Now for the big twist that keeps this film from being a 4 or 5 star gem: The end of Skyfall was perhaps the most confusing thing I've ever seen in the history of the franchise. Throughout the movie they had done some excellent nods to the history of Bond. For instance they brought back the classic Aston Martin from Goldfinger. Q even returns, looking quite different, but he makes jokes about the types of gadgets that they used to hand out and mentions how they've advanced beyond that silliness. All of this seems to imply that the Bond films of the past were indeed the past in this film. It makes sense because the world has clearly advanced around the character, so even though Casino Royale seemed to reboot the franchise it just felt like a new guy jumping into Bond's shoes. But, without delving too far into spoilers, they managed to make the past films seem like they were somehow the future. (They also, sadly, quashed the popular theory that I've always subscribed to...they made it clear that James Bond is not a codename that accompanies the designation 007, because it was apparently his given name from childhood. However I'm straying off topic.) I don't know if this ending was intended as some kind of "circle of life" moment, where we see that the more things change, the more they stay the same. It just seemed so outrageously odd! Is Skyfall the past and Dr. No the future? Or is it the other way around? Or do they both exist in completely separate, yet somewhat parallel dimensions? So, while I liked this movie as a stand-alone Bond film, it might be my least favorite of the Daniel Craig era because this lack of a logical timeline frustrates me tremendously.
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16. Board Game: Thunder Road [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:2726]
Ryan Morgan
United States
Visalia
California
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Bounty Killers - 3 Stars. A fun little indi movie that mixed comedy with Fallout and The Road Warrior. I liked it. Loved the "stage coach" made of an RV and motorcycles.



Pain and Gain - 3 stars. Not bad, though, it was a bit depressing.

Iron man 3 - 3 stars. Pretty good until the HORRIBLE ending. Stop killing the bad guys. Mandarin's usage was criminal.

Hammer of The Gods - 2. Not Good.

The Sword in the Stone - 3 stars. I've always enjoyed it and it was awesome to share with my daughter.

Robin Hood - 4 stars. This is probably my favorite Disney movie. A real treasure to share with my daughter.

Nightmare before Christmas - 2 stars. crap I just don't understand the appeal. My daughter found it to be acceptable.

Star Trek: Into Darkness - 3 stars. Predictable but fun.

Room 237 - 4 stars. An awesome documentary about fan theories for Stanley Kubrik's The Shining. I love this type of thing and highly recommend watching this one.
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17. Board Game: Casablanca [Average Rating:4.97 Unranked]
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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New to Me


When a local theater is showing a film that is considered a classic of American cinema, and it's one you've actually never seen, and your wife also expresses interest in seeing it, it's kind of a no-brainer that I'm headed to the theater. The film starts off with a helpful narration to set the historical background of the movie, which was excellent especially for someone like me who barely made it through history in high school. After the intro we are gradually introduced to the cast of characters at Rick's Café Americain. The wit of the film is evident early as there is a lot of snappy banter between the staff and regular customers. Despite the older look of the film it does have a somewhat timeless feel, and tells a story that can impact audiences even today. The look of the movie is actually quite lovely. I particularly liked the contrasts of bright happy days when Rick was in love and the dark shadowed nights now that he is alone. Looking at the film 70 years later I could easily call the plot predictable or derivative, but then I'm reminded that this one actually came out long before all those other films and they actually borrowed from Casablanca. No wonder this is a classic, it's inspired countless war-time love stories, not to mention the number of famous quotes that have been carried down through the ages from this film.

For about the first half of the movie I thought for sure my favorite actor in the film was going to be Claude Rains. His portrayal of Captain Renault was so entertaining, as he had almost an aloof attitude towards the whole war, and was constantly quick with a joke. Then there was a shift and I jumped wholeheartedly on the Humphrey Bogart bandwagon. You see, early in the film he is very stony and standoffish. I started to wonder how he would ever pull off the love story that I knew was coming, and his initial interaction with Ingrid Bergman just cemented my opinion. However he pulled a complete 180 when they showed the scene with Rick and Sam alone in the bar. I was amazed how his guard came down, and my heart broke for him. From then on you find yourself completely sympathizing with Rick and smiling every time his heart shows through the tough exterior he puts on. Ingrid Bergman is absolutely lovely, even when faced with a number of long lingering close-ups. Her emotions were heartfelt for sure, and I believed she was genuinely struggling to know the right thing to do. I liked Dooley Wilson as Sam, too. He was a great sidekick for Rick, and sang well too. I can't mention every single actor, so I've focused on my favorites, but the whole cast was excellent. I particularly wish that Peter Lorre could have stuck around for longer.

What's most interesting about Casablanca is that it defies all categorization. It's not really a love story, although it contains a number of romantic elements; it's not really a war movie, although the entire plot is influenced by WWII; it's not a comedy, although it's got a number of funny lines. The movie refuses to be nailed down and just tells its story, one that should engage audiences even today. I said afterwards that Hollywood could never make a movie like this now. The entire story is built around dialogue. Very little action is done by the characters, because the bulk of the story is reliant on what they say when sitting at a table or on a couch. Yet I didn't feel one thing missing. I think my only complaint would be that this style of film can feel a bit slow to my over-stimulated mind. I could see a young audience being bored. Also it requires you to focus in constantly, because if you miss one line you could possibly miss out on the subtext of a scene later in the film. However these are minor nitpicks to what I found to be a wonderful experience. Casablanca is a classic for a reason, and I can see myself actually seeking out opportunities to watch it again. "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
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18. Board Game: Jersey Shore Trivia Game [Average Rating:1.33 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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DON JON



Finally good movies have arrived in theaters. It has felt like a very long time since I had a reason to spend 25+ bucks.

DON JON is not exactly a romantic comedy, but it has some romance and a little bit more comedy. It has some drama, but nothing that would shatter your mind or enlighten you. However, it is fun.

I think the movie works in great part because of its main cast. Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn't do any half-assed roles and Scarlet Johansson is not just a stunning beauty (though this character is far simpler than say, the zoo maintenance tough chick in WE BOUGHT A ZOO). Just watching the ups and downs of the "guido" titular character is enjoyable, even if his persona is annoying or not that likable at first. Oh yeah, if you hate New Jersey accents, you'll get them here at full blast, but the hotness of the stars will override it.

The movie has a real simple story and character progression. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK was more complicated, but was also more all-over the place (in sync with its respective characters' moods). DON JON is just a very good date movie, with a couple of quite sexy scenes.

By the way, this is the first feature film directed and written by Joseph Gordon-Levitt himself. Not bad, sir.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Take your significant one to it and you'll both have fun!

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19. Board Game: World War Z: The Game [Average Rating:4.55 Overall Rank:16548]
Reinis Butans
Latvia
Riga
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Title
Samsara
Akira
World War Z
Year
2011
1988
2013
My Rating
7
7
8
IMDB Rating
8.2
8.0
7.1
Genre
Documentary
Animation | Sci-Fi
Action | Adventure | Horror
My average rating this month - 7.33
IMDB average for the same movies - 7.77

My average rating previous month - 7.00
IMDB average for the same movies - 7.18

Aside the fact that I only got to watch 3 movies - the month turned out great! My highest rated month since I started posting here.

Now let's talk about why I rated 8 for WWZ. I know that some would disagree. Yeah, the movie had it's sloppy moments and there were times where I expected more (like the end), but I immensely enjoyed the first half of the movie. The tension was crazy high and it kept my undivided attention! That does not happen often enough - so I was surprised that this was the movie to do so.
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20. Board Game: Zombie! Run for Your Lives! [Average Rating:4.41 Overall Rank:16727]
Jordan S.
United States
Plano
Texas
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Big Fish

I had been wanting to see this movie for a long time, as I generally enjoy Ewan McGregor and any films with surrealist/fairy tale elements. Finally got around to it and was pleasantly entertained. Filled with some delightful visuals and fun (if intentionally hammy) performances. A great film for the whole family.

Spiders

This was a movie picked out by my sons as the cover featured...you guessed it...giant spiders. We come to learn that these are actually space-spiders...from space or some such. And now they've made their way to Earth! People die, the military gets involved and...other action movie cliches happen.

There's not much to say, honestly. It's an Asylum film (you know, the people behind gems like Sharknado, Snakes on a Train, Titanic II and about a zillion other terrible blockbuster knock-offs) and is basically pointless and unremarkable in every way. The special effects are occasionally passable but the acting and script are painful, the action is poorly-shot and the plot is beyond cliche. Unlike some of the "better" (to use that term very creatively) Asylum films, this one didn't even boast the "so bad it's good" quality.

Just avoid it.

Zoolander

Rewatched this after having not seen it for a couple years. This movie is completely ludicrous and, because that's entirely the point, the result hilarious! Call it a guilty pleasure if you must. I don't like most of Ben Stiller's films (with one or two highly notable exceptions) but this one just makes me laugh from the gut...and that's all I want from it.

Men in Black

Rewatched. Still love this film after so many years, especially Vincent D'Onofrio's great performance. He brought an over-the-top quality that fits the tone perfectly and creates some of the most memorable moments in the film. A great sci-fi adventure.

Oldboy

I started watching this with my wife a few months ago...but it was late, she was tired and I think the whole movie was a little too "out there" for her. So, I found some time to revisit and start again from the beginning. A film full of fascinating bursts of energy and a wickedly surreal and twisted narrative. While, in retrospect, I find myself grappling with some potential snags in the plot and a few potentially problematic contrivances, the film overall was good enough to forgive the hiccups of such a layered plot.

And the famous fight scene in the hallway is a definite highlight and a scene I had to rewatch several times.

What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Rewatched after many, many years away. Still a good family drama and a worthy film to revisit now and again.

World War Z

...And now we come to what everyone has been waiting for. To preface, I have never read or know even the slightest bit about the book. I went into this as just "another zombie film". In that regard, World War Z was completely...average. The performances ranged from "lacking" to "okay". But this is an action movie...we're not here for character development, right? The action sequences were fairly frenetic. Sometimes it worked in the films favor (primarily in the later part of the film) but I found the early action sequences a bit nauseating and sloppy...especially anytime "shaky-cam" was involved.

The zombie effects themselves varied in quality. Most of the extras and make-up were excellent. Even a few of the CGI zombie sequences were pretty good looking (like the zombies climbing the giant wall) but occasionally (in the opening action sequence for example), the CGI zombies were awkward and obvious to the point that it took me out of the movie.

The film also suffered from a bit of "Roland Emmerich" syndrome by having supporting characters emerge for no purpose other than plot convenience and then just disappear after they are no longer needed. Also in typical Emmerich fashion, the action was constantly moving across the globe. This attempted to create an "epic-ness" to the scope of the plot (and I can't argue that zombie-ism would certainly be a globe-spanning concern) but the result just felt disjointed. Seriously, locations disappear almost as quickly as characters in this film.

The film did exactly ONE clever thing, by setting up a cliched plot-thread that the audience (myself included) thought they would be following for the rest of the movie and then almost instantly discarding it. Spoilers below if you want to know what I'm referring to:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The virologist. The guy with a theory about how to stop the zombies and the reason for Brad Pitt to travel to Korea...to find a cure. Then, as soon as they land, he panics, slips and shoots himself in the head. Well...I guess that's the end of that sub-plot. Hilarious!


Aside from that, the entire film was merely average, full of too many cliches and painfully predictable. You could do worse as far as zombie films go...but you can certainly do much better.

Watch 28 Days Later for a somewhat similar film executed in a far more effective and intimate way.
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21. Board Game: Brazil [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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ELITE SQUAD


I had some Brazilian film-buffs tenants that heavily recommended this movie, saying it was one the best stuff Brazil had put forward since CITY OF GOD (great one!).

ELITE SQUAD was a very successful film that landed its director Jose Padilha the directing chair for ROBOCOP (2014) and originated from a semi-biographical book that encountered some controversy back home. It spawned a sequel too, which I haven't seen yet.

The movie is about drug lords and corrupt cops in the Brazilian favelas, but more about BOPE, the SWAT-type killing squads that are sent to take back sectors at a time.

There's a lack of focus on the movie though, dealing with social issues in the favelas; the reasoning and dynamics of the relationship between rampant criminals and corrupt cops; the cult-like BOPE elite force; a government-mandated operation to clean a highly-dangerous area before the Pope's visit; a BOPE captain at odds between choosing his highly-stressful job or his family; a revenge story, and several other sub-plots.

Due to the movie's content pulling in many directions, coupled with a film-noir narration of the main character explaining the lives of two other main characters and abundant shaky-cam syndrome (useless for action movies dammit!), this movie ends up not reaching the quality of CITY OF GOD, END OF WATCH or even the fun of DISTRICT B-13, which are similar in dealing with ultra-crappy neighborhoods.

It does show an excellent portrayal of how frustrating and dangerous the situation in Brazil is though. We've heard of killing squads before which the Brazilian government has often denied, but here is a movie almost glorifying their ruthless operations in a society where regular laws no longer do squat. Judge Dredd would approve.

The movie spends a big chunk of time explaining why there are corrupt cops and why the drug lords thrive. It does paint a very good picture of how difficult is to even attempt to fix the whole system, when everybody has learned to game it. It reminds me of other countries like Mexico and Cuba (the latter one to a lesser degree).

All that time spent on making sure non-Brazilians understand what's going on, lessens the amount of action in what I thought was going to be a wall-to-wall Favela-scouring action flick.

I think the indoctrination and training of new recruits into BOPE was unnecessary or at least far too long, far too late in the film. We've all seen movies with harsh boot camps where newbies are incessantly humiliated and the "weak" are weeded out. It was just put there to show how hardcore the BOPE elites are, but it slowed down momentum and made the group look more fanatic and one-step away from being completely-gone.

I give it a 7 out of 10. As another media window to what is going in Brazil, it's great. As a fun action movie, it is below par. As a drama, it jumps around too much (even literally with the camera work) and lacks focus, and the acting is serviceable but one-note in almost all cases (BOPE are tough and yell a lot; criminals are twitchy and yell a lot; everybody else is fearful and yell a lot unless they are being yelled at by the previous two groups).



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22. Board Game: Men of Iron [Average Rating:6.84 Overall Rank:2779]
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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IRON MAN 3


I have to admit that I felt disappointed in this movie. I agree with the poster above that the big final scene was not good. The amount of time Downey spent outside of the suit surprised me and disappointed me at the time, but I think it was just my expectations being wrong.

Maybe it will feel better when I watch it again some time.
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