Jeffrey Combs Weekend – House on Haunted Hill (1999)

Director: William Malone

Writer: Dick Beebe (Screenplay) Robb White (Story)

Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Famke Janssen, Taye Diggs, Peter Gallagher, Ali Larter, Bridgette Wilson, Jeffrey Combs

 

Plot: An amusement park mogul offers a group of diverse people $1,000,000 to spend the night in a haunted house with a horrifying past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Enjoyable Creepy Mysterious Horror

 

Story: House on Haunted Hill starts as we see the horrors that took place in the Vannacutt institute, where the inmates escaped the torture the Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt (Combs) was performing on them with everyone dying within the fire.

Move to present day which is 1999 where Evelyn Stockard-Price (Janssen) wants her husband Stephen Price (Rush) an amusement park mogul to host her birthday inside the abandoned institute. The guest list includes Eddie Baker (Diggs), Donald Blackburn (Gallagher), Sara Wolfe (Larter) and Melissa Marr (Wilson) but the problem is neither of the Price’s know them and they have no idea why they have been invited.

When the guests along with the caretaker Watson Pritchett (Kattan) find themselves locked in the prize Stephen is offering of $1 Million becomes a draw for them all but the house has a history of coming alive at night, can these guests survive a night with Dr Richard Benjamin Vannacutt and the other victims of the mental institute?

 

Thoughts on House on Haunted Hill

 

Characters/PerformanceStephen Price is a man who has made his money in amusement parks, he has a strained relationship with his wife becoming the suspect in who is behind the goings on within the house. Evelyn believes that this whole party is a game by her husband but is happy to play the game her own way. The guests are all what you would expect, the ambitious celebrity driven, the kind hearted, the one trying to prove themselves and the doctor. The highlight comes from the creepy doctor haunting the hallways.

Performance wise, Geoffrey Rush gets to have a lot of fun in this leading role where he shows his class whereas Famke Janssen adds the dominate leading lady with a plan. Diggs and Larter both do well filling in blanks of the story with Jeffrey Combs being the doctor we all know and love.

StoryThe story is easy to follow and does explain the reasons for everything to be happening well. We do have slightly too much focus on the marriage between the Price’s and just how much they hate each other but otherwise this is a classic haunted asylum movie where it is who will survive the horrors of the house.

Horror/MysteryThe horror is all good and if you watch too young you can see just how scary certain moments are, when you look at the mystery which does get solved but is surrounding why these people got invited to the house in the first place.

SettingsAfter the introduction to the Price’s the rest of the movie is set within the house on haunted hill and that is great for everything which unfolds.

Special EffectsThe special effects do all go well until the final act where the special effects have dated being it nearly 20 years old now.

Final ThoughtsThis is a horror film I do enjoy, it is short, easy to watch and has plenty of good horror moments involved.

 

Overall: Easy to watch fun horror film.

Rating

 

 

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Owen Wilson Weekend – I, Spy (2002)

spyDirector: Betty Thomas

Writer: Morton S Fine, David Friedkin (Screenplay) Marianne Wibberley, Cormac Wibberley (Story)

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Owen Wilson, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell, Gary Cole, Phill Lewis, Viv Leacock, Keith Dallas

 

Plot: A professional athlete has to help a U.S. government agent recover a missing jet.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Buddy Comedy Fail

 

Story: I, Spy starts as we meet clumsy spy Alex (Wilson) who get the information about a missing plane that is in the hands of Gundars (McDowell) before meeting cocky boxing champion Kelly (Murphy) who is about to fight his second fight in a week in Budapest.

The mission puts the two opposite men together working with experience undercover operative Rachel (Janssen) in Budapest to locate Gundars and the missing plane.

I, Spy is a buddy comedy that uses both the comic reliefs and forgets to pull off either in the serious role which is so important to make either of them work. We find ourselves going through the same routines over and over with little to no suspense being built up by the characters. The jokes are very hit or miss throughout with the action being very much bog standard.

Wilson and Murphy just don’t click the way Wilson does with Chan or Murphy did with Nolte and nearly all the scenes come off feeling awkward rather than funny between the two. The supporting cast are all average too with no one sticking out in anyway what so ever.

 

Overall: This is a flat buddy comedy with no laughs.

Ratingcard

 

 

Movie Reviews 101 Halloween Midnight Horror – Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

logoDirector: Tommy Wirkola

Writer: Tommy Wirkola (Screenplay)

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Gemma Arterton, Famke Janssen, Pihla Viitala, Derek Mears, Robin Atkin Downes, Ingrid Bolos Berdal, Joanna Kulid, Thomas Mann, Peter Stormare

 

Plot: Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Heavy Story Short

 

Story: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters starts with a twist on the known Hansel & Gretel story where as children they were left in the forest by their parents. Hansel & Gretel come upon a candy covered home in search for help but what they find inside is witch but the two handle themselves, deal with the problem and never go back to their parents.

Grown up Hansel (Renner) & Gretel (Arterton) are known as the witch hunters going from town to town to defeat whatever witch is haunting the villagers. Sheriff Berringer (Stormare) is hunting a witch in his town and Hansel & Gretel are bought in by the Mayor to find the witch leading to the instant tension between the two parties. The Sheriff decides to hire his own team to find the witch but she does one better, Muriel (Janssen) finds them and makes quick work of them.

Hansel& Gretel capture one of the witches and discover the plan where Muriel leader of the witches is planning to take 12 children and after they take the 12th Hansel & Gretel become separated. Hansel gets help from a local girl Mina (Viitala) while Gretel receives help from an unlikely source a troll. Hansel & Gretel must face their deadliest enemy to date.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes an old story we all have heard before and makes it a all grown up version. I like the idea of see what happened when the pair grew up but sadly that is the only real positive I could find in this film. The fact that the action scenes are nearly all identical with running through the woods or the town followed by Hansel or Gretel getting pretty much battered before pulling of something as a pair to defeat the enemy makes me wonder how they have lasted this long. The witch’s motives seem like a very similar take on what ‘The Brothers Grimm’ film had going on and the attempted twists are easier to read that a Dr Seuss book. I felt very disappointed with the lack of originality in this story because I feel the idea has a lot of potential. (4/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Jeremy Renner: Hansel the brother of the pair who is very much the jump in head first kind of guy, he does spend a lot of time running through the woods but is loyal to Gretel until the end. Jeremy does a solid job and takes his beatings well, but never gets to show any of his acting abilities through this film. (5/10)

 hansel

Gemma Arterton: Gretel the brains of the act who uncovers what is really going on, she is much more patient than Hansel but can handle herself in a fight. Gemma has the look of a sexy witch hunter but really that is all. (4/10)

gertel

Famke Janssen: Muriel the evil witch who is out to become the most powerful indestructible witch of all time. She is already more powerful than anything the two have faced before. Famke does a solid job in the villainous role but really doesn’t get a chance to be as evil as her character requires. (5/10)

 

Support Cast: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has a supporting cast that includes the fellow witches out to complete the ritual, it also has the towns people who are scared of what is happening.

 

Director Review: Tommy Wirkola – I have to say I like Tommy’s work on the Dead Snow films but this seems like it tries too hard to make something extra happen and forgets to make the simple happen. (4/10)

 

Action: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters has plenty of running, getting beaten up, shooting and missing that it takes over the whole story with all easy action. (6/10)

Fantasy: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters takes us into a fantasy world of witches but tries to keep things real, which doesn’t always work. (6/10)

Horror: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters doesn’t really end up being that much of a horror we have some very good effect used on the kills but nothing truly horror. (4/10)

Settings: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters uses the settings well to put us in the time period the film is set in. (7/10)
Special Effects
: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters uses some good special effects but you did know when it is CGI. (6/10)

Suggestion: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is one to watch late night television when nothing is on and you feel like trying it. (Late Night TV)

 

Best Part: Certain kills are good.

Worst Part: Lack of story.

Action Scene Of The Film: Attacking the witches.

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Open for one.

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $226 Million

Budget: $50 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Tagline: Classic Tale New Twist

 

Overall: This is a lacklustre addition to the action horror genre that really doesn’t know which genre it wants to be and falls flat on its face.

Rating 45

Taken 3 (2015)

logoDirector: Olivier Megaton

Writer: Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen (Screenplay) Luc Besson, Robert Mark Kamen (Characters)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Don Harvey, Dylan Bruno, David Warshofsky, Jon Gries, Sam Spruell, Dougary Scott

 

Plot: Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed or witnessed. As he is tracked and pursued, Mills brings out his particular set of skills to find the true killer and clear his name.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Someone Took Too Much

 

Story: Taken 3 starts when Malankov is trying to collect money leaving a message for somebody when he finds nothing in a safe. We finally get to meet Bryan Mills (Neeson) who is still looking after his daughter Kim (Grace) who started to continue her life after the ordeals of the first two ‘Takens’. Bryan is still trying to rebuild his relationship with his wife Lenore (Janssen) whose second marriage isn’t running as smoothly as it once did. Bryan is asked to stay away from Lenore by her new husband and he accepts but after receiving a message from her he goes around only to find her dead and police waiting for him.

Bryan escapes and goes on the run looking for the person or people responsible as well as warning Kim that he will look like the guilty party. Franck (Whitaker) is the lead investigator on the murder case and shows why by picking up on a couple of clues that the other officers missed. Bryan has to use all his certain skills to prove that he is innocent and find out who is responsible while eluding the police who have set out a man hunt for him.

Taken 3 rounds of the trilogy well, it brings the fight back home (well America, not my home) and also ditches all the ties from the previous Taken’s. it does flow the same as the previous ones but decides to tone down the body count as a lot of the people Bryan is running from are actually cops.  The fact it went for the personal side once more showed it need to go that bit further which it did. The fact the twists keep coming kind of ruins it because the final twist doesn’t really make that much sense. The cops are rather stupid because even the lead Franck believes him to be innocent but won’t just say ‘hey I know you’re telling the truth lets work this out together’. In general it is a solid finish to the trilogy but just no more please. (6/10)

 

Actor Review

 

Liam Neeson: Bryan Mills our man with a particular set off skills that he likes to use who becomes suspect number one after his ex-wife is murdered. Bryan must go on a one man mission to prove his innocence and find out who is responsible. Liam does give a good performance but his age is starting to show through the film. (7/10)

 neeson

Forest Whitaker: Franck Dotzler the detective who is after Mills but throughout the investigation he starts to think he could be innocent and also knows that he could be dangerous and should be treated differently to a normal suspect. Forest does give a solid performance but really isn’t too important to anything that happens. (5/10)

 

Maggie Grace: Kim Mills the daughter of Bryan who knows the innocence of her father and has to continue her normal day while being followed by the police. Maggie gives a solid performance and shows more young adult traits this time around. (6/10)

 maggie

Support Cast: Taken 3 has a supporting cast that will at some point have Bryan Mills kick their arses but it is the true villain that is the mystery throughout.

 

Director Review: Olivier Megaton – Olivier does give us a good conclusion but fails to offer anything truly new to the series. (6/10)

 

Action: Taken 3 has plenty of action be it hand to hand combat, car chases or shoot offs. (9/10)

Thriller: Taken 3 doesn’t pull you in as much as previous encounters. (7/10)

Settings: Taken 3 bring the action back to America works well because Bryan has to play by different rules. (8/10)

Suggestion: Taken 3 is one for the fans of the series to enjoy, action fans will also enjoy but just don’t expect to get tested just enjoy. (Action Fans Watch)

 

Best Part: Police Escape.

Worst Part: Liquid store fight.

Lessons Learned: Simple don’t mess with Bryan Mills.

Action Scene Of The Film: Final showdown with the car and the plane

 

Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: Hopefully Not

Post Credits Scene: No

 

Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $92 Million (to Date)

Budget: $48 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 49 Minutes

Trivia: Reportedly, Liam Neeson stipulated to the movie’s producers that he would only do this third instalment if “nobody gets taken”.

 

Overall: Solid Conclusion to the series

Rating 70

The Wolverine (2013)

logoDirector: James Mangold

Writer: Mark Bomback, Scott Frank (Screenplay)

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Tao Okamoto, Rila Fukushima, Hiroyuki Sanada, Svetlana Khodchenkova, Brian Tee, Hal Yamanouchi, Will Yun Lee, Famke Janssen

 

Story: Logan (Jackman) saves Yashida from a nuclear explosion, years later a lost Logan is located by Yukio (Fukushima). She has been sent by a dying Yashida (Yamanouchi) to say a final goodbye. Yashida offers Logan a chance to become mortal again and use Logan powers to save himself. After Yashida dies his funeral turns into a battle ground with the Yakuza trying to kidnap his granddaughter Mariko (Okamoto). Logan goes on the run with Mariko to protect her but something has caused Logan to become more vulnerable to pain.

 

Verdict: The Wolverine gets unleashed in a thriller in Japan.

Story: Well I was pleasantly surprised, I was expecting to see a light hearted superhero comic book film and what I got was a dark tale of betrayal and Japanese traditions. After the highly criticized outing last time out, this is a wonderful return to Wolverine’s best. The story packs plenty of punches showing how vulnerable Wolverine can be; it also looks at his past to see how a lost special someone has affected his mind set. (10/10)

Actor Review: Hugh Jackman – This is his fifth outing in a full film as the Wolverine it would be hard to say this isn’t his best. Jackman shines as the role that tests his character, granted it won’t win an Oscar but it is convincing. Star Performance Award, Kick Ass Award, Lesley Stud Muffin Award (10/10)

 wolverine

Actor Review: Tao Okamoto – The granddaughter who is meant to be the damsel in distress, she is anything but that showing how she can handle herself at times. It is a good performance from the debutant star and in another film she could easily win a few of the awards on my list. (8/10)

 

Actor Review: Rila Fukushima – One of the few other mutants in the film she has the power of foresight. She has a lot of honour for tradition as well to her friends. Tough, strong fighter, determined as just a few words to describe her. It is a great performance from the young lady, hopefully the first of many more. Debut Award, Favourite Character Award, Babe Watch Award (9/10)

 yukoi

Actor Review: Hiroyuki Sanada – Yashida’s son who has helped his father try to cure his sickness for years, becomes a human villain because of some of his intentions. Good character well performed by Sanada could have had some more screen time to show how he acted the way he did. (7/10)

father

Actor Review: Hal Yamanouchi – Logan’s old friend trying to prolong his life at any means. An unforeseen villain for Logan who pushes Logan to his limits. Good performance with very little screen time but strong character very welcome in the X-Men world. (8/10)

 yashida

Actor Review: Svetlana Khodchenkova – Another mutant here she uses her powers to control and as well as having a dangerous tongue. Good villain who has clearly watched too much Mystique for research which takes a lot out of her performance. (6/10)

viper

Director Review: James Mangold – having worked on some of the well-received film in recent years as well as ‘Knight & Day’ we can trust this guy to put together a good film. He does it again here back on good form. (9/10)

 

Action: Action packed from start to finish with fights, chases and more fights. (9/10)

Special Effects: Some great special effects with a huge robot in the final fight scene looking real all the way through. (9/10)

fight

Believability: It’s from a comic book so not the most believable. (3/10)

Chances Of Tears: none (0/10)

Settings: Set in Japan and having some of the best scenery in any X-men film. (10/10)
Oscar Chances
: No real chance of any Oscar nods.

Chances of Sequel: The end credits scene show there will be a sequel and we all know there is going to be an X-Men film out in 2014.

Suggestion: This is one of the best comic book films in years and being able to put that up against the likes of The Dark Knight trilogy and Avengers is hard, this stands next to them. If you like a darker comic book tale this is a must watch. It may not appeal to the more serious viewers even though the story is a more serious one than we are used too. (Watch)

 

Best Part: The fight on the train.

Worst Part: The sad scene where Wolverine has to put a bear out of its misery after a hunter poised it while hunting. (Don’t worry Wolverine sorts the Bastard out)

Kill Of The Film: Viper death is stand out.

Favourite Quote: Yukio ‘Think of me as your bodyguard.’

 

Overall: Wolverine is back and kicking more ass than ever.

Rating 92%