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DVD Review: In The Flesh
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In The Flesh
DVD | Instant
Directed by Jonny Campbell
Created and written by Dominic Mitchell
Starring Luke Newberry, David Walmsley, Harriet Cains, Emily Bevan, Ricky Tomlinson, Steve Evets
BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 8, 2013

In a sleepy north England village, without warning or explanation, thousands of dead people reanimate into zombie form and begin terrorizing the area, as zombies tend to do. In keeping with the traditionalist approach to the impending apocalypse, the government, as well as non-government sanctioned circles strike back. Zombies are hunted and killed by militants. The Pale Wars, as it came to be known, rage on for a few years until it is discovered that the zombies can actually be treated. Medicated and rehabilitated, these “patients” suffering from PDS (Partially Deceased Syndrome) are now ready to be released back into their lives provided they simply adhere to a routine of medication. Thankfully, all of this is told through a series of flashbacks so as not to bore everyone with the familiar zombie origin story. At the end of the day, In The Flesh is about as much about zombies as Halloween is about pumpkins.

To get right down to it, I am tired of zombies. That is not a contrarian statement; I am just bored with them. I gave up The Walking Dead after the first season and can barely handle the barrage of movies and other knock-offs. The character of the zombie itself is pretty pointless, actually. With little more purpose than either “Look out, there’s a zombie. Run!” or “Look out, there’s a zombie. Shoot!” By adding a layer of interest that can only be achieved by bringing back the dead, you have my attention. At the very least it’s something different. For the most part.

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DVD Review: The Secret Of Crickley Hall
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The Secret of Crickley Hall DVDThe Secret of Crickley Hall
DVD | Instant Video
Directed by Joe Ahearne
Written by Joe Ahearne, James Herbert
Starring Olivia Cooke, Pixie Davies, Iain De Caestecker, Fern Deacon, Suranne Jones, Maisie Williams, Tom Ellis, Douglas Henshall, Sarah Smart
BBC Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 8, 2013

I remember looking through a friend’s DVDs one time and without prompting, he began defending his collection. The shelves filled with dollar bin titles that few beyond the cast, their families, or genre die hards had even heard of. He stopped short of apologizing for the quality of his collection saying he was always on the lookout for a “diamond in the rough,” a movie he could discover on his own beyond the chatter of consensus to proudly wear as a badge of honor when he struck gold. This of course means that for every discovery there were countless other piles of nameless titles that are never again going to be watched. The Secret of Crickley Hall belongs in his collection.

In present day London, an overly tired mother Eve Caleigh (Suranne Jones) reluctantly stops at a playground on the way home from daycare with her son Cam, with whom she has a special relationship (they can communicate without speaking to one another). After closing her eyes for a moment while he plays she wakes up to an empty playground. The frantic search by parents and police are equally unyielding. Cam is nowhere to be found and she can no longer hear him. Nearly a year later, thinking the change in scenery will be good for his wife and daughters Loren (Maisie Williams) and Cally (Pixie Davies), and to distract Eve from the upcoming anniversary of Cam’s disappearance, Gabe (Tom Ellis) suggests the family relocates to northern England for a few months where he has landed a temporary job contract. So they set off, having rented out the overly large Crickley Hall as their home while they are away from London.

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Movie Review: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
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Disneys The Sorcerers Apprentice movie posterThe Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Starring Jay Baruchel, Nicolas Cage, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, Toby Kebbell
Release date: July 14, 2010

I’ll save you the suspense. Despite the fact that I don’t find it a particularly good movie, I liked The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Don’t mistake that for indecision. I think people’s ability to compartmentalize their taste in movies has a direct impact on their enjoyment of movies as entertainment. Saying a movie is bad isn’t the same as saying you didn’t like it. For as evolved as a lot of our taste in movies have become, there are still those inexplicable few that slip through that we like despite every inclination not to. I grew up watching some terrible movies and liked quite a lot of them. Some I still do. I know they are bad, but there is more that goes into liking a movie than knowing it was well made. Nostalgia, perspective, fandom, all of these things can also shape our experience outside of the quality of the film itself. We just like what we like and sometimes there is just no explanation for having a good time watching a movie. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is that experience for me.

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Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
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The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Directed by David Slade
Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Rated PG-13
Release date: June 30, 2010

Hailing The Twilight Saga: Eclipse the best of the series isn’t the ringing endorsement it sounds. Hearing that won’t change the minds of any non-believers and if you are already among the following, you aren’t one that needs converting. It most certainly is, but it’s a pretty relative statement.

I have always taken the stance of non-participation in the popular recreation of Twilight bashing. Attacking the mob mentality of these zealots is a bandwagon that would be easy to jump on, but Lord knows I liked some awful movies when I was younger, so I’ve always given the series a fair shake. They haven’t been great, in fact they have been downright ugly at times, but I can see why so many fans like them. A little.

Eclipse starts off pretty promising. Dark and raining in Seattle, a young man is being chased and hunted by something. This is the first time in this series I got the sense that vampires are dangerous and anything but sparkly and cuddly. It turns out to be Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), who is still hellbent on exacting revenge on Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) for killing her boyfriend James in the first film. Her plan is to find and kill Bella (Kristen Stewart), presumably so Edward can feel what she felt when her boyfriend died. The young man ends up being a college student from Forks, Riley Biers (Xavier Samuel), who is turned and tricked by Victoria into helping her assemble an army of newborn vampires to help take down Bella and the Cullen vampire clan.

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Movie Review: The Karate Kid (2010)
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The Karate Kid 2010The Karate Kid (2010)
Directed by Harald Zwart
Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, Taraji P. Henson
Rated PG
Release date: June 11, 2010

The number one stupid complaint people give in the midst of this sequel/remake craze, besides the fact that they shouldn’t do them, is that too many movies from our childhood are being ruined. I never understood that logic. You like the movies you like, for whatever reason it may be. No matter how bad it is, nothing that comes after it is enough to take away whatever it was that made you like it in the first place. The franchise may be tainted, but the movies within that canon that you loved aren’t impacted. For example, if this Ghostbusters 3 movie ever gets off the ground and sucks, the first one will still be a classic.

I’ve reexamined a lot of my favorite movies from my youth lately and realized that a lot of them really aren’t that good. I liked them at the time and that has carried over to me still liking them, but usually for nostalgic reasons. I am unapologetic about it, but truth be told, they are what they are. That said, comparing a current remake to one we hold dear from back in the day doesn’t usually have a fighting chance for that very reason.

Then there’s the new The Karate Kid.

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Movie Review: Get Him to the Greek
The Rub   |  

Get Him to the Greek
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Russell Brand, Sean Combs, Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss
Release date: June 4, 2010

Having been burned by spin-off’s and sequels in the past, I am not surprised that Get Him to the Greek wasn’t as good as it wanted to be. Or as good as I would have liked for it to be. It is another in a long list of movies that proves watching people have fun isn’t nearly as cool as having the fun yourself.

Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, in a reprise of his role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall) has fallen on hard times. The once successful front man for Infant Sorrow, one of the biggest bands in the world, is in the backlash stage of his career. His last album bombed, his wife left him, and as a result, he is back on drugs and alcohol. His record company, also in desperate need of a hit, decides to resurrect the band by putting on an anniversary concert to celebrate the band’s infamous show at the Greek Theatre ten years ago. Studio executive Sergio Roma (Sean “Diddy” Combs) puts intern Aaron Greenberg (Jonah Hill) in charge of going to London to bring Aldous back to L.A. for the show.

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Movie Review: Shrek The Final Chapter
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Shrek The Final ChapterShrek The Final Chapter
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas
Rated PG
Release date: May 21, 2010

I was watching TV the other night with a friend of mine and a trailer for Shrek The Final Chapter came on. He’s not what you call attentive, so when he looked at me and said, “There’s a new Shrek movie coming out?” I wasn’t surprised. But his response when I confirmed it was oddly insightful — he simply asked, “Why?” It might be a good question since the series was wrapped up nicely with the last three movies, but if you think the answer is anything but money, you’re crazy.

So how do you advance a series that has nowhere else to go because the characters have everything they have wanted for three movies? Why, an alternate universe, of course.

After a quick scene to catch everyone we see Shrek and friends just living life. Everything is going as it should, or at least how they wanted it. Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Dragon are tending to their respective clans. Everything is good until Shrek starts feeling like every day is the same and remembers a time when his level of self-worth was much higher. People used to be scared of ogres. His life used to have purpose. Ah, the good old days…

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Movie Review: The Crazies (2010)
The Rub   |  

The CraziesThe Crazies
Directed by Breck Eisner
Starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson.
Rated R
Release date: February 26, 2010

A military plane carrying a biological weapon crashes near an Iowa farm town, the people start becoming infected due to the effects of the weapon, the military gets involved and everyone has to run for their lives. If this sounds like a movie you have seen before, and not just because it is a remake of the 1973 film by George A. Romero, you are probably right. But I doubt it’s ever been as much fun.

Speaking of, let’s get something out in the open before we even get started. I know The Crazies isn’t movie about zombies in the truest sense, but purists be damned, it really is a zombie movie. It is not a faceless killer running amok; these are your friends and people you know infected by something unknown causing them to act… we’ll say “out of sorts.” I’ve always liked that level of emotion built into the zombie (and zombie-like) movie. If it were a typical horror movie there would be definitive bad guys. They threaten you, you kill them, end of story. No love lost. When the zombie apocalypse finally happens, the infected could very well be your wife, your friends, or your children. The survival aspect is compounded by potentially having to kill someone you know to stop them from killing you, eating your brains, lighting you on fire, chewing your face off doing you harm.

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Movie Review: Alice in Wonderland 3D
The Rub   |  

Alice In Wonderland 3DAlice in Wonderland 3D
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter
Rated PG
Release date: March 5, 2010

Tim Burton has spent the bulk of his career adding films to his resume that should have made us all rejoice in the idea of seeing his version of Alice in Wonderland. His imaginative style had the potential to lend itself to a classic version of the Lewis Carroll books. Technology and animation has caught up to Carroll’s imagination which should have provided an open canvas to bring the cherished story to life. Even in the able hands of someone who should be able to pull it off, it turns out that isn’t such a good thing.

Somewhere in the last few years filmmakers have become clouded with this notion that 3D is some kind of art form and it seems like every other movie is being converted to 3D, even ones that have no business being in the discussion. For the life of me I cannot figure out why they have yet to realize it is just a gimmick. There is no doubt Avatar changed our perception of what is possible but everybody else is light years behind the curve and until they figure it out, 3D will remain a joke that brings nothing to the table. Just because the glasses are a little cooler than they were 20 years ago doesn’t mean we should all hop back on the bandwagon. It went away before for a reason and it was brought back without really fixing the problem.

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Spoiler Talk: Cop Out
The Rub   |  

Cop OutI was excited at the prospect of Kevin Smith directing a buddy cop movie. The original title, A Couple of Dicks, hinted at some of the irreverence that made Smith famous. Warner Bros. changed the title to Cop Out for marketing purposes then proceeded to market it to death, oddly leaving mention of Smith out of the campaign. Even though he didn’t write it, I had hopes that Smith’s presence would have at least helped fill in the cracks or stretch the funny if needed.

Well it was sorely needed and sadly, it didn’t work. It was almost like Kevin Smith directing a movie written by someone not as talented trying to write a Kevin Smith movie. Wait, that’s actually exactly what it was. It was supposed to pay homage to this type of movie but it was just a lazy, uninspired copy. Of a copy. For what it’s worth, everyone else in the theatre where I saw it was at least 20 years older than me and they couldn’t stop laughing. I guess that’s something.

Time for a little SPOILER TALK. Below are some of my random, non-sequential spoiler-filled thoughts and rants about the movie. Leave your comments about the movie below.

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