BARE BONES: ACTION POINT (2018)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

ACTION POINT (2018)

Comedy opens with grandpa D.C. (Johnny Knoxville) babysitting his granddaughter and telling her about her mother’s (Eleanor Worthington-Cox as a teen, Susan Yeagley as an adult) childhood at D.C.’s once owned theme park. We flashback to Action Point which was a rundown, decrepit excuse for a park where anything could happen at anytime and often did. It was run by a group of misfits lead by D.C. and was the bane of existence for a group of local developers who wanted the land. Something D.C. would have to fight from letting them have.

Film is directed by Tim Kirkby from a script and story by five people including star Knoxville. It’s supposedly based on New Jersey’s real life Action Park where six people were killed on the rides over the span of it’s almost two decades of operation. It’s a routine raunchy comedy and tries to use the Jackass style of physical stunts and pratfalls that Knoxville and co-star Chris Pontius are known for. Their extreme slapstick style of comedy works in the mockumentary format it’s usually presented in, but not here when forced into an actual movie story-line. Now instead of hysterically idiotic buffoonery, it just comes across as poor stunt work. The film itself has some funny bits, but overall, is very by-the-numbers as these crude types of comedies go, with the usual haves vs the have-nots plot. That and Knoxville’s obnoxious jerk act is getting very tiresome at this point and his Jackass teammates are sorely missed. Stick with Bad Grandpa if you need a little story with your Jackasses.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 10-12

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “The Meg” $44.5 Million

2. “Mission: Impossible-Fallout” $20 Million

3. “Christopher Robin” $12.4 Million

4. “Slender Man” $11.3 Million

5. “BlacKKKlansman” $10.8 Million

6. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” $6.6 Million

7. “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” $5.8 Million

8. “The Equalizer 2” $5.5 Million

9. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” $5.1 Million

10. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” $4 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

bars

 

REVIEW: THE MEG (2018)

MZNJ_New_review

now playing

bars

THE MEG (2018)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Flick is based on Steve Alten’s book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror (review HERE) about a giant prehistoric shark discovered deep below the ocean depths. The film starts out with Jonas Taylor (Jason Statham) on a deep sea rescue mission, when something huge attacks his sub. He is forced to leave two comrades behind, though saves the eleven survivors. Five years later he is a guilt-ridden drunk on a beach in Tailand when his ex-wife, Lori (Jessica McNamee)…who was a reporter named Maggie in the book…becomes trapped in a sub investigating a warm water system underneath a silt cloud, deep at the bottom of the sea. He joins the rescue team at the Mana One research platform and soon discovers the cause of the accident is an enormous prehistoric shark…a Megalodon. The survivors are rescued, but now the Megalodon has followed them up to the surface and Jonas and the Mana One team must battle a predator that hasn’t inhabited these oceans in millions of years.

Jon Turteltaub directs this adaptation after schlockmeister Eli Roth left the project. The script is by Dean Georgaris and Jon and Erich Hoeber and not only takes considerable liberties with Alten’s original story, but also dumbs down science that was already presented in a digestible manner. It also changes everything Japanese to Chinese to please Chinese co-producers, such as turning Jonas’ future wife Terry Tanaka into Chinese divorcée and single mom Suyin Zhang (Li Bingbing). It now almost seems like an Asian production with a lot of dialogue coming with subtitles. Changes aside, there are a number of things that keep The Meg from having real bite. One is Turteltaub’s by-the-numbers direction which does not have nearly enough fun with the scenario. It’s Jason Statham vs a giant prehistoric shark, take the ball and run with it. The film should have been a lot more fun…or at least far more suspenseful. Turteltaub doesn’t exactly build much suspense either. Another thing is that the monster shark isn’t really given much of a threat factor, as the film’s PG-13 rating neuters most of her carnage…though Jaws did a lot with a PG rating, so it’s not just the lack of gore…and she only briefly encounters civilization and population. There is also no sense of wonder given to her or the underwater lost world she comes from. We don’t get a sense that this is a creature that time forgot. She’s just a big shark. The book took more time in her original surroundings so we understood her existence as a dinosaur more clearly. Finally, the script has some very dumb dialogue and is as cliché as a nature run amok movie can get. It’s no better than any of the SYFY channel shark themed movies that have been cranked out like cheap cars over the last few years. For this to stand above, it should have followed the book a bit more closely, as it streamlines the story too much. It’s also confusing that they left out a major plot point which easily set up a sequel…and we know Hollywood loves a sequel, especially if this makes money. What does save this a bit is that there is an action-packed last act and weak script and lackluster direction aside, it still entertains and it is still Jason Statham vs a giant prehistoric shark, after all. It also successfully restructured an ending that worked on paper, but would have been very difficult to film. What they came up with keeps the essence, but works much better for film. On a technical side, the flick is well made and the CGI shark is serviceable, though never really as frightening as she should be.

The cast are fine. Statham works well as Jonas Taylor, though his whole guilt issue gets abandoned pretty quick and he sobers up just as fast. He is a reliable action hero and if anyone can battle a massive sea predator, Statham is at the top of the list. He’s charming and handles the physicality of the role well. Li Bingbing is a solid love interest/heroine and gets to shuffle back and forth here from damsel in distress to action hero and does so, well. English is not her first language so some of her line delivery is a bit awkward, but she does well enough to be likable as Suyin…and looks damn fine in a wet-suit, too. Rainn Wilson is OK as Billionaire Jack Morris who was not in the book. It’s a very stereotypical and cliché character that appears clueless, but turns into a real douche just when you expect him to. Rounding out the leads is Winston Chao as Suyin’s father Dr. Minway Zhang, who was Masao Tanaka in the book, and cute little Shuya Sophia Cai as Suyin’s daughter, Meiying. As the “precocious child” she could have been far more annoying.

Overall, this novel adaptation was entertaining, but could have been a real blast with a director who appreciated the scenario and a script that kept the book’s sense of wonder and the savage aggressiveness of it’s title creature. The film is cliché and turns what could have been a real nail-biter into a routine creature run amok movie. There is plenty of action, the second half livens up quite a bit and Statham works as the flawed hero and that keeps us from getting bored. The most puzzling thing about the film is that it leaves out a major plot point from the book that easily sets up a sequel…as book writer Steven Alten has fully taken advantage of. Fans of the book will probably be disappointed, but as a bargain matinee it entertains well enough.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) megalodon teeth for an action filled second half and Li Bingbing looking mighty fine in her wet-suit.

 

 

 

 

bars

HELL HOUSE LLC SEQUEL GETS A TRAILER!

MZNJ_NEW_news

Hell House LLC was a surprisingly spooky found footage flick and now filmmaker Stephen Cognetti is back with a sequel. Set to premier on VOD on 9/14/18, Hell House LLC 2: The Abbadon Hotel has an investigative reporter (Jillian Geurts) taking her crew into the dreaded Abbadon Hotel to find out what really happened there eight years earlier. Will this sequel be an equal? Only time well tell!

-MonsterZero NJ

Source: Bloody-Disgusting.com

bars

COOL STUFF: PYEWACKET on BLU-RAY!

MZNJ_cool_stuff

now playing

PYEWACKET (2017) Blu-Ray

Pyewacket (full review HERE) is a creepy supernatural thriller, from Adam MacDonald, that finds teen Leah (Nicole Muñoz) drawn into the occult after the death of her father. She and her mom (Laurie Holden) aren’t getting along, especially when her mother decides to sell the family house and move them out and away from Leah’s school and friends. An angry Leah conducts an occult ritual evoking the dark spirit, Pyewacket, to kill her mother. Soon a regretful Leah learns the meaning of “be careful what you wish for” as something dark and evil has entered their fractured home. This IFC Midnight title is now available on Blu-Ray from Scream Factory as part of their home media release deal.

As for the feature…

The picture is a crisp and beautiful HD 1080p mastering that is presented in the original 2.40:1 aspect ratio. It maintains Christian Bielz’s moody cinematography with blues and greys being predominate, while not overwhelming other colors, such as the yellows and greens of the woods and cabin interior, or the vibrant red yarn Leah uses in her ritual. Director Adam MacDonald has a nice visual style and his shots look great as represented on this disc, which adds to the film’s atmosphere. The audio is a 5.1 DTS HD master and should sound appropriately spooky on any home theater system and for those without, there is a nice 2.0 HD stereo track, too.

Now on to the extras…

The extras are fairly simple as seems to be the case with the IFC Midnight releases. We do get a 17 minute making of featurette that focuses first on interviews with stars Nicole Muñoz and Laurie Holden, which really give some nice insight into their performances and characters, as well as, with writer/director Adam MacDonald which paint the portrait of a very animated and passionate filmmaker. Nicole Muñoz’s powerful audition especially makes an impression here. No wonder she got the part. Second half of the documentary focuses on a stunt sequence and is a fun look at the film making process in general. There is also the theatrical trailer, too and while that is it for the extras, they are still a nice addition to a really effective movie.

IMO, this is one of the best horrors of the year and this is a great way to see it, if it’s limited theatrical release never hit your area. It’s spooky and creepy and Scream Factory’s disc is worth having if you are a fan of the film or supernatural chillers in general.

-MonsterZero NJ

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES AUG 3-5

MZNJ_New_WBO

Complete estimates are in for the weekend box office

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to the reviews here at The Movie Madhouse!

1. “Mission: Impossible-Fallout” $35 Million

2. “Christopher Robin” $25 Million

3. “The Spy Who Dumped Me” $12.35 Million

4. “Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!” $9 Million

5. “The Equalizer 2” $8.8 Million

6. “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” $8.2 Million

7. “Ant-Man and the Wasp” $6.2 Million

8. “The Darkest Minds” $5.8 Million

9. “Incredibles 2″ $5 Million

10. Teen Titans Go! To The Movies $4.8 Million

 

source: Box Office Mojo

bars

 

BARE BONES: THE ROW (2018)

MZNJ_bareBones_Marquee

now playing

Humerus-Bone1

THE ROW (2018)

Flick has new sorority member Riley (Lala Kent) finding out her deceased mother and cop father (Randy Couture) have been keeping secrets from her. Her mother was also a member of that same sorority and she was involved in a hazing incident which caused the suicide of another girl. Now Riley is being stalked by a killer and her father races against time to find out who bears a grudge against his daughter and her sorority sisters and does Riley’s mother’s past misdeeds have something to do with it.

Sorority slasher is directed by Matty Beckerman from a script by Sarah Scougal. It tries hard enough delivering the scantily clad co-eds and a few bloody killings, but is held back by two major problems. One, when a low budget flick like this gets a name in the cast, such as MMA star turned actor Randy Couture, they want to make as much use of that name as possible. So a lot of the focus is on maverick cop Couture, which leaves far less time to develop the character of our leading lady, Riley and the elements and backstory crucial to it’s plot. The second problem is we have another example of a director trying to show you all the cool, gee-whiz, digital editing effects he learned in film school and it’s distracting and doesn’t serve the plot. Slow mo’s, speed ups and color filters are all thrown at us randomly and they serve no purpose in relation to what’s going on. It’s annoying. You went to film school. We get it, get over it. Overall, it’s not a terrible flick, it’s just that it’s not a terribly good one either.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

Humerus-Bone1

bars

HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: DEAD NIGHT (2018)

MZNJ_New_HYMHM_2

now playing

bars

DEAD NIGHT (2018)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Wife and mother Casey (Brea Grant) brings her family up to a remote cabin in the woods for the weekend, hoping the mineral deposits in the mountain with help her husband (A.J. Bowen) with his cancer. We soon find that what we are watching is a flashback as the family was brutally murdered and Casey, now referred to as “The Axe Mom” is accused. As we continue to watch the events of that horrible night unfold, though, we find that something far more supernatural may have been responsible.

Film is directed with a very impressive visual style by Brad Baruh from a script and story by he and Irving Walker. The snowy mountain setting and some of the more supernatural elements look great and add atmosphere to this cabin in the woods horror. The narrative cuts between a segment of a real crime show called Inside Crime detailing the deaths from the public’s point of view, to watching the events unfold and seeing a tale of a diabolical woman (Barbara Crampton), witches, creatures and a wife and mother fighting for her life and those of her family. It works well enough, though it might have been more suspenseful if we didn’t know who died and who would survive from the get go. The editing within the flashback footage is a bit choppy as well, thus sometimes disrupting the narrative a bit. On the plus side the film looks spooky as do our supernatural elements, there is some really good gore and old fashion prosthetic make-up effects and horror icon Crampton gives us a really dastardly villain. Despite the rural setting, the film avoids resembling Evil Dead and other cabin in the woods horrors, too much and there are simply some creepy action scenes once Casey’s family starts being transformed by Crampton’s evil Leslie Bison. Again, with the editing, not every story element is clear, but this is a gory good time with a very effective and atmospheric visual style. The film also has a bit of an 80s horror vibe which always scores points with us older horror movie fans.

Brea Grant makes a really good lead. She plays a women already under an emotional strain with a sick husband and now she must fight against Bison and her supernatural back-up. She watches her family one by one turn into creatures and ultimately we know she’s going to be blamed for everything she’s fighting against. Crampton steals the show here as the evil Leslie Bison, a woman with a political and supernatural agenda. The veteran actress and horror icon really chews up the scenery here and just oozes malice. She’s a lot of devious fun. Rounding out the cast of principles is horror regular A.J. Bowen as sick husband James, a good-natured fellow despite his condition, Joshua Hoffman as son Jason, Sophie Dalah as daughter Jessica and Elise Luthman as Jessica’s friend Becky who the evil elements have an interest in. Daniel Roebuck also appears in a small role as Inside Crime’s host, Jack Sterling.

In conclusion, this was a fun enough movie, though some choppy editing does hinder the story telling. Brad Baruh is an atmospheric director with a great eye for visuals and he does keep this cabin in the woods horror from getting too routine. It’s got a good cast with Brea Grant making a strong final girl and horror film icon Barbara Crampton stealing all her scenes with a sinister over-the-top performance. Flaws aside, a fun and delightfully gory horror flick.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 axes.

 

bars