BARE BONES: DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

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DRAGON WARS: D-WAR (2007)

Korean monster movie finds a young woman named Sara (Amanda Brooks) being the reincarnation of the Yuh Yi Joo, a being able to give great power to a chosen one amongst dragons, here called imoogis. An evil imoogi named Buraki comes to Los Angeles to track her down and steal that power, and brings a formidable army of monsters with him. With the city under siege, chosen protector Ethan (Jason Behr) must also find Sara to keep the Yuh Yi Joo from falling into Buraki’s hands.

Dragon Wars: D-War is a lot of fun as long as you’re willing to put up with a lot of nonsense to have that fun. Flick is directed by Shim Hyung-rae from his own silly script. The plot is goofy, as is the dialog, and the acting is fairly wooden. This Korean fantasy makes up for all the campiness, though, with some top notch SPFX and spectacular battle sequences, including a climactic battle to the death between good and evil imoogis. The siege on L.A. by an army of monsters is alone worth the price of a rental on Amazon Prime, at least for kaiju fans. If you like monster movies and don’t mind the campy silliness that can come with some of them, then this should be an entertaining evening on the couch. Some of your favorite brews might help. Also stars familiar faces Chris Mulkey, Elizabeth Peña, Craig Robinson, former Jason Voorhees Derek Mears as a bounty hunter and the legendary Robert Forster as Ethan’s mentor. Supposedly there is a prequel from Shim Hyung-rae in the planning all these years later.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES DEC 25-27

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES DEC 25-27

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

1. “Wonder Woman 1984” $16.7 Million

2. “News of the World” $2.25 Million

3. “The Croods: A New Age” $1.7 Million

4. “Monster Hunter” $1.1 Million

5. “Promising Young Woman” $719,305

6. “Fatale” $659,825

7. “Pinocchio” $268,259

8. “Elf” $115,000

9. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” $91,000

10. “The War WIth Grandpa” $89,746

source: Box Office Mojo

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to HORROR ICON BARBARA CRAMPTON!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY to HORROR ICON BARBARA CRAMPTON!

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Today is not only my own birthday, but that of horror film legend Barbara Crampton! Not bad sharing a birthday with a horror icon! MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse wishes Barbara a very happy and healthy birthday!

-MonsterZero NJ

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REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

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WONDER WOMAN 1984 (2020)

Superhero sequel takes place in 1984 and has Diana foiling a robbery at a mall. Her heroics also uncover a black market operation dealing with ancient antiquities. Amongst the items recovered is an ancient stone, that literally grants wishes…with a price. Not only does Diana use the stone to bring back her lost love, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), but it finds itself in the hands of power-hungry entrepreneur, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and it transforms the meek and shy Dr. Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) into a predator…literally. But will the price of returned romance, cost Diana the power to stop her new adversaries?

Sequel is once again directed by Patty Jenkins from her script and story with Geoff Johns and David Callaham. While the first film dealt with serious themes like the horrors of war and the evils that men do, this next adventure takes on a much lighter tone, though the corruptive power of greed is certainly a subject here. The movie has fun with switching the roles, with Trevor, this time, being the fish out of water and Diana being in familiar surroundings. Obviously, setting the film in the 80s also invites having a little fun with the outrageousness of that decade as well. The moments between Diana and Steve are indeed entertaining, but eventually Diana must turn her attention to stopping Lord, whose use of the stone is getting dangerous, and Barbara, who is transforming into classic Wonder Woman villainess Cheetah. It takes a little while to get to the action, but it is an entertaining enough build. The movie does move along at a nice pace. Not too fast, but not too slow. When the action comes, it is big and spectacular, like a scene in Cairo, but avoids the overblown theatrics of the first installment. It’s not perfect. It is definitely a tad too long and could have been tighter in a few spots, especially in the last act where it starts to get a little messy here and there. It doesn’t have the impact of the first movie, but is an entertaining sequel nonetheless. It is more fun.

The cast is top notch and helps make this more fantasy heavy story click and work. Gal Gadot once agains proves she was born to play this part and gives her comic book heroine some nice depth and nobility. Pine is fun as the resurrected Steve Trevor. A soul in another man’s body, Pine has a good time being the man in unfamiliar territory, discovering the modern world of the 80s. He and Gadot still have great chemistry. Pascal is also fun as Maxwell Lord. He evokes Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor here and is both a fun and lively villain, while never loosing that air of being lethal and threatening. Kristen Wiig is perfectly cast as the nerdy Barbara Minerva turned classic villainess Cheetah. She starts out awkward and clumsy and once getting her wish, becomes confident, sexy and then dangerous, literally turning into a predatory cat. There are return appearances by Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen in flashbacks and a “Wonder”-ful cameo during a mid-credits scene. A great cast.

Overall, this may not have the same intensity and impact as Diana’s origin tale, but is a more fun sequel. It has a lighter story, with a magic wish granting stone, but grounds it enough that it is not silly, nor does it rob it’s villains of their threat factor. It avoids getting too over-the-top, so we take the story as seriously as we need to for it to work. It has a good time skewering the 80s, especially through the fish out of water eyes of the returned Steve Trevor. Most of the action comes in the last act, but it is an entertaining ride to get there and when it comes, it delivers the heroics we are waiting for. It may be a bit too long, and wouldn’t lose much with about ten or fifteen minutes trimmed, but is a satisfying enough sequel and a lighter toned DC hero flick. Watch through the credits for that fun cameo.

Rated 3 (out of 4) Wonder Women!

-MonsterZero NJ

 

 

 

 

 

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MONSTERZERO NJ’S 15 HO HO HORROR FLICKS TO ADD A CHILL TO YOUR HOLIDAYS 2020!

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Sometimes a quiet Christmas is the best way to go in Better Watch Out!.

That “other” holiday season is here, the one that doesn’t involve jack-o-lanterns, witches and goblins, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some chills and thrills. I tried to add some variety here, so, not all of them are classics…and not all strictly horrors…though A Christmas Carol IS a ghost story after all. Here are fifteen flicks to add some chills and thrills to your ho ho holidays!

(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)

A ride share home during the Christmas holidays turns cold and deadly in Wind Chill!

-MonsterZero NJ

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BARE BONES: SHORTCUT (2020)

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SHORTCUT (2020)

European horror finds a bus containing five students (Molly Dew, Zak Sutcliffe, Sophie Jane, Zander Emlano, Jack Kane) taking a shortcut after a roadblock bars their passage through their normal route. Once on this road through the middle of nowhere, they encounter, not only a serial killer, but a vicious creature as well.

Ho-hum horror is directed by Alessio Liguori from a script by Daniele Cosci. Aside from presenting one of the worst shortcut choices in recent movie history, there isn’t much of interest here for horror or any other movie fans alike. There is little suspense or scares and the directing is strictly  by-the-numbers. The creature is OK, but nothing thrilling or frightening…nor is the serial killer (Daniel Keyes) for that matter. Despite the youthful cast giving it a good go and the creature looking decent enough, there isn’t much to recommend in this routine monster movie/youth bonding flick. Also stars Terence Anderson as the bad decision making bus driver.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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BARE BONES: OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (2016)

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OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (2016)

Clay Vanstone (T.J. Miller) is the screw-up branch manager of the Chicago offices of the Zenotek Company. His hard-nosed sister Carol (Jennifer Aniston) is the interim CEO and arrives on Christmas Eve to announce massive lay-offs, budget cuts and the canceling of that night’s company Christmas party. She threatens to close the failing branch down if they don’t turn things around. Clay holds the party anyway, to try to impress a potential client (Courtney B. Vance), while his Chief Tech Officer Josh (Jason Bateman) and his head of tech/love interest Tracey (Olivia Munn) try to save the company. Things start to fall apart as the party spirals out of control and Carol is stranded in Chicago and heads back to the office. 

Raunchy holiday comedy is directed by Josh Gordon from a script by Laura Solon, Dan Mazer and Justin Malen. It’s a routine comedy in every way from the loser needing to triumph in the face of adversity to the divorced Josh finally working up the courage to pursue Tracey. None of that stops it from being a fun and naughty comedy thanks to buoyant direction from Gordon, some actual wit in the script and a very energetic and entertaining cast. Kate McKinnon steals many a scene, Anniston has a blast as the tough and all business Carol and the underrated Bateman and Olivia Munn have a really nice on-screen chemistry both comedically and romantically. To a degree, this comedy could have been set at any time of year, but does get a chance to have naughty fun with many Christmas traditions and clichés. Routine and familiar…yes. A raunchy, fun holiday comedy for grown-ups…that, too!

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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REVIEW: HUNTER HUNTER (2020)

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HUNTER HUNTER (2020)

Joseph Mersault (Devon Sawa) lives deep in the wilderness as a fur trapper with his wife Anne (Camille Sullivan) and tween daughter Renee (Summer H. Howell). They are down on their luck at the moment and Anne wants to leave the harsh wilderness life for less rural surroundings. The coming of winter is the least of their problems, though, as they begin to believe a wolf is raiding their traps and might soon set it’s sights on them. Determined not to be driven from his home and way of life, Joe sets out to hunt the canine predator down. While he is away, Anne and Renee encounter a predator of a different kind.

Survival thriller is written and directed by Shawn Linden. It has a smoldering intensity and is a slow burn leading to an explosion of violence. Linden gives the film atmosphere and the wilderness locations a very bleak and desolate look. it suits the overall mood of the film, as this is a dark and unapologetic thriller and will be most talked about for it’s savage and violent finale. The last minutes of the film dips into horror movie territory as characters are driven to brutal acts. It segues from survival thriller to revenge thriller in it’s last moments and it’s unpleasant and will stick with you. Once all is said and done and the credits roll, one might ask what the point of it all was, but skilled direction makes this a fairly effective piece, even if such questions arise as you uncomfortably ponder what you just saw. There is some brutal violence and some very effectively done horror flick level gore to accentuate the gruesome finale.

The small cast perform well. Devon Sawa is good as Joseph. He’s a simple man wanting to protect his family and his way of life. Camille Sullivan is very good as his wife Anne, who dreams of maybe moving on from this hard life and must become a fighter and protector when predators, both four legged and two legged, come knocking at their cabin door. Summer H. Howell is also likable as their twelve year-old daughter, who is learning her dad’s trade and Nick Stahl is also effective as a stranger who they find injured in the woods. Supporting cast includes Gabriel Daniels and Lauren Cochrane as local law enforcement officials. A good cast!

This is a bleak movie with a very grim and vicious finale. Writer/director Shawn Linden crafts an intense slow burn that has a mean punch of a pay-off. It also pulls no punches, and doesn’t sacrifice impact to wrap things up with a happy little bow. It’s not a pleasant movie and there is no Hollywood ending. One may wonder what the point of it all was, but it could just be to tell a story of folks driven to desperate acts and that the worst and most dangerous predators on the planet walk on two legs. Currently streaming from IFC Midnight.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) traps!

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES DEC 18-20

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WEEKEND BOX OFFICE ESTIMATES DEC 18-20

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

1. “Monster Hunter” $2.2 Million

2. “The Croods: A New Age” $2 Million

3. “Fatale” $925,000

4. “Elf” $365,000

5. “Half Brothers” $260,000

6. “Polar Express” $231,000

7. “The War WIth Grandpa” $169,730

8. “Freaky” $165,000 Million

9. “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” $130,000

10. “Come Play” $115,000

source: Box Office Mojo

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