Ranking the Friday the 13th Movies: Phil and Jeremy go over all 12 films with a little help from our friend Justin.

downloadFriday the 13th is one of the highest grossing and most enduring series in the slasher horror genre. From its first film in 1980 to its last chapter in 2009, it has made over 840 million dollars at the box office (adjusted for inflation).

I had never sat through an entire movie in the series besides Freddy vs Jason and was eager to binge my way through all 12 films. Jeremy, on the other hand, is a shameless fanboy who even reads the comics based on the iconic Jason character.

We decide to go head to head and rank these films from worst to best with a little help from our friend, Justin from the Talking Films Facebook page. Justin stands in as a referee as he tells each of us why we are right or wrong about our film choices.

It´s not long before fireworks are sparked as some films which rank the lowest for some are in the top five for others. Justin has his work cut out for him.

Click on the YouTube link below to hear the extended podcast.

Also, if you missed our last podcast on the Halloween series than click on the link below and enjoy!!!

Here is a super condensed version of our rankings.



Friday the 13th (2009) – This is a formulaic movie with nothing new to offer. Jason is offbeat and too tall.

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Jason carries a victim off in the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th


Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – No Jason and too much mysticism, detracted from the bread and butter of the series, which is pyscho-zombie killer on the prowl.



Jason X (2002) – This is, essentially, “Jason In Space” with a cheesy terminator look and production design.


Jason in Times Square in 1989´s Jason Takes Manhattan


Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – Boring characters make this movie a drag. Also, Jason spends more than half of the movie on a cruise ship and not in Manhattan.



Friday The 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – A Jason movie without Jason is not a Jason movie.

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“Jason” breaks through a door in Friday the 13th V: A New Beginning


Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) – Jason vs Carrie is not that great, but it has some awesome kills and introduces us to Kane Hodder as the greatest Jason of them all.



Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989) – This movie is unique for having Jason on a boat instead of camp. It does have some funny cultural moments like kicking down a boombox that´s playing loud rap music and the shot of Jason in Times Square. But the characters are too one dimensional and come off as caricatures.

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Jason gets a makeover in Jason X


Jason X (2002) – This movie was ridiculous and super campy, but it seemed to be in on the joke, so I laughed along with it. It has some cool kills and is pretty fast-paced. So, it never felt tortuously bad.



Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – Baghead Jason is too much like the killer in The Town that Dreaded Sundown in this film. There is also too much suspension of disbelief when it comes to the timeline. There are some nice cat and mouse chases, though.

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Baghead Jason goes on a killing rampage in Friday the 13th Part 2


Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – Four movies in and I was already feeling a little bit of franchise fatigue in the repetitive nature of the storyline. The silver lining is that this movie does have some of the best kills and a truly vicious Jason.



Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) – This movie has too much Jason in spirit and not enough of him in the flesh. It does add nice touches by bringing out more of his mythology and showing how powerful he truly is while his spirit jumps from body to body.

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Jason went through hell on his way to hell in 1993´s The Final Friday


Friday the 13th Part III (1982) – The disco theme and 3D novelty make this movie fun in parts, but it sort of drags on in the middle. It´s iconic for introducing the Jason mask, and I truly loved the last chase of the final girl.



Friday the 13th Part III (1982) – Iconic for having Jason put on his hockey mask for the first time. It gets some love for that.

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Jason takes an ax to the head in Friday the 13th Part III


Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) – Too much comedy made Jason a little less threatening for me. He does go into supernatural boogie man mode, though, which is important for the series.



Friday The 13th (1980) – This is the one that launched them all and was clever in doing a whodunit with a mother as the killer.

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Mrs. Voorhees, played by Besty Palmer, carves herself a spot into horror history


Friday the 13th (2009) – This is an amped up version of the movies but doesn´t detract enough away from the original concept to upset me.



Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) – The birth of Kane Hodder as Jason is all I need to say about this one and why I rank it so high.

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Kane Hodder in all his demented glory in Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood


Friday the 13th (1980) – Classic slasher mystery with a lot of gore and sharp turns. Mrs. Voorhees is one of the great horror villains.



Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – This movie wrote the blueprint for the big head to head of icons of their respective movie genres. Since it came out we have had Alien vs Predator, Batman v Superman, and await the upcoming King Kong vs Godzilla.

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The Grudge Match to end all Grudge Matches


Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) – Jason is not really in this movie, but I had fun with the over the top humour and characters.



Friday The 13th VI: Jason Lives (1986) – This movie launched Zombie-Jason and made him a supernatural force on par with Freddy. It´s a turning point for the franchise.

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Jason inspects a forearm in Jason Lives.


Freddy vs. Jason (2003) – Absolute camp, but with good laughs and great kills. The grudge match for the ages lives up to the billing.



Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) –  Tom Savini makes a comeback in the make up department and the difference is notable. Ted White gets the best reaction out of the characters as the most methodical, stalking Jason.

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Jason jumping through a window to grab young Tommy, played by Cory Feldman


Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – Jason is the most vicious and relentless in this movie. He is out for revenge for the death of his mother and is not playing around. I enjoy the indie-realism of this entry. It truly made me jump in parts.


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“It´s Like Déjà Vu All Over Again” … All Over Again – How Brazil´s 2018 Presidential Election shadows America´s 2016 Election.

In March of 2016, I wrote an article about the parallels between my experience living in the United States through the corrupt Cheney and Bush years and living through the escapades of Lula and Dilma while here in Brazil. Since that time, enough has happened in Brazilian politics to make the writers of House of Cards jealous.

Brazil is shadowing the United States once again, but this time in regards to the 2018 presidential election; it is proving to be one of the most divisive contests in recent history. As we inch closer to election day on October 7, each political tribe stands ready to go to war.

To put this into context, since I have been here in Brazil, I have seen both Obama and Dilma elected twice. And while those elections were certainly heated, they did not bring out the viciousness and passion in people like Trump and Hillary did in America nor how the current crop of candidates (led by Jair Bolsonaro) has brought out in people here.

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Pro-Bolsonaro and Anti-Bolsonaro marches

Just this past weekend, for example, we had numerous anti-Bolsonaro and pro-Bolsonaro rallies across Brazil, gathering tens of thousands as they marched for their cause. While campaign rallies are commonplace during election cycles, spontaneous marches in support of a candidate or ideological stance are certainly not.

Something to note is that much like with the anti-Trump rallies in America, anti-Bolsonaro rallies did not include fervent support for any opposition candidate to Bolsonaro (although there were plenty of #FreeLula signs). Their main message was #elenão (not him) or #elenunca (never him).

I believe this is a reflection of the population´s lost faith in the establishment. The candidates with the strongest chances for defeating Bolsonaro are part of the political machine that Brazilians are exhausted of, much in the same way Clinton was for Trump.

Even the usually strong PSDB (Democratic-Socialist Party of Brazil), who has either had one of their own as President or in the second-round of each presidential election since 1994, barely made waves with this year with their nomination of São Paulo governor, Geraldo Alckmim, to the highest office – he remains in single digits in most polls.

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The 2016 municipal elections were a disaster for PT as they lost nearly 60% of their seats across Brazil

In addition to this, there is a high level of rejection of PT (Worker´s Party) after 13 years under their rule. This can be evidenced by the fact that they went from the party with the third most sitting mayors in 2012 down to the tenth after the 2016 municipal elections, that’s a nearly 60% drop!

The irony is that PT, for many, had been the anti-establishment party.

I know many folks who today identify as conservative or classical liberals who admit to voting for Lula – even Bolsonaro has said he did as such in the second round. The criticism from these people is that PT eventually transformed into exactly what they said they were fighting against: a corrupt establishment party.

This rejection has resulted in two things which drive this election. One, the Brazilian electorate has flocked to a wild-card like Bolsonaro to clean up Brasilia as Trump promised to do during his campaign. And, two, the left has attempted to become even more progressive, much like Hillary tried to become in order to appease some of Bernie Sander´s flock.

Furthermore, just like Trump and his supporters played the “rise of socialism” card against the Democrats last American election cycle, the doubling-down of progressivism here in Brazil is fodder for Bolsonaro and his followers who claim that another four years of PT rule will result in a socialist or even communist regime, ala Cuba and Venezuela.

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PT Candidate, Haddad, and Maduro

Former São Paulo mayor Fernando Haddad (PT),  with the blessings of former President Lula, has appeared as the principal foil for Jair Bolsonaro. This adds yet another element of similarities between American and Brazilian politics.

First some backstory for those who do not know. This year Lula was jailed for his involvement in a bribery scheme. However, his supporters believe his arrest was politically motivated.

However, Lula (along with Dilma, who leads the Senate race in Minas Gerais despite her impeachment) have built enough of a cult of personality to transcend their party´s and their own failings. In fact, while Lula was still appealing his sentence and his name appeared on presidential polls, he was in first place by a wide margin. Many people may not believe in his party anymore, but they certainly believe in him.

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Lula´s appointment of Haddad to run in his place for PT has catapulted the former mayor above 20% in the polls despite his being a relative unknown outside of the city of São Paulo. This has created two distinct scenarios: one, where Lula´s followers are backing Haddad off of Lula´s word alone thus helping him gain popularity, and two, where people who had fought hard to stop PT (via the successful ouster of President Dilma) have turned fearful that the party will return to power thus bolstering Bolsonaro’s popularity.

While Ciro Gomes, a self-proclaimed left-center candidate, has been polling strongly in third place, bets are that Haddad will be the prime candidate to square off against Bolsonaro in the second round. This will create as much (or more) of an ideological schism as Trump versus Hillary.

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“Brazil above everything, God above everyone”

But even without this duel between left and right extremes, the drama surrounding this election can be traced back to one distinct source, Bolsonaro himself. He has dropped like a bomb onto the national consciousness, although those who have kept up with politics know that his star had been rising for decades.

He is an ardent religious conservative with a love affair with the “good old days” of Brazil´s 21-year-long military regime. He is the living antithesis of everything Brazil had been living under for the last 13 years during the PT government. And, like President Trump, he is best known for his unfiltered comments and unpredictability, as well as a myriad of accusations of being homophobic, racist, sexist, and any other pejorative of which one can think.

While it´s true that Brazil´s more extreme electorate love to cry “fascist” at any candidate that doesn´t include a good amount of red in their party logo, Bolsonaro is seen as a more tangible threat and driven left-militant groups into a frenzy.

Beyond that, like the crop of influential Republicans in the United States who repudiated Trump at first, the traditional opposition parties to PT in Brazil (PSDB mainly) have also not fully backed Bolsonaro´s run for President despite Haddad having the clearest shot at reaching the second round of voting and potentially winning the Presidency. Although, there are exceptions like the recent support for Bolsonaro by one of the founders of PSDB.

So with all these considerations and more, Brazilians await for Sunday, October 7 with a lot to consider. If the vote does indeed move to an October 28 second-round vote (some analysist believe Bolsonaro has a chance of taking it in the first round), it promises to be a mean and fiery back and forth between Bolsonaro and his antithesis, Haddad. Sound familiar?

This fervor will be due to both sides playing for more than just policy stances. Rather, they both believe they need to “save” the country from impending doom. Sound familiar, part deux?

The right-wing believes that Haddad will take Brazil one step closer to Venezuela-status, while the left-wing believes that Bolsonaro will bring on a new military dictatorship and crush democracy.

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Whichever way the vote goes, both men will certainly have to deal with relentless attacks for the next four years, with their respective supporters taking the brunt of the beatings.

Meanwhile, moderate supporters (or those who support neither candidates) will have to sit and listen to the crying from both sides. So, if you are currently living in Brazil as an expat, may your heart be strong and the caipirinhas and beer flow steadily, you are going to need it.


Phil Ray

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Ranking the Halloween Franchise Films: Phil and Jeremy look at all ten films in the iconic horror series.

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The many faces of Michael Myers

We’re at it again, this time Jeremy and Phil are taking a look at one of the most iconic horror movie franchises of all time, Halloween. This is a mega-franchise which includes 10 movies (with an 11th on the way) and has made more than 300 million dollars at the box office, making it the fourth highest grossing horror movie franchise in history.

There is a catch, though!

While Jeremy is a self-avowed fanboy of the franchise, I watched all the movies for the first time only a week ago for the purpose of this podcast!!!

So, how do these virgin eyes see these movies differently from Jeremy’s super fan goggles? Listen to our new podcast, linked right here below, to find out.

For those who want the quick version, without all the expert analysis and heated arguments, here is our ranking of the movies from worst to best in all their gory glory.

But, first, make sure to listen to our podcast ranking the Friday the 13th movies by clicking below.



Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

This movie suffered from having too many cooks in the kitchen. Its lack of clear direction and attempt to create a larger supernatural mythology around Mike Myers fell flat for me. I like him murderous, mysterious, and inexplicable.


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Halloween: Ressurection and its cast of annoying kids. No wonder Michael looks pissed, there are assholes in his house!



Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

This one is a stinker all around teetering on pop culture parody by featuring both Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes. It wasted the legendary beheading of Michael in H20 for a silly, contrived body switch to bring him back for this movie. Laurie Strode is also killed off unceremoniously. While the live-filmed kills were a clever pre-social media nod, this is the worst of the bunch.



Halloween II (2009)

Rob Zombie followed up his first Halloween movie with this more psychological misfire. The vision of a white horse and Myers’ mom dressed in white was a clumsy piece of symbolism. Tyler Mane also brought too much WWE, with his hulking physique, to the already frightening character of Michael Myers, The Shape.

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Halloween II (2009): Michael Myers – wilderness man back from his spiritual treck through the forest. What movie am I watching?!?!?!


Halloween II (2009)

Zombie tried to infuse some Freudian psychology into a character that did not need any. Myers is completely neutered, confused, and boring. Add in dream sequences and hallucinations that add little to his lore, and you have a stinking pile of garbage that takes itself too seriously while not delivering enough scares nor entertainment.



Halloween (2007)

This movie explains that Myers’ reason for being a psychopathic murderer is his white trash upbringing. In other words, he is humanized and thus demystified. This film suffers from bad acting, forced dialogue, and a lack of purpose. Its slightly better pacing nudges it ahead a few spaces in the race for worst.

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Halloween II (2007) Myers was really into making masks. If only there had been eBay at the time, he could have sold them all and been able to afford better mental care.


Halloween (2007)

Zombie`s horror-fanboy status is too obvious in this movie. Here, Michael has to have a fascination with masks his whole life as an origin for why he puts on the Kirk mask. We also have Rob’s unnecessary trademark need to make the Myers family a dark, trailer trash rendition of My Name Is Earl’s relatives. Malcolm McDowell has a tremendous film legacy but cannot compete with Donald Pleasance in the role of Sam Loomis.



Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

The movie begins as a shot up Myers escapes through a storm drain and finds shelter with a hermit, in what seems like his own version of The Fugitive. The Shape mask is different and the absence of George P. Wilbur as Michael is felt throughout. A positive is  Michael’s terrifying hunt of Jamie in the laundry chute. Loomis confronting Myers at Michael’s old home also manages some great wordless Myers-drama.


Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

This movie is a stinking pile of shit but at least it’s fast-paced enough that I got through it in one sitting, unlike the three prior entries on my list. Busta Rhynes does karate and Myers gets electrocuted in the nuts. If you love the characters and the franchise the hate for this movie is understandable. If you are not as emotionally connected, then Ressurection is worth the watch just for the unintentional comedy … I guess (???)



Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

This movie has unlikeable characters, weak women who lack agency and are the butt of all the sexual jokes, and a Mike Myers who looms around a lot but is not really scary. Him chasing Laurie through the laundry shoot is the only redeeming scene – truly frightening.

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Halloween III: There’s something fishy about these masks that the kids really want for Halloween.


Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

This film does not feature Myers. Instead, it is a mix of The Outer Limits and Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a commentary on technology brainwashing our youth added in for good measure. Objectively, this is a solid horror movie, but I rank it low for not having much importance to the continuity of the series.



Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

Jamie Lee Curtis is back as Laurie Strode and Chris Durand plays a much smaller and faster version of Michael Myers. LL Cool J and “George Clooney look-alike” Adam Arkin add a pop culture feel to the film, dragging it down a bit. If Resurrection hadn’t come out, then this film would have been higher on my list. But because the studios wasted the opportunity to kill Michael off for good, this one stands where it is at number five.

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Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Laurie Strode sees her brother again for the first time in a long time and wonders, “Who’s his plastic surgeon?”


Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

I really enjoyed this movie for moving the franchise plot forward and introducing a truly maniacal Myers. His kills are vicious and numerous. He came back with a vengeance and the movie cashes in on that. This movie is definitely entertaining and scary. The child actor, Danielle Harris, is also terrific as Myers’ main target, Jamie Lloyd.



Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)

The red-headed stepchild of the bunch. This movie does not feature Myers but it has a nifty little plot involving the mass murder of children across America by a Halloween-mask-making company. If you like the Twilight Zone or The X Files, you might really enjoy this one. It looks dated in parts but it has a memorable horror/sci-fi plot.


Halloween II (1981)

This movie is an extension of the 78’ classic. It laid the blueprint for hospitals being used as horror set pieces which can still be seen today in shows like Kingdom Hospital or that eerie Grady Memorial Hospital in The Walking Dead’s fifth season. The film is to Halloween what Aliens is to Alien in that it’s a faster, quicker, get to the punch sequel. And can we ever listen to Mr. Sandman the same way again after watching this movie?



Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

This movie was a swan song, revelation, and a thesis statement for the franchise despite the bad acting and cardboard arcs. We not only find out how Michael draws his power from the Curse of the Thorn but it is also revealed why he kills on Halloween and goes after his own family.  Dr. Loomis has his final appearance with a laboring but brave outing by Donald Pleasance, who died during the end of production. Paul Rudd, in a very early role, is also terrific playing Tommy. Michael is at his most intimidating and relentless here and that stalk in the jail is still scary.

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Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. Donald Pleasance’s final turn as the good Doctor Loomis.


Halloween H20: 20 Years Later 

Jamie-Lee Curtis kicks ass through and through in this movie. H20 features a much more agile “action-Myers”, which I know irks some fans, but it didn’t take away from the basic tenets of the character nor his menace. This movie is fast paced and Curtis turning the tables on her film-brother in the last act is worth the price of admission.



Halloween (1978) 

This movie is an undisputed classic. It’s a slow burn that gripped me from the first second with its inventive cinematography, solid script, and iconic music. Putting this at number two was hard for me, and it could easily be number one on any other day.

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. Danielle Harris holds her own against The Shape.


Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)

This film revived the series and put Michael into Jason and Freddy territory as a pop culture icon and unkillable horror monster. Wilbur was terrifying as Myers and he helped set the tone and direction for the next 8 years of the franchise. The female protagonists were also very strong with Danielle Harris as a harrowing little girl named Jamie Lloyd and Ellie Cornell as virtuous Rachel. This entry is what got me into Michael Myers and Halloween all those years ago as a kid.



Halloween (1978)

This movie picked up where Psycho left off but took it to another level with Michael Myers as a supernatural Norman Bates. Coming out before Freddy and Jason, Halloween also launched the unkillable horror-hero bogeyman era that paved a blaze of glory in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s. The success of this movie skyrocketed Jamie Lee Curtis to fame and allowed John Carpenter to make many more cinema classics.

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Halloween (1978). Cinematography, music, shadows, and light make this move sizzle with suspense and terror throughout.


Halloween II (1981)

Starting off mere minutes after the end of the first Halloween, this film features more kills, more violence and a Michael Myers that is legitimately pissed off. It doesn´t have as much atmosphere and slow burn as its predecessor, but it makes up for it in intensity and creativity in the kills. While I could easily switch my number one and number two picks on any given day, for now, Halloween II sits atop my ranking.

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Ranking the Predator Movies: Jeremy and Phil Go Down the List of one of Action/Sci-Fi´s Most Enduring Franchises

Predator, like its 80s brethren, Alien and Terminator, is one of those franchises that feels as if it has given all that it has to give. Yet, here we are in 2018 with another movie to add to the list of this ongoing saga of an interstellar hunter who happens to have a soft spot for Earth. Jeremy Wardi and I (Phil) are going to go down the list of our favourites.

Warning – there will be light to heavy spoilers for all the films including the newest entry to the family, The Predator (2018)

Also be sure to check out our podcast where we review the new film and go more in-depth on all the movies as we rank them.

You can click play here:


But if you don´t have the time to listen now,  read on for the quick version. Predator movies ranked from worst to best.


Jeremy: Aliens vs Predators: Requiem (2007)

This sequel to the original AVP: Alien vs. Predator is the worst of the series. It seemsImage result for avp alien vs predatOR REquiem indulgent to Predator and Alien battles which are cool in some glimpses but nearly throws the story down the drain. The script, set and actors feel B-grade and that self-indulgent ending of the fanboy filmmakers thinking it was something groundbreaking was silly.

Phil: Aliens vs Predators: Requiem (2007)

Wow, this movie had so much going for it!!! It starts off mere minutes after the end of AVP: Alien vs. Predator and follows the story of the Alien-Predators hybrid. None of the characters are particularly interesting, none of the action sequences are particularly inventive and even the Predator looks bored as he tries to clean up the mess left by his fellow Predators.  This movie isn’t unwatchably bad but really has nothing about it which would make me go for a second view. It´s also really dark – good luck seeing either the aliens or the predator.

                                                                         NUMBER 5                                                                                                                                                  

Image result for predator 2Phil: Predator 2 (1990)

This movie was a mess. It felt like it was playing off of a Robocop vibe with its chaotic city streets overtaken by criminals while utilizing the same sort of pulp direction style but it doesn´t know how to balance that with interesting character development and action. By taking the Predator out of the real jungle and into Los Angeles, the element of the hunt is taken away. In fact, most of the movie The Predator is actually the one being chased, which totally neutered the character. Danny Glover is great, as usual, but every other character falls short of his ability to take the mediocre script and elevate it beyond 2-dimensional. The end sequence of this movie is pretty awesome as it adds to the universe mythos, but overall this movie is a mixed bag with too many rotten apples.

Jeremy: Predator 2 (1990)

Danny Glover was in his prime but he just didn’t work as the Ahnuld-core protagonist fighting Predators. Even worse was that we got the Predator in the city, narrowing just how stealthy and scary it could be when compared to the jungle. Glover, Reuben Blades, and the rest of the cast were decent but the LA frenzy of post-riots used as the canvas for this alien race to hunt on seemed like a mismatch.


Jeremy: Predators (2010)

We´ve seen Predator in a jungle, Predator in a city and Predator against Aliens, this movie tries for something more expansive and it mostly delivered. Adrien Brody had the body but not the face for an action lead, and Lawrence Fishburne was not totally convincing as a crazy man for how intelligent he looks. Yet, the concept of Predators against Predators, and the sport of killing man, taken to a bigger scale put this movie in fourth place. I also loved the use of “predator” taken to symbolic meaning with the convicts delivered to the species to be hunted. It gave a Most Dangerous Game meets Hostel type environment. We also got what being a predator means broken down in different ways. Did you ever wonder who would win between a Predator and a Yakuza holding a samurai sword? I know I have and you’ll find out here.

Phil: Predators (2010)Image result for predators

This movie’s biggest flaw is that it attempts to put together a mixed cast much in the same vein as the original film, but the characters aren’t as charismatic nor do they have as much chemistry with one another. It feels forced at all the wrong places. I was especially upset at Danny Trejo´s death being off-screen before we really got to know who he was. Another character’s sudden choice to go samurai sword fighting with a Predator makes for a great sequence, but again, without proper build up or rhyme or reason. More infuriating is the surprise appearance Lawrence Fishburn, that had the potential to take the movie into some really amazing directions, but ends as quickly as it began. This movie moves along at a great pace, though. It’s a definite throwback to the original while doing a great job at expanding on the mythos of the Predator franchise. What it lacks in heart it more than makes up for in straightforward entertainment value.


Phil: The Predator (2018)

This movie is a mixed bag. It tries to take its subject matter a bit too seriously which takes away from the popcorn-fun core of the series. When it decides to focus on its main cast and their chase of and escape from the Predator, the movie clicks and delivers its fair share of action and gore.  This movies biggest risk was in trying to expand the Predator mythos. I think it did a decent job at that and made me want to see what else is in store for this universe. The characters were also amusing and gelled well with each other. If I ignore the parts where the movie tries to “science” itself into a pseudo-believable tale (much as the Alien franchise has attempted to do of late), I can appreciate it for what it is – a good enough entry into the film franchise.

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Jeremy: AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)

This movie is ranked so high for me simply for, perhaps, topping the Freddy vs. Jason crossover from a year prior. AVP: Alien vs Predator also deserves the high marks for being legit and living up to the ad franchise crossover movie. You wanted Aliens fighting Predators and you got it in all its glory. The way the writers intermixed elements from both sides into one concoctive concept was brilliant. While this wasn’t a movie meant for thoughtful substance, it was a fun with action-packed delivery. In the end, the winner was subjective much like in the Krueger and Voorhees battle.


Jeremy: The Predator (2018)

This is the second best predator simply because it is so experimental and game-changing with the tropes of the franchise. Incorporating Shane Black´s trademark action-comedy buddy formula with a Dirty Dozen set of commandos. The film makes you laugh as much as be in awe of its gore and action. Functioning as both a sequel and a reinvention, it explains most of the origins that started with 1987´s Predator while throwing in a The Day the Earth Stood Still-type of eco-premise. The predator hunting dogs are a little too similar to the creatures in Stranger Things, and sometimes the comedy intervenes, but this is a must watch for the franchise.

Image result for avp alien vs predator

Phil: AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)

This movie is very much maligned by fans but I have always had a good time with it. It not only builds on the Predator mythology but manages to sneak in some background on Weyland Co. and what would become their undying interest in the serpent alien species. The action sequences are compact and believable, and the characters are only less likable than the original group of Predator-prey. Saana Latham, who plays extreme geo-guide Alexa, also manages to hold her own and gain the respect of a Predator. She becomes an unlikely action hero before the current push for more women heroes on screen. AVP: Alien vs Predator has a simple goal – entertain and provide a classic showdown between two sci-fi screen giants. It succeeds in its goals while adding more layers to the Predator mythology. If we don’t stop to analyze the film for much more than that, we can come away happy. Plus, the final battle with the Queen Alien rivals even Cameron´s classic Aliens climax.


Image result for predator 1987Jeremy: Predator (1987)

This is the one that started it all. Ahnuld and Carl Weathers in their prime. Then we had Jesse Ventura’s unforgettable “I’m a sexual Tyrannosaurus” line. Not to leave out Apollo Creed dying after he died in Rocky 4. While this is the one that started the franchise, it’s still the best of the bunch for keeping the title species in their most primal habitat being the jungle. It’s a canvas that forever allowed that holographic stealth mode or the camo-vision to be mimicked for years to come. Few films can initiate with Terminator, Apollo Creed and Jesse “The Body” in badass commando mode only to lead them to something even more intimidating than their macho-status.

Phil: Predator (1987)

This movie is a classic. It meshes the 80s guerilla-war/action genre with sci-fi/horror seamlessly while managing to make a super simple and by-the-numbers plot feel original and fresh. The hunter is hunted with a last man (and woman) standing. Arnold shows all his star power and The Predator becomes an instant sci-fi icon. The jokes are off colour and the movie is definitely marketed as a “man movie” but it has so much fun with itself that it doesn’t for one-minute feel dated or make you cringe. If you don´t make it a point to watch any of the other movies on this list. Watch this one!

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Check out Jeremy´s review of The Nun by clicking here.

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What Jeremy´s Watching: The Nun (2018)

When the masterful IT came out last year in the first week of September it seemingly broke the mold for both the horror genre and for leftover films that come out during Labor Day weekend to mid-September which are not expected to perform so well. The Pennywise remake, reboot or sequel made millions and is what pushed the release of a film like The Nun to the same weekend in 2018.

The film´s title character made a terrifying splash in The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation, so it was only a matter of time before she got her own feature project.

Director Corin Hardy, who had previously helmed the Irish folklore-horror flick, The Hallow, is brought in to tackle religious myth turned reality. He’s joined by co-writers Gary Dauberman, who wrote 2017’s IT, and James Wan of Saw, Insidious and The Conjuring (among others) fame.



The Nun is the fifth film in the horror genre’s MCU equivalent: the Conjuring Universe (CU). While it is better than a lot of what we get in the horror genre year after year, and I was excited to see it and anticipated something special, the film is, sadly, a disappointment. It’s only the fourth best in the CU franchise, ranking behind The Conjuring 1 and 2 and Annabelle Creation.

The Nun starts off promising with a goth setting of the Abby Carta in Romania, which is a real-life structure. While the movie shows potential with its crossing over into the unknown mind games (similar to films like the classic 70s sci-fi thriller Stalker or the more recent Oculus), it buries itself quickly by pushing too many scare attempts too quickly. Essentially, the filmmakers don´t allow for the shadows, darkness, or imagination to wander and thus waste a chance to let the movie turn into a patient slow burn horror – trading that in for cheap frights instead. Director Hardy strives for scary motifs but they feel artificial and never make you truly cover your eyes.

The storyline is pretty straightforward. It centers around a nun who commits suicide in 1952. The heads of the Catholic Church assign Father Burke (Demian Bichir) and the young Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga) to investigate the location of where the nun died. They are joined by the local native, Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), as their guide. Their investigation leads them to the Abbey of St. Carta in Romania where the three will encounter a force and entity so evil that it will make them question not only reality, but whether the powers of God are enough to stop said evil.


Sister Irene and Father Burke

The casting is a mixed bag.

Demian Bichir is completely miscast as Father Burke. I love Bichir – especially in The Hateful Eight and The Border. He’s got something special to him. But for an actor playing mostly drug kingpins or criminals, how does casting him as a priest seem at all convincing? I unintentionally laughed at some of his dialogue.

Taissa Farmiga (sister of Vera Farmiga of The Conjuring fame) as Sister Irene, on the other hand, is very clever casting. She plays the aid to Burke and fits into the role of innocent virginal nun perfectly.

Jonas Bloquet, Frenchie, is the comic relief. However, his humor never gels with the film’s high contrast in self-serious atmosphere.

Director Hardy uses the Abbey of St. Carta and its many barriers of holy crosses like  1979´s Stalker used the forests or how 2013´s Oculus used the mirror. They become a Lovecraftian realm which makes its passengers question reality as they encounter monstrous creations. Unfortunately, Hardy was unable to take this atmosphere above a B-Grade horror flick.


As I stated earlier, Hardy, Wan, and Dauberman deliver us the scares too early and the bad pacing renders them ineffective. Everything from the “zombie- nun” to apparitions of failed victims are tricks and mind games we’ve seen before – and in better films.  Worse yet is that the title-character-nun, who was incredibly frightening in both The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle: Creation, takes on too many forms here and in the process loses her punch. It´s a classic case of quantity over quality which hinders how truly frightening this character could have been.

Dauberman, in particular, seems to be very much inspired by Dan Brown and even A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in that he attempts to insert a certain horror-hero motif into this movie in the same vein of iconic characters such as Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. Unfortunately, he is not as successful in doing this here as he was in 2017´s IT.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 008

Sister Mary Helena from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

The uses of Dan Brown´s Christ’s-blood-arc makes this movie feel like a Conjuring rendition of Nightmare on Elm Street 3. There are allusions to the ominous nun appearance, the holy water, and Freddy’s bones from Nightmare 3 and Dan Brown´s traces of Christ´s remnants and bloodlines. The filmmakers cram all these references into the concoction that is this movie. Their goal was to turn Valak the King of Hell into an unkillable horror icon, but there is not enough charisma or trademarks solidify this status.

Earlier this year, the masterful Hereditary used the same mythos of the King of Hell to much better ends. If we are to compare the two, this film is a slouch. The way Paimon was used in Hereditary, in light of how Valak is utilized, proves that it takes true vision to convert Satanic mythos into something terrifying for the screen.

This is mediocre Conjuring Universe material. The Nun is supposed to be one of the cornerstones to what Wan and company are trying to craft, but instead of having the Captain America: First Avengers feel, it’s not much better than that 90’s buried Fantastic Four. Even the end credits twist is so forced that it will make you feel like the whole film was made only for that self-indulgent display of cleverness.

In short, The Nun is a big budget horror film with a rich Gothic atmosphere and plenty of material to play with that never delivers in the scares the way it should.

Jeremy Wardi

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Ranking The Jurassic Park Movies

There were more dinosaurs on the loose and more genetic engineering as the Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom premiered this year around the world. Hollywood has somehow managed to rehash what is essentially a story that doesn’t have much more to tell into five multi-million dollar grossing movies. And with the latest outing putting 1.2 Billion Dollars in Universal’s bank account, it is safe to say that, in 2018, dinosaurs still rule the box office 25 years after their first appearance.

I have to admit that I am a sucker for the big guys myself and can sit through any of these movies. But alas, there is a measure of quality that we can’t ignore that fluctuates up and down through this franchise, and I am here to tell you how I rank them from worst to best.

1 out of 5 bites – unwatchable
2 out of 5 bites – watchable, but nothing we haven’t seen before
3 out of 5 bites – solid entertainment but nothing magical
4 out of 5 bites – entertaining but not a classic
5 out of 5 bites – classic movie

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018)

2 out of 5 bites

Yes, the latest movie in the franchise is the worst.

First, it is only the second movie in the rebooted franchise and it already feels like it’s stretching for a storyline by both dipping back into the “return to island” motifs of earlier movies and the genetic splicing angle from Jurassic World.

Second, there are no characters worth rooting for. Really, they were either too smart or too dumb to connect with on any level. I never the smart characters were in real peril at any time, and the dumb ones died as expected.

Third, every dinosaur gimmick had already been played (and replayed) in the first movie of this reboot of the franchise and all the films that came before. There was very little room left for trickery and astonishment this time around. When this movie gives a nod to the original Jurassic Park’s famous kitchen scene (when one of our characters shuts a hatch door seconds before a charging predator snatches her), it didn’t make me go “Cool throwback!” Instead, it made me go, “Saw it before with much better build up and suspense.”

Was I entertained, tough? Hell yeah!

The movie was fast-paced, decently acted and had marvelous special effects – so it’s pretty easy to slip into and get through. However, I was left with very little to marvel at nor did I feel like I needed to watch this movie again any time soon – and I haven’t. This is because while the movie did indeed fill the screen with fireworks, there were zero gripping or show-stopping action scenes, no character development, and, strangely, very little of the dinosaurs, who spent the bulk of the movie in cages while the movie went about taking itself much too seriously. (YAWN!!! I need destruction of vehicles and humans being eaten or mistakenly stepped on.)

This chapter in the saga is also probably the one with least heart. It doesn’t treat the dinosaur experiment with child-like wonder but more like an experiment gone bad from the start. This relegates the dinosaurs to movable pieces in a chess game for product rights. It was like watching the suit and tie “creative meeting” on how to put together a Jurassic Park movie vs the actual creative meeting by the writers and producers.

One element I did appreciate in Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom, is how it played on a little bit of a horror element. Michael Crichton’s original two novels from which all these movies have sprung were not for kids, and they have some pretty terrifying moments in them. Unfortunately, this franchise does not want to let go of its kid-audience, so just as it seemed to be going dark, it would revert back to “family friendly”. This resulted in a film with a very stark tonal shift, especially its first half vs its second half but even from one scene to the next.

Still, this movie managed to get 2 bites out of 5, which means that it wasn’t unwatchably bad. The studios did make a lot of money with it, which means there will be a part three that can perhaps course correct and take our adventure somewhere new next time around, especially considering the “Jurassic” Pandora’s Box that they opened at the film’s close. If history is the judge with this franchise, though, I wouldn’t bet too much on it.

A final note to Universal: Don’t give the movie away in the trailer: it made the first half of the film extremely anti-climatic.

Jurassic Park III (2001)

2.5 out of 5 bites

Let’s be straight. This movie teeters on embarrassingly bad in quite a few spots. There are the very low-budget special effects (for Jurassic Park standards of the time) with CGI that looks worse than stuff you could have seen in some 90s big-budget music videos, the lead dinosaur (a Spinosaurus) is not nearly as scary as the T. Rex (who gets killed in depressing fashion), and the level of stupidity of the human characters borders on insane. 

Yet, what edges Jurassic Park III up over the Fallen Kingdom is that it manages to have heart and characters I end up really caring about despite their best efforts to make me hate them for their brainlessness. In short, this is a movie I can stop to watch if it’s playing on some afternoon rotation on cable TV, I am not sure I could say the same for the latter.

Sam Neill, the only intelligent person in the movie (as in he doesn’t want to explore dinosaur island, or make a lot of noise, but wants to get off of it as soon as possible), returns as Doctor Grant and it feels like he is back on home turf. His acting is believable, though in parts he seems like he may be working more for the paycheck than the movie. Coincidently, his character gets back on the island for monetary reasons too.

William H. Macy also manages to bring some level of comedy and depth to what would have otherwise been a boring character: a rich dad looking for his lost son after said son has an accident while stupidly parasailing over an island inhabited by dangerous prehistoric creatures. The parasailing incident occurred while the boy was under the care of his mother’s very responsible boyfriend. Remember that I had mentioned that a lot of the characters in this movie are really stupid, well the idiot-train departs from the opening sequence and rarely does it stop.

Aside from these two actors, the rest of the cast is, believe it or not, passable. This passability makes up for their stupidity in that I actually root for their survival despite having every reason not to – I am an avid supporter of the Darwin Awards.

Something else that manages to impress me in this movie (and pretty much every movie since the original) is how the writers somehow manage to get everyone back on dinosaur island. Once the characters are back on the island, it is also impressive how the story moves along quite briskly and semi-entertainingly despite its almost made-for-TV cheesiness.

My favourite part of Jurassic Park III, though, was that I finally got to see a whole lot of Pteranodons. The scene in their aviary was one of the scariest (and one of my favourites) in Michael Crichton’s books that had never managed to make it on to the big screen. This movie did a great job with it and the flying dinosaurs end up stealing the show.

Jurassic Park III is barely tolerable Jurassic Park. It’s a guilty pleasure nonetheless, which I think fans of the franchise have sat through more times than they would like to admit. That said, its obvious drop in quality makes it quite clear as to why it took so long for there to be another Jurassic Park movie, the story was more than worn out.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

3.5 out of 5 bites

This is a direct sequel to 1993’s Jurassic Park and it had to work very hard to top the original. Although its a pretty great film on its own account, it lives under the shadow of its masterful predecessor. This anchors it down a bit as every time it takes a different route than Jurassic Park, it kind of feels like a really obvious attempt to be different from Jurassic Park.

One of the main ways that The Lost World is different than the original is that it is a much darker film, both in tone and actual setting – most of the action happens at night or in the rain. It does have some pretty gripping action sequences, from hanging on to a rope from inside an RV hanging from the side of a cliff to being chased by a T-Rex on the mainland. These scenes are filmed with the usual Spielberg finesse and attention to detail we have come to expect and manage to thrill me after multiple screenings.

What the movie misses out on is the sense of wonder from the original.  Jeff Goldblum’s Malcolm is such a great character, but his pessimism isn’t really conducive to looking at the dinosaur world with a child’s eyes. Already in its second outing, the franchise showed its hand as the innocence of the first movie is gone forever and would be nearly impossible to recapture. Although Julianne Moore plays her role with a bit more of a sense of amazement, that is quickly lost after their first attack by a T. Rex. The main issue I have with this is that, much like in Fallen Kingdom, this movie does not go full dark when the story was begging for it. We do get considerably more splashes of blood compared to the original, though.

Again, kudos to the writers for finding a convoluted way to bring these people back to dinosaur island, although the exposition to get there is quite long (over 20 minutes!!!). That to me has always been the most incredible part of all of this dino-mess.

Although I have generally favourable feelings for The Lost World, I can’t not mention the one thing that I detest dearly about this movie and that takes me out of it every single time!!!: the little girl who plays Malcolm’s daughter. She felt shoehorned in and her aerobics routine (glad the writers thought to bring up her skills at the start of the film – talk about foreshadowing) to ward off some raptors stands as one of the most embarrassing things I have ever seen on film.

To put this into perspective, I watched this movie as a teen in the theatre when it came out, and I can still recall the facepalm feeling that scene gave me way back then along with the violent irritability she produced with nearly every other scene she was – poor kid, bad script.

Jurassic World (2015)

 3.8 out of 5

Yes, I have to let this movie edge out The Lost World by the tiniest of bits because it managed to infuse a good dose of a word I have been using to describe something that had been missing in the movies on my list up to this point, “wonder”. This little word is the crux of what a movie about seeing dinosaurs walk the earth again should ride on. This film is set enough apart from the three movies we have looked at so far because while it felt like “Deja Vu all over again,” it was Deja Vu in the best way possible.

Sure, there are a few ridiculously stupid things that happen in this movie (mostly done by some ridiculously stupid kids and a woman running through the jungle in high heels) but the pace works, the action works, and the beautiful CGI dinosaurs don’t look a grade above video game level.

Chris Pratt is likable as the “Raptor Whisperer” to a group of raptors which are both multi-faceted and unique and not the same sneaky, jump scare foils we had been treated to since the original film.

Bringing in gene splicing to the Jurassic Park mythos is also a great way to update the story and make it feel like this movie wasn’t just a remake – even if it pretty much was. I can’t exactly wrap my mind around what would drive someone to go to a dinosaur theme park after the events of the first three movies, but hey, remember, that is what I consider the most creative aspect of this franchise … how the writers manage to get us to go around in circles without asking too many questions and then somehow making it work.

And work, it did. I was very entertained, it was the sort of flashback to my teen years that I wanted while being a new exciting experience for those too young to remember the original park ride. I truly didn’t feel like this movie was the same story I had already seen three times as it managed to balance suspense with “run for your life” bombast the way the best summer blockbusters can do.

While on second viewing, Jurassic World lost a bit of its lustre for me, it still operated well as a “not-brain-dead” action-adventure with relatively few cringe-worthy moments compared to the movies that have already appeared on this list.

Jurassic Park (1993)

5 out of 5 bites

This is not only the best movie in the Jurassic Park series, it is one of the best movies of the 90s and possibly of all time (within the action/sci-fi genre). Steven Spielberg was in full creative genius mode on this adaptation of Michael Crichton’s bestseller about a theme park not named Westworld gone awry.

When I see this movie today, I still get emotionally involved and engaged in much the same way I did when I saw it in the theatre as a young teen. It has lost very little over time – even in its special effects department. Spielberg used a lot more puppets design than CGI on this movie, and you know what? – these dinosaurs seem like they have aged better than the ones from The Lost World but most especially Jurassic Park III.

Along with the visual spectacle, we get a cast of characters (including the children) who don’t make one stupid decision after the other and who actually grow from beginning to end as people. Add to that the perfect John William’s score and we can all collectively ignore the fact that Newman is in charge of the entire “spare no expense” park security.

I don’t want to gush too much about this movie, as anyone who is reading this list probably agrees that Jurassic Park is the best in the franchise. If you don’t, please share in the comments below.

That said, if you have never seen this cinema classic, check it out. I bet you will love it and I am pretty sure it can kick the ass of a lot of the current crop of summer blockbusters that have come out in the decades since.

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What I am Watching: A whole lot of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and other popcorn films (Meg, MI:Fallout, Jurassic World)

It’s incredible how Dwayne Johnson has transformed from another wrestler trying to make in Hollywood to the most recognizable big budget star of the moment. His recognizability may be the product of quality work or the fact that he has a new movie out nearly every three months (the latest tally is 5 movies in the last 14 months!!!)

I have never followed his career closely, although I was a fan of one of his early action flick, The Run Down and his family-friendly Gridiron Gang. The former proving early on that Dwayne Johnson had enough charisma to carry a mediocre film through to its end by force of will alone. It definitely seems like nothing has changed from the time when he was just dabbling in movies while still keeping a foot in the wrestling ring and his full-time movie career … except for the size of the budgets.

This year, I managed to watch a few of his movies that didn’t include the word “fast” nor “furious” in the title. Seeing as how I am not a fan of those particular movies, I was pleasantly surprised by his other output. Here is a rundown of the ones I got a chance to see.

Jumanji (2017)

This movie had me cracking up. Johnson works best when he plays off of a large cast or a strong group of co-stars. He also does comedy very well and has a natural knack for being the straight man and doing self-deprecating humour. Here he is buffered by the usually funny Jack Black, who does not fail to deliver and the usually unfunny Kevin Hart who gave me some genuine belly laughs.

The film is a remake of the Robin Williams vehicle but completely modified for the internet/video-gamer age. Instead of having the Jumanji board game come to life inside your house, the players are transported into the video game and use the bodies of their avatars to beat Jumanji.

This movie is action-packed, full of great one-liners, and entertaining enough for kids and adults (more than one high school-level dick joke is slipped in there). Of all the movie of his that I sat through, I think this was the most solid as far as script and overall finished product. I had a lot of fun with this one.

Rampage (2018)

This is not a movie about a video game gone mad but, rather, a mad video game starring a large gorilla. The gorilla’s name is George.

This is a brainless movie, but it delivers its stupidity with an “I know I am brainless” wink and nod to the audience thus making it reasonably entertaining to sit through. There were moments throughout where I questioned my own sanity for actually watching it – there are ridiculous action sequences that I don´t think could have passed the editorial board for the most outrageous 80s and 90s Saturday morning cartoons. But The Rock vs a mega-sized wolf, humongous crocodile, and his own genetically mutated oversized gorilla best friend was too much bizarreness to pass over.

Don´t go into this movie expecting a popcorn flick that tries to work beyond its basic premise. Expect explosions because things need to blow up, plot exposition in dialogue because “how else are we to make sense of this pseudo-sci-fi nuttiness”, character development by way of “the script needs you to stop killing each other and be friends right now”, villains with motivations  not much removed from Pinky and the Brain´s desire to “take over the world”, and a whole lot of Negan (from The Walking Dead).

I swear Jeffrey Dean Morgan must have taped this in between shoots for the Zombie series. He is exactly the same character, but with a suit. Watch this one with your B-movie goggles on and you will have a good laugh and a blast.

Skyscraper (2018)

This movie got mostly bad reviews and didn´t do too well at the US box office, although it´s overseas numbers will surely make this yet another hit for Johnson. I didn´t go in expecting much, but I was surprised by how much I really dug this movie. There were comparisons to Die Hard and Towering Inferno but this movie is so much more than those movies (not as good, though). Whereas those classics were more about the characters in peril, this movie is about the peril and the players involved. It also made me reappreciate duct tape and respect the power of a prosthetic limb.

The storyline was sort of believable enough. I won´t give it all away, as the movie did a good job at keeping me guessing as to what was really the motive for setting a huge fire in the world´s tallest building. That is all inconsequential, though, as the fuel that drives this movie is Dwayne Johnson´s affable charisma.

He jumps (in one the movie´s many “who needs the laws of Physics” moments), he climbs, he fights on one leg, and he hugs his kids a lot. By the end of this movie I was wishing Dwayne was my dad – he is so damn cool!!!

Another aspect of this movie I loved was the people’s reaction on the street as they watched the skyscraper burned. It was such a throwback to the original Superman and Spider-man movies where people stand in awe in the streets as their hero does the impossible while hanging from some city precipice. It was a nice touch, that made me cheer Johnson’s character on even more.

The pacing, special effects, and cinematography also keep this movie afloat. It doesn´t bother to build character backstories too much (aside from a quick “10 years ago” prologue that lets us know “The Rock doesn´t like guns” – utterly useless information that tries to make itself important in the climax but falls flat). The shots of the building, in particular, are super impressive. One does certainly feel the massiveness of the skyscraper throughout and wonders how exactly Dwayne will get himself and his family out of the monolith safe.

This is a really good popcorn action flick that doesn´t require a thinking cap but isn´t completely brain dead on arrival.

Now let´s move away from Dwayne Johnson …

Meg (2018)

Speaking of massiveness, Meg is a movie about a giant shark that never once made me feel the weight of the fish. This is mainly due to a plot that lacked suspense and danger.

The thing is, Meg is a perfectly watchable movie: it´s brisk and the acting is big-budget-action-movie quality. What it lacks in actual stakes and suspense makes one wish it had been better, though. Even the scenes with beachgoers (not a spoiler if you have seen the trailers) manage to be anti-climatic for actually explaining exactly what our heroes are going to do in order to lure the shark away minutes before the “savage” attack was about to take place.

Points for two Star Trek references though. My Trekkie heart fluttered. There is a whale in the movie named Gracie, and when a doctor introduces himself, a character says, “you’re like Bones, then”.

This is not an infuriatingly bad movie, but it´s only good enough to ride the upper wave of a what comprises a B-movie. Jaws is still the king of the waters, and perhaps Sharknado is more fun for accepting its camp and laughing along with the audience. Being stuck in that middle ground of not being so bad its good (but also not so good to actually be good) drag this movie down to deep waters it can only poke its head out of for a few minutes at a time to gasp for some quality air.

Mission Impossible 5: Fallout (2018)

I would venture to guess that there are people still to this day trying to figure out the plot of Mission Impossible 1. I have zero shame in admitting that I have no clue what they were going on about, but loved the movie anyway. Though the plots to subsequent Mission Impossibles didn´t get less windy, they seemed a bit more streamlined once the rest of the Mission Impossible team took a back seat to Tom Cruise´s superstar one-man show. This movie brings the gang back, so I guess a plot more twisty than a feminist´s panties at a Trump rally is par for the course.

The movie begins with a mission assignment that seemed rather straightforward, but when that mission goes by the wayside, the story takes a sharp left turn. It was then that I felt absolutely lost for about half of the movie´s runtime. But, like in Mission Impossible 1, I was more marvelled by the sights and actions to really care. I applaud the Mission Impossible team for managing to this again and again.

Who needs to understand every fake-out or new mission when Tom Cruise is jumping out of an aeroplane at breathtaking heights (I took a gasp when that camera panned down to see the Earth below), or riding around Paris in a motorcycle chase as well choreographed as any Parisian ballet troupe, or running from London rooftop to London rooftop, or piloting a helicopter like a kid getting used to not using his training wheels??? — and the list goes on.

Cruise and company seem to have a pulse on what audiences want to see when they enter the dark room of a theatre to watch a quality action movie: spectacles, sound, and suspense. This movie delivers the goods and then some. I am still in doubt as to whether I liked Ghost Protocol more, but this is a worthy addition to the Mission Impossible franchise, which seemed to only have gotten better once they stopped numbering them.

Go see this movie, it is a blast!

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

I really had a great time with Jurassic World. It managed to take a tired franchise and make it exciting again. Movies in this universe are nearly critic-proof for me, though. So, if it the dino-romp isn´t embarrassingly bad (and Jurassic Park III nearly took it there) I will usually watch any of these movies if it happens to be playing somewhere.

So there I was on the premiere night, ready for my dinosaur fix. Was Fallen Kingdom worth the effort of going to the movies on a weeknight after work? Not really. Was it trash? Not really.

This movie actually had bits that I enjoyed more than Jurassic World – mainly its darker tone. The problem is that while an attempt to make the dinosaurs scarier and more brutal was there for the development, the filmmakers didn´t double down. Instead we got the obligatory kid character (and she has got to be the most annoying of all the kids in the franchise – completely useless and only got in the way), the scared shitless nerd who screamed like a girl for “comic relief”, the minor character (a paleo-veterinarian) that does smart things at just the right moment in order to extend the plot and her life but has zero backstory (seriously, she goes from answering phones for a “save the dinosaurs” campaign to handling raptors and guys in machine guns … at the same time), and, of course, more evil capitalists and dinosaur hunters who only get in the way of the people who truly “care about the dinosaurs.”

The rehashes from earlier films hurt the direction that this movie could have gone in. There were more than a few moments in Jurassic World where I felt it was going to transform into a near-horror franchise, and truly it could be a hell of one. So, to be brief, it felt like I was watching two films – one, I really enjoyed and another I felt like I had seen four times before.

The movie made over a billion dollars worldwide, so there is no doubt that there will be more dinosaurs romping around. The end of the movie also opened up a pandora box of opportunities for where the franchise could head. I just hope that they think hard about whether the kiddie-friendly days of Jurassic Park are behind it and if they can treat the franchise with a more serious tone, which is actually closer to the mood set in the original books.

This is not a bad movie, but it may feel like ground which has already been explored.

A positive note is that Claire Dearing, the former boss at Jurassic World from the previous movie, is a lot less annoying and much more action ready in this movie than the last – no high heels!

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