Friday, December 27, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: White House Down

Roland Emmerich, director of such Blockbusters as ID4, The Patriot, and Stargate brings us this liberally lopsided action adventure about an improbable, to the point of downright silliness, attack on the white house and the characters who are caught in the crossfire.   Both this film and its doppelganger, Olympus Has Fallen, failed miserably at the box office, maybe because in this post 911 world, audiences just don't find violent terrorist attacks on our nation's capitol all that entertaining, but mostly because they are so unbelievable in their storytelling and poorly acted.   We don't mind aliens from space decimating every monument and city on the planet with maximum carnage, that's fantasy, but a group of human psychopaths killing countless innocents and destroying our national symbols of strength and society must hit a little too close to home.   But unlike Olympus, Emmerich fills his cinematic train wreck with so much liberal ideology, swipes at the right, and ridiculous logic that it eclipses all the action and any redeeming qualities, which are minimal in totality.  The story is unbelievable, even further damaged by the performances of the entire ensemble, none more than its two leading men.  Why Tatum is still allowed to act in anything should be a federal offense in and of itself and Fox's performance is simply two dimensional and stale.  The remaining cast plays their parts so over the top that they become comical in a very accidental way.    The action is impressive, although it is so far fetched it ends up looking like an unconscious parody of itself.  There are brief moments of humor and connection between Channing and Jamie, but they are too few and move by too fast.  This was yet another attempt at creating Die Hard in DC that was an epic fail in scope and dollars.    0 out of 5 Kernels; the only thing terrorized by this movie is the folks who either paid to see it in the theater, or took the time to suffer through it via Netflix.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Whenever a cinematic trilogy is attempted, it is always the middle of the three that is the most difficult to create.  It must act as a cliffhanger, bring depth to the characters and story all while successfully "setting up" the finale to effectively evolve the concept and deliver the utmost in satisfaction and closure to the fan base.   There are very few success stories and a plethora of celluloid disasters.   Now with the advent of stretching novel series into multiple pictures, the challenge is even greater, and the chance of failure is more significant, especially when it is an effort to turn a single literary work into three cohesive and coherent flicks.  Peter Jackson, mastered the art of the trilogy with his brilliant work with the Lord of the Rings series, but, again, that was three books, as opposed to one, using the appendices to flesh out the story and players in a way that was engaging and thoroughly entertaining.  Here Jackson is presented with the daunting trial of duplicating that achievement with only the material from a single work, his elaborate imagination, and dogmatic love for Tolkien's best seller.   In other words, it requires more filler than a truck load of Chicken McNuggets.   The pros of the film are quick to identify, sweeping cinematography, jaw dropping scope, thanks to some of the most magnificent CGI work, likable characters, solid performances, and amazingly choreographed battle sequences.   He is also successful in weaving in the mythology of his prior trilogy adding some sleek twists and plot devices that fit perfectly.  He achieves bringing depth to the story and fleshing out the cast, but that is where the positives end.  The problem, there is so much filler in this go round that the story drags, ala Soap Opera style, and ends up diluting the final product.   It simply feels like a commercial attempt at keeping the franchise alive, rather than a true bridge between films.  Add into that an ending that is lackluster and almost lazy, and you end up disappointed rather than entertained.    It diminishes everything that is right about the picture and leaves you feeling like you just got taken in a proverbial sidewalk shell game.   This story could have been told in two movies, but it is evident that would not have provided a big enough paid day.  What a painful statement to make about one of my favorite directors.  I have to give the points where they are due, but I am almost hesitant to do so.  3 out of 5 Kernels: apparently Smaug is not the only entity here obsessed with how much treasure he could accumulate, Jackson wasn't satisfied with his pile either.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Frozen

When I initially saw the myriad of trailers for the Mightiest of Mouses' latest venture all I could think of was Rapunzel meets Frosty the Snowman.  Instead, writers and directors, Chris Buck (Tarzan) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck it Ralph) bring us an unique and inventive reboot of the 1845 Hans Christian Anderson classic fairy tale, The Snow Queen.  But Buck and Lee don't simply retell the tale, they create an imaginative and wondrous new story with exciting and endearing characters possessing upbeat and fast paced dialogue and humor.  Add into that, an amazing score that is elegantly performed by leading ladies Bell and Menzel and breathtaking animation and you have one of Disney's finest productions.   Hats off to lesser known Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana for rounding out a superb cast bringing their respective characters to magnificent life.  Escaping the whole damsel or princess in distress routine, the creative team opt for a tale of self-reliance and selflessness, replacing their standard, overdone formulaic storytelling, for an unpredictable, refreshing, and thoroughly enjoyable movie appealing to both young and old.   I thought Brave broke through the tried and true Disney product like one of Merida's well placed arrows, however, it is Frozen that takes it to the next level with an even more musically epic scale.  4 out of 5 Kernels: a simply extraordinary production that warms the heart while spinning a very cool yarn.

One Minute Movie Review; Monsters University

In all truthfulness, I really did not want to see this film, as I thought the first was so creative unique, endearing, and entertaining that I believed there was no way that a sequel could do it justice.  I mean, how could any successor top the cute to near nauseating relationship between Boo and Sully and the kid friendly twist, at the end, teaching children to transform their fears into laughs.   So, I had no desire to ruin the enjoyment and impressiveness of the first with a substandard second act.  But my children begged, and like all dad's who stick dogmatically to their principles and are tested by the infamous, "please daddy, please," look, I caved.   I am ecstatic to report that I was not only pleasantly surprised, but concede that this movie is as good as the first, though different, it is as well constructed, told, and acted as its predecessor.  Dan Scanlon trades his writing hat for his first directorial cap and makes the transition with tremendous success.   Goodman and Crystal return with some old favorites and new friends taking us back to the beginning, where we get to see how Mike and Sully met and became friends.   While Goodman was the absolute star of the first, this time around, it is Crystal's performance that shines above all else, as the tale of Mike's fearlessness and unrelenting spirit is tested, challenged, and tried, with an authenticity and sincerity that everyone, young and old, can relate to.  The laughs are not outrageous, but they move the story along fluidly.   The animation is, again, amazing, and the plot, though somewhat predictable, provides a few, simple but slick, twists and turns.    You'll miss Boo, but the story will keep you engaged and entertained in a new and exciting way.  4 out of 5 Kernels; very few sequels have merit, especially animated ones, so monster sized kudos to Scanlon and company.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Heat

Director Paul Fieg of Bridesmaids, brings us a laugh out loud flick that combines Bullock's infamous straight gal routine with McCarthy's irreverent, obscene, and always well timed comedic presence.    Bullock has done the reluctant and misguided FBI schtick to death (Miss Congeniality), but thanks mostly to McCarthy's quick wit and Feig's fast and furious dialog, her performance is enhanced to become quite endearing and actually funny.    The script is fluid and relentless, filled with biting humor and banter that doesn't take a break.  The story is somewhat goofy and predictable but the chemistry between the two stars most definitely makes up for it.  However, the overuse of the F Bomb, manipulated in every form possible, distracts from an otherwise dynamic script and seems ultra lazy, pandering to the lowest level of guttural humor rather than simply allowing this dynamic duo to improv and aim for creative laughs instead of juvenile, bathroom giggles. The action is all right, a bit basic and unrealistic, but gets the job done.  3 out of 5 Kernels: the two stars bring the heat, but the excessive profanity cools down an otherwise very funny flick.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Croods

Most would agree, of late, Nick Cage and Ryan Reynolds, on their own, nearly guarantee any production they are a part of will face a grim fate, put them together and you have the quintessential kiss of death.    Yet directors Kirk De Micco and Chris Sanders, of Space Chimps non fame, decided to tempt that fate and venture out against all common sense and historical fact to feature this less than dynamic duo in their second big screen CGI adventure.   Prepare for cats to lay down with dogs, airborne swine, and the zombie apocalypse, because they actually created one of the best animated fare of the collective genre.   Beautiful animation and brilliant cinematography only add to this well written and acted family tale that hits every mark in humor and heart.   Emma Stone, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman round out a superb cast that interact with such authenticity and energy that you forget they are voicing high tech cartoons.   Cage and Reynolds deliver sincere and entertaining performances, as well, and play off each other with all the zest and zeal of your finest buddy feature.  With all that said, the animation immerses you in a fantastic world of breathtaking color and definition that perfectly accentuates and amplifies the story and scope.  For a kids flick, it is one of the best.   So you can imagine my utter shock and awe.  4 out of 5 Kernels; imaginative, engaging, and thoroughly entertaining, mucho kudos to Micco and Sanders for attempting the impossible and succeeding especially, where everyone else has failed, miserably in most instances, when it comes to this picture’s two leading men.    

Friday, November 8, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Thor: The Dark World


To begin with  there will be no spoilers, so feel free to relax whilst you read this short review.  Director Alan Taylor, of Game of Thrones fame, tries his hand at directing the god of thunder in this highly anticipated sequel that adds another notch to the Marvel Cinematic's Universe's collective belt.   With most of the original cast returning, this film picks up, where both the original feature and the Avengers left off.   The best way to handle this particular analysis, without divulging too much information, is to set it up on a simple grading scale dissecting the essential elements that make or break a film, and, more accurately a sequel.   Those facets include; effective continuum in the mythology in regards to its predecessor, chemistry between characters, plot, and, finally, scope, or impressiveness of the overall look and feel.   The continuum receives an A as it flows smoothly, nearly seamlessly from the first to the second.   Chemistry is a C, which is upsetting because the primary relationship between Jane and Thor, is unusually cold, methodical, and nearly lifeless.  There is absolutely no depth or exploration of their connection, which is sadly disappointing especially coming from someone like Taylor, and chiefly due to the lackluster performance of Portman, and even Hemsworth when it comes to this element of the movie.  However, as bad as that is, it is Hiddleston and Hemsworth's interaction that saves the film, and gives it the emotional and humorous layers it so desperately needed.  Plot is a C, although I appreciate that they went total comic book with the story, the science of it is so fantastical, nearly ridiculous, at times, it becomes difficult to digest even for the most dedicated fan-boy or purist.    The scope is unequivocally an A+ as this picture is epic in scale and far surpasses the original in action, effects, and detail.    The first gave a great origins story that felt genuine and relatable, this one does not, but is still, overall, a good flick, especially for those who truly appreciate the comic series.  Kudos to Hiddleston who has single handily created the most beloved bad guy in the history of modern cinema. In the end, a far better Marvel outing than the tragic and downright goofy Stark finale.  Side-note, stay through the entire credits at the end, I won’t say anymore.  3 out of 5 Kernels; it is sad in a film where the story calls for the hero to fight to save the love of his life, instead the bromance, trumps the romance.  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Dead Man Down

Writer of the upcoming, much hyped, Almost Human TV series, J.H. Wyman, teams up with the director of 2009's version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Niels Arden Oplev, to accomplish the near impossible by creating a true action film with an authentically Indie feel.    Leading man Colin Farrell delivers a subtle yet remarkably convincing performance as the revenge driven vigilante who is torn between completing his wrath fueled task and his growing attachment to Noomi Rapace's (Prometheus) honest and disturbingly portrayal of an emotionally and physically scarred lost soul.   The remaining players including; Terrance Howard, Rhodey of Iron Man fame, and Dominic Cooper, Tony Stark's Pop in Captain America: The First Avenger, create believable and engaging characters that bring that script to true life.  However, the most notable achievement is the way Wyman and Oplev take a done to death idea and breathe originality into it without going over the top.  It is one of the few films of its nature that actually kept me in suspense, uncertain of the fortunes of the cast or the direction of its conclusion, including a few, well constructed and placed twists.   The only con was the excessive use of the F-BOMB which was unnecessary for such an effectively  written piece.  3 out of 5 Kernels; action fare that contains solid acting and a strong story I had to check out my window while writing this to see if there were any airborne swine hovering in the atmosphere.   

One Minute Movie Review: Epic

Director, Chris Wedge, who brought us the original Ice Age, and the voice of Scrat, introduces us to his envisioning of the world beneath the leaves in his beautifully crafted GCI tale Epic.  Despite that compliment, the film's name does not define the movie itself, as the only thing that was truly Epic about this animated feature was the hype leading up to it.  It is visually stunning in its cinematography, yes, but the plot is exceedingly basic, quite predictable, and the acting mediocre at best.   Wedge creates a truly unique and engaging world, but lessens it through a juvenile script and acting that matches.  The entire, mostly A Lister cast, including the likes of Farrell, Beyonce, and Seyfried, deliver B grade performances and that is being generous.  It is an outright shame that their portrayals can not match the sweep and scope of his production.  I sincerely appreciate the lack of Eco-preachiness and environmental indignation, that usually permeates and inevitable ruins these concepts, as well as, the child friendly storytelling.  But when you use the word Epic anywhere in your picture, let alone the title, you need to be aware you have set an expectation that you want to be fully prepared to meet in every aspect of your movie.    However, with all that said, my 8 year old daughter, absolutely loved the film, so well earned bonus points for that.  3 out of 5 Kernels; props for a non ideological, kid sensitive, masterfully animated picture, that, unfortunately, fails to impress or entertain anyone over the age of 8.  But then again, for a kids feature, is that a real fail?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Sad Story of Holley Weane Postscript

The Sad Story of Holley Weane postscript...

A tall man walks into a large, cold room. It's stark, clean, white walls surround and haunt its emptiness like a tomb. The emptiness interrupted only by a lone surgical table in its center, covered by a blood stained, white sheet. The man approaches the table slowly, his stare is stoic, unfeeling. He reaches the table and hovers over it. A second man joins him, wearing medical scrubs, as he adjusts his clear, vinyl gloves. The tall man stands silently, his attention fixed on the veiled body below him.

The second man clears his throat. The tall man is unaffected and his silence continues. He clears his throat again. The tall man signs a deep rumble of annoyance gently echoes in the hollow room. "Yes, Aster" he whispers, "let's have it." "I can't do what you are asking me to do," Aster answers. "Yes, you can," the tall man growls, "you certainly have been paid enough." "This is not about money, Rawling," Aster replies, "this is about the impossible." "Nothing is impossible when money is involved," Rawlings responds, "it just depends how much is applied."

Rawlings slowly circles the table. "You will do this, " he commands, "you know the price if you don't!" He pauses and looks up at Aster. His stare could melt steel. "She's dead," Aster rebuts, "what you are suggesting is ludicrous!" Rawlings shakes his head, "No Aster, what I am suggesting is non negotiable." He grabs the sheet and jerks it back. Blood pours onto the floor, showering his black leather shoes.

"You will do this for me, " he demands! Aster steps back, the color rushes from his face. "It is not possible, " he gasps! "It is, I have given you the tools, resources, technology, now make it happen, " Rawling commands! He walks away from the table and to the end of the room. He stands next to a large steel door. "It's all in here, " he begins, "here is where you will make history." Aster looks down at the body and back at Rawlings. "There is too much damage for what is required," he explains, "my experiment only works when the body is in better condition." Rawlings pulls a key from his vest pocket and smiles, a grim smile.

He holds the key up, it glistens in the florescent lighting flickering down from the ceiling. "I have taken care of that," he replies. He places the key in the lock and turns the knob. The door opens smoothly and he holds it open. Aster walks forward just enough to see inside. "Are those what I think they are, " he gasps! "Yes, they are the resources you will use to make this the greatest achievement of you pathetic little life." Aster approaches and peers in deeper. "You realize if we do this, we will open other doors we will never be able to close again," Aster laments.

"Precisely," Rawlings muses. Aster looks back at him. His face is dark, foreboding, inhuman. Aster looks back at the body. "She will live," Rawlings announces," no matter what it cost me, she will live!"

Aster walks back towards the body. He scans it and pauses. He steps over the pool of blood forming on the white tiled floor. He moves to its side and gently takes its arm in his hand. He lifts it and his eyes widen. Its talon like nails and green scaled skin are like nothing he has ever seen before. How could this creature even have existed? Where is the child that had played in the halls above years before? The child Rawlings wanted to live. The only thing before him was a monster, unrecognizable as his friend's daughter. This wasn't love anymore, it was madness. But he had no choice, Rawlings owned him. He grabs the ends of the table and begins to roll it towards the newly opened door.

"She will live," Rawlings affirms as Aster passes by! Aster enters the cold room, there are several tables being prepped by the lab assistants Rawlings had hired. Probably more extorted minions. The body parts are being carefully cleaned, they must be the remains of the other victims. They have been exposed to the elements, tattered and torn, but they will have to do. He stops in the middle of the room as Rawlings steps in and closes the door behind him. "Gentleman, " he announces, "today is the day we change the rules of life and death!" Aster feels a cold shiver ride his spine. The men applaud mindlessly.

Aster leaves the table and approaches the long counter lining the wall. He looks at the test tubes containing his serum. The serum that he has worked on his entire life. Now he can finally use it without restriction or condemnation. He fills one syringe, then another. "Prep the main body," he begins, "we have a lot of work to do." He turns as Rawling looks on anxiously. The men begin their work as Aster activates the I Pod station on the counter. The room fills with melodious strands of classical music.

"Alright, Holley," he takes a deep breath, "let's begin your greatest and final makeover."

And so the story is reborn.....

To be continued...MonsterBowl 2014!

Monday, October 28, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Jackass Presents:Bad Grandpa

One would think that Knoxville had exhausted his well known repertoire through his long-running MTV series, its various offshoots, and three major motion pictures.  Add into that, the advent of every Tom, Dick, and Harry incessantly posting prank videos ad nauseam on the internet via a plethora of social media outlets almost guaranteeing that this genre had finally run its course.   If that is the case, one would be most certainly  wrong.  Knoxville may be a genius in disguise by incorporating an actual story line, simple as it may be, to fill in the gaps between his gotcha games.   He also ups the ante, by carefully setting up entire groups of unsuspecting victims, to fall prey to his well orchestrated trademark shock tactics.   To detail the movie any further, would allow for spoilers and that would be an absolute crime, as this is hands down, the best outing of the franchise to date.  With that said, not all the jokes hit their marks, but the ones that do are near epic in effect.  Hats off to young, Jackson Nicoll in his second film, his first being the unfortunate Fun Size through no fault of his own, for a solid, yet understated performance.   Knoxville manages to take any remaining taboos and maniacally and gleefully twist them into balloon animals from his warped, yet entirely entertaining imagination.   I look forward to the release of the Blu-Ray which will surely be chock full of all the wonderfully devious snippets that ended up on the cutting room floor.   In reality,  this is a truly juvenile guilty pleasure that I proudly admit I utterly enjoyed.  4 out of 5 Kernels; Knoxville defined the genre and continues to impress, and after this film, I am almost frightened at the aspect of where he may take it next.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Last Act of the Sad Story Of Holley Weane

The last Act of the Sad Story of Holley Weane...

She hungers for Gertie.  Brad and the little geek have finally arrived, or so she thinks.  She slinks through the tall grass, using the fog as a cloak to conceal her presence.  She hasn't seen what she has become, even if she did, I don't think it would matter.  She has traded her beauty to become the beast.  But the metamorphosis is not complete and there are still glimpses of the girl who is now a ghoul.  He hair flies free in the air, mixed with  mud and cobwebs.  Her green eyes glow with the anticipation of her next kill.  This time she will remember it in all of its gloriously gruesome detail.   Her right arm is covered in new green, slimy scales leading to a talon like hand ready to tear flesh and crush bone.   Her skin has transformed from soft, silky white, to a rough, leathery, emerald hide.   Pure white fangs slink out of her mouth over her bright red lips.   Her face is infected with reptile like scales etched deep into her forehead.  Her once perfect complexion is now as murky as the swamp that surrounds the field.  She is beautifully terrifying.

She moves closer to the truck only to see a flashlight's luminescence pierce the darkness and refract off the mist.  She hears heavy steps but not of two people, just one.  It is a man.  She can smell him. and he smells so delectable.   She moves silently closer.  He comes toward her, she plays hide and seek with the flashlight.  He focuses it near the shed.  She can hear him gasp.  His breathing is heavier, heart pounding faster.  Who could the late night snack be, the hors d'oeuvre before the main course?  His steps quicken as he moves towards the shed.  He passes by her, she is huddled in the weeds, masked by the fog, waiting, watching.

He shines his light on the massacre before him.  His heart beats faster.  He dials his cellphone, fingers tripping over the buttons.   She peaks up.  It's Officer Nest.  He must have just come off duty, still in his uniform but no patrol car, just his old beat up truck.    He miss dials several times, hands  shaking.  Even a veteran cop like Nest could have never been prepared for what he has just witnessed.  She growls with delight.  He spins around drawing his gun.   He tries to make out details through the thick fog, but it won't allow him too.  She growls again, toying with him, like a cat battering a mouse about before the kill.   He scans his surroundings but he is lost in the mist.  She rises behind him.  He does not see her.  "How sweet this night will be," she ponders.  She pounces and throws him, head first into a large headstone.  His face shatters on it upon impact and his neck snaps under the force of the blow.  He lays there limp, his gun caught in the tightly woven cobwebs that engulf the marker.

"Oh darn, that was way too quick," she scoffs, "Apparently I don't know my own strength."  She cackles and it fills the air.   She thrusts her new found claw into his back, shredding his spine, finding his dead heart. She pulls it from his back and devours it.  The blood spews from her mouth, refreshing her like a spring breeze or gentle Autumn rain.  She howls and then licks every finger to savor any last ounces of his delicious fluids.   Just then she sees headlights approaching.  "Appetizer finished, here comes dinner!"

The truck is very late.  Little did the vamp know, her plan had already been revealed to Gertie.  Holley thought she had planned it all so well.  She didn't know Brad had a crush on Gertie since the sixth grade.  He had been waiting for the moment to reveal it, but never had the confidence.  Holley's plan provided his in.  They met at her door, and he was immediately smitten.  He confesses his admiration and then Holley's evil plan.  Gertie had always had a thing for Brad too.  Who knew Holley would play October's cupid.  

They arrive ready for Holley's elaborate trick.  Brad pulls in about a hundred yards from the shed.  He'll play along to throw Holley and her goon squad off just enough to give Gertie the upper hand.  Gertie has already slipped out of her dress into her jeans and leather jacket.   She tucks a can of pepper spray into her pocket, a neat little surprise for her foe.  Nice girls can play dirty too.  When Holley's hunk pops out for the scare, he'll get a face full of pepper flavored mace.

Brad leaves the truck and heads toward the shed to meet his pretend demise.  He calls out to Gertie, "the truck has stalled let me see if there are any tools in the shed out here."  He ensures he is loud enough for all to hear.  Gertie loudly replies, "I'll wait by the truck, but be quick, its epic-ally creepy out here!" Their act is well rehearsed.  Brad heads toward the shed to give Holley the green light.  Gertie prepares her weapon and waits, anxiously, to drench the quarterback in costume.  Brad quietly calls out to Holley, but there is no answer.    He calls out again, only silence.

Then some of the ground fog clears and he sees the remains surrounding his feet.  He steps up, his shoes are covered in blood and muck.  Startled he backs up and trips over Nest's fresh corpse.  "Oh my God, "he gasps.  Before he can say another word he feels a sharp pain circling his neck.  He looks down as blood pours from his throat down his tuxedo shirt.  His head rolls off it's neck with ease and plops unto the ground next to Nest's body.  The rest slumps down to the dirt.  He never even knew what hit him.  Holley licks her sharp claws and giggles.  "I never did think you had a good head on your shoulders, " she mocks.  She stomps on his skull with full force and crushes it between her toes.  "Ooooh, that feels nice, " she coos, "better than any foot massage."

Gertie waits by the truck becoming increasingly impatient.   Has her new Beau betrayed her?   She glances over the hood but doesn't see him.  The fog is not helping.   "Should I stay or should I go, " she thinks to herself?  She moves towards the front of the truck.  She wants to call out Brad's name, but that will ruin the payback.  Suddenly something hurtles towards her and lands on the hood spraying her with a warm liquid.  She steps back to realize she is dripping in blood.  She realizes what is left of Brad's head lays oozing on the hood of the vehicle.  She screams.  Who wouldn't.

Holley cackles loudly as she stands proudly in the middle of the cemetery.   "Way to get a head, Gertie," she growls.  Gertie spins around to see her nemesis only yards in front of her.  Holley jumps and sails through the air landing on the top of the truck.  The roof buckles under the impact, windows shattering, spraying Gertie with glass.  She tries to shield the barrage with her arms.  She can feel the glass shredding her jacket and biting her flesh.

She screams again.  Holley jumps down, "Don't make 'em like they used to, huh Gert, " she cackles.  She grabs Gertie and with one movement throws her into the air.  Gertie flies into the cemetery and lands on the ground, hard.    She is covered in mud and tries to push herself up.  She grabs something to brace herself.  As she rises she realizes it is the leg of one of Holley's debutroids.   She quickly pops up and throws it away from her.  Pain racks her body from her fall.  She quickly realizes she is standing in the mist of a bloody soaked mess of body parts.

"It's been one hell of a day Gert, I gotta tell ya," Holley sprints towards her, "friends have been dropping in all over the place, as you can tell."  She is within feet of Gertie in an instant and tackles her to the ground.   Gertie is helpless under the weight of the beast as Holley sits on top of her.  She moves her hair from the horror of her face.  "Well Gertie, here we are again, " she sighs, "you looking up to me and me looking down on you."  She cackles.  Gertie tries to get up but Holley is too heavy and pain is steadily weakening her.  "What happened to you," Gertie gasps?  "Well Gert, I had a bit of a makeover, " she chides, "Do you like the new look."  Holley smiles widely revealing her rows of shark like teeth.  "It's definitely an improvement, " Gertie answers trying to catch her breath!"  Holley laughs, "Cute, girlfriend, are you trying to be funny, or taste funny!"

"Your jokes are getting worse, " Gertie struggles.  "Funny, so your's day," Holley smiles again.  "Bite me you freak," Gertie snaps.  Probably not the best choice of words at the moment.  "My pleasure, pet, " Holley coos and then quickly sinks her teeth into the side of Gertie's cheek.  She pulls back tearing of a sizable chunk of flesh and muscle.  Gertie screams.  "Now, now, " Holley explains as she chews, "you asked me too."  She swallows hard, 'Well at least you taste better than you dress."  Gertie's fear and pain mutates to anger.  "Try that again, freak, and you will wish you were dead!"  "Been there, done that, " Holley interrupts, "and although I appreciate your permission, I really don't need it."  She growls and bites her neck, tearing another chunk of flesh loose.  She chews on it like a cow masticating fresh grass.   Gertie screams again.  "Seconds are even better, "Holley winks.

Holley swallows and takes a deep breath.  "You have to be the sweetest meat I have ever had the pleasure of eating."   Gertie writhes in pain.  She turns her head and sees a broken piece of tombstone laying on the ground.  The top half of a granite cross.  Her hand finds away to her jacket pocket as she tries to desperately find her spray.  "Now, I have enjoyed our time together, Gert," Holley explains, "but all good things must come to an end."  "I hate to say this, "she continues, "but I do have to eat and run."  She cackles again.  At least her jokes are amusing her.

Gertie finds the can with her fingers.   Holley raises her right arm to deliver the final strike, "this will only hurt for a second Gert, nah, I think I'll make it hurt a little longer than that!"  Gertie grabs the spray and pulls it from her pocket.  She swings it up, closes her eyes, and releases it directly into Holley's face.  Holley screams and grabs her face.  Gertie rolls her off with all of her strength and reaches for the broken marker.  Holley falls on her slide, clutching her head, then rubbing her eyes.  Gertie grabs the stone and with all the strength she has left she spins around until she is directly over Holley.  Holley writhes on the ground kicking up dirt and debris.  "You are about to get stoned, freak, " Gertie screams.  Holley looks up long enough to see the large piece of granite looming over her head.  "Bye, now, "Gertie thrusts the stone down onto Holley's head and falls on top of her with it.  The impact fractures Holley's skull, the sound echoes through the darkness.

Holley gurgles as her lungs and mouth fill with blood.  Gertie raises the stone again revealing the gory mess beneath her.  "One more time, " Gertie yells and drops the stone again until Holley's skull crushes nearly flat.  The sound is horrific.  Blood sprays from the sides of the stone.   Holley's hands jerk as the last moments of life slip away from her mutilated body.   Her legs twitch for a few seconds and then stop.  The air around them suddenly falls still.  Gertie collapses on top of the body, the loss of blood, relentless pain, and exhaustion have finally overcome her.   She rolls on to her back and takes a deep breath.  She can feel life fleeing from her.  She begins to weep, tears for Brad at first, then tears from realization that she is dying.   She looks up into the sky, it clears and the moon and stars are bright, almost flashing.  The fogs rolls away as if it is being called.  The wind gently whistles through the grass and the coolness of the night descends upon her.

It is all a small comfort as Gertie's breath becomes more and more labored and her heart struggles without sustenance.   "At least she's dead, " she reminisces, "she can't hurt anyone, anymore."   "The creature of Eerie Field is dead!"  Gertie closes her eyes, a rush of peace fills her.  Her arms and legs warm, and then grow very cold.  "I will miss my mom, " she ponders, "but I don't think she will miss me."   She can no longer feel her fingers and toes.  "I wish I could have done more with my life, " she continues to reflect, "don't we all."  Her legs and arms go numb.  The pain subsides.  "So tired, so very tired, "her mind begins to wander.  Her body feels separated from her, as if she is free from it.  She drifts off into nothingness, all thought, all memory cease.   The wind rolls over her body, but she is unaware.  The field is silent, still, as a cemetery should be.  

And so the sad story of Holley Weane ends...........











Gertie opens her eyes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Europa Report

Yet another entry into the done to death "found footage" genre that starts out as the poor man's version of 2010 but quickly descends into a predictable, disappointing, and uninspired, "let’s see how we can creatively kill the crew off” vehicle.  I apologize for any perceived spoilers, but there just wasn't anywhere else to go.  Lesser known indie director Sebastian Cordero tries his hand at a what if we found life” Sci-Fi story with an indie feel that has some redeeming qualities, but overall his failure at slow build suspense and a lackluster payoff eclipses any and all highlights of his film.  However the good is worth noting, so on the plus side, the acting is solid, authentic and engaging.  The characters interact with sincerity and genuineness considering what little back-story is provided for them.   Sharlto Copley, from District 9, is the only prominent name here and provides a subtle but effective performance; however the writing lets him down.   The script is ho hum, told in a broken story with too many flashbacks.  It would have been better served played in chronological order, which would have also provided a bit more drama and tension, but in its current form much of the emotion and scope are lost in translation.   A portion of the effects are remarkably realistic while others are too clean and sleek to look any more than prop art.   Another film with loads of potential, but because of a director's need to make it artsier, fails to reach it.   I was looking for some die hard cerebral science fiction to satisfy my purist side, needless to say, it wasn't here.  1 out of 5 Kernels: not a horrendous attempt, but not good enough to recommend either.  

Friday, October 18, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Now You See Me

There are three key ingredients in every film that are required for it to manifest any value, entertainment or otherwise.   Miss one and you are in bad shape, skip all three and you quickly have a celluloid disaster.  This film falls, quite definitively, in the latter.   The first ingredient is likability of characters.   If the characters do not create an immediate, gradual, or any connection at all with the audience, the plot, scope, effects, etc., become lessened to a point of insignificance.    For the most part, every character in this film, whether by design or not, is in competition to see which can be the bigger douche-bag, so much so, I thought the entire production was sponsored by Massengill.  I couldn't find a single player to root for which made watching this flick even more cumbersome and annoying.   Second is believablity.  Even in the most fantastic of cinematic voyages, where myth, legend, and fiction reach new heights of wonder and awe, it has to make sense in some way and appear to be possible.  This movie is so convoluted and implausible that it makes Avatar look like a National Geographic Special.    The attempts at twist and turns, surprises and sleight of hand, are all lost in a jumble of ideas that, in the real world, in which this story is apparently based, would be absolutely impossible to replicate even with an unimaginable income, a horde of MIT grads, and years to planning and development    Finally, the third ingredient is entertainment.  With the first two elements thoroughly corrupted the entertainment value becomes non existent.   No more so that in this flop, which drags on way to long with the most ridiculous of payoffs  at its conclusion that require downright nonsensical plot devices which utterly fail.  Put simply, in order to make this puzzle form a picture, the writers and directors, took the pieces and trimmed them to fit into place whether or not they appropriately or intelligently made sense.   This farce is directed by Louis Leterrier, the man who reinvented the Hulk and turned the earlier incarnation from a mutated mess into a well conceived, acted, and produced revamp.  This train-wreck was not a great addition to the resume.  It stars;  Woody, why am I still relevant, Harrelson,  Dave, who, Franco, still who, Isla Fisher, and Jesse, can I be any more annoying, Eisenberg.   Oh, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are part of the cast as well, a fact, I am sure in hindsight, they both regret, at least one would hope.    But the biggest disappointment was lead, Mark Ruffalo, one of my favs and the newest and bestest Dr. Bruce Banner, who now seems to be following the same post Avengers career track as Jeremy Renner is his silver screen choices.    0 out of 5 Kernels: Now You See Me, wish I hadn't, I now understand why this film did such a remarkable disappearing act from the box office.  


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: 42

Not since The Natural have I seen a more authentic, passionate, engaging, and emotionally energized film about America's favorite past time.   Brian Helgeland, who directed two of my favorite films of all time, A Knight's Tale starring Heath Ledger and Payback with Mel Gibson, (pre mental breakdown), brings us one of the most well written, phenomenally produced, biopic on the life of the greatest athlete of all time, Jackie Robinson, who stepped of the bus of the Kansas City Monarch's and into history.   Chadwick Boseman plays Robinson with absolute genuineness and heart, as does Nichole Beharie, who portrays his wife Rachel. Harrison Ford gives the performance of his career, as Branch Rickey, and that is saying a lot with his illustrious resume.   The film inspires, angers, and tells a story of a man who changed the face of professional sports and the hearts and minds of a country.   It makes a remarkably clear point that in addition to the immeasurable impact he had on the advancement of  civil rights in America, Jackie Robinson wasn't great because he was black, he was great because he was Jackie Robinson.    Nowadays when so many try to play the victim and use race to further personal ideologies, 42 reminds us all that there was a terrible time in this country where inequality was a dreadful nemesis, and during that time, individuals rose up to prove, one person can make a difference. They formed and shaped equality bringing us all to look at people as individuals, rising this nation above its past sins.   It is such a shame, so many take that for granted and erroneously invoke the names of giants to further their own agenda and gain that has nothing to do with providing opportunity or assistance to those who actually fight the good fight.   42 is an extraordinary film in every way; script, story, character, dialogue, realism, and scope.  5 out 5 Kernels: This time Hollywood hits a grand slam, let's hope its not a fluke but a trend.   

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Sad Story Of Holley Weane: The First 3 Acts

Introduction:

Holley Weane was the ultimate mean girl, she had it all, popularity, wealth (her parents were loaded), and beauty that only mommy's money could buy. Seriously, by age 18 she had more plastic in her than a life size Barbie Doll. She dated the captain of the football team, Dirk Derringer, drove a brand new Ferrari, that Diddums gave her for her birthday, and was the fashion guru of the little town of Eerie. Her father was the king of Coffins, his company held the monopoly on making the most ornate and elegant dead-boxes in the world all for the rich and shameless. He had build his business out of his parents' garage, much to their dismay, and by age 45 had turned it into a multi-million dollar company. Holley's mom was a former beauty queen winning the Miss Eerie Pageant 10 years in a row, more than any other spoiled debutante in the area. Of course, time and a hefty charge account at the local plastic surgeon had taken its toll. Holley had it all, and yet she wasn't satisfied. There was always something missing. Now for most of us that might have been love, self worth, a feeling of accomplishment, and such. But not for Holley, no Holley thirsted for the one thing money can't buy, happiness. Diddums bought her anything she wanted, mostly to keep her and her whiny voice as far away from him as possible. Mommy dearest loved one thing more than Holley, her friend Jack Daniels, and she visited with him often. Holley had no brothers or sisters, just 6 annoying Pekingese that dominated her families attention far more than she ever could. Yes, she had to compete with the little flea bags and distilled whiskey just to catch a moment of their time. Rather than drown out her empty life with riches and the myriad of Gucci purses to place it in, Holley despised anyone who could achieve the contentment in life that was void from hers. So, to relieve her broken heart, her and her troop of Stepford daughter friends would incessantly torture anyone within their visual scope who didn't measure up to their Gold Mastercard standards. Their favorite victim was Gertrude the resident nerdette, who had the nerve to value her school work and treating people with decency over Pandora bracelets, obscenely bejeweled I-Phones, and the religion of Designershoeism. Gertrude dressed plainly because her dad and mom worked hard for everything they had and spent the money they earned frugally saving most of it, so their only daughter would have a future. I mean she actually had to shop at Goodwill rather than just buy stuff like they did to be trashy chic. How dare she. Holley had committed the remainder of her High School senior year to tormenting Gertrude until she could break her completely.


Act 1:

The fall dance was coming up soon, it had been a crisp October and the fallen leaves left a thick covering on the ground. Holley was going to be crowned the Autumn Princess and had just purchased the most expensive dress Diddum's money could buy. It was a short, shoulder-less, strapless, crimson red dress that brought out the deep green in Holley's eyes. She would be the absolute belle of the ball yet again. She had already won the two seasons before. So as she was discussing the way she was going to run up her parents credit cards at the local Salon, Gertrude made the unfortunate mistake of walking by the stone bench where they were sitting. Holley couldn't resist the chance to once again torment her oblivious arch nemesis. Gertrude had also made the mistake of wearing her torn jeans, worn hoodie, and glasses that day. Not a mistake to anyone in the norm, but for a predator like Holley it was like a drop of blood in a pool of sharks.

"Well isn't the fashionista of Eerie High," she began, "looking fine, Diva, was Goodwill closed and you finally had to resort to outright dumpster diving." Gertrude continued to walk by, she tried to play like she had her ear buds in and couldn't hear them, it would have helped if she could have afforded an Ipod to plug them into. Holley springs up and blocks Gertie's stride and any hope of escape. "I was talking to you freak, " she growled, "or are you as deaf as you are fashion blind!" Gertie looked down at her feet, just waiting for the encounter to be over. She figured, "they'll talk their crap, mock me, and then get bored, I can take it." Boy was she wrong. "Look at me, you mutant, " Holley screams! Now there had to be dozens of students in the quad that day. Do you know that not one of them stopped, despite the fact Holley's voice could strip the marble off of a tombstone. "Cowards come in all shapes and sizes, and there is never a shortage of them," Gertie thought to herself. She had been mercilessly picked on by Holley for three years now, everyday, no relief, no good reason other than Holley's cold dead heart.

Gertie looks up almost involuntarily to stare deep into those emerald eyes, cold dead eyes, like a doll's eyes. "When I speak, you listen, you little skank, " Holley continues, "now give me your shoes, if you are going to look like a homeless person, you need to complete the ensemble!" At first Gertie is dumbstruck, "did she really just ask that?" "I mean, she has been evil to me before, but just words, this is a whole new level of torment, " she thought. Despite Holley's bellows and lack of concern as to who may hear or see her, no one stops, no one even looks her way. She desperately searches the quad to make eye contact with just one soul, one person who might actually care. She is left wanting. "No I won't give you my shoes, " Gertie mutters, barely able to conjure the courage to resist her adversary!

Holley's defiant stare could melt steel. "Oh really," she replies, her attitude so thick you could serve it in a bowl with oyster crackers! "Girls, " Holley commands, and like mindless robots the three debutantes arise and surround her! "They must communicate telepathically," Gertie thinks to herself as her fear mounts, "but then that would require brains." Gertie's attempt at internalized humor to relief her anxiety falls monumentally short.
"One more time, little orphan Annie, " Holley directs, "give me your freakin' shoes!" Gertie stands her ground, she is shaking the gravel loose from below her feet, but she stands as firm as she can none the less.

"Fine," Holley relents, "We will do this the hard way, geek!" Suddenly Gertie is off her feet and looking up at the sun and clouds as if she is levitating. The girls quickly, in precision unison, flip her up and rip off her shoes and socks. "What do they train for this, " Gertie's mind races. Before she can react she is thrown into the grass face first. She can hear her shoes thump into the nearby garbage can, she is sure her socks followed them down. "That's what happens to little creeps who don't obey the law of this jungle, " Holley commands! Gertie tries to rise, her face covered in grass and dirt. "Walk to class like that now, cow, " Holley laughs as she concludes the torture, her girl droids join in. Holley and her troop walk off, giggling in contentment as they disappear from her view. And still no one stops to intercede. "Apparently," she thinks, "they were sent the email or text on the whole law of the jungle thing!" Gertie gets up and tries to dust herself off. Then she realizes that she has had the fortunate pleasure of being dumped in a spot where a dog had dumped earlier. I am sure that was pure coincidence.

She picks up her glasses, which now have a sizable scratch on the left lens.
But she refuses to cry, to even shed a tear, she won't give them or the heartless minions around her the satisfaction. She begins to limp to class. "Well it has to get better from here, " she muses! She cracks a smile through her grass stained face. Despite her stoic exterior, inside, she is weeping so hard she feels like she will lose her balance. Is there any justice in the world, anymore. Do girls like Holley ever get what they deserve.

Little did Gertie know, her question would be answered, with ghoulish consequences.


Act 2:

After facing the entire day barefoot, yes not even the teachers noticed, because then they would have had to ask questions, Gertrude trudges home. Although she is truly a good person, one of the last of her kind, she can't help hoping, wishing, even silently praying within her mind that Holley would get her "come up ens." Why do the truly evil people always seem to flourish in this twisted, sad world of ours, while the earnestly good either struggle daily or just die young. She makes it back to her trailer, Mom still at work, another double at the diner, and dad, well only God knows where he is. He left to get milk and eggs about twelve years ago, there are some long lines in grocery stores, but even she knows, that's a little much.

But all of that is little concern to Miss Holley, who too is at home, trying on a bevy of high ticket dresses in front of her dopey disciples. Diddums had taken the time to buy out one of the local boutiques so she could try each an every one on in the comfort of their plush, million dollar mansion. As she admires herself time and time again in the mirror, she finds that she cannot keep focused on her own beauty, something that usually comes with great ease. No, there is something distracting her from herself, and it most be pretty important as that is a rarity. Suddenly one of her mindless minions comments about how much fun she had tormenting Gertie and why should such a homely creature even exist. "She just takes up space, " she giggles tossing back her peroxide laden locks from her recently redone face. "That's it, " Holley realizes, "it is that ridiculous girl that is sucking all the fun out of being me!"

She must pay for such a crime, but how? How do you punish something that has nothing, you can't take anything away, she is so poor she probably can't pay attention. Holley giggles to herself, it's an oldie but a goodie. But seriously, no matter how she tortures the girl, drags her down, makes her the mock-fest of Eerie High, she still keeps coming back, like a roach or bad acne. How can she remove this thorn from her perfectly toned, tanned, and freshly softened flesh? She has little mind to work with, but she pushes it to its very limits. You can see the veins pulsating in her neck and forehead as she forces concentrated thought. Her brain dead flock seems clueless to her struggle, but they would be no help anyways. They almost share a brain. Besides they are too busy admiring Holley to care for anything or anyone else, as it should be.

Then, after several minutes of intense mental negotiation and almost wetting herself in the process from the sheer force of will, it arises. If she can't be shamed away, maybe she can be scared away! "Eureka," if only she new what that word meant, "I'll scare her so bad she will never show her gruesome face again," she announces within herself! But she must do it alone, her gal pals don't exactly do well with secrets, there is no governor between their ears and mouths. This has to be a lone wolf mission, perfectly executed down to the last detail. But what could she do? What would truly scare such a pathetic child, I mean her normal life is scary enough as it is and her fashion sense is downright terrifying.

What could truly and utterly scare this little minx? Then it comes to her. Only one thing, one thing, has truly terrified the children of Eerie High School since they were old enough to gurgle and spit. One story that every mom and dad tells their rugrats when they have been so bad their parents can't even see straight. One tale that is the last resort of discipline among the quaint cookie cutter families in this miserable little town. And as much as they try to deny it as teens, it still gives them a major case of the willies every time it's mentioned. If she can pull it off, and make that story come to life, real, believable life, her enemy's willpower would never stand a chance. There is no way she could come back from that, it's the perfect steel tipped boot to remedy such an annoying pest. But could she really, truly pull it off? Well, if evil and pure meanness where dollars, Holley would be a rich little princess, and as a matter of fact, Holley is a rich little princess. If anyone could make it happen, Holley would!

Bring to horrifying and unforgettable life, the haunting and terrorizing story of the Monster that hunts the grounds of Eerie Cemetery!


Act 3:

Fast forward to the night of the Fall Ball. Holley's plan was working flawlessly. Everything was falling, so perfectly, into place. Gertie accepted Brad's invitation, she was hesitant at first, even suspicious, but Brad poured it on thick and won her over. It was his best performance ever, off the field, that is. Gertie even bought herself a new dress from the Mall, a real dress, "must have spent her life savings on it," Holley thought to herself. A deep crimson red dress, with spaghetti straps and hemmed up high to show off her legs. A thought that made Holley cringe. "At least she will finally have to shave them," Holley mocked. Her minions were still blissfully unaware of her devious plot but her Beau helped her every step of the way. Even Savannah had come through as she showed Holley the illustrations of what her creature creation would look like carefully sculpted on her boy toy.

With only hours before the dance , Holley donned her eloquent gown, after her marathon spa treatments, tanning, and make over, she calls the blond squad to her home. They arrived and huddled in the grand dining room as Holley unveiled her plan of mass destruction against the nerd nation's queen. They giggled and cackled as each gruesome detail was revealed and pledged their undying loyalty, once again, to the diabolical diva. Her Beau arrives and the well manicure motley crew head out to Eerie Field to execute their strategy.

Savannah puts the finishing touches on the fabricated freak with only minutes before Gertie and Brad are to arrive at the field and have their fraudulent breakdown. He looks as horrendous as Holley had conceived. He takes his spot among the tall grass and thickening fog. Holley is safely concealed behind the Hallow's old, abandoned shed sitting ever so posh in her Beau's overpriced convertible. They will never see her but she has the best seats in the house and can see the entire field. The rest of her crew is at the other edge of the field, hidden by the mist but able to see it all from their distance. Savannah pulls away and all that is left is the wait. The suspense is almost unbearable for Holley. Soon she will have her ultimate revenge and it will be ever so satisfying.

She checks her I Phone, Brad should be here by now. What could be the hold up? The fog deepens. The cold begins to make its way down Holley's spine, haunting her skin breaking it out into thousands of goosebumps. "It's so cold, Brad better step it up, " she shivers.

Still nothing, now he's five minutes late. The anger begins to well. The wind howls and the grass submits to it over and over again. The stars are hidden, the fog is thick on the ground, and the clouds thicker in the sky. It is pitch black and visibility begins to decay.

Now 10 minutes have passed and still no Brad and his ignorant date. Holley doesn't know what is more prevalent, the chill of the night or the ire in her gut. She can no longer see the field in the scope and clarity that she did before. The wind is wet and her dress begins to dampen. It is the prefect white, sheer lace layered dress, with satin green piping. The most expensive dress in the entire town. Custom made just for her. She would be the absolute Belle of the ball, but that was nothing new. Beneath it, a pure white corset and petticoat. Her heirloom pearl earrings and necklace the perfect accents to her ensemble. But all of that stood null next to the desire to exact her vengeance. The dress and the ball were only the frosting and cherry on her cruelly created cake.

15 minutes and still no Brad and his hapless victim. Holley finally exits her royal chariot out of pure, unadulterated irritation. She stands in the grass, her pristine white satin heels assaulted by dirt and dew. "Where the hell could they be!" Just as she is about to scream, she hears a growl swimming in the wind. She turns and quickly scans her surroundings but her line of sight is only a foot to two in front of her. The fog has engulfed her and she is lost within it. The growl gets louder. She frantically looks about but she can not ascertain which direction its coming from. It is surrounding her. The wind picks up and she is slowly becoming drenched by the whipping mist.

The growl deepens and sharpens. Fear has replaced frustration, anxiety has begun to tear way at her confidence. She moves closer to the shed, the only thing she can make out clearly. The growl is immense, filling the air and gnawing at her flesh. She feels her way to the door of the shed. The black sky reflecting off the fog makes it look like she is floating through space. She finds the door and opens it, sliding inside. The growl shakes the decaying building, but it is on the outside. She can barely see inside the shed, but she makes out a shovel laying on what is left of the floor. Her breath quickens, as does her heartbeat.

She pulls the shovel from the rotted floorboards, weeds, and dirt and holds it up. The growl thunders once more and she prepares for the worst. She knows what is hunting her, she doesn't believe it, but what else could it be. And where is her Beau? He has had to hear it? He has had to have heard it, how could you not! "Oh my God," she gasps, "Has it gotten him!" Suddenly the shack begins to violently shake. The boards begin to vibrate loose, rusted nails break free and fall to the ground. The fog quickly creeps in through all the gaps of the dilapidated structure. It encompasses her feet and carpets the ground. The growls reverberate through the building, assaulting her ears and infecting her mind with terror.

Then just as it seems the chaotic cocktail of sound and violence will meet a horrific crescendo, it all stops and silence pierces and fills the darkness. Holley stands there as the world becomes motionless, lifeless. The air is stale and stagnate. The fog sits heavily about her feet. The wind retreats as does any and all sound. Only her breathing and rapid heartbeat can be heard. She glances around trying to make sense of her surroundings. Her concern for her boyfriend, eclipsed by her own dire predicament.

She peeks outside through a gap between the boards but sees nothing. It was all on the outside, but how much safety can this rickety old shed provide her. "It can't possibly keep whatever is out there, from coming in here, "she begins to weep!

Then the growl returns, slowly, subtly. But this time the direction is acute. It is behind her. She can feel the breathe of it on her neck. It has been inside with her the whole time. She didn't run from it, she ran to it. She grips the wood handle of the shovel tightly, the splinters dig deep into the palms of her hands. The growl intensifies. Fear assaults every inch of her body. Then remarkably, unbelievably it speaks. "Hello, Holley, you look absolutely delicious the evening," it snarls menacingly. How does it know her name? She can feel it right behind her, a scaly hand begins to graze her arm rising to her shoulder and back down to her wrist. Her bare skin recoils at its touch. "It's time you pay your Granddaddy's debt, " it growls. She can't turn around. The terror has completely paralyzed her. "And I have waited such a long time, for such a tasty treat," it laughs with a laugh that would haunt even death itself.

She musters all of her strength and prepares to turn around until she feels a sharp pain in her wrist and then something wet sprays on her face. She feels pressure release from her grip on the spade. She looks down and only one hand is now holding the handle. Instead, her other is laying on the ground, quickly being devoured by the fog. She can't scream, the pain is outnumbered, outweighed by the fear. It has numbed her voice. The blood sprays on her dress, leaving random patterns of crimson starkly contrasted against the white lace.

Then she feels her neck being pierced and its flesh torn. It is all moving in slow motion. She is part of it and yet disconnected from it. She feels it pull a chunk of flesh off and the stark and merciless pain reminds her of exactly where she is. She screams and the sound fills the shed. It only excites her attacker who drags its claws across her cheek below her eye. Blood streams down her face and mingles with the gushing liquid already emanating from her neck wound. Suddenly, she is lifted off the ground and all she can see it the rotted ceiling with the sky peeking through the few boards that remain. It roars with delight as she comes back down on her stomach and face and feels it bite deep into her back. Its teeth wrap around her spine and she can feel the bone and muscle shred. She falls to the ground, immersed in her own blood. The creature roars again and the shed shakes.

She can barely breathe, and moving is no longer an option. The creature bends down and hovers above her. What little starlight sneaks into the shed and illuminates its features. A man with the face of a serpent, black eyes, blacker hair, and her blood covering its mouth, staining it long, pearl-like fangs. He is wearing rags for clothes, barely covering his scaly green and grey body. It just stares at her with its lifeless eyes as she gurgles on her own fluids. "Now, you will know what it is like to be a monster, " it grumbles, "but wait, you already know, don't you." It begins to laugh again. "You'll live, Miss Holley, but you will wish you were dead, and so will all those around you!"

Holley is fading into unconsciousness, the mixture of pain and horror are too much to bare. The creature stands and takes the blood stained shovel that is now laying next to her body. It places it against the wall and jams it between two boards. "And now, I can be free of the curse your family bestowed upon me, " it snarls. "But before you sleep, know this, " it continues, " the monster that murdered all those people 50 years ago, was not me." "It was your Grandfather, a monster in a three piece suit who had an insatiable taste for blood!" It then takes the handle of the shovel and with all its force it rams its own chest into the blade. The shovel tears through its chest and exits through its mutated back. The creature slumps forward so the entire shovel, with the exception of what is wedged, passes through its body. It collapses onto the wall, gasps its last breath, and then moves no more. Its lifeless corpse held up by the handle.

Holley falls into darkness, no longer breathing, no longer aware of anything. The world fades to black and time stops. She is gone, her memories dissipate, her identity becomes more and more a stranger until everything falls into absolute silence.

She awakes standing in the middle of the cemetery, in front of the shed. She has no idea what has happened, no idea where she has been, how much time has passed. All that is there is an unmistakable hunger and a darkness that flows through her veins. She feels the evil warm her like a soft down blanket. It gives her peace and strength. She smiles with a sense of satisfaction she has never experienced before. As she does she feels her long, sharp fangs scrape against the sides of her mouth. She looks around through the still night as the fog retreats from her presence to reveal what is left of the body of her Beau beneath her. He has been torn apart, pieces everywhere. She can feel his blood in her mouth and dripping down her cheek. Before she can react to it, she notices, there are body parts everywhere. She knows what they are as the torn fabric litters the grass. She steps back and gathers her thoughts.

Before her lays every one of her fembots, disemboweled and dismembered in the most gruesome of fashions. Instead of panic, shame, and sorrow she is filled with a great sense of horrific joy and pleasure. She cackles in gratification and roars loudly. The field fills with her shrieks and growls. The monster has been reborn, and Holley could not be happier. The curse makes the evil, beyond comprehension. It has not transformed Holley, rather it has amplified the monster she always was. It released all of the malice she had bottled up for so long. And now, she could exact her revenge, not just on Gertie, but the entire town. Who could stop her? Now that beauty has become the hellish of beasts!

Suddenly a truck rolls up and the engine sputters. Holley spins around. Fresh meat has arrived, the sweetest kind!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

I am by no means a Trekkie, but I have to admit I have enjoyed, to some extent, both the movies and the various series that have existed in diverse forms and manifestations.  Of the myriad of nerd cinematic fare, my two favorite flicks in the Roddenberry Universe are Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home and the true sequel, The Wrath of Khan, of which this movie appears to be somewhat of a reboot.   Not being a purist when it comes to this franchise it is easy for me to recognize the need to refresh the chronology in a fresh, edgy, almost revolutionary way as the lineage of the tale has been nearly exhausted.   Abrams does something with the revamp that Lucas failed to do with his very own product as he furthered his continuum.  Which baffles the imagination?  Abrams builds his stories around a solid cast that demonstrates a genuine sense of camaraderie and chemistry among the characters.  Which is why I am delighted that he has taken the helm of the Star Wars mythology, of which, I have been a fan since I was just a laddie.   Abrams effectively develops his characters in an incredible short span of time, creating depth of relationships with very little opportunity to generate lengthy back-stories.   A feat not many could achieve.  He could not have selected a better cast to both celebrate and refresh their predecessors, with each delivering authentic and engaging performances.  With all of that said, this second installment takes one of the darkest and most violent in the original set and successfully gives it a new, exciting, and innovative take.  The story is solid, not entirely original as expected, but flows well, has real moments to call its own, and in the end, positively delivers.  There are a few cool twists, not awe inspiring or jaw dropping, but they inject the plot with energy, and the nods to some of the vintage voyages are quirky and slick.  The FX are absolutely stunning, again filling me with confidence that the next generation of Jedi, Rogues, and Dark Forces will be the nerd's version of off the chain.  So, in conclusion, Khan gets a definitive face lift, in some ways it shies in comparison to its predecessor, but in others it deservedly  improves upon it.   I have to say I do miss some of the camp of Ricardo Montalban's incarnation and Shatner’s reaction to it, but the high tech enhancements and the story’s overall strength, quickly soothe the geekiest of beasts. I have to mention, I did enjoy Abrams’s sneak peak of his envisioning of the Klingons, not to give any spoilers away.   3 out of 5 Kernels:  A top notch sequel, now it’s time for the crew of the Enterprise to venture out into uncharted space and come up with some new and original frontiers to solely call their own.

One Minute Movie Review: The Host

I look forward to the day when the sappy and silly tween fantasy film series adapted from the even sappier and sillier tween fantasy novel series becomes a distant, barely recallable, cinematic memory.   Whomever writes this dribble should be forced to listen to hours of  NPR radio while watching nonstop reruns of Ally McBeal so they too can experience the eye and ear rape they commit when their literary, and I use the term loosely, works become celluloid torture for anyone who has already reached puberty.   Stephenie Meyer is public enemy number one as far as this is concerned.   However, as most of these films fail in every way, the Host has some mildly redeeming, and again I use the term loosely, qualities.   First, the concept, a rebooted for the maturity challenged Invasion of the Body Snatcher's plot line would have actually played fairly interestingly had it been explored and utilized in a serious, adult, horror/Sci-fi take.  Second, actress Saoirse Ronan, whose name sounds like a disease of the liver, delivers a pretty authentic and engaging dual performance as both the alien "host" and the human trapped inside, and that's about the extent of the spoilers I will divulge.  The majority of the remaining cast, whom I will not identify, because most I have never heard of or particularly care about, is about as entertaining and talented as a bowl of cold oatmeal.   Although there are a few headliners, they are unable to elevate the overall ensemble of novices above a collectively stale and insipid performance.  That's it for the good.  The rest is all rubbish.  From a ridiculous ideology that millions of aliens that invaded and committed genocide of humanity are somehow redeemable because they are genuinely just friendly, sparkly, yes, here she goes with the sparkles again, glowing snowflakes looking for a place to chill.  To special effects that rival SYFY channel made for TV fare and ends with action sequences that are about as exciting as watching cows graze.  Director Andrew Niccol has a string of non hits, so this meets all expectations based off of past creations.  0 out of 5 Kernels: As stated before, Meyers loves to make her characters sparkle, whether they are Vampires or E.T's, too bad her movies never do.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

The director of Training Day brings us Die Hard meets Air Force in this ultra violent, ultra bloody, profanity laden, action flick that relies heavily on explosions, effects, and the body count and less on character building, story, and outright reality.  Gerard Butler plays the John McClane clone role, but with a lot less finesse and humanity.  Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart,Two Face from the Dark Knight, and Dylan McDermott, why, round off the uneven cast, playing what can only be described, at best, as facsimiles of the characters they attempt to establish.  In the end, they achieve only one dimensional and predictable incarnations lacking any substance or genuineness.   Harrison Ford made the president in Air Force One legitimate and relatable, someone to root for.   Eckhart doesn't even come close with his rendition of the commander and chief.   Freeman, who usually endears as well as entertains, bores instead, which hurts my heart to even type as I have so much respect for the man and his craft.  Finally Butler has zero talent and presence on the screen, and I have yet to see a film to give me reason to think otherwise.   The story's unbelievability is what actually derails this flick, in addition to the director's, need to create mass carnage on an almost epic scale.   I know it is an action yarn, but may I please have even a small dose of creativity and depth?   The film bombed at the box office, most likely because with all the turmoil in the world, the terrifying concept may have hit to close to home.  Or even more so, that it was just a horrible mess of a film overall.  0 out of 5 Kernels: I was honestly waiting for Butler to yippee ki yay someone this was such an obvious and irritating rip off.  

Monday, August 26, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Oblivion

This movie was in and out of the theaters in a blink of an eye and a mild financial disaster for the studio.  Add into that the fact that Cruise's latest theatrical track record has been disappointing at best.   With that said, I had very little expectation going in with this being a Netflix filler, rather than a must see for me.  Well it looks good ole' Tommy boy may have gotten his acting  groove back, whether or not it is a permanent or temporary comeback remains to be seen.    For this flick, Cruise gives 100%, and it shows, both in the sincerity and depth of his performance.  This is not what the mainstream expects when any feature is designated to be a potential Sci-Fi blockbuster.  The general public is looking for epic battle sequences, annihilations of cities on a grandiosely violent scale, or the freakiest aliens or robots that CGI money can buy.  Instead, here you get a film that is a solid, well rounded, sophisticatedly complex movie with sleek tech, a deeply intricate character driven story, and an original science fiction plot-line with some pretty cool twists by its conclusion.   Now there are a few pieces that don't quite fit together perfectly, but overall this is a well crafted, well acted, and beautifully filmed production that appeals more to the purists than the average movie goers.  Which in the end provides the most compelling evidence of its incredibly short and nearly invisible run.   Director, Joseph Kosinski, only holds one prior credit to his name, which was the lackluster but long awaited sequel to the 80's Disney camp classic Tron.    So this was a critical win for him based off of that and what little experience or notoriety he possess.   Unfortunately, in Hollywood land, the almighty dollar determines destiny, so we can only hope he receives another chance.   As a purist myself, I enjoyed this movie, it was a little long and tedious at times, but I also have been spoiled by the pomp and circumstance of current celluloid fare, rather than savoring the time and suspense of telling a compelling story.  3 out of 5 Kernels:  Hopefully more will watch this film and realize its merits on the secondary market, so it does not fall into cinematic oblivion.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

For the word incredible to exist anywhere in the title of this alleged film is, in itself, incredible as it bears no indication of the contents.  Apparently the word or designation comedy now covers a wide spectrum of concepts including those containing no humor at all.  Steve Carrell jumps the shark on a rocket propelled bike in this mess of a movie which is neither funny, endearing, or interesting in the least.  In addition, does anyone still find Jim Carrey relevant or entertaining anymore, if so, you definitively need to carefully review your viewing habits.  This failed tale of dueling illusionists is directed by Don Scardino who, if you have never heard of before, you are in good company, and based on this cinematic disaster it may be the last time you hear of him at all.   What has happened to Hollywood?  Is there a writer's strike ongoing that I am unaware of.  Maybe Tinseltown has developed an allergy to actually making money.  Or could it be some sort of tax shelter thing.   Either way it is becoming more and more apparent that the ideas of originality, creativity, and quality are utterly ignored, even outdated among the over paid and out of touch executives in Callyland.  0 out of 5 Kernels: the only real magic that would have impressed me is if this movie had disappeared.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Bay

Okay, its official, the POV or first person film production has finally reached the proper level of ad nauseum. So has, the so called, Mockumentary, with all of the authenticity and originality of the concept being unfortunately exhausted by the sheer litany of films released over the last few years.  Those facts are blanatly obvious in this latest incarnation.   Oscar winning director Barry Levinson unsuccessfully tries his hand at this style of cinema with an thoroughly lackluster and outright silly alleged horror story that is very loosely based in sciencetific fact.   To put it in a nutshell, or Isopod Shell, it's just not scary, or even engaging or entertaining.  Instead you end of with almost an hour and a half of unrealistic and tedious narration, found footage that is to clean and well produced to look as such, and zero suspense, thrills, or chills.  The effects look like they were produced by a first year film effects student and the script is so disorganized and disjointed, it simply does not tell the story well.  All of the alleged terror and tension of the premise can not be explored and, therefore, achieve the desired impact on the audience.  Add into that acting that is simply terrible lacking any and all credibility required to pull off this style of movie.   An epic fail for a director who has established himself as a power player in the industry.    0 out of 5 Kernels: in conclusion, the Bay’s attempted frights end up stagnate and the plot about these dangerously still waters run extremely shallow.  

One Minute Movie Review: A Good Day to Die Hard

Some films are so good, to even attempt any kind of a sequel lessens the quality and impact of the original.  Even more so, there are those franchises that methodically reach new heights of awfulness and overplay that you wish they would just stop and let the chronology die, “hard” if necessary.  This is the case with this fifth, and prayerfully final installment of the saga which chronicles the misadventures of the most unlucky and nearly indestructible cop, John McClane.  This go round it is a family affair.   Where Die Hard was, in my opinion, a modern cinematic classic, redefined the action film, and single handily launched Bruce Willis' career into super stardom, the following films simply prove that Hollywood will do anything to keep what they perceive is a moneymaker alive, even if that means diluting the concept to a point of outright silliness and absurdity.   This movie demonstrates that unfortunate truth in sheer volume with effects so overdone they feel and look utterly false.  As far as acting, if Willis' had phoned in his performance any more so, it would have reduced this flick to a Verizon commercial.  Jai Courtney, who plays Son of McClane, is possibly the worst actor to have ever graced the silver screen, his portrayal is so stale, I have seen croutons with more flavor and appearance.  The remaining cast fares little better.  The villains were apparently only entertaining to director John Moore as was the story, both were boring, unrealistic, and outright goofy at best.  Moore has a pretty solid resume including one of my favorite Sci Fi features, Pitch Black.  So this was a real disappointment.   0 out of 5 Kernels: Please let this series die already, I have been forced to mourn the originality and excitement of the first four times now.  

One Minute Movie Review: G.I Joe: Retaliation

A ridiculously goofy movie with an absolutely ludicrous premise even for a film based on an outlandish cartoon from the 80's.   Director John M Chu, whose feature feats include such cinematic awesomeness as Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, (stated with sarcasm so thick it could successfully fill pot holes on the Jersey turnpike), brings us his overly unrealistic envisioning of the heavily commercialized animated series, which I can't believe, is even a possibility.   The acting is corny, the action more so, even former wrestler and alleged thespian, the Rock, Dwayne Johnson, is unable to add any energy to this WMD (Work of Mass Disappointment) of a film.   The first installment was horrid, this one jettisons, in sheer awfulness, to a whole new level.   0 out of 5 Kernels:  the cartoon's PSA tagline used to be, "Now you know, and knowing is half the battle."  With that said, consider yourself warned. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Jack The Giant Slayer

This is latest of the many Fairy Tale reboots, Red Riding Hood, Mirror, Mirror, Snow White and the Huntsmen, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, ect., that have littered the silver screen in the last few years, none of which have been raving successes, to say the least.  So with that in mind, Bryan Singer, of X-Men fame decided to try his hand at the genre retelling the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, which as everyone knows, was a story that was in high demand.  I have never sat through a film, where you literally feel every minute pass by.  I must have hit the status button on the remote at least five times, each time it was followed by a deep sigh when I realized how little of the movie had progressed since my last check in.  To say it was boring would be a "giant" understatement.   But on the bright side, the usage as a non medicinal cure for insomnia may be a plus.   The acting is atrocious, and the cast of characters are about as original as plain Cheerios.  A perfect example is Bill Nighy's regurgitation of his Davy Jones persona, except this time, trapped in the body of a two headed behemoth, nothing new, just a half hearted facsimile.  The biggest question is why newcomer, Nicholas Hoult, of Warm Bodies, a picture I am exceedingly pleased to say I have not, or will ever see,  has a career at all.  He is about as exciting and captivating as Tofu.   The remaining cast is just as silly, with the apex of that ridiculousness being reached through the King's character, which appears to be a deliberate attempt to create a live action version of Lord Farquaad.  The special effects appear to be left overs from the Lord of the Rings, with some of the battle scenes literal recreations from that trilogy.   This is an absolute mess of a movie and an eternal stain on Singer's relatively successful resume.  0 out of 5 Kernels: Fe-Fi-Fo Fum, this film stinks, and is enormously Ho Hum.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: The Wolverine

I am one of the very rare individuals that actually enjoyed the first film and thought it was an excellent origins story giving the appropriate props to one of the most bad arss and tormented characters in the Marvel Universe.   It was exciting, engaging, well acted, and, I thought, though I am virtually alone, a creative and well constructed script.  Hugh Jackman has defined this character, and I can not imagine anyone else ever being able to top the Aussie action star's incarnation of the steel clawed, nearly immortal, man beast in search of his past.   The sequel surpasses the original in scope and sweep and achieves what few sequels do, the ability to serve as both a continuum to the mythology and a stand alone feature at the same time.  Director James Mangold, whose greatest cinematic feats includes; 5:10 to Yuma, Knight and Day, and Kate and Leopold brings us a remarkable film that brings these characters from the one dimensional world of comics to complete and illustrious life.  An achievement, based on his previous endeavors, I would have thought would be nearly impossible with the content and nature of this type of film.  Both Fan-boys and the general public will enjoy this flick, which is yet another impressive achievement.  In addition, this venture has one thing that most of its kind lack, depth and a strong, believable story, taking in to account this is fantasy fare. The movie is engrossing from start to finish, avoids gimmicks and prevents many, scratch your head moments, or plot holes that many of this style of story tend to own.   This is an adult story with an extremely slick and stylish approach to both this character's strengths and weakness.  Jackman thoroughly impresses again, and the remaining cast act as a fluid unit, interacting with authenticity and passion.   This is how you make a comic book film, edgy and yet hopeful, where you both suffer with and root for the hero.  Meat and potatoes film making at its finest.  Now some will find flaws, especially the dogmatic, but overall a fantastic and exciting journey that leaves a real impression.  4 out of 5 Kernels; no spoilers, but stay through the credits, it will be well worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Escape from Planet Earth

Callan Brunker makes his directorial debut with this sci-fi CGI animated feature starring the voices and personalities of The Mummy's Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Alba, George Lopez, The one and only William Shatner, and Glee's Jane Lynch among others.  You would think with that amount of A and B grade star power you might have a pretty decent flick.   You would think, not so much this time around though.  It possess an original and intriguing concept, but again, fails to deliver on all of its potential.  What could have been a hilarious parody of itself and other fantasy fare inside of a fun kid flick, reduces itself to a bland and predictable, unfunny, cartoon feature that stretches itself longer than the material provided.   It achieves some briefly cute moments, but overall, it just doesn't come together as it should.  The paychecks were apparently bigger than the story and the talent who received them.   You can blame the script and story, but its the actors that flesh it out and the good ones, the genuinely good ones, can make even the worst script digestible.  Now this is not a complete fail, my kids, four and seven, enjoyed it and watched it all the way through which is worth some kudos but as an adult, in all honesty, it was a tough 89 minutes.  1 out of 3 Kernels: it appears that making a solid film might have been alien to this new director, get it, alien, hey that line was funnier than most of the schtick in this movie.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Minute Movie Review: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Tommy Workola, the director of such non blockbusters as Kill Buljo and Dead Snow, and if you haven't heard of either of those films you are in excellent company, brings us his re-envisioning of the classic Brothers Grimm German fairy-tale.   That reboot includes one of the most poorly written scripts, requiring excessive profanity just to keep it interesting, mechanized acting, and some of the silliest special effects since the SYFY channel used balloons filled with paint, in their made for TV masterpieces, note the sarcasm, in order to portray exploding heads, and yes you read that correctly.     Although the premise is somewhat unique and intriguing, Workola does little to keep it engaging or entertaining and based of his earlier cinematic incarnations there is little guesswork as to why.  It is astounding who Hollywood bank rolls now a days.   Jeremy Renner needs to seriously reconsider his agent's sanity as he continues to take horrifically bad role after role ever since his brief stint as the famed Avenger's archer and Gemma Arterton has all the charisma and talent of day old bread.  The remaining cast is as effective in this celluloid train wreck.   The special effects, as mentioned earlier, are goofy, not on purpose, which is probably the saddest part of this disaster as I am sure they were designed to carry the picture. This was a nifty idea, given to the wrong person, a fate that befalls much of the trash, that may have once been treasure, filling the screens of most movie houses.    0 out of 5 Kernels: With the lack of originality in Hollywood, I am almost certain we will see a Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch movie in the very near future.