Movies You Watched in October 2016
Ben Lott
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This is a geeklist to discuss the movies you watch throughout the month of October. Please feel free to post them as you see them, or if you prefer post a summary of all films at the end of the month. Also you can comment and discuss freely as others talk about films they've seen.

Enjoy...

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1. Board Game: The Game of Harlem [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: The Game of Harlem
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Luke Cage


Ok, I know this isn't exactly a movie, but you know it is going to get discussed here, so it might as well have an entry. If Blott disagrees, he can delete the item.

I finished it today and found it very well made, well cast and satisfying. I had no preconceptions, not being a Marvel guy. I am not even really sure where I would put it among the Netflix Marvel series. I think they are all good and pretty close together.
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2. Board Game: Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:282]
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


This was only the second time we had watched this one, so the first time at home. I suspect the lack of familiarity helped a lot, so I suppose it could drop some with more watching. I also suspect it would not do quite as well if I treated it as a standalone movie and tried to watch it without watching at least Part 1. And certainly the entire series should have been watched at some time.

While I put Part 1 at the bottom of the Harry Potter list, this one ends up at the top, and I think the combined Part 1/Part 2 would also be at the top of the Harry Potter list.

Flickchart
Beats Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Beats The Parent Trap (1998)
Beats The Great Escape
Beats Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Beats The Avengers (2012)
Loses to Empire Strikes Back
Loses to Ex Machina
Loses to Stardust
Beats Goldeneye
Beats Mary Poppins
33 out of 1189
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3. Board Game: Catan: Ancient Egypt [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:3540]
Board Game: Catan: Ancient Egypt
Alex H.
Germany
Berlin
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I spent the last two weeks on vacation in South East Asia. The long flights provided me with ample opportunity to watch some really crappy movies. (Don't get me wrong; there were good movies in the entertainment system as well. I just happened to pick the stupid ones.)

1. I kicked things of with X-Men Apocalypse.

Now, of all the movies I have watched on this trip this one was certainly the best. I still found it overall disappointing, though. The plot is not terribly interesting and I found myself not caring very much about the characters at all. Compared to First Class and Days of Future Past, this one was a bit underdeveloped. The four Horsemen (i.e. the big bad's leutenants) were also a letdown. If you compare the fight scenes in this movie with what we got in Captain America: Civil War you feel embarassed for X-Men.
Final verdict: avoid, although not at all costs.



2. And then, I foolishly clicked on Gods of Egypt...

Oh boy. They don't come much more stupid than this. What were Gerald Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau thinking when they joined the cast? The movie follows the adventures of a joung thief who tries to help the dethroned god Horus taking back his thrown. Also, this will hopefully restore the thief's love to him. The gods are large, stupid versions of humans and can morph into metal half-humans/half-beasts. Other than that, they are mostly stupid. The action scenes are not very impressive, the plot is not terribly interesting, the dialog is frequently embarrasing.


3. Now you see me 2

I wasn't a huge fan of the first part. For reasons that are unclear to me, I still watched the sequel. To make it short: unnecessary and thus a worthy successor to part 1. I have two main complaints: the four magicians in these movies are so absolutely lacking any charisma that no sane person would ever put them on a stage. Secondly, the magic tricks do a poor job in convincing us that they would work in real life. Sometimes we get a pseudo-explanation for a trick, sometimes we don't. I ended up not caring since even the few explanations we got felt very unsatisfying.
Not a terrible movie but a very mediocre one at best.


4. The Shallows

Save yourself time and money and don't watch this one. Unless, maybe, if you really want to see Blake Lively in a bikini. Actually, even then I recommend not to watch it. I am sick and tired of seeing sharks on screen that are nothing but unnatural killing machines. Sharks that will bite through steel to get to you. Sharks who don't kill to feed but kill for the sake of killing. This feels like a straight-to-video movie and I can not understand why it was ever shot. Boring, unnecessary and at times enragingly silly.
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4. Board Game: Batman Rooftop Rumble Skill and Action Game [Average Rating:5.67 Unranked]
Board Game: Batman Rooftop Rumble Skill and Action Game
Alex H.
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Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

Back when it was released, the reviews here on BGG and the critical reception had convinved me to skip it. Now I had finally the opportunity to watch it. Jack Snyder blew it. Seriously, what kind of idiot came up with this convoluted plot? Not for one moment did I buy into Batman's motivation and Luthor's scheme was just ridiculous. There is a single exciting fight scene towards the end of the movie (not the apocalyptic mega-fight, it the Batman frees the hostage fight I'm referring to) and even that fight did not fully convince me. Wonder Woman was all right but felt tacked-on. Worst of all, the film was frequently just boring.
I'm finally convinced that all Jack Snyder knows is how to shoot in slow-mo. There are a few memorable scenes in each of his movies but they rarely last longer than two seconds each and are not enough to compensate for his deficits in story-telling. DC should kick him out ASAP if they want to save their cinematic universe. Currently, Marvel is so much ahead of them, it's not even funny (and I say that as someone without clear general preference for either DC or Marvel over the other).
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5. Board Game: Auf Achse [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:3028] [Average Rating:6.24 Unranked]
Board Game: Auf Achse
Jørgen K
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I have for some time planned to watch this movie again (I am almost certainly sure that I have it on DVD) and by chance, after playing a few board games and had dinner, we saw it was running on one of the TV stations - so we rewined it to watch it.

It's been a while since I last saw it, but it sure was nice to see it again. One of the things I really like 'bout it is the scenery shots - they aren't as good as Easy Rider (another movie I long have wanted to see again - I have the sound track on 33 rpm vinyl, and I think I have the movie on DVD too) - but there is still a few good ones. The story... well: A modern cowboy story...
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6. Video Game: Croc 2 [Average Rating:5.33 Unranked]
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From Arizona, through New Mexico, Texas - and on the way to the Mexican border we went a trip to New York City and Mick "Crocodile" Dundee, dynamite fishing in the Hudson...

His good lady, Sue recieves a letter from her ex-husband with a 35mm film showing some Columbian drug lord at his cocaine plant - executing a guy; sadly he too is executed...

The druggies go to NYC to take Sue hostage, while Mick is out looking for work, and get a job at "Bad" Leroy Brown (who is said to be into some serious shit!) - by rescuing Sue, Mick and Sue is now under protection by the DEA and hunted by the drug lord and his brother - when an assasin gets too close, Mick takes Sue out of DEA's "protectection", and brings her back to Walkabout Creek and his ranch "Belongamik" in the Australian bush...

From here a game of hide and seek starts between the lovers and the baddies!

Honestly, I still love this movie! And I still love Dundee's hat and jacket, and I am not the only one!
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7. Board Game: Cartel [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:5650]
Board Game: Cartel
Atnier Rodriguez
United States
Monroe
Connecticut
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SICARIO

Very, very tense movie.

I give it an 8 out of 10.

Good story, good cast, slightly unpleasant in its realism and its message, but at the end, it is a good movie indeed.

Not much too say without spoiling something, but if you like realistic war-on-drugs movies, this could be up your alley.


PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES

They can't seem to recreate the great, balanced formula of the very first movie.

This one is more adventure than comedy, but despite its many fantasy elements, it feels a bit uninspired and generic. Like they don't want to fully commit and explore what they produce, just present it and move on.

It is entertaining, and that's why it's a 7 out of 10 for me, but it is also quite forgettable in the end.

The best part for me was the mermaids-hunting scene, and the worst part is probably how undeveloped the character of Blackbeard was. He played second fiddle to his daughter, and she wasn't that interesting to begin with.

I did like the way the Spaniards acted towards the end of the movie. It was unexpected and in hindsight, quite fitting.

I think the franchise is just coasting, and needs a Mission Impossible-like boosting of both spectacle and story. 'Tis a shame, 'cause it is after all a Disney franchise, and it is falling behind their other works.
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8. Board Game: Les aventures de Tintin: Le jeu officiel [Average Rating:5.63 Unranked]
Board Game: Les aventures de Tintin: Le jeu officiel
Stephen Roney
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The Adventures of Tintin


I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this, but it was an enjoyable adventure romp. But I am not sure of the intended audience. It takes a little known (in the US) comic strip character, and using motion capture animation, present a fairly violent action adventure film. I suppose the audience would be 10-12 year old boys who are willing to watch animated movies.

The animation is excellent and I suppose that not using the actor's faces helped avoid the creepiness that some people saw in Polar Express.

Flickchart
Loses to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Loses to Transporter 3
Beats Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Beats Babes in Toyland
Beats Hollywoodland
Beats Miss Congeniality 2:Armed and Fabulous
Beats Phenomenon
Beats Driving Miss Daisy
Beats The Medallion
Loses to The Jungle Book(2016)
893 of 1188
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9. Board Game: Scoop [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Scoop
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Scoop


Another Woody Allen film available on Netflix streaming.

In the opening sequence, on a boat with the Grim Reaper standing at the front, Ian McShane is talking to another boatmate. He says he died of a heart attack, and she thinks she was poisoned by her boss, Peter Lyman (the son of a British lord), because she suspected him of being the serial killer known as the Tarot Killer.

We then meet American journalism student Scarlett Johansson, who goes to a show where Woody Allen is a magician. When he brings her up on stage and puts her into his magic box to make her disappear, she sees Ian McShane (who we have seen jumping of the boat to the underworld) who tells her the suspicions of Lyman.

After doing some research on the killer and Lyman, she returns to Allen's theater and after she talks him into trying to recreate the experience, she gives up, only to have McShane appear to both of them and reiterate and expand on his claims. Then Allen and Johansson, posing as father and daughter, arrange to meet Lyman (Hugh Jackman), who of course is attracted to Johansson (and she to him), and the rest is a mixture of investigation and romance.

Allen is maybe a little too much over the top, but it is still an enjoyable mystery/comedy.

Flickchart
Beats Fantastic Four:Rise of the Silver Surfer
Loses to Murder By Decree
Loses to Quantum of Solace
Loses to 13 Going On 30
Beats Beethoven
Beats John Wick
Beats The Big Short
Beats Jerry Maguire
Loses to Star Trek:Generations
Beats Sky High
523 out of 1189
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10. Board Game: Four Seasons [Average Rating:4.59 Unranked]
Board Game: Four Seasons
Stephen Roney
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Jersey Boys


I wasn't in a big hurry to see this when it came out in 2014 because we saw the stage play in 2013. This feels quite a bit different, because they can change the scenery more often. They still break the fourth wall to talk about what is happening or about to happen, and at times it feels a little stranger, because in the play, they left the scene to do that, where here, they would just turn their head.

The story of the Four Seasons is entertaining as long as you can tolerate the language, which is quite "colorful". The actors playing the group are mostly (perhaps all) from stage productions. There are a few identifiable faces scattered through the movie, with the most identifiable being Christopher Walken, who plays a mob boss from the neighborhood the group grew up in.

Being a fan of the music definitely makes a difference in this one.

Flickchart
Beats Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Beats Murder by Decree
Loses to The Incredibles
Loses to Diamonds Are Forever
Loses to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Loses to Glory
Loses to Planet of the Apes (1968)
298 of 1190
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11. Board Game: Bandits [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:10723]
Board Game: Bandits
Jørgen K
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After watching the last halfish part of some Bruce Willis flick where he also gets beat-up, but unlike the Die Hard movies actually keep his clothes on - there came ANOTHER Willis, but this time he was neither working as a wash-up New York policeman nor an FBI agent as in the one I saw a bit of before this one.

No; here he was on the other side of the fence. At first it was a bit difficult to figure out the time line of the movie completly - but I think that cronologically the movie starts 5-10 minutes in, where Willis and Billy Bob Thornton was in the slammer for a bankjob. Willis escapes by stealing a cement truck and his buddy jumps in - they then talk about what to do and decide Mexico! But they need money so: Another bankjob.

In the end they get this great concept: Sleepover at the bank managers opening, and then making the bankjob before the anoying customers and staff arrives: This way they can crowd control the staff away from alarms - before the clients even enter.
One thing is that they are very polite; and they even become celebreties - so much that some bankers actually greets them (one refuses to give them money because "being polite is not an excuse for crime").

Along the way they picked up Willis' cousin, a wannabe stuntman - and a slightly psycotic red head who runs down Billy Bob while she is rage driving - she falls in love with the two very different robbers; Willish as the strong, badboy, and Billy Bob as the soft, intelligent nerd - who also suffer from countless allergies, fobias, and decises.

The band is slowly departing; the cousin, who assisted as "front man" almost made the gang getting arrested for leaving his car chasing a mysterious girl he have fallen in love with - and realize that he is not a bank robber - after missing the girl several times, he finally pick her up on his way to Hollywood.

The woman have settled with the "brothers" dating them both, but it turns out that it can not work out; they both want her for them selves and she leaves the gang, going back to her husband...
On the way to the last bank, they call her to tell her that they are doing their last job - but no more sleepovers - but a regular one: In with the shotguns - and out again, and she fears this will go wrong and goes to the police.

In the meantime the gang gangs up with Cousin and his girl - and the job starts.

... during the movie there are clips from this big bank, and from a TV interview with them - as well as the main story up to the heist.
But what exactly happens in the end I will not tell!
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12. Board Game: Moon Mission [Average Rating:5.43 Unranked]
Board Game: Moon Mission
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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The Dish is loosely based on the true story of the small Australian town that was one of the only places in the southern hemisphere with a dish of sufficient size to pick up transmissions from the Apollo 11 moon landing. The film introduces us to a handful of humorous characters who run the station. The actors are all quite good, even if Sam Neill's attempt at an Australian accent was muddled at best. Their interactions have that comfortable small-town feel as if they have known each other basically their entire lives. There are definitely moments that made me laugh, including one that was downright hilarious. However, The Dish was a very slight film. There isn't a whole lot that happens in the movie, the conflict is minimal, and the resolution is straightforward. In fact, I understand that the small amount of difficulty they experience was a fabrication of the script, so they even felt the need to punch up the history just to make it more engaging as a film. It's a small movie with a quaint feel, and if there were a clearer arc to the story it might be the kind of thing I would love. As presented I find The Dish to be a good nod to the Australian men-and-women who helped in this historic moment, and overall a pleasant film that I'd watch again but probably won't seek out.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial
Wins against Bicentennial Man
Loses to The Muppet Christmas Carol
Loses to The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Loses to Compulsion
Loses to What About Bob?
Loses to District 9
Loses to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Wins against Rocky
Loses to The World's End
Ranked 261 out of 1060
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13. Board Game: Crash Zone [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Board Game: Crash Zone
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Black Hawk Down is a gritty, intense, and graphic depiction of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. I've seen my fair share of war movies in the past few months, and this was one that felt extremely authentic. I appreciate how much effort they put into making it realistic, and I thought the presentation of the overwhelming amount of opposition they faced was done well. You felt like the odds were heavily stacked against these soldiers, and that made the entire thing harrowing. For two and a half hours we watch as dozens and dozens of now-famous actors run around, fire guns, and shout at one another. It's such an unrelenting assault on the senses that I did not get to know the characters names let alone their personalities. I was constantly thinking of them solely as the actor who played them. In addition, the frenetic nature of the action made it difficult to figure out where people were within the city and in relation to one another. Perhaps the darkest part of this film is how it dehumanizes the Somali people. In many ways I felt like I was watching a zombie movie or something like that, considering how mindlessly evil they made the enemy. It was to the point that you are expected to cheer when the helicopters swoop in and start slaughtering dozens of men with each sweep. Then they plaster the numbers at the end of total lives lost and we see the relatively small number of American deaths and the massive number of Somali deaths, and I just find myself wondering why they are even counting their deaths considering how glorious they made the deaths appear in the movie. It's still a well-made film, and I was definitely not bored by it, but I wish they made some different choices in the way the story was told.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Gallipoli
Wins against The Firm
Wins against The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Loses to The Poseidon Adventure
Loses to Legally Blonde
Loses to The Imitation Game
Wins against Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Wins against The Cell
Wins against Little Shop of Horrors
Wins against The Ladykillers
Ranked 646 out of 1061
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14. Board Game: Underdog Game [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Underdog Game
Ben Lott
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Mason
Michigan
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What a strange enigma of a film. Seabiscuit starts out absolutely terrible. The interweaving origins of the main characters is not edited well at all, to the point where I wondered more than once what was going on and even struggled to connect the dots from one actor playing Red to the next one. The voice-over was ham-handed and unnecessary. They even let Tobey Maguire do some of his signature obnoxious whining that I loathe so much. About 30 minutes in I was tempted to just give up on the film altogether. It was around this time that the horse first shows up, and something changed. The second act was interesting and I was actually following the narrative flow without difficulty. By the third act, Seabiscuit really hit its stride (pun intended.) I went from not caring one bit about the film to suddenly cheering and even crying at the end. I could not figure out how it managed to sneak up on me but between the script, the cinematography, and the score, somehow I was emotionally invested in this movie. It's definitely a schmaltzy ending that could have been plucked right out of a Disney film, but I was completely on board at that point. I can't forgive Seabiscuit for all the first act problems, but I almost want to watch it again now that I've seen the whole movie and see if those origin moments resonate more when I know the end of the story.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Wag the Dog
Loses to Johnny English Reborn
Loses to I.Q.
Loses to Roxanne
Loses to Mission: Impossible II
Wins against Watchmen
Wins against Unstoppable
Loses to Safety Not Guaranteed
Wins against Big Hero 6
Wins against The Absent-Minded Professor
Ranked 501 out of 1062
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15. Board Game: X-Men: Under Siege [Average Rating:5.74 Overall Rank:12361]
Board Game: X-Men: Under Siege
Ben Lott
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Michigan
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New to Me


I'm going to qualify this entire review by saying that my wife and I just finished reading the book it is based on the day before going to see the movie, so I have the problem of constantly comparing the two and mentally thinking how the movie could have done it better. This film has been (quite accurately) described as Tim Burton's X-Men. There is this collection of kids with super powers who live in a school protected by their professor. Despite the fact that the Marvel comics have made a road map for how to tell these mutant stories, there are some big flaws in the way this story is told. For one thing the movie takes on more than just the first book, in fact it moves well beyond that first book (who knows it might take on 3 books in one.) Because of the ambitious idea of taking on so much story in one film, the movie is extremely rushed. You don't get to know any of the characters all that well, and it is difficult to care about them because of that. There are a few things that are good surprises in the book, but they are anticlimactic in the film because they race to the reveals so quickly. One aspect that will only annoy readers of the book, is the fact that they actually swapped the roles of 2 of the characters. It was such an odd and needless decision, and I found myself constantly wondering why they even made that choice.

The final act was all new to me, since the book ended on a cliffhanger, and I'd like to say not knowing allowed me to just let go and enjoy. While I did get some enjoyment out of watching the kids all let loose and utilize their gifts to the fullest capacity, it was very cliched and predictable. It ended with a plan that was almost straight out of an episode of Scooby-Doo. Throughout the movie people behaved in extremely stupid ways, and I literally couldn't stop myself from saying aloud in the theater "what are you doing?" at one point. The film also delves into time travel, and makes some of the classic paradoxical mistakes that drive me crazy in time travel stories. Even the acting was lackluster, and I think they cast some good actors in the lead roles. The one big positive I will say about this film is that it almost perfectly fit Tim Burton's artistic style. Reading the book and looking at the pictures in it, you can easily see why Burton was a good fit for the movie. In fact, I don't know if any of the big problems I have with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children can be totally blamed on Burton. Perhaps he made some choices that led to the things I struggled with, but my impression is that it was more a script adaptation issue. Not to mention the fact that the studio decided to make the movie but didn't have the confidence to commit to translating the entire series of books to film. I probably disliked the film more than most because of my familiarity with the book, but even without that knowledge I think it is lacking and I would probably not recommend it.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Loses to Wag the Dog
Wins against The Blob
Wins against The Lion King
Loses to Zero Dark Thirty
Wins against Scoop
Wins against Red
Wins against On Golden Pond
Wins against Transformers
Loses to Argo
Wins against The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Ranked 600 out of 1063
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16. Board Game: Marvel Dice Masters: Doctor Strange Team Pack [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.25 Unranked]
Board Game: Marvel Dice Masters: Doctor Strange Team Pack
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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Doctor Strange

When a new Marvel super hero movie is released at the cinema, we often seem to get it a few days earlier here in the UK, than in the US... so I always try to see it in advance of my transatlantic friends.. And despite the kids being off during half-term week, my wife and I were able to get to see it this afternoon.

The film is truly spectacular, the special effects are breathtaking.. especially the space/folding scenes that have previewed in the various trailers, but also subtle things, like Doctor Strange's cloak etc.

Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant in the title role, as the world renowned, egotistical, surgeon, Doctor Stephen Strange, who is badly injured in a car accident and unable to ever perform surgery again. He turns to rumours of Eastern Mysticism in an attempt to recover the full use of his hands, but finds instead a window into a world he had no idea existed. Tilda Swinton seems to have been an unusual choice for the sorcerer supreme, who trains Dr Strange, but she is excellent in the role.. as are Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo and Mads Mikkelsen as Kaecilius.

Although the movie is an origin story, it isn't one I've ever seen before, which makes a refreshing change... and while I know very little of the Doctor Strange stories, I've picked up some names of characters and artefacts from Lego Marvel games, and an excellent Doctor Strange pinball table, so it was really nice when those appeared in the movie. The plot is quite interesting too, and I was very impressed with the final battle and how it was resolved.

My one problem with the movie was that there was too much Doctor at the beginning for my liking... I struggle with medical shows, at which I often feel queasy, and the opening of Doctor Strange was no exception... but that's a personal matter and not necessarily a criticism of the plot of the movie.

Overall I really enjoyed Doctor Strange, and I look forward to the character popping up in other Marvel movies.
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17. Board Game: Mission: Red Planet [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:925]
Board Game: Mission: Red Planet
Andy
United Kingdom
Manchester
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The Martian

A neighbour, who is a big Ridley Scott fan, had not had the chance to see Scott's latest sci-fi drama, The Martian, so I borrowed the bluray from my brother and my wife and I watched it with him. Damon is brilliant in the role, the story is interesting, and while it kept me gripped from beginning to end, it is also packed with humour that had me laughing out loud a number of times. A delightful movie... and Rich Purnell is definitely a steely-eyed missile man.
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18. Board Game: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Trivia Game [Average Rating:4.93 Overall Rank:17998]
Board Game: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Trivia Game
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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The one film of the series that I was able to see during the recent screenings at IMAX theaters. Looking back now, it does a tremendous job bridging the colorful whimsy of the early Potter stories and the darker, more sinister tales surrounding Harry's later years at Hogwarts. Not my favorite of the series, but it was still fun to see it again. This time on the massive, IMAX screen.

On a side note, it was rather humorous to look at the primaries in this film, and recognize just how quickly Emma Watson was maturing at that time compared to her companions Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint.
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19. Board Game: Ravenous River [Average Rating:5.99 Overall Rank:9311]
Board Game: Ravenous River
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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The struggle of watching a film that is lauded as one of the greatest of all time is that it is almost destined to disappoint. Apocalypse Now is definitely one of those films and, while I can see why people love it, I didn't adore it as much as they do. I can clearly see that there was a lot of high-quality craft that went into the making of this film. It has some superb acting performances, the visuals are astounding, and the entire third act is remarkable. There are moments in the first two acts that I was impressed with (particularly the part with Robert Duvall, who blew me away.) But there is a lot of slow build in Apocalypse Now. It's tough when you start a movie with "Go find this guy and kill him" and then you don't actually meet the target face-to-face until more than three-quarters of the film has passed. I think this is by design because we're supposed to be impacted by the devastating futility of the war so that we can understand why Brando is behaving like a mad man, but it makes the pace appear overly sluggish. When they finally reach the end of the river and the climactic scenes start it is 100% enthralling. So many of the images were breathtaking and iconic, plus the conversations between Brando and Sheen are awesome. If they had been able to maintain that level of intensity throughout the film then it would grip me more thoroughly. Unfortunately, because of some of the pacing issues and the long runtime Apocalypse Now is a film that I respect more than I enjoy.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Man Hunt
Loses to Air Force One
Loses to Muppet Treasure Island
Loses to Octopussy
Wins against My Best Friend's Wedding
Loses to Best in Show
Loses to Miss Congeniality
Wins against Lincoln
Wins against Never Been Kissed
Wins against Miracle on 34th Street
Ranked 489 out of 1064
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20. Board Game: Double Cross [Average Rating:4.88 Unranked]
Board Game: Double Cross
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Maverick is a comedy-western about a cowardly gambler played by Mel Gibson who is on a quest to prove he is the best poker player around. It definitely has a few laugh-out-loud moments which I appreciated, and a couple of nice twists that worked well. However, there were so many twists and turns in the allegiance of all the characters that it got tiresome. The 34th time someone turns on their allies and shows where there true allegiance lies it is no longer surprising or even interesting. Another problem with Maverick is the fact that the titular hero is too perfect. They set him up as a coward, but he's an amazing gunfighter, a superb gambler, friends with everyone, and irresistible to the ladies. The character loses something for me when I'm never worried about his well-being because he can do pretty much anything. The main driving plot of the film makes sense and I always felt like I knew where it was headed, but the way things are scripted out is often strange and illogical. There wasn't a smooth narrative flow from one scene to the next, it played kind of like a bunch of little vignettes that didn't string together in a logical fashion. Yet, despite all the problems with the structure and characters, I still had a good time watching Maverick. There was just enough humor, and just enough charm in the acting that I was always able to get back into the story. It's a flawed film, so I can't really recommend it, but it also isn't one you need to actively avoid.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Man Hunt
Loses to Air Force One
Loses to Moneyball
Wins against Ghostbusters
Wins against Hulk
Wins against An Affair to Remember
Wins against Foreign Correspondent
Wins against The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Loses to Quigley Down Under
Wins against X-Men
Ranked 402 out of 1065
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21. Board Game: Twenty One [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Twenty One
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Quiz Show is a rarity in films based on a true story, because it never feels like the filmmakers are trying to adapt the history in order to make a more dramatic movie. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film is that there are no real surprises and it feels a bit flat and lacking in heart. But the presentation of the events seems authentic and I love this behind the scenes look at how corruption can tempt even the most honest of men. Perhaps if they had framed the entire movie around the story of Charles Van Doren it would have been more grounded in emotion, and drama. Instead they kind of split the movie's focus between Charles Van Doren, Herbert Stempel, and Dick Goodwin. Each of them did play a significant role in the history of this scandal, so I don't have a problem with them being a major player, but the way we spend time getting to know all three of them separately makes Quiz Show feel more like a documentary than a dramatic film. The cast was brilliant almost completely across the board. I particularly loved what David Paymer and Hank Azaria did as TV executives working on the show, and Christopher McDonald was perfection as the TV personality hosting the show. I remembered enjoying Quiz Show more when I saw it 20+ years ago, but this time it didn't impact me as much because I knew what was coming. Because the script is more event-driven rather than character-driven, knowing the film takes away most of the excitement of watching.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Loses to Air Force One
Loses to Moneyball
Loses to Octopussy
Wins against Fargo
Wins against Best in Show
Wins against Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension
Loses to Mad Max: Fury Road
Wins against Drive
Wins against Ghost
Ranked 470 out of 1066
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22. Board Game: Have I Got News For You [Average Rating:4.33 Unranked]
Board Game: Have I Got News For You
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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Nightcrawler is a film about an emotionless man who finds a passion for freelance crime journalism. Jake Gyllenhaal thrives in his role as Lou Bloom, a man who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. The craft that went into making this movie is second to none. I was absolutely awed by the intensity of the story, even in the most static scenes there is a thrilling excitement created by the interaction between Gyllenhaal and the supporting cast. The movie, much like the stories that Bloom covers, moves at a breakneck pace and is always seeking to up the ante and become more shocking. I was delighted that Nightcrawler kept me guessing throughout, and I was definitely on the edge of my seat. Perhaps the most surprising choices they made were in the score. They made a brilliant decision to occasionally utilize the music as a way for us to get inside the character's head for a moment. So there are scenes that ordinarily would be played dark and gritty, but because of the elation that the main character feels at getting the story, we hear a more up-tempo shift in the score. That seems insignificant, but it's a hundred little decisions like that which make Nightcrawler so great. I would highly recommend it to people as a unique character study, and an intense thriller.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Gremlins
Wins against Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Wins against The Apartment
Loses to Guardians of the Galaxy
Loses to Hell or High Water
Wins against Gattaca
Loses to While You Were Sleeping
Loses to Kill Bill Vol. 1
Wins against Infernal Affairs
Loses to There Will Be Blood
Ranked 113 out of 1067
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23. Board Game: Hillbilly Hell [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Board Game: Hillbilly Hell
Ben Lott
United States
Mason
Michigan
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As a hater of horror films I tend to love movies that take a more tongue-in-cheek look at the tropes found in those movies I hate. Therefore, Tucker and Dale vs Evil was almost perfectly suited to my taste. It's a film about a group of college kids who go out into the woods for a trip but run into 2 hillbillies named Tucker and Dale, and a lot of horrific things begin to happen. I don't know if I want to spoil anything beyond that, but perhaps the title of the film already says too much. The point is that one misunderstanding compounds on another and leads the movie down some hilariously unexpected paths. And yet, while it's eliciting laughs by making fun of horror cliches, it also accomplishes the task of being a legit horror movie in its own right. There are so many great moments, and they keep the mix of humor and horror going right up until the end credits. Somehow they even managed to make the movie a little bit heartwarming which astounded me as well. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are superb in the title roles, but I also have to acknowledge how great the casting was of the college kids that all fit into traditional slasher film stereotypes. If you are intrigued at all by what I've said then definitely seek out this movie and give it a shot. It might be my favorite horror comedy since Shaun of the Dead.

Ranking on my Flickchart
Wins against Becket
Wins against Amadeus
Wins against Blade Runner
Loses to Guardians of the Galaxy
Loses to Hell or High Water
Loses to Das Boot
Loses to National Treasure
Wins against Happy Gilmore
Loses to The Sunshine Boys
Loses to Odd Thomas
Ranked 128 out of 1068
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24. Board Game: Snow Tails [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:730]
Board Game: Snow Tails
Stephen Roney
United States
Ladera Ranch
California
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Northern Pursuit


Errol Flynn is a mountie who captures a German officer (Helmut Dantine) in northern Canada in this 1943 picture. Flynn is of German descent and appears to make a connection with the officer. When the officer escapes from a Canadian POW camp, he disgraces himself and manages to hook up with the Germans. Things are naturally complicated by his fiancee (Julie Bishop).

Most of the action takes place in the snow and is reasonably well staged and executed for the time it was made in. The underlying plot seems a bit of a stretch, but maybe not. The pacing was not what we are used to now. It was OK, but nothing special. As a fan of Errol Flynn, I am glad to have watched it. My wife did not make it through the whole movie, though.

Flickchart
Loses to There's Something About Mary
Loses to Transporter 3
Beats Cool Runnings
Beats Look Who's Talking
Beats Idiocracy
Loses to Romeo and Juliet (1968)
Beats Vicky Christina Barcelona
Beats Hocus Pocus
Loses to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Beats The Rescuers Down Under
914 out of 1190
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25. Board Game: Fail Safe [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:10248]
Board Game: Fail Safe
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Fail-Safe (1964)


Having been a student of 20th Century history in college, I have been remiss in taking the time to see this film. It's impact in time was certainly blunted with the release of Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," which preceded this movie by about 8 months.

This is a gripping and dark film, with zero soundtrack short of some background radio music in a single scene. What starts as a rather mundane day coalesces into a grim scenario where Soviet radio jamming results in a US bomber group receiving their attack orders on Moscow. As the superpowers scramble to stop the errant bombers, both nations are challenged with the dilemma of either initiating plans of nuclear war (in the hopes of "winning") or finding a solution to mitigate the human and prestige losses. Men come to grips with their mortality, others are forced to make extreme sacrifices, while yet others crumble under the ethical challenges placed before them.

Some people will be turned off by the total lack of accompanying background audio/music, the straight, matter-of-fact dialogue, and the uncomfortable pauses between characters as they struggle to come to terms with the circumstances. The devastation of the possibility of nuclear war is brought to the film in subtle, yet effective ways.

As a movie, it's certainly not for most. But as a student of that period of time, it is a powerful portrayal demonstrating the conflicts of conscience that faced the leaders of the world during the Cold War.
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