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review 2015-03-01 17:26
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), directed by Matt Reeves
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [Blu-ray] - Keri Russell

Set 10 years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn opens with men and apes coexisting by staying out of each other's way.  But with his fuel stockpile running out and in desperate need of power for his city, human Malcolm (Jason Clarke) leads a small team into ape Caesar's (Andy Serkis) forest home to ask permission to repair a hydroelectric dam.  Nuts in each camp -- led by Koba (Toby Kebbell) in the ape enclave and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) in Zone 2, the human city -- would rather wipe out the other side and be done with it.  Frankly amazing ape effects that are so real they rarely amaze lay bare an all-too-conventional story of enemies learning to respect and care for each other.  A movie with no surprises and little to delight the audience (other than a cute scene with a baby ape).  And, in spite of the bad guys of both species understanding "human" nature better than their peace-loving leaders, no irony or satire either.  Less a science fiction film than a slow-starting action movie, but well made.

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review 2015-02-28 17:19
Age of Tomorrow (2014), directed by James Kondelik
Age of Tomorrow [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] - Robert Picardo,Kelly Hu

Another Asylum (Sharknado) crockbuster, this one  fudging its title from Edge of Tomorrow. "When the sun strikes an altar hidden within the ancient Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico, it creates a beacon that triggers an alien blitzkrieg." So says Asylum, in a tacit admission that when your films are as bad as theirs, not even an accurate plot description matters. Kelly Hu stars as an unimaginative prostitute whose liaison with a smug but untalented alien spawns the cast and crew of this film. Perfect for viewers with no self-respect. Direct-to-video.

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review 2015-01-26 14:50
And Then There Were None (1945), directed by René Clair
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

The first filmed adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel, though featuring a variation of the ending that Christie herself altered for a stage production two years earlier. Otherwise, the premise and the bulk of the story remain the same, as ten people trapped on an island are accused of various crimes and then picked off one by one by an unidentified member of their own party. If Christie neglected to include much humor in the novel, Clair rectifies that shortcoming and then some, playing out the mystery in almost farcical terms. It works, thanks less to the script than the cast, which includes Walter Huston as the alcoholic Dr. Armstrong and Richard Haydn as the unfairly mistrusted manservant Rogers. Nothing terribly remarkable, but a genial film nonetheless.

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review 2015-01-25 15:14
And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie,Agatha Christie

Disparate group of ten people are lured to an isolated island and killed off one by one by their mysterious host who, they realize, is one of them. One of the best-selling books of all time, its genius lies in combining the premise with murders that follow the lyrics of a well-known children's rhyme. That, and Christie's scrupulous integrity. What it lacks is atmosphere or humor: it's clever, but it isn't emotionally engaging. Rated as a novel; add an extra star if you're just interested in the puzzle.

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review 2015-01-24 14:04
The Omen (1976) by David Seltzer
The Omen - David Seltzer

Novelization of the film, also written by Seltzer. On  its own, a semi-decent horror thriller about an American ambassador in London unwittingly raising the Anti-Christ, a young boy named Damien. Might have been better if written by a novelist, who could have given the dialogue more punch, the action scenes less of a cinematic flavor, and more depth to its religious themes. The popcorn version of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist.

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