Review: ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2′ (No. Just…No.)

Remember how bad you thought the original movie was going to be? That.

After altering the course of human history with his knowledge of the future, Lou (Rob Corddry) has made billions but still acts like a jerk. His son Jacob (Clark Duke) is going dangerously down a similar path of destruction while Nick (Craig Robinson) is feeling the guilt of ripping off songs no one else remembers and calling them his own. When a mysterious assassin shoots Lou in the crotch, Jacob and Nick drag him back into the conveniently relocated temporal hot tub to change the past. Instead, they end up in the future without a clue how to fix the real problem: how to make a sequel work without John Cusack.

To create a sequel intended for fans of the surprise hit (and surprisingly good) original film Hot Tub Time Machine, there are a few minimums that should have been addressed. Okay, fine, you couldn’t get John Cusack back for whatever reason, but every film needs a lead actor – and a lead story, for that matter. Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, James Franco, or Paul Rudd…was NO ONE available? Rehashing the same issues as the last film with all the secondary characters makes the film drag out into exactly what it is: genuinely funny people ad libbing their way between plot points and hoping there’s enough footage to fill a ninety-minute running time. In spite of a couple of actual laughs, the result is an underwhelming “nope.”
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Anti-Valentine’s Day: Heartbreak Pizza by Kimmie Chameleon!

Just in time for Anti-Valentine’s Day: Heartbreak Pizza by Kimmie Chameleon! Enjoy.

‘Fifty Spades of Grim’ – See it on Valentine’s Day RIGHT HERE!

What? You thought I was kidding? Not so much.
Yes, it’s a spoof of Fifty Shades of Grey. What do you mean, did I actually read the book or see the movie? Um…well, that should be obvious…er…hey, look! It’s The Sandman! :: disappears ::

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Review: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ (an Iranian Vampire Western at last)

Everything in the Iranian ghost-town of Bad City is for the taking, but it can’t always give you what you want.

Arash (Arash Marandi) is a diamond in the rough. He works hard for a rich woman, bought his own car with his savings, and takes care of his junkie father. In a dying town where oil, drugs, and prostitution are the only businesses booming, it is a lawless place where people either disappear or their found bodies are dragged into the local trash pit. For all the temptation, however, Arash’s attempts to do the right thing haven’t gone unnoticed – a vampire (Sheila Vand) has taken up residence in their little town, and she knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, women, and foolish little boys.

Writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour describes her film as the first Iranian Vampire Western, a moody and monochromatic film inspired by the spaghetti western style of Sergio Leone. Right down to the music cues, there is a Tarantino feel about the way the film flows but with far less dialog – it’s all subtitled, by the way. In spite of all the death and despair, the story is really about loneliness, whether your life is on hold taking care of an ill parent or you’re a centuries-old vampire mistaken for a young girl out on a stroll. How much are you willing to risk or forgive to make a human connection?

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Review: ‘Byzantium’ (girls crash a boys-only vamp club)

Femme fatales vs. the gentleman’s club – vampire style.

Clara works at a strip club; Ella goes to school. They live together telling neighbors and co-workers that they’re sisters, but the truth is that these two young women are centuries old – and on the run. While Clara survives any way she can to take care of Ella, Ella is more discerning with her life and the lives she subsists upon. Clara thrives on secrets, but Ella can’t help but tell her story and make as many connections as she can. Unfortunately, the secret to their immortality is not only a closely guarded secret but a forbidden act for their gender, and the ones who keep it for themselves will stop at nothing to make their ancient order pure again.

This slow-burn story takes a few leisurely turns in revealing its plot, evenly split between a character piece and a mystery thriller. Unlike Only Lovers Left Alive, this story is more secretive concerning how and when these vampires were created; while we get a glimpse into how they exist day-to-day and decade to decade, there is a constant threat of discovery that keeps things a bit hectic for our protagonists. Working against this dynamic is Ella’s constant need to tell her story and the consequences of someone actually believing her. An interesting thing about this film is the misogyny among the vampires, that their biggest crime the women are accused of is being female, as if only a man can make a decision about taking a life.

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Review: ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ (the world is a vampire)

Two lovers living their story over and over again for all eternity, but this round we get to watch.

Adam lives in Detroit; Eve lives in Tangiers. In spite of their marriage, they keep to themselves. Eve is always looking for that new discovery and is content to consume ideas; Adam seeks to create but craves reflection, periodically losing faith in “the zombies” that populate the rest of the planet for failing to echo his contributions to art. In his time of need, Eve risks the debilitating effects of travel to be with her Adam is his time of depression, an event that seems to happen every few decades or so. With clean blood in shorter supply in the world, they must remain vigilant to survive – wait, you did know they were vampires, right?

Set slightly in the future, this is primarily a character piece but has surprisingly little plot. What makes this work as a stand-alone film is that it feels familiar, a story is repeated every few decades. It doesn’t matter which one you’re seeing because they are all likely resolved the same way, but it’s an interesting take to see two dead people who live forever in danger due to the rest of the world dying. Adam seems connected to the physical world and relates to music and science, while Eve is in tune with the metaphysical, experiencing the art of words and able to sense the way of things by touch or precognition. You could build an entire series off of these characters interacting with others, but this is their story, and “the zombies” are incidental in their world.

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Twas The Thriller Before A Christmas Carol

Grim D. Reaper combines a classic Christmas poem, Michael Jackson, and Charles Dickens into more proof that he can’t sing. Happy holidays and enjoy!