Silent Night (2012)

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Director: Steven C. Miller

Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Jaime King, Donal Logue, Ellen Wong, Brendan Fehr

Screenplay: Jayson Rothwell

94 mins. Rated R for bloody violence, some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use.

 

After the disappearance of Deputy Jordan (Brendan Fehr, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men: First Class) and rising count of corpses start popping up in town, officer Aubrey Bradimore (Jaime King, Pearl Harbor, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) is tasked with hunting down a psychopath dressed as Santa Claus…on Christmas Eve of all days. Sheriff Cooper (Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange, Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness) doesn’t trust the unseasoned young cop, and Aubrey is forced to bet on her gut as a gruesome trail is uncovered, and the culprit may be tied to all of them.

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In this, the remake to Silent Night, Deadly Night (though, to be fair, it seems like more of a reboot, but never mind that), we see how flimsy the original film really was. This story is riddled with plot holes disguising themselves as tongue-in-cheek homages to clichés but come off as mere problems with a mostly problematic film. So many half-answered plot threads, so many!

Thankfully, the cast understands the intended tone of the film, and most of them perform admirably, including McDowell and Donal Logue (TV’s Grounded for Life, The Reef 2: High Tide), who plays a drunk and lousy dime-store Santa suspected of being the murderous madman.

Unfortunately, I said most. Jaime King underperforms to an already poorly put together character and can’t handles the front seat of this ride. Her character merely fills up space.

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I had fun with this film, as I did with the original it is based on, and I loved the rare send-ups to the original series with heightened my enjoyment. Altogether, though, Silent Night could have been more fun. It wasn’t.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown (1992)

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Director: Bill Melendez

Cast: Jamie E. Smith, John Christian Graas, Marnette Patterson, Mindy Ann Martin, Jodie Sweetin, Phillip Lucier, Lindsay Bennish, Sean Mendelson, Deanna Tello, Matthew Slowik, Brittany M. Thornton, Bill Melendez

Screenplay: Charles M. Schulz

22 mins. Not Rated.

 

I’m not sure if you all know or not, but I’m not really into the whole Charlie Brown thing. I never really caught the bug for it. I like the original special for Halloween and Christmas, but overall, I’m not really pining to see them yearly. When I came across the second Christmas special, I was intrigued, but then I saw it. Now I know why people don’t discuss it.

It’s Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown is presented in a series of little moments chronicling the various characters getting ready for the holiday. On the surface, the special seems like an interesting idea. Unfortunately, the various vignettes don’t really takes us anywhere. Then, the entire framework takes a backseat to essentially a repeat of the original as the characters look for the meaning of Christmas. Sadly, the special goes nowhere.

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I really wanted to take a chance on this second Charlie Brown Christmas special. It just went off the rails. There isn’t a through-line here to go on. I can see now why this special was originally abandoned before being salvaged back together.

 

1/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

For my review of Bill Melendez’s A Charlie Brown Christmas, click here.

Jack Frost (1998)

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Director: Troy Miller

Cast: Michael Keaton, Kelly Preston, Joseph Cross, Mark Addy, Henry Rollins

Screenplay: Mark Steven Johnson, Steve Bloom, Jonathan Roberts, Jeff Cesario

101 mins. Rated PG for mild language.

 

Hey everyone, another year, another 12 Days of Christmas! I’m glad you joined me on this ride again. Let’s begin by looking back on a film that I initially didn’t care for but wanted to revisit: Jack Frost.

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No, I’m not talking about the horror film, but yes, one day I’ll show you that. This is the Michael Keaton (Birdman, Spotlight) film.

From director Troy Miller (TV’s Arrested Development, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd) comes the story of a musician named Jack Frost (Keaton) who hasn’t been able to juggle his personal life with that of his family, including wife Gabby (Kelly Preston, Jerry Maguire, Casino Jack) and son Charlie (Joseph Cross, Lincoln, Milk). Then, one fateful snowy night, Jack is involved in an accident while driving home to set things straight with his family and dies. Yeah, you heard right, he dies. Deadzo. Then, the following year, as the Frost family struggles to cope with the anniversary of Jack’s death, something magical happens. We don’t really know what, but the important thing is that Jack Frost comes back in the form of a wise-cracking pun-filled living snowman. Jack has little time to set his affairs in order and right the wrongs of his life, so with help from his son Charlie, Jack sets out to prove he’s the “coolest” dad ever (hot damn, even I can’t believe I just wrote that).

On second viewing of Jack Frost, I was sad to find that my initial thoughts on the film hadn’t changed. I felt this strange feeling of disappointment that so much could go wrong here. I happen to think that Michael Keaton is one of the greatest and yet underappreciated actors currently working (and I love that he received such notoriety for last year’s Birdman), but I don’t think he had much to work with here. The script is so poorly written, giving way for too much fluff in a film that should be a dad trying to right his wrongs. For one thing, a ball is dropped by never letting Jack interact with his wife. Being a man back from the great beyond, I would want to see my wife, tell her I love her, and give everything I could to make her understand that I’m okay up there, but Jack doesn’t get to do that. Instead, he has a snowball fight, and a sledding scene, which could be fun, but give me something here.

I didn’t have a lot of problems performance-wise because I don’t think the fault can be placed on the performers. This script is riddled with disappointment.

And don’t tell me that the film is meant to be a heart-warming tale of a father and son, because I see what it wants to be and raise it a level by asking why the story exists. What’s the why here? Why did Jack come back? Why as a snowman? And why not let him have the chance to do something about this? This story seems like the biggest fudge-up in existence and makes whoever or whatever is responsible for Jack’s return seem like a jerk.

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In the end, I had a lot of questions hanging after finishing the film even on the second view. The visual effects were pretty good for the time and haven’t aged that poorly, but under better scribes and the work of a better director, this story could have given our actors a playground to explore, but instead, we get a botched attempt at schmaltzy sentimentality that fails to connect to viewers.

 

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 12 Days of Christmas, click here.

Mission: Impossible (1996)

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Director: Brian DePalma

Cast: Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Henry Czerny, Jean Reno, Ving Rhames, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave

Screenplay: David Koepp, Robert Towne

110 mins. Rated PG-13 for some intense action violence.

 

Adaptations of popular television series are really tough. How do you condense the best parts of a multi-season run into 90 minutes? How can it be done? Some successful versions, like 21 Jump Street, poke fun at the silliness of the source material. Others, like Mission: Impossible, drastically change the series direction while holding up its most important rules.

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Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise, Top Gun, Edge of Tomorrow) has run into a bit of trouble on his newest mission to recover the IMF (Impossible Missions Force) non-official cover, or NOC, list. His entire team has been attacked and Ethan has become framed for the attack. Without long-time team leader Jim Phelps (Jon Voight, TV’s Ray Donovan, Heat) to help protect him, Ethan is now the target of a manhunt set in motion by Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny, TV’s Revenge, The A-Team), and now, with the help of two disavowed IMF agents, Franz Krieger (Jean Reno, Leon: The Professional, Hector and the Search for Happiness) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames, Pulp Fiction, Jamesy Boy), Ethan is out to discover who wants him dead and who has the NOC list.

Mission: Impossible has a somewhat confusing plotline. There is a lot happening all at once, mostly due to the fact that the film went into production without a finished screenplay. Screenwriters David Koepp and Robert Towne were disappointed in the finished product. The original cast of the TV show (of which the film is a sequel) chose not to reprise their roles because they felt that the film was a bastardizing of their beloved property.

I personally found the finished product to be one of the more enjoyable espionage films of the 1990s. Tom Cruise solidified himself as a bona fide action star in a role where he doesn’t fire a gun the entire film. Jon Voight is a great man to take over the role of Jim Phelps from original television actor Peter Graves, who disliked Phelps’ portrayal in the story. I also really liked Reno, Rhames (who would become a staple of the series much like Cruise himself) and Czerny.

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Mission: Impossible contains some truly iconic moments both for the franchise and the action genre in general. The only part of the film that truly irks me is the opening credits (to be fair, I love the opening credits, but the decision to montage important plot points throughout the now-iconic score and opening bothers the hell out of me, but it continues throughout the entire franchise). This is one Tom Cruise property that I can’t wait to see every time there is new installment (except for the second film, but we’ll get to that later).

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Preliminary Visual Effects Shortlist Revealed!

 

On location in Jordan, Ridley Scott directs Matt Damon, in THE MARTIAN.

Hey everyone, the 88th Academy Awards list of films to be nominated for Best Visual Effects has been narrowed down to twenty for the Academy to officially nominate. Here they are:

 

Ant-Man

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Bridge of Spies

Chappie

Everest

Ex Machina

Furious Seven

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

In the Heart of the Sea

Jupiter Ascending

Jurassic World

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

The Revenant

Spectre

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Terminator Genisys

Tomorrowland

The Walk

 

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What do you think? Me personally, I believe that the frontrunners here are obviously the soon-to-be-seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road, which I saw earlier this year and should almost guarantee a win for the perfect blending of practical effects and minor digital retouching.

What films do I expect to not see on the final ballot? Chappie, Everest, Terminator Genisys, and Tomorrowland as well as Furious Seven. They just won’t be able to convince the academy that they are worthy of the final five.

It also remains to be seen if the upcoming releases for In the Heart of the Sea and The Revenant will gain any recognition once the films bow later this month.

The process of selecting nominees is a larger one than most would know, as the list will be further thinned to 10 and then each finalist will be able to vie for the role one last time.

Many have pointed out the biggest films missing including Cinderella, Crimson Peak, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and San Andreas.

The most recent winners of the award are Interstellar, Gravity, and Life of Pi.

I don’t know about you, but I am marking my calendar for January 14th when we will get the final list of nominations and begin death-racing toward the February 28th-dated awards ceremony.

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So kids, what do you think? Which films do you expect to see on the final ballot and what are some other films you saw from this year with impressive visual effects? Let me know!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe