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Battleship (2012)



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Battleship ReviewStarring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Liam Neeson, Brooklyn Decker, Jesse Plemons

Directed by Peter Berg

In the grand tradition of silly and overblown (yet ultimately crowd-pleasing) action flicks like Armageddon, Independence Day, and Transformers, or even to a lesser degree Space Cowboys, comes actor-turned-director Peter Berg’s latest, Battleship, which stars Taylor Kitsch (“Friday Night Lights,” John Carter) and Alexander Skarsgard (“True Blood”) as a pair of brothers enlisted in the Navy who must face off against an alien fleet in the middle of the Pacific during what was supposed to be a day of standard Naval maneuvers.

As it turns out, at the start of Battleship a group of scientists have discovered an Earth-esque planet in a distant galaxy that seems to be able to sustain human life forms. They develop the technology to send out a signal to the planet, figuring nothing bad could come of it, but after about six years a response does come in the form of a small squadron of alien ships who eventually land on Earth, exert their authority, and set up camp for a planetary takeover.

This pisses the Navy off something fierce, and soon an all-out battle for mankind is afoot on the high seas where a high-tension game of “Battleship” breaks out (for real- they actually play a form of the popular game in the flick), and Kitsch must step up and out-strategize the invading alien race before they can signal for more ships to arrive and take over the planet.

If you’ve seen any of the trailers for Battleship thus far, the flick pretty much lives up to the absolutely ridiculous and cheesy premise it promises to be and really is one of the silliest films of the year so far. Despite its numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) flaws, it’s not completely lacking in the entertainment department; but at the end of the day, Battleship is meant for a select audience and will only be fun for those who go into it looking for some mindless entertainment and that’s about it. Anyone looking for a life-changing cinematic experience should look elsewhere.

At the helm of Battleship is Berg, a director whose previous efforts include other action fare like The Rundown and The Kingdom as well as the dark comedy Very Bad Things and the teen football dramedy Friday Night Lights (Berg also served as the executive producer on the television series of the same name), and to be honest, while the action in his latest is the biggest he’s ever tackled, it’s definitely not Berg’s best effort by a longshot.

One of the biggest issues with Battleship is that it feels like Berg was hired to make a two-hour and eleven-minute long commercial for the US Navy; and when he wasn’t busy advertising for the Naval Forces, he was slipping in advertising for popular products like Coke and Subway, which always takes away from the enjoyment factor when you feel like someone is trying to sell you something when all you’re looking for is just to be entertained.

But that’s not to say the sole responsibility for Battleship‘s flaws lies squarely on Berg’s shoulders; most what really trips the film is the cringe-inducing script penned by Erich and Jon Hoeber, whose previous work has been somewhat hit and miss over the last few years on films like Whiteout and Red. But their script for Battleship takes the cake as one of the most giggle-inducing projects to come along in a while, killing any sort of emotion or tension Berg and his cast attempt to build along the way. At one point they even work in the line “They’re not going to sink this Battleship” so yeah, that’s the kind of depth going on in Battleship.

The performances are a mixed bag at best; with such hammy dialogue to work with, it’s hard to tell whether or not some of the actors are really THAT bad or if they decided to just check out mentally due to what they had to work with. The few bright spots amongst the Battleship ensemble include top-lining Kitsch, whose smoldering charisma proves he does have what it takes to lead an action flick despite what the disappointing John Carter box office receipts may have indicated a few months back. Neeson is criminally underutilized with what feels like a glorified cameo, but when he does show up, it’s a good time. Neeson’s a guy who has always had a knack for being able to add a little class to popcorn fodder such as this, and he turns in another likable turn here.

Plemons, another “Friday Night Lights” alum, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of Battleship with his performance feeling somewhat like an extension of his character Landry that so many fans fell in love with during the series’ five-year run. He’s funny, awkward, and has an infectious charisma that makes it hard to not be entertained whenever he’s being given screen time.

But at the other end of the acting spectrum in Battleship are Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, and Skarsgard, who are all just downright awful. Sure, no one was expecting an Oscar-winning turn from the female pop vocalist (her one-liners are ridiculous at best), but the fact that Skarsgard seems to be asleep pretty much throughout his entire performance was pretty shocking considering his usually stellar work on HBO’s “True Blood.”

On the positive side, the visual effects work by Industrial Light & Magic on Battleship to create all of the alien-inflicted destruction looks pretty spectacular. The alien design in the film was a rather interesting approach that seemed to try and do something new by giving us a creature design that was a bit outside of the box. The space suits donned by the aliens seemed a bit too Halo for this writer’s liking, but the design works and actually serves the story (albeit a flimsy story) rather well.

In a summer movie season filled with highly anticipated blockbusters like The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Amazing Spider-Man, and even the recently released The Avengers, Battleship just doesn’t deliver on the spectacle it promises. Sure, there are a few decent performances and some great visual effects going on, but overall Battleship can’t get past its own “message” to have some fun, making for one of the more lackluster big budget action films to grace theaters since Pearl Harbor.

2 out of 5

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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters



Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

User Rating 4 (3 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror




Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods

The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.


  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom


In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

User Rating 3.9 (10 votes)
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The Dollmaker Short Film Review – Welcome to Heebie Jeebie City!



Starring Perri Lauren, Sean Meehan, Dan Berkey

Directed by Alan Lougher

The loss of a young child drives a mother to take a set of unusual measures to preserve his memory, and all it takes is one call to The Dollmaker.

When the short film by Alan Lougher opens up, we see a rather disturbing image of a little boy inside a casket, and the sound of a grieving mom speaking with an unidentified man in the background – he’s requesting something personal of the child to help “finish” his product, and it’s not before long that mom has her little boy back…well, kind of. What remains of the child is the representation of his former self, although it’s contained within the frame of a not-so-attractive doll, and the boy’s father isn’t a believer in this type of hocus-pocus (or the price to have this constructed, either). The doll comes with a specific set of instructions, but most importantly, you cannot spend more than one hour a day with the doll, or else you’ll go mad thinking that the soul inside of it is actually the person that you lost – sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

Well this is just too good to be true for Mommy, and as the short film progresses, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens to her mind – it’s ultimately a depressing scenario, but Lougher gives it that creepy feel, almost like visiting a relative’s home and seeing their dearly departed pet stuffed and staring at you over the fireplace – HEEBIE-JEEBIE CITY, if you ask me. All in all, the quickie is gloomy, but ultimately chilling in nature, and is most definitely worth a watch, and if I might use a quote from one of my favorite films to apply to this subject matter: “Sometimes…dead is better.”

  • Film


Ultimately chilling in nature!

User Rating 3.31 (16 votes)
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