Author Archives: Steven Fritchie

StevenF Review of About Time

The British drama/fantasy About Time was released on November 8, 2013. When a father (Bill Nighy) tells his son (Domhnall Gleeson) the family secret, which is that all male members of the family can travel back in time. The restriction is that they can only travel through the time period of their existence.

I suppose that, on paper, this sounded like a good film concept. The actors were decent as were the photography and direction, however the film was 2 hours and 3 minutes long. There were some scenes that could have been shortened and it would not have affected the story. There were occasional bits of humor, mostly by Mr. Nighy and Mr. Gleeson. This felt like what a white male Romance writer would come out with. A bit too much mush filler.

The concept of a time loop film has been used before. The only other one I watched was Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray and I was bored with the repetition. The time loop element here was done better, but the length of the film killed it for me. I would not add this to my collection. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Beneath the Leaves

The movie Beneath the Leaves was released on February 8, 2019. Detective Erica Shotwell (Mira Sorvino) and her partner Detective Brian Larson (Kristoffer Polaha) are assigned to find an escaped child killer who had kidnapped Brian and his three foster brothers when they were children. Mira Sorvino’s father, Paul Sorvino, appears as Captain Parker.

There was some good actions scene, some bloody ones also. The acting, directing, and story line were all decent. The main flaw of this film was the editing. Some scenes were not well edited and I was confused a couple times. For me, there was one jump scare which I should have expected. A minor thing that I felt was a bit over done was the use of birds throughout the film. It may have been symbolic, but it didn’t really do anything to move the film forward.

I did enjoy the movie and would recommend it to others. The story moved along at a good pace and I wasn’t bored with any of it. There was some foul language but it did not bother me because it was not used throughout the film. I give this 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of The Perfection

The horror film The Perfection was released on May 24, 2019. When former cello prodigy Charlotte’s (Allison Williams) mother dies, she goes to Shanghai to reconnect with her former instructor, Anton (Steven Weber). While there, she meets his newest protege, Lizzie (Logan Browning). The two girls go on a bus trip through rural China, when Lizzie becomes suddenly ill.

The rest of the film I will leave to the audience. When I first saw a preview, I thought it was just another “girly” movie but I am happy to say I was wrong. Although the beginning was a bit slow, it got interesting very quickly. There were a couple good twists which had me guessing. The acting and director were all very good. The horror was more psychological than some guy in scary makeup. I didn’t realize that this was considered a GLBTQ film until my friend told me afterwards (well the lesbian scenes were a tipoff). This didn’t bother me at all.

As for any negative aspects to this film, I can’t really think of anything else except for the pacing of the story at the start. I recommend this for people who like their horror movies without trivialities like jump scares, scary makeup, etc. I give this 4.5 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Rim of the World

The film Rim of the World was released on May 24, 2019. The title refers to the name of a summer camp where four different kids find themselves thrown together in an attempt to make friends. Alex (Jack Gore),a computer nerd; Zhen Zhen (Miya Cech), a Chinese girl; Darius (Benjamin Flores Jr.), a rich kid with delusions of greatness and Gabriel (Alessio Scalzotto), a run away from juvenile hall.

Their adventure starts when an astronaut, who crashes into the camp, gives them a key which will help defeat the aliens. There are two main problems: 1)an alien is also in the camp, and 2) the kids have to get to the Jet Propulsion Labratory (JPL) which is seventy miles away. The actors and story line were great. The CGI for the aliens was good, especially the spider-like eyes. The only thing I didn’t care for was the soundtrack. There was one Devo song, which I liked but the rest were rap or hip hop which I’m not a fan of.

This is one of the rare films with real kids (not 20 or 30 year olds pretending to be teens) which I thoroughly enjoyed. I would recommend it and would watch it again. I would give it a 5, but the soundtrack wasn’t very appropriate, so I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile

The movie Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile was released on May 3, 2019. It stars, and was produced by, Zach Efron who plays the psychotic serial killer Ted Bundy. Lily Collins plays Liz Kendall, Bundy’s long-term girlfriend. There were also appearances by Haley Joel Osment (Liz’s co-worker), John Malkovich (Judge Cowart), and Jim Parsons (Florida prosecutor).

The film was directed from the point of view of Bundy’s girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins). This is a refreshing view of the events which are not really shown and therefor it cuts down on scenes which would have been graphic. Both Efron and Collins did a good job of portraying their characters as being normal and unassuming. The murders are alluded to, but the audience finds itself in the role of a jury member. Other actors who were memorable in their roles were John Malkovich and Jim Parsons as the judge and prosecutor in the trial in Florida.

Over all, for a movie of this genre, it was pretty good. Showing the story between Liz and Ted instead of the murders took away any pre-conceived ideas the audience might have had. The problem is that some scenes were a bit slow. I give this 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of The Wandering Earth

The Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth was released on February 5, 2019. As the Sun is dying, governments all around the world install planetary engines in an effort to shift the planet on a 2500 year journey to a new star system. I am not very good with science, but I’m sure this would be impossible to do.

The main characters are Lui Peiqiang (Jing Wu), a genius who resents his father who is on an international space platform; his adopted sister Han Duoduo (Jin Mai Jaho), and Tim (Mark Kai Sui) a Chinese/Australian troublemaker. This was a well directed film with plenty of action and no weird aliens. The CGI was very well done as far as I could tell. All of the actors were very good and Mark Kai Sui was great as the comic relief. The film was dubbed in English and subtitles only appeared when translations of signs were necessary.

This film was 2 hours and five minutes long, but the story line moved at a very good pace. The subtext of the film dealt with family relationships and one of the final scenes was very touching. I liked this movie and would watch it again. The science may be outlandish, but as an action film I must say I was into this film. For this reason alone, I give this movie 5 stars.

StevenF Review of John Carter

The Disney film John Carter was released on March 9, 2012. It is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs story A Princess of Mars. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a Civil War veteran running away from the US cavalry. He enters a cave, discovers gold, and is attacked by a strange man. Carter ends up being transported to Barsoom, i.e. Mars. Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids series) plays Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Willem Dafoe voices the Thark leader Tars Tarkas.

Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) escapes from an unwanted marriage and is taken by the Tharks where she meets John Carter. Dejah thinks Carter can help her but he is only interested in getting back to Earth.

There is plenty of action and intrigue in this film. There are also some humorous lines, as well as an alien guard dog named Wolla. The CGI in this film and the story line itself were done well. The director did a good job in keeping the story flowing. I have read Burroughs’ Barsoom Stories and believe this version followed the original. I can recommend this film for those who are fans of Burroughs and those who enjoy one of the early classics of science fiction. I give this 4.5 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of 14 Blades

This film was released on August 22, 2014. 14 Blades takes place at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and concerns special secret agent Qinglong (Donnie Yen) who was selected as a child for training. While sent on a mission for the Emperor, Qinglong is betrayed by his fellow agents. His mission changes when he meets Qiao Hua (Wei Zhao) and her father who runs an armed security escort company facing bankruptcy.

The 14 blades referred to in the title are swords meant to represent honor and used to dispense justice. The acting was very good as well as the directing. The story line, whether historically accurate or not, was action packed with lots of blood (no gore or beheadings shown). The only thing that tended to distract from the story was the individual fight scenes which resorted to using the “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” flying fight technique.

The film flowed along very nicely and there was hardly a dull moment in it. The film was in Chinese with English subtitles, which I could deal with. Except for the mixing of regular fighting styles and flying styles, this was a good film. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Fantastic Beasts 2

The film Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was released on November 16, 2018. After the chaos created in New York City from the first movie, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is forbidden from leaving the country. With some secret help from Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), he manages to get to France hoping to recapture Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) who has escaped from prison.

If you are a fan of Ms. Rowling’s other novel series then you may be disappointed that Harry Potter isn’t in this. Dumbledore and Hogwarts are the only crossovers. There is enough magical action to keep the audience satisfied and the characters are all very good. The CGI is impressive and the story line is good. There are a couple of humorous scenes, but over all the film is decent for this genre.

I can’t say that there were a lot of things wrong with this film. I wasn’t as engaged with this part as I was with the first film. Basically it is a mixture of fantasy, espionage, and a commentary on Mankind’s tendencies towards war. I probably wouldn’t buy it, but I will give it 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Backfire

The film Backfire was released in March, 2019. When a robbery goes wrong, two gunrunners find themselves the targets of a South Philly mafia family. One of the victims of the robbery is the son of a mobster, who is supposedly dead. They are enough killing scenes in the film but there are also some script flaws.

This film was rated R for violence, sexual situations, and language. Black Deniro plays Jerome one of the robbers trying to make money to support himself, his girlfriend (Jowhanah Jones) and the girlfriend’s little sister. He also wrote, produced, and directed the movie, which in some cases has had lousy results. Dave Patten, who wrote the screenplay, plays O.T., Jerome’s psychotic sidekick.

The filming was decent while the acting was barely believable. I did not care for the swearing in just about every sentence. When a film is rated R, I do expect some swearing but this was a bit too much. The story line could have been improved on. I don’t know what I was expecting with this film, but it certainly wasn’t this. I rate it 2 stars out of 5.