Author Archives: Steven Fritchie

StevenF Review of Mercy Black

The horror film Mercy Black was released on March 30, 2019. Marina Hess (Daniella Pineda) is released by her doctor (Janeanne Garofalo) from a mental institute 15 years after she participated in the ritual murder of a friend. She goes to live with her sister (Elle LeMont) and 8-year old nephew (Miles Emmons). Soon the family is haunted by Mercy Black, the entity that Marina believed in.

When I watch a horror film, I tend to expect a fair amount of blood. This film focused more on tension and sanity rather than blood and gore. The acting, directing, and photography were all good. The main problem with the movie was the editing. Some things didn’t seem to make sense. Was Mercy Black a real creature or was she just a creation of a little girl’s mind? This story just didn’t seem to know which way to go.

I really wish that I could say that this was a great horror story, but I can’t. With the help of a better editor it might have become a classic. I can only give this 3 stars out of 5 mainly for the good acting job that Ms. Pineda, Ms.LeMont, and cute little Miles Emmons did.

StevenF Review of Mirage

The Spanish film Mirage was released on March 22, 2019. Two electrical storms occur 25 years apart but they create two different realities. In 1989, 12-year old Niko (Julio Bohigas-Couto) is making a video tape when suddenly a woman (Adriana Ugarte) appears on his TV screen claiming to be from the future. She warns him not to go check his neighbors’ suspicious behavior or he will die. A lightening strike causes the TV to knock her unconscious and when she wakes, her world has changed.

The acting was very good and so was the story line. There were a couple twists which surprised me. There was also a good amount of tension. Another plus for me was that the film was dubbed in English. Ugarte was believable as a woman who is desperate to return to her husband and child. She manages to convince Inspector Leyna (Chico Darin) that she is not totally crazy and he reluctantly agrees to help her.

This film has some science fiction features, but I would tend to classify it as a drama. It is very much worth watching. If I have any complaints about this film, it is that it is over 2 hours long. There are some things that might have been cut out without messing up the flow of the story. I rate it 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Railroad Tigers

The Chinese film Railroad Tigers was released on December 23, 2016. It stars Jackie Chan as a small village saboteur who runs a small gang. When a wounded Chinese soldier seeks shelter, Chan takes him in. The soldier reveals that he was the sole survivor of an attack on a Japanese held railroad bridge. Jackie and his gang are determined to make sure the bridge is destroyed.

This is a good vehicle for famed martial artist Jackie Chan, although it is odd to see him wearing a beard. Other actors worth mentioning are: Jaycee Chan (Jackie’s son) as a revolutionary, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi as Japanese general Yamaguchi, and Zoe Zhang as a Japanese police investigator. The directing was good and the use of animation to introduce the characters and to segment the story line was good.

The comedy was good but I doubt that if this story was really historical, the characters would be less believable. The fight scenes were typical Jackie Chan, physically challenging and humorous. This is very much worth watching. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of The Hard Way

The film The Hard Way was released on March 3, 2019. Michael Jai White stars as Payne, a former Special Ops man. When his brother is killed in Romania, he travels there for his funeral. While in Bucharest he meets his brother’s partner Mason (Luke Goss). Together they go after the killers, even though forbidden by Mason’s boss Briggs (Randy Couture).

There was plenty of action and the fight scenes were good. The director made some interesting choices when it came down to filming. The opening scenes were shot in b/w and melded into color. I suppose this was a style similar to what is done with plays, when the curtain closes at the end of a scene. Mr. White and Goss were very good in portraying their characters. There was no nudity which made me glad. There was, however, a bit too much foul language for my taste.

I realize that in action films, foul language is to be expected. I guess the writer(s) thinks it makes the hero more macho appearing. It doesn’t really; its lazy writing. Due to the language and some weak story lines, I give this 3 stars out of 5. It is a decent action film, after all.

StevenF Review of Triple Frontier

This film was released on March 13, 2019. Triple Frontier is about five former Special Forces members who plan to take out a South American drug lord (Reynaldo Gallegos) and steal his money. Ben Affleck is Tom, a struggling real estate agent, who is reluctant to get involved but is persuaded by Santiago (Oscar Isaac).

There were quite a few positive things that I could mention about this movie. The actors were very good as well as the CGI. I think that the director did a decent job. The only thing I didn’t care for about the film was the editing. The film was 2 hours and 5 minutes long. The pacing was slow scene, action scene, slow scene, etc. This caused me to start to lose interest in the film. In fact, after the first hour, I felt they could have ended the movie.

Since the characters were ex-military men, I wasn’t surprised by the excessive use of foul language. There were some scenes with blood, but there were no gory scenes. As I said, this isn’t bad enough to classify it under “Bad Movie”, but it is definitely not 5 star material. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

StevenF Review of Foundations

Remmy Meggs’ latest novel is Foundations: Grapes of Rome. It is the second book in a series based on the life of the Praetorio family of the Roman Republic. In this book, Don Dante and his family face dangers from political rivals to acts of nature. As he starts to mature into manhood, Don Dante also falls in love.

The familiar characters such as Anthony, Ettore, and Naevius are still in the book, as well as some new characters. Hayden is a young boy who along with his mother are employed by the family. Atticus, Dante’s Goth bodyguard, Lucius, a boy soldier, and Marcella, Dante’s fiance are all introduced and given prominence in this book.

The characters are well-developed and realistic to the time period. Not only is a picture drawn of the characters, but of all aspects of Roman life. Mr. Meggs has a way of drawing his readers not only into the story, but is very good at presenting history in such a way that the reader not only is entertained but is taught about things he/she may never have imagined. I wholeheartedly encourage readers to pick up this book and enjoy the humor, horror, and history within this book. I rate it 5 stars out of 5.

PaulM and StevenF Review of Velvet Buzzsaw

The film Velvet Buzzsaw was released on February 1, 2019. It is a horror/thriller about what happens when the art of a reclusive artist is promoted by greed. The artist wanted his work destroyed, but a neighbor of his uses it for her own enrichment. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a bisexual art critic, Rene Russo is a art promoter, and John Malkovich is an ex-alcoholic artist who is losing his talent.

All of the actors portrayed their characters very well, but the subject matter was not very interesting. The movie started out slow and the portrayal of this select group of people did not do much to make the film relatable. The murder scenes were interesting and the CGI was well done.

This is definitely an, excuse the pun, “art house” movie. The cinematography was excellent but overall, I would only give this 3 stars.

I too found the start a little slow but it certainly improved throughout. Once the actual ‘action’ began I found it really good and Gyllenaal portrayed his character really well I thought. It did prove that when people become rich and famous they can change completely and sometimes act like spoilt-brats if they are not getting there own way or people are not treating them how they think they deserve to be treated.

I found the story to be original and if you can get over the first half-hour it becomes enjoyable. I rate this 4 stars.

StevenF Review of Deadly Scholars

The film Deadly Scholars (AKA #Squadgoals) was released on January 16, 2018. It is about a high school reporter who investigates a couple of murders at her school. At the time that it was released it was Unrated.

It was very difficult to find anything positive about this film. I suppose the best I can say is that the acting was decent even though the script was dull and predictable. This was listed as a thriller, but it came across more as a chiller. The actors were, apparently, more used to working on TV channels like Nickelodeon or Disney. The murders were hardly scary or gory. And the other major sin of this film (I can’t even bring myself to call it a movie) was that the “teen” actors were in their mid-20s or older.

I consider it my duty to warn people about wasting their time when it comes to entertainment. This film was a major disappointment and should be avoided at all costs unless you need a sleep remedy. Another clue to watch for is when the producers can’t decide on a title to stick with. I give it 1 star out of 5.

StevenF Review of Deadly Switch

The film Deadly Switch was released on January 15, 2019. It is a thriller about a foreign student Ana (Hayley McLaughlin) who feels threatened by a stalker and is befriended by Monica (Danika Yarosh) who offers to help her get away from the stress at her family’s country home.

The acting was good as well as the director. The major problem with this film is that it is suppose to be a thriller, but it seems as if Disney tried to make a thriller. The plot is predictable and there was no bloody scenes. The musical score, which can sometimes enhance the feeling of the film was a failure when it came to Deadly Switch.

The pacing of the movie and the lackluster musical score were the major flaws of this film. The acting was, as I said, decent but all of these things do not make this movie worth seeing. I give it 2 stars out of 5.

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StevenF Review of The Last Laugh

The comedy film The Last Laugh was released on January 11, 2019. It stars Chevy Chase as Al Hart, a retired talent agent and Richard Dreyfuss as Buddy Green, a comedian who quit show business 50 years ago. Al talks Buddy into reviving his career and going on tour, hoping to get on The Late Show.

This was a good movie with a very impressive cast. Also included were Andie MacDowell as a free spirited writer who joins the two for part of the tour, Richard Kind as a Chicago nightclub owner, Lewis Black as Al’s first artiste, and Kate Micucci as Al’s granddaughter. All of the actors did a great job and the directing was excellent. The only thing I didn’t care for was a musical interlude. I felt it distracted from the story.

I did enjoy this movie, however some of the scenes weren’t too original. I would watch this again because it does have some very funny scenes. I give it 4 stars out of 5.