Bullets 3 (Apr – June 2012)

Posted: July 1, 2012 in Movies, Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Mini-reviews to help you choose

I realized recently that I had been neglecting my movie reviews. I’ve seen a fair amount of stuff at the theater in the last 3 months, some of which I’ve addressed in other ways on the blog. Most of them have shuffled off to make way for other films or have been out so long it would feel odd writing a little blurb for them. So, suffice it to say I saw The Hunger Games, The Avengers, Piranha 3DD, Prometheus, Brave, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. They played to various effect and while none were terrible I doubt any will end up on my year-end top 10.

Today, I am going to address a handful of movies that I’ve seen through another platform. VOD (Video-on-Demand) has become a common and viable option for studios looking to release smaller films that would otherwise get lost in the blockbuster and 3D choked multiplexes. These are the types of movies that might play for a couple weeks at an “art house” theater assuming your town is lucky enough to have one.

Magnolia Pictures and it’s genre imprint Magnet have an interesting release structure. The majority of their films hit VOD and stay there throughout the run of the picture. After a month or so of being available exclusively on demand the film will have a short theatrical run (most likely to qualify for Oscar consideration) before being released on DVD and/or Blu-ray a couple months after that.

Some of these fine films actually get a one-night ‘sneak preview’ on HDNet the day before they’re released theatrically, which is where I try to catch them. So, here’s a few flicks you may not have heard of that are worth checking out. And a couple more you could probably skip.

All films are rated on a five-star scale.

Meeting Evil


Luke Wilson and Sam Jackson star in this underdone watered down ‘thriller’. There’s literally nothing about this movie that makes it worthy of my recommendation. The only thing I even kind of liked is that they teased the ‘it’s all in their head’ plot device that I so loathe but then went in another entirely different, yet predictable and clichéd, direction. Seriously. Don’t waste your time. However, if you feel compelled to ignore my sound advice it will be hitting video on July 24 and is still available on VOD.

Apartment 143

** 1/2

An English language, Spanish production, this ‘found footage’ film’s mileage will vary depending on how much you enjoy that particular style of movie. The cast is mainly unknowns. The plot is fairly standard. A concerned widowed father contacts a team of parapsychologists and tasks them with investigating the strange goings-on that have followed him and his family across multiple homes since the death of his wife. Some are convinced it’s a haunting while others suspect there are other forces at work. The film offers up some pretty striking visuals. At the end, you’re given a reasonable, if convoluted, explanation that is completely invalidated by one of the most gratuitous and worthless last scene jump scares I’ve even seen in a movie. Frustrating but if you like the Paranormal Activity series, you might want to give it a shot. It’s still available on VOD and hits stores on August 28.

The Hunter


Willem Dafoe is, in my humble opinion, one of the top 5 working actors today. He tends to elevate the material and, in this film, is no different. Here he plays Martin, a mercenary hired by a bio-tech company to travel to Australia and secure a Tasmanian tiger, a creature long thought extinct but the subject of rumored sightings in recent years. The company wants the animal’s blood and sets Martin up with lodging in the spare room of a woman whose husband has gone missing. There is intrigue here as Martin doubts his mission and the true intentions of his employers. There is mystery as to whether the woman’s husband went missing because of a run in with local loggers or because of some connection to Martin’s assignment. And there is romance as Martin finds himself drawn to his lonely host and her adorable children. I honestly thought before seeing this that I was going to get some kind of creature feature but was pleasantly surprised to find instead a character driven story with a sad and inevitable conclusion. The movie will reach stores on July 3.


*** 1/2

It’s not Slap Shot, but it doesn’t strive to be. This hockey comedy is its own little beast and it is powered by an utterly charming performance by Seann William Scott of American Pie Stifler fame. He plays a brutish but loveable bouncer handpicked by a semi-pro hockey coach for his fighting ability. He can’t skate and he sure as hell can’t play hockey very well but he knows how to throw a punch and lay a fool out. Initially hated by his teammates, his earnestness eventually wins them over as they help to make him a better player. He falls in love, meets his hockey hero, and helps to build his team into contenders. There are great supporting performances throughout highlighted by Liev Schreiber as Scott’s veteran hero, the most notorious thug in the league who is not quite ready to pass on the title. The film is available right now on DVD and Blu-ray.

God Bless America

*** 1/2

Bobcat Goldthwaite is quite a remarkable filmmaker. In his fourth feature, he directs Joel Murray (Bill’s brother), a man who loses his job on the same day he finds out he has terminal cancer. Sitting on his bed late that night, he is determined to end his life. But before he pulls the trigger, he sees a TMZ-style ‘news’ show showing the worst of America. He figures that if he’s going to go out, he might as well take some people with him. The movie is a scathing indictment of the current state of celebrity in our country. The character (obviously serving as Mr. Goldthwaite’s proxy) feels that we are too eager to reward and celebrate those who do the very worst of things, those who provide the very worst of examples. No one is safe from the dying man’s vengeful killing spree. Religious zealots spewing hate and bigotry, spoiled reality show teenagers, and insulting and demeaning singing competition judges are all suitable targets for Murray’s rage and frustration. The movie does become a bit repetitive at points but Goldthwaite, to his credit, never strays from his message. Highly recommended. The movie will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 3 and is still available on demand.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll try to stay more on top of the reviews. If you’ve seen any of the above films, I welcome your comments. And if you get a chance to check them out, come back here and tell me what you thought!


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