House at the End of the Street (2012)


Honey, Sometimes People Can’t be Fixed.

House at the End of the Street (2012)When I get requests from people, the same question goes through my mind most of the time: “Is this being requested because this person wants me to share their love for this movie or because this person wants me to hate-fuck this movie with words?”  It was certainly what I thought when today’s movie was requested by my friend Tiffany.  It’s the kind of movie that I knew existed, but certainly never would’ve felt the need to watch on my own.  It basically just looked like a pretty standard thriller movie.  But, if nothing else, the main actress is hot.  I decided to watch the movie very quickly after the request because it was a 2012 movie that I could add to my list, so you may have already seen a paragraph about this movie.  But I intend to add a few more paragraphs as I review House at the End of the Street, written by David Loucka and Jonathan Mostow, directed by Mark Tonderai, and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue, Eva Link, Gil Bellows, Nolan Gerard Funk, and Allie MacDonald.

In the beginning, a crazy little girl kills her parents with a hammer.  Years later, Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) and her daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) rent a house … also with a hammer.  I’m not entire sure what that’s supposed to mean.  They find out that they have moved in near where those murders happened, and the crazy girl’s brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), is still living there as the sole survivor in his family.  Because Elissa is herself crazy, she decides she’s gots to have her some of that definitely-not-psychologically-damaged man meat named Ryan, and starts developing a bit of a relationship with him, even though her mother frowns upon the eventuality that her daughter will be murdered with a hammer.

I didn’t get this movie.  I wouldn’t say I necessarily got to the point where the movie’s initials were accurate.  I didn’t HatE … otS this movie.  But I didn’t like it.  Most of it didn’t really make sense to me, and it wasn’t even remotely scary.  I’m not even entirely confident that they were trying to be scary.  I mean, one of their earliest ideas of a startle was a light in a house turning on.  The movie starts slowly with the scares, but it’s decent enough in the logic department.  Then they start switching places, letting the movie start to amp up as it takes a turn for the nonsensical.  The entire premise for the movie didn’t make a goddamned bit of sense to me, but let me put this up first.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  How the hell is a person fully aware of his own psychosis and still able to convince himself that it’s real?  “I know you’re not actually my sister, but I’m gonna kidnap you and imagine you are anyway.”  I guess psychos shouldn’t make that much sense to sane people, but movies should.  ::END SPOILERS::  Another thing that makes no sense is that a cop would draw his gun because he knows a situation is dangerous, but decides that it is far too much effort to reach up to his shoulder to use his radio to call in back up.  And later, when Elissa comes across the cop, she also does not find the situation worthy of using his radio.  I guess they didn’t want to bother anyone at the station.  And when the guy and the girl are running through the forest, am I supposed to know how the girl died?  He was holding her mouth to keep her quiet and she was suddenly dead.  Did she suffocate?  Did he break her neck?  Do you know that you should let us know these things?  Also, at what point are horror movies going to get over the idea of the malfunctioning flashlight?  The scene managed to be a little tense, but not in any way we haven’t seen before.  And we’ve definitely seen the flashlight malfunctioning in horror movies, but never in real life.  I’ve come across a large number of flashlights in my day, but never one that turned on intermittently.  I have a flashlight on my desk that has been dying for about 7 years, and the bulb remains on when I turn it on, but is just really dim.  There is no truth in this cinema…

The greater majority of the performances in the movie were fine, but I hated pretty much all of the characters.  Jennifer Lawrence did a good job portraying her character, but her character was an asshole.  She was randomly douchey to people, and makes the decision that all Ryan could possibly want to talk about in their very first conversation is the brutal murder of his family.  I realize that we needed to get caught up on the backstory, but I assume we’re also supposed to like the character.  As best I can tell, there was also no reason to have some stupid battle of the bands thing going on in the movie beyond Jennifer Lawrence wanting to sing and the director wanting to pad the movie.  Elisabeth Shue did a good job in her performance as well, but that mom was a bitch too.  It makes it really hard to decide whether douchiness is nature or nurture.  She decides she hates Ryan and doesn’t want Elissa hanging out with him.  Why?  Because his family was murdered?  He didn’t do it!  What does this chick do if she walks past an orphanage?  Yell at the confused kids that they should stay away from her daughter because they’re inherently evil?  The Ryan character was the exact opposite for me.  I thought Max Thieriot did not give a very interesting or appealing performance, but I kept siding with his character (aside from the spoiler bullshit from earlier).  Besides the other two instances that I mentioned in this paragraph, there’s also a point in the movie where four guys start to randomly beat the shit out of him for some insult that only they could’ve possibly understood, and everyone looks at Ryan like he’s a monster because he decides he’d like to stop getting kicked in his ribs, and puts a halt to it by breaking the dude’s ankle.  Everyone in the mob watching gasps and Elissa shuns him.  Of course Elisabeth Shue thinks he’s evil already, so we know which way she’ll go on it.  Look, I’m not a violent guy by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ve never been in a fight, and I assume I’ll never need to be.  But if the situation arises that four guys are beating me mercilessly, they should feel lucky if the only thing I break is their ankle if I get the opportunity.  Even if the other three guys stopped after I broke the other one’s ankle, I would go after them next yelling, “YOU EARNED THIS!”  And anyone that gave me an odd look for it would have a foot cast in their future as well.

House at the End of the Street did not work out for me.  The movie starts as if it’s got some promise, but then the logic starts to unravel.  It manages to build some tension, but none of it evolves into scares or even startles, and though the performances were mostly good, the characters that they were performing were generally annoying and nonsensical.  This movie wasn’t painful to watch, but it also has nothing it can offer that would give you a reason to watch it.  House at the End of the Street gets “HatE” out of “otS.”

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Back to the Future Part III (1990)


100 Year Ago?!  That’s THIS Year!!

I’m so depressed now.  I have finished watching my favorite trilogy and there are no more to watch.  The reviews for the finale have gone up a little bit from the 64% that Rotten Tomatoes gave Part 2 into 71% for Part 3.  But that’s not what I say because Rotten Tomatoes just doesn’t take me seriously for some reason, so fuck those guys.  You guys came to hear what I think about this movie.  Let’s find out now in my review of Back to the Future Part 3, again written by Bob Gale, again directed by Robert Zemeckis, and again starring Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Mary Steenburgen, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, Matt Clark, Pat Buttram, Harry Carey Jr., Dub Taylor, Richard Dysart, James Tolkan, Donovan Scott, Burton Gilliam, Bill McKinney, Flea, Jeffrey Weissman, Marc McClure, Wendie Jo Sperber, and ZZ Top.

At the end of the last movie, Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd) disappeared, having been inside the time-travelling DeLorean while it was struck by lightning, leaving nothing but a flaming 99 in the sky and a stunned Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) watching from the street.  But his spirits are lifted when a mailman (Joe Flaherty) shows up to give him a letter from September 5th, 1885.  In the letter, Doc explains that the time circuits sent him back to the old west, but he doesn’t want Marty to come save him.  Marty returns to the Doc Brown of 1955 and enlists him to help get the DeLorean (which was left in a cemetery-adjacent cave) and repair it so he can return to 1985.  But, as they load up the DeLorean, Doc’s dog finds a grave with Doc’s name on it, saying he was shot in the back over a matter of 80 dollars by Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and left his beloved Clara.  Marty determines that he must go back to 1885 to save the Doc from his fate.  Upon returning, the DeLorean’s fuel line is struck by an arrow and Marty is chased out of a cave by a bear, falling down a hill and knocking himself unconscious on a wooden fence.  He wakes up in the house of his ancestor, Seamus (Michael J. Fox again) and Maggie McFly (Lea Thompson).  Marty goes into Hill Valley and runs afoul of Tannen, but is rescued by the Doc.  They resolve to return to 1985, but without gasoline, they must find another way to get the DeLorean up to 88mph.

It’s probably going to shock you all to hear that I loved this movie as well.  The story did not falter all the way through, the movie is supported by the same quality of music, it’s still fun, has lots of comedy, lots of action, they bring back the romantic angle, and there’s some minor darkness to the movie, though not as much as Part 2.  Plus, they made it mostly a western, so I’m totally on board.  Perhaps the darkness of Part 2 drove people away because they just wanted these movies to be fun, but who knows?  The only negative I had was that the ending was slightly disappointing, but we’ll get to that a little later.  I thought for this movie that it would have been a bit annoying to see these movies in theaters as there’s a big cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 and 2 and then having to wait 4 years after the first and one year after the second to get satisfaction would be difficult.  I never had to deal with that though, as I started watching them when my mother already owned all three on VHS.  They do the history repeating itself thing again in this movie, which they would kind of have to as it was in all of them.  Thomas F. Wilson’s character again walks into a bar/diner type of place and harasses Michael J. Fox, having to quickly cover the DeLorean because the love interest in the movie is about to walk in, the Doc apologizing because the diorama he made is not to scale, the Doc has made another Rube Goldberg machine in the old west that makes his breakfast, and Wilson’s character again falls into manure.  Marty even makes reference to it when he says “Why do we always have to cut these things so close?”  Also, Marty’s “Hey, look!  A distraction!” thing continues to get him out of sticky situations.  The “Eastwood Ravine” thing was also very similar to the Twin/Lone Pine(s) Mall thing.  They bring the romance back into the movie that was kind of missing in Part 2.  Part 1 had Lorraine and George, Part 2 kind of has a vague romance to Jennifer and Marty, but not a strong one, and Part 3 brings in Clara Clayton for the Doc to fall in love with.  I liked her character and I liked that the Doc would get some.  It seemed a bit out of character for him to fall so deeply in love so quickly, but that’s how love do sometimes.  I also liked that he saved her from death, and the whole discussion about the name of the ravine.  It makes sense because taking Clara out of 1885 would not change history because she was supposed to have died, so she wouldn’t be missed.  The whole “chicken” thing for Marty that started in Part 2 got tied up in this movie, leaving us with a nice message about not letting people’s opinions of you do something stupid.  They also kind of set up this entire movie (and at least one big pay off) from when Biff was watching A Fistful of Dollars in Part 2.  The climactic scene at the end on the train was also pretty spectacular.  The ending of the movie itself disappointed me a little bit.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  I feel like it kind of strains credulity that the Doc could invent another time machine using a train from 1885, one that could not only travel through time, but also could fly (which either meant he was able to do it 130 years earlier than the rest of humanity, or he was able to travel to 2015 before visiting Marty in 1985).  But, honestly, this isn’t what disappointed me.  I would’ve been bummed if the Doc was stuck back in 1885, even if he did have Clara.  I liked that he was able to continue time traveling, plus had his wife and 2 kids.  What really disappointed me was that there was only three of these movies.  I want more, damnit!  ::END SPOILER::

What a surprise!  The cast didn’t really change and they all still rule.  Michael J. Fox displayed more range in Part 2, but was still fantastic in this movie.  I liked him as a old west gunfighter too.  But why the hell would he give up that sweet pistol?  I understand he had no use for it, but it was an awesome gun.  Fox also got to be Seamus McFly, and I loved the accent that he put on for it.  Christopher Lloyd gets to display more range in this movie, mostly being the wacky Doc that we love, but once he’s around Clara, he’s all gushy-eyed and in love.  After they have a fight, he pulls off super depressed about it very well.  I also found it really amusing when Marty says “Great Scott” and Doc says “I know, it’s heavy.”  The best thing Doc ever did in the series was in this movie, when he tripped one of Buford’s gang members as they ran away.  Get ‘im, Doc!  I liked Mary Steenburgen as an addition to the cast.  She seems exactly like the kind of person that Doc would fall for.  She’s a teacher, she’s smart, strong, a little bit clumsy and goofy, pretty, and she digs on Jules Verne.  Thomas F. Wilson played the same kind of character, but he really worked as an old west bad guy.  That guy could play a bad guy in any era.  I actually got really angry at him when he was getting all frisky on Mary Steenburgen.  That’s Doc’s girl!  Lea Thompson isn’t in the movie as much, but I also liked the accent she puts on as Maggie McFly.  That may have been where my crush on her was cemented.  It was her regular hotness, but with an adorable accent.  Another great part about this movie is that it got to bring back many forgotten old west character actors such as Pat Buttram, Harry Carey Jr., Dub Taylor, and (my personal favorite) Burton Gilliam from Blazing Saddles!

I doubt these reviews were very surprising to you, and for that I … well I really don’t feel anything about it.  These aren’t supposed to be surprising, they’re supposed to be entertaining, just like the Back to the Future series.  …Yeah, good segway, Robert!  I love this movie because it takes everything we loved about both of the previous movies, added a western, and lost nothing in the process.  This is a great movie.  I would have to say that I kind of agree with Rotten Tomatoes in my ratings of the series, but not to the degree they go to.  I would say that the first movie is the best, Part 3 is the second best, and Part 2 is the third best.  I would say my reviews of them would be closer to Part 1 = 100%, Part 2 = 95%, and Part 3 = 98%.  I love these movies, what can I say?  As with both other movies, every person in the world should see these movies.  Even if you didn’t like one of them that much, you have to enjoy all three back to back.  Some of my favorite movies ever, and quite possibly my favorite trilogy ever (because Star Wars and Lord of the Rings aren’t really trilogies anymore, are they?).  Back to the Future Part 3 gets “See you in the future” out of “Your future is whatever you make it.  So make it a good one.”

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Back to the Future Part II (1989)


Better to Devote Myself to Study the Other Great Mystery of the Universe: Women!

Because I cannot simply watch one, I follow my previous review with it’s sequel.  I compulsively feel the need to watch Back to the Future at least once per year and, once I have watched the first movie, I cannot keep myself from watching the entire series.  This movie took a pretty big hit critically, jumping down on Rotten Tomatoes from the 97% of Back to the Future to 64% for Part 2.  Have the mighty fallen?  We shall see in my review of Back to the Future Part 2, again written by Bob Gale, again directed by Robert Zemeckis, and starring mostly the same cast of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Thomas F. Wilson, Lea Thompson, Elisabeth Shue, Joe Flaherty, Jeffrey Weissman, James Tolkan, Flea, Billy Zane, Jason Scott Lee, Darlene Vogel, Elijah Wood, and footage of Crispin Glover.

At the end of the first movie, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is reunited with his girlfriend, Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), just in time to have their party crashed by Doctor Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), having just returned from the future.  The Doc throws Marty and Jennifer into the time-travelling DeLorean, telling them that they have to go Back to the Future to do something about their kids.  The worry, of course, is that Marty and Jennifer’s kids have turned into assholes, but it’s much worse than that.  They travel from October 26th, 1985 to October 21st, 2015.  Jennifer starts asking too many questions, forcing the Doc to knock her out, but he’s nicer than me so he uses a sleep-inducing device instead of the brick I would’ve chosen.  Doc explains to Marty that the grandson of Marty’s nemesis, Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson), a cybernetically-enhanced bully named Griff, gets Marty’s son involved in something that gets Marty Jr. imprisoned for 15 years, which leads to Marlene, Marty’s daughter, trying to break Marty Jr. out of jail, getting her incarcerated.  Marty must pose as his son and say no to Griff, but Marty gets goaded into a fight because Griff calls him a chicken.  Thankfully, Marty uses a hovering skateboard to run away from Griff, causing them to smash into City Hall, getting them arrested and saving Marty Jr.  Marty finds a book called Gray’s Sports Almanac in an antique store and decides he should buy it and use it to make a few bucks.  Doc is not pleased about this, but gets distracted when they see that Jennifer, who they left in an alley, has been found by the police and is getting transported back to the house where she and Marty live in 2015.  Doc and Marty need to go save her because she might see her future self and there’s no telling what that could cause.  They head off to save her, throwing away the almanac as they leave, but it’s picked up by the much older Biff.  As Doc goes to save Jennifer and Marty wanders off, Biff gets into the DeLorean and drives off, reappearing shortly after in a great deal of pain.  Doc gets Jennifer and the three head back to 1985, but things are different now.  Somehow, Biff is now rich and powerful and has turned Hill Valley to haven for gambling and other bad behaviors.  Even worse than that, George McFly (sometimes Jeffrey Weissman and sometimes footage of Crispin Glover) was murdered, Lorraine McFly (Lea Thompson) is now married to Biff, and the Doc Brown of this time was committed to a mental institute.  Marty and the Doc desperately need to figure out what’s gone wrong and fix it, or be doomed to this version of 1985.

I cannot figure out how this movie gets rated lower than the first one.  At least not drastically lower as it has been rated.  I love this movie almost as much as I love the original.  It’s still a fantastic story, it still has lots of action and comedy, but not as much focus on romance for this one, and I could think of a couple of minor logic loopholes.  I also like that this movie gets a lot darker than the previous movie, mainly when we get back to 1985, find out that not only is Lorraine married to the McFly family nemesis, but that George was murdered by Biff.  I liked this dark turn for the series.  It gets us more involved in the story.  I also like how their return to 1955 lets them use the same footage from the first movie, but also shows us different angles of those scenes (like when Marty was playing guitar on stage) and scenes that we never saw in the first movie (like Biff harassing Lorraine after she picked up her dress from the store).  Of course, I thought about a logic loophole that was originally pointed out in the movie itself.  When they go back to 1985, Doc explains that they can’t go into the future to stop Biff from taking the DeLorean because they would be going into the future of this version of 1985.  But if that was the case, once Biff had given the almanac to the younger version of himself then it would have altered the timeline and he’d have been unable to go back to the version of 2015 that Doc and Marty were in.  In the movie’s defense, I have seen the movie many many times and didn’t think about that until this very viewing, so apparently who cares?  Plus, the concept of not being able to go the the proper 2015 from that timeline makes sense and the movie would’ve stopped right there with my idea included.  Another thing I thought about for this one was that they could’ve completely dodged the bullet of having to save Jennifer if Marty had just gone up to the police, let them identify him as her husband, had them make a comment about how young he looks for his age too, and they would’ve left Jennifer with him.  They seemed to forget to explain why Biff was in such pain when he got back from 1955.  He basically died by a dumpster and never really told us why.  I think I remember seeing something about it from deleted scenes, but it was a pretty big oversight on their part.  They do the thing about history repeating itself a couple more times here.  The biggest one was the skateboard chase from the first movie turning into a spectacular hoverboard chase.  The makeup effects are still very good at aging their cast in this movie, except for the ones on Elisabeth Shue for some reason.  I didn’t find her makeup convincing.

Because this movie goes into the future, it creates a danger that I’ve discussed in other movies set in the future.  You sometimes set loftier goals for the future than we can accomplish.  We still have three years from the time of writing this review, but there’s a lot to do in that time.  Power laces is something we can put on our Nike’s right now, but I don’t know who would want to spend the money it would probably cost to purchase those shoes.  Flying cars and hoverboards is a bit loftier in the goal department, and I’m not sure we’ll be ready as a culture technologically or as drivers.  Most people are bad enough drivers on the ground, I can’t imagine putting them in the sky.  I’m sure we can get rid of doorknobs right now, but I don’t know if I feel like it’s necessary to push my thumb to doors to save myself the trouble of turning a knob.  The biggest and most impossible thing is up to Steven Spielberg.  He’s got 15 more Jaws movies to make in only three years!  And you know if he rushes them out that quickly, they will mostly be much worse than even Jaws 4 was.

The performances don’t really change in quality here.  They’re still amazing.  Michael J. Fox is still fantastic, still does comedy and action superbly, but also has a little more emotional scenes to work with, but he still pulls it off fantastically.  Christopher Lloyd is still fantastic, and still does a mostly comedic performance in this movie.  Claudia Wells looked a lot different in this movie for some reason.  Oh wait, she was replaced.  Wells couldn’t do the sequels because her mother was diagnosed with cancer, so she was replaced with Elisabeth Shue.  Shue did a great job as Jennifer, but I still missed Wells.  Fox had a certain chemistry with Wells that he didn’t really have as much of with Shue, and I missed it.  But Shue still did great.  Speaking of replacements, Crispin Glover apparently asked for too much money (more, I heard, than Fox and Lloyd got paid) and was not in these movies.  I liked Glover in the first movie, but it’d be ridiculous to assume he’d get THAT much money.  And it actually worked out to be a better story that George McFly was murdered.  Also, he didn’t have anything resembling a big part in the movie, but most people don’t know that Elijah Wood pops up in this movie.  He’s one of the little kids playing the video game in the diner in 2015.  I just like to point that out, especially with how big he is today.  Jason Scott Lee (from Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story), Billy Zane, and Flea also have small parts in this movie.

I don’t know the reasons that some people bag on this movie as being so drastically worse than the original.  The original movie was amazing, and this one was too.  It’s not so bad to be slightly less amazing than something that’s so great.  I love the story and especially how it got dark in the middle, there’s still a great deal of comedy and action, and the performances have remained fantastic.  There were a couple of minor logic problems, but nothing that kept me from enjoying it.  This movie also gave me a quote that I still like using today, though it’s not an easy one to find an appropriate place for.  But I like to yell “MACFRY!!” like Marty’s boss, Fujitsu-san, did, usually out of nowhere and for no reason whatsoever.  But I like saying it.  Either way, you have to watch the entire series.  Maybe slightly worse than the original, but still amazing.  Back to the Future Part 2 gets “He’s got a few short circuits in his bionic implants” out of “Shark still looks fake.”

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