Lovely Molly is no Blair Witch

Lovely Molly is yet another uninspired, crappy quality ripoff spawned by the success of The Blair Witch Project (1999). The kicker though is that Lovely Molly is actually written and directed by Eduardo Sánchez, the co-writer and co-director of The Blair Witch Project. Shouldn’t he have grown as a filmmaker or learned something about the craft in some way in the 13 years since his big break? Unfortunately it appears he has not.

Molly looking bedraggled

Tim (Johnny Lewis) and Molly (Gretchen Lodge) are newlyweds moving into Molly’s vacant family home. Soon after they get there weird things begin to happen. Then Tim goes on the road for work and Molly completely loses her mind in the house. She’s also a recovering drug addict and goes right back to the needle making her just sound like a crazy junkie to the people close to her. And for some reason she always has a video camera nearby to film whatever it is she thinks she’s seeing (the audience doesn’t get to see much either which makes her always filming a useless aspect of the film).

I can get past the terrible quality of the film but the senseless story and the lack of anything scary or remotely freaky is what makes Lovely Molly a complete failure for me. The more I think about it the more I despise it and it makes me angry as I had huge expectations from Sánchez and the film.

If I had to pick one thing worth praising about the film it would be Gretchen Lodge’s portrayal of Molly. She shows promise and it’s too bad her talent was wasted here. As for the rest of the cast, they were absolutely horrendous, which is not much of a surprise given the the film they’re in.

With so many better films coming along in this genre since The Blair Witch ProjectLovely Molly is a disgrace that should just be forgotten. Hopefully Sánchez will do something actually worth watching next time.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 

Rated 18A
Cast: Gretchen Lodge, Johnny Lewis
Directed by: Eduardo Sánchez

Top image: A scene from Lovely Molly. Courtesy Mongrel Media.

Snow White and the Huntsman – Review

Charlize Theron as Ravenna

A scene from ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’. Courtesy Universal Pictures.

Move over Disney, there’s a new Snow White in town and it’s surprisingly good. As someone who was dreading Snow White and the Huntsman beforehand, it really pulled me in and I ended up enjoying it immensely all the way through. There’s the typical ingredients to the story, such as dwarves, an evil stepmother, and a poisonous apple, but there’s also a few great battle sequences, some amazing effects, acting, writing, and directing. It’s a beautiful combination that makes for one solid film.

After Snow White’s mother dies, her father, King Magnus, is drawn to the beautiful Ravenna (Charlize Theron). On the night of their wedding she shows her true self and kills King Magnus in order to take over his kingdom. Jump ahead a few years and Ravenna now has poor Snow White (Kristen Stewart) held captive as she holds the key to Ravenna’s eternal beauty. Snow White figures this out and escapes into the dark forest where the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) is recruited to find her and bring her back.

Stewart is probably the weakest link in the entire movie. Her British accent is horrendous and she’s just as wooden as she is in the Twilight films. I can think of a handful of actresses who would have been a better fit for the part instead of her. She does grow on you as the movie progresses just not enough to make you like her.

Theron on the other hand kills it as Ravenna and makes the entire movie. When she does her “mirror mirror on the wall” speech it sent shivers through me. After her dreary performance in last year’s Young Adult it’s nice to see her take a role she can have fun with.

Proving he’s more than just Thor, Hemsworth does a fine job as the Huntsman and is becoming a really good actor. The best casting though goes to Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris, and Brian Gleeson as the dwarves. They play it up and add a lot of humour to the overall dark vibe of the film.

The fact first-time director Rupert Sanders handled Snow White and the Huntsman so well and delivered the stunning masterpiece it is is a feat in itself. I can’t wait to see what he’s capable of next as he’s got great vision and talent.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Rated PG
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth
Directed by: Rupert Sanders

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 – Review

Disclaimer: I am a thirtysomething male who is not the demographic of the Twilight franchise. That said, I have somehow enjoyed the first three films in the series so far and have given each one a favourable review. Until now.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 begins with vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and mortal Bella (Kristen Stewart) getting married. Then they go on their honeymoon, have sex, and sit around playing chess for two weeks until Bella (SPOILER ALERT) discovers she’s pregnant with Edward’s demon seed. They must return home to get help from the rest of Edward’s “family” as well as from werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Will poor Bella make it out of this ordeal safely or will this thing inside of her kill her?

For the first hour and a half, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 is a limp, lifeless, boring snoozefest that made me wish I watching anything but Breaking Dawn Pt. 1. Even a marathon of General Hospital would have been more entertaining than sitting through this crap. But then the last thirty minutes got so crazy and gory I almost forgot I was watching a Twilight movie. And by the reaction of the crowd, it might have gone too far, especially during the “birthing scene” where Edward literally bites the baby out of Bella.

Director Bill Condon has made a few good movies in his career, including the biopics Kinsey and Gods and Monsters. But he was also responsible for the horrible sequel to CandymanFarewell to the Flesh and the Beyoncé movie Dreamgirls. So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 feels like a musical trapped inside of a graphic horror movie. Quite honestly, Condon is probably the worst choice to wrap this series up as it appears he wants to go in a hundred directions with it and has made a big gloppy mess at his attempt.

The cast all do their part just fine and nothing has really changed much with their talent or lack of talent. Technically speaking though, the effects and the soundtrack are drastically diminished this time around and the movie actually looks quite bad. And maybe it’s because of budget cuts, but I didn’t see one sparkly vampire the entire film. What a rip-off!

As with all the Twilight films, Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 is critic proof and everything I just wrote means nothing to the fanbase who will flock to see it no matter how bad it is. I just hope Breaking Dawn Pt. 2 redeems the series for the casual viewer like myself.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 

The Twilight Saga: New Moon – Review

It doesn’t really matter what I say about The Twilight Saga: New Moon because the “Twihards”, “Twilighters”, “Twibies” (Twilight zombies) or whatever other name you can come up with for Twilight fans have already bought their tickets and will be making it the #1 film this weekend whether it sucks or not. For what it’s worth I did kind of like it.

After an incident at Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) birthday party, Edward (Robert Pattinson) tells her he and his family are leaving for good, and do. Bella has an emotional meltdown where she mopes around for months and has horrible nightmares. She eventually realizes that if she does reckless things, like riding motorcycles, she sees visions of Edward. This leads to her getting two old dirt bikes out of a junkyard and asking her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to fix them up.

Time passes, she and Jacob grow closer and the pain over losing Edward starts to subside. Jacob falls hard for her and just when Bella begins to fall for him, he disappears. His father says he has mono yet he won’t answer his phone and won’t return Bella’s messages. When she finally goes to his house a few weeks later he has cut his long hair off and now has a tattoo on his arm. She’s angry and upset at him and then finds out the truth — Jacob is a werewolf.

Two Vamps in love.

In the Twilight world, werewolves and vampires are mortal enemies who only live together in peace because of a treaty of rules they have. The treaty wasn’t written with teenage hormones or love in mind and Jacob moving in on Bella is what eventually brings Edward and the rest of the Cullens back to Forks, Washington.

That’s the main chunk of the story. There are a ton of other subplots, involving the wicked vamp Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), the super league of vampires called the Volturi and a lot more back story and action from the werewolves.

Since I am not the target demographic for this series, I was shocked that I liked the first film at all. Sparkly vampires? Really? But there was something about it I dug. That said, New Moon was far superior. It was a tad slow to start, and the visions of Edward that Bella sees are silly, but the wolves made up for it. When they fight it’s awesome. Even when they are just standing and snarling it’s pretty cool.

Stewart and Pattinson are their typical dowdy selves but Lautner, who has beefed up in a major way, seems to be more confident with his acting. Michael Sheen’s Aro, one of the leaders of the Volturi, is a wonderful addition to this ever-growing cast. And although he’s not on screen that long he does give one of the most memorable performances. On the flip side, Dakota Fanning, as Volturi member Jane, was completely wasted.

It’s safe to say fans and the teen audience it’s made for will be pleased with the outcome of New Moon. Hopefully the third film in the series, Eclipse, will appeal to a larger movie-going audience when it opens next year.

*** out of 5 stars

Super Mario Maker video review (by my 8-year-old son)

Super Mario Maker

There are lots of options when building a level in Super Mario Maker.

There’s no question that Super Mario Maker for the Wii U is one of the most addictive Mario games Nintendo has ever released. Being able to create your own levels is something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was a kid, and from a nostalgia standpoint the game hits all the marks.

But Super Mario Maker is not just for thirtysomethings like me trying to relive my youth. It spans all generations of Mario fans and my two boys (4 and 8) haven’t been able to stop playing it (or talking about it) since we got the game a month ago.

RELATED: 5 Wii U games that should be on your 2015 holiday wish list

Because of their excitement for Super Mario Maker, my 8-year-old (aka Bamcat Jr.) suggested he do a video review of it to upload to YouTube. I hesitantly agreed to this (more on my hesitation of putting my son on YouTube in a later post) and together we shot and edited our first video production.

Check out his video review of Super Mario Maker below and share your thoughts on the game in the comments or by tweeting @bamcatbuzz.

Notes about the video

The video was shot using a Sony RX100 IV point-and-shoot camera and edited with a trial version of Adobe Premiere Pro. It took just over an hour to shoot and edit and was a great bonding project with my kids.

4 reasons the new Sonos PLAY:5 will blow you away

Sonos PLAY:5

The all-new Sonos PLAY:5 is available in Canada on Nov. 25.

When Sonos — maker of some of the finest wireless speaker systems on the market — offered to send me the all-new PLAY:5 to test before it was released to the public, I jumped at the chance. This is the mac daddy of their impressive lineup and I wanted to hear it in action in my own home.

After spending a week with it I can safely say the PLAY:5 rocks. Hard! This little bundle of joy is a must-have for music lovers and gadget geeks alike (it’s currently at the top of my Christmas wish list).

Here’s four reasons why the new PLAY:5 will blow you away.

Sleek design

Straight out of the box you will be impressed with the PLAY:5. Like an Apple product, it’s beautifully designed and extremely sleek. There are no buttons to clutter it up and from the front it looks just like a really slick speaker (not an entire stereo system).

Coming in either a white-black or grey-black finish, the tiny footprint (it’s about the size of a toaster) gives you the option of placing it anywhere in your home with an electrical outlet nearby. It can sit horizontal or vertical and because of its smaller design it’s quite easy to move around from room to room.

Ease of use

Setting up the PLAY:5 requires either the desktop or mobile controller app (available for Android and iOS) and a solid WiFi connection (there is an Ethernet port on the back but the point of the PLAY:5 is to be as wireless as possible). I initially used my Samsung Galaxy S4 and had the system up and running within minutes. Going through the process again with the iOS and desktop apps was just as easy.

Once the initial setup was done, playing music through the PLAY:5 was flawless. All services are controlled through the controller app so that there is no need to open individual apps to stream from different sources. And because the PLAY:5 handles the stream itself (not the device you are using to control it) there is no need for any cables to be plugged in or even for your phone, tablet or PC to be turned on once you start streaming something.

I used Spotify, Rdio, Songza and TuneIn Radio (there are many options available, although Apple Music is missing) during my test and was able to control and switch between each service from any device in my home that had the controller app installed. A good example of how this all works is when I got home one day and my son had They Might Be Giants streaming but was outside playing with his friends. I just pulled up the Sonos app on my phone and switched over to something I wanted to listen to instead.

You can also adjust the volume and skip songs via the PLAY:5 itself by touching or swiping the top of the unit (as there are no buttons this took me a little while to discover).

Amazing sound

There are six speakers inside the PLAY:5 unit and everything I streamed on it sounded great. I went through a range of genres and artists (we’re talking Arcade Fire and Public Enemy to Adele and Bob Dylan) and they all came across as if I was listening to them on a huge stereo setup.

You can adjust settings like bass and treble via the controller app, and if you’re using an iOS device you can run Trueplay — a feature that helps tune the PLAY:5 to give you the best sound quality for the room you’re listening to it in.

The true test was when we had people over for a get together though and everyone was impressed the sound was coming from this small device and not my big Denon stereo setup I usually use.

It’s expandable

One of the nicest things about the entire Sonos lineup of wireless speakers is being able to connect multiple units together to create an even larger system. You can have two PLAY:5 units connected (or a PLAY:5 and PLAY:1, etc.) or have the PLAY:5 connected to a PLAYBAR to use as a rear speaker in your home theatre setup.

There is also a line-in which allows you to connect to any device with a line-out (or headphone jack). This can be used to connect a turntable (if your turntable does not have a built-in preamp you will need a device like this) or a CD player to the PLAY:5.

The only real downside I found with the PLAY:5 is that it doesn’t have an optical input. While this is not a deal breaker it would be nice to have.

The new Sonos PLAY:5 is available in Canada on Nov. 25 with a retail price of $549.99. Visit sonos.com for full specs and more information.

Do you use Sonos wireless speakers? Are you interested in the Sonos PLAY:5? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2

A scene from Despicable Me 2. Courtesy Universal Pictures.

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When the first Despicable Me came out in 2010 it felt fresh and put new life into the family-friendly animated film genre that had started to get stale. After endless amounts of films cheering for the good guy, we were all of a sudden rooting for the bad guy and actually wanted him to succeed in stealing the moon to be the most evil villain in the world. It was fun and exciting. Despicable Me 2 is unfortunately not as original as the first, but it is equally entertaining.

Gru (Steve Carell), who is out of the villain game raising his three adopted girls and working on a line of jams and jellies, is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help find a criminal mastermind with plans to create evil creatures and take over the world. He’s partnered with an agent named Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and must go undercover in a mall to stop them before it’s too late.

While the plot is not that groundbreaking, the script is loaded with gags and one-liners that Carell and Wiig pull off perfectly. The film never feels dull and is a continuous laughfest. This is largely thanks to the addition of Benjamin Bratt as Eduardo, the owner of a Mexican restaurant in the mall. I’ve never considered Bratt a funny guy, but he really puts it on here and makes me want to hear him do more characters like this. Steve Coogan and Ken Jeong work well too, but both are highly underused.

I honestly dread 3D films these days, but the use of it in Despicable Me 2 is great. There are a few gags such as bubbles floating around, which the kids in the audience went nuts for, but for the most part it is used to help the glorious animation look even more stunning. And just like the first, the animation and colour palette is truly wonderful.

Of course, the only opinion that matters is that of my six-year-old son, who screened the film with me. He was so excited to see it he couldn’t sleep the night before. When the credits rolled he immediately wanted to know when we could see it again because to him, it was the most amazing thing ever. And how can anyone argue with that?

4/5 stars

Rated G
Cast: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Benjamin Bratt
Directed by: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud

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