Archive for October, 2012

Sinister (Scott Derrickson) 2012

Posted in S on October 31, 2012 by moviemoses

I tend to be a lot more generous in my reviews of any halfway decent modern horror movie.  It is because I consider modern horror to be, well not a dead genre but a deeply comatose one.  Despite many horror films that come out each year I can count on one or maybe two (if it’s a good year) to be good.  The rest are either PG-13 cash in schlock or uninspired garbage.  So when I see people going out and legitimately trying to make something compelling, I’m more than willing to forgive its flaws rather than films.  Is it fair?  Probably not, but I figure it is at least fair to tell you where I’m coming from.

Sinister is about true crime author Ellison (Ethan Hawke) who moves his family into the house of a horrific murder in order to write his latest book which will hopefully elevate him back to stardom.  He finds a box in the attic which has super 8 films of previous murders.  Ellison is trying to track down the killer but at the same time he is noticing strange events going on about the house.

Probably the thing that stands out and something other reviewers have noted is Hawke and his character.  Horror characters usually fall into the virtuous virgin or the baby kicking asshole so it is nice to have an almost noir like flawed hero.  Yes he does dickish things but he never seems malicious.  Rather he is misguided in both his attempts to be financially secure for his family and his lust for fame.  At the core he is a likable guy and you hope he sorts his crap out and comes out a better person.  Ethan Hawke does a great job in the main role.  I have said for a while Hawke is a woefully underrated actor.  He is never going to turn in an Oscar performance but he is always a solid character actor who certainly never detracts from your movie.

The movie also has a nice creepy atmosphere.  The super 8 footage is well done and suitably horrific.  The tone gets great near the end when it seems like the super 8 world is mixing with the real world.  The soundtrack takes on the sounds of the projector with the clicks and snaps and images are seemingly spliced into Ellison’s world.  It is at that point everything is coming together to show reality is pandripping away and the acting helps sell it.

Now there are flaws with the story.  I won’t spoil it since by the time of my writing it is still in theaters.  I say that, but it seems rather pointless since the trailers spoil most of the movie.  That is a shame because much of the joy would be in unraveling this mystery only to come in and have the cashier tell you Bruce Willis was a ghost the whole time.  Aside from that there are flaws with the story.  Sure you can forgive some stupidity because otherwise you would never have a horror movie but it gets bad at times.  Some of the scares are a little laughable and you may be yelling at Hawke’s character by the end because he really needs to take a hint.

But like I said before I’m willing to forgive those things.  Sinister legitimately tries and for the most part succeeds in making a suspenseful little horror film.  The characters are compelling and you are interested in seeing what happens to them.  The direction is equally as good in bringing the audience in as voyeur and later merging the film world with the real world for a tense atmosphere.  The writing lets down the rest of the movie as you can be taken out of the experience by some silly stuff.  But if you want to see a horror movie in theaters this year, I don’t think you will be disappointed by Sinister.

The Wicker Tree (2010) Robin Hardy

Posted in W on October 25, 2012 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $7.75 million

Gross: unknown on exact numbers but was failure in US

So Robin Hardy returns  after decades to the series he created.  That worked so well for other directors *cough George Lucas George Romero cough*

The Wicker Tree is a companion piece to The Wicker Man.  This story is about Beth (Brittania Nicol) who was a Brittney Spears-ish pop idol who has become a born again Christian.  Beth and her cowboy boyfriend Steve (Henry Garrett) go on a missionary trip to Scotland to convert some godless heathens   Turns out the townspeople of Tressock have lured Beth and Steve there for a sacrifice to help with the town’s fertility problem.

Now I’ll admit right of the bat that I was not a fan of the original Wicker Man.  I say that because I don’t want to give the impression I hold the original on some pedestal   I also say that because while I didn’t like Wicker Man, I can tell you that Tree gets everything wrong that Man did right.

I actually have to get a nit pick out of the way before going onto the movie proper but who sends missionaries to Scotland?  I live in an area where the Mormons send out plenty of people on missions and they are usually to places like South America.  You know, places where the indigenous people don’t have much exposure to that sort of thing.  I think people in Scotland know about Jesus.  If you are just preaching to atheists there are plenty in America.  Hell, Beth is from Texas she can take a short drive to Austin.  I also have to wonder why this singing superstar doesn’t bring an entourage to Scotland or why her disappearance doesn’t cause a massive investigation.  Natalie Halloway was a nobody that dominated the news when she disappeared imagine what would happen after Tressock tries Wicker Tree-ing Brittany Spears‘ ass.

But I digress.  On reason why this horror movie fails is because there is absolutely no tension in it.  In the original Wicker Man there was a mystery that our character was trying to solve.  Howie was investigating the disappearance of a young girl but the larger mystery was with the town itself.  It was an understatement that strange things were afoot.  You had people being cryptic or hostile toward him and an odd attempt at sexual temptation.  You didn’t know what was going on but a feeling of dread followed around Howie.

In Wicker Tree we are told exactly what is going on in Tressock and why the townspeople want to sacrifice Beth and Steve.  Now I understand the cat is out of the bag with this movie so you can’t exactly surprise people again.  So either Hardy had to put a twist on the formula or not do it to begin with.  However it doesn’t help when we both know the bad guys plans within five minutes, and our protagonists are some of the most clueless people in horror movie history.  Beth and Steve are completely duped by this town and not for one moment do they suspect anything wrong.  Maybe that would have added some tension having them discover hinky goings on and trying to escape or fight back.  But it is almost comical how absolutely gullible these people are.  For example, by the end Steve finds himself in this ancient ruin surrounded by the townspeople who are completely naked and surrounding him chanting about how the blood is the key and he is standing there going “Derp, all you Scottish folk sure have weird customs!“  This week I have had the misfortune of seeing Warlock II and Wicker Tree; two films which do not know how to convey any tension.  Once again we are sitting around as the movie spins its wheels until the last fifteen minutes when our gullible unlikable heroes get what we knew was coming in the first five minutes.

Tree tries to be satirical and comedic  at times but also fails.  Beth and Steve are badly done caricatures of born again Christians.  There is satirical, and then there is a moronic broad stereotype.  And this is coming from an atheist.  But more to the point you have made our lead characters, the people we (as the audience) are supposed to be invested in, and you have turned them into the comic relief.  Why not make the comic relief the comic relief?  Instead you have us rooting for the equivalent of a Rob Schneider character or Jar Jar.  You don’t exactly want those characters to live.

There is a subplot involving a sexy townsperson named Lolly (Honeysuckle Weeks) and aside from being naked A LOT I’m not sure what her role is in this movie.  I don’t know if she played an integral role in the ritual and there is a plot thread that goes nowhere where she is trying to have seven orgasms in one night with an Italian police officer.  But I won’t look gift nudity in the mouth.  I think I understand what I just wrote and I hope you do too.  Graham McTavish is our resident Christopher Lee (Lee hurt his back and couldn’t be on set) and he doesn’t hold a candle to Lee.  There is some attempt at character development that he does not believe in the rituals and is only doing it to appease the masses but like everything else it is half baked and I don’t care.  Christopher Lee actually does make an appearance for literally about a minute in a horrible green screen add in.  Once again, it is almost comical how short and poorly handled it all is.  Was this supposed to be a satire on shitty sequels to horror movies?

The biggest mystery for me is why Robin Hardy made this movie.  You would think Hardy retired from filmmaking since he made one whole film in between Wicker Man in 1973 and Wicker Tree in 2010.  It is not like there is some big addition to the Wicker mythology and no substantive message to add.  I also don’t think Hardy was trying to remake/reboot the series as nothing is made better in this version.  Even with my bar lowered way down this movie was still a let down.  The characters are cartoons, the acting is ameteurish, the direction is lazy, the satire is half assed, and the writing is no-assed.  The cardinal sin of this movie though is that it is not scary.  Even by bad Wicker movie standards the bar was set by Neil LaBute’s Wicker Man.  I do not recommend this sequel to anyone.

Warlock III: The End of Innocence (Eric Freiser) 1999

Posted in W on October 22, 2012 by moviemoses

So we’ve finally hit direct to video schlock with the Warlock ending up in a bland slasher film.  I’m frankly surprised we haven’t had Warlock in Space or in da Hood but I don’t want to give Hollywood ideas.  It is also strange that after two films where the Warlock is travelling around America on these epic fetch quests we have gone smaller with the stories by having him pick off college students in a spooky old house.

The story is Kris (Ashley Laurence) discovers she is the long lost relative of some family she never heard of and she has inherited their ancestral house.  Kris did not know her parents and takes a weekend off from college (bringing her annoying college friends along of course) to go to the house to see if there are some clues to her past.  The Warlock (now played by Bruce Blue Lips Payne) needs to sacrifice Kris in order to gain more demonic powers.

You may think I would hate this movie more than the last one.  Despite being the third movie, we still aren’t continuing any of the plot threads from the previous two and in fact we are glossing over even more things.  Like can we please have even a token explanation for why the Warlock is alive!?  This guy gets thoroughly disintegrated and he just pops up at the house in this movie like ‘whatev‘.  It’s bad when you can’t even be bothered to come up with a bullshit excuse.  It’s also bad when Julian Sands is too good for your sequel and you have to get Bruce Payne to stand in for you.

But despite all that, I can’t hate this as much as The Armageddon.  This movie is shite don’t get me wrong, but it is still slightly better than II.  Why?  Cause stuff happens in this movie.  Yes, the scope of the plot is diminished by being a glorified boogeyman but there is at least some arc.  There is even a reason for why the Warlock has to pick off the students one at a time.  As part of the ritual of sacrificing Kris, the Warlock has to get her friends to betray her by corrupting them.  As much as I harp on overacting Payne, it was slightly entertaining to see him do smarmy Faustian deals.  The man is just funny when he is trying to be sleazy and here he is trying to get people to betray everyone else for the dumbest reasons.

This is still a dirt cheap horror film and it has all the trappings of a lazy cash in.  The characters are your stock unlikable douches who you are not supposed to like and are just fodder for the bad guy.  Even our main character is inconsistent and annoying.  She spends one night in the house alone prior to her friends showing up and she is practically seeing blood coming from the walls.  Later when Bruce Payne shows up acting like his character from Highlander Endgame one of Kris‘ friends tries to explain that he is a shady person and Kris just brushes it off.  I’m sorry, but not two seconds ago this place freaked you out enough that you almost ran back into town through a thunderstorm, but Bruce Payne acting like the son of Satan and causing everyone around him to be sick is perfectly normal?  Also, even though I somewhat praised this movie for having an explanation for the students getting picked off, of course the writing is inconsistent.  There is one friend who flatly says no to the Warlock’s offer and says she will never betray Kris?  What does he do?  He just kills her.  Don’t let a thing like writing yourself into a corner get you down writers of Warlock III.  Just plow straight through like the Kool Aid man.

There is still no reason to see Warlock III.  Bruce Payne, while slightly amusing, never chews enough scenery to make it entertaining and is in fact rather reserved from his usual schlock.  Of course, nothing is added or continued to the Warlock story line and is a disposable horror film.  The story is bland, the characters are annoying, the budget is minuscule  and the effects are non-existent.  While this movie didn’t piss me off like The Armageddon, that is still far away from me actually recommending this to anyone.  This is still a shitty sequel and hopefully there is never a fourth movie.

Warlock: The Armageddon (Anthony Hickox) 1993

Posted in W on October 22, 2012 by moviemoses

So for Halloween I am doing a horror marathon and I wanted to complete the Warlock series.  I saw the whole series including the first which I already reviewed because I wanted to refresh myself on the story and see if anything has changed.  Maybe time has made me appreciate it more or maybe I am retroactively appreciating it more due to how low the series eventually goes but I liked the original Warlock a lot more.  Now I said I liked it but I found the switches in tone (from comic to horror) rather jarring.  Really it is not that bad seeing it again.  This is a film by its very premise is rather ridiculous: a Scottish highlander travels through time to 1989 to battle an evil warlock.  The movie never takes itself too seriously and you honestly appreciate that.  The horror elements work to add that tension to drive the action along, but mostly we are having a good time following this odd couple on their adventure.  Its kind of that same blend which makes Gremlins work.

Going into the second movie I had a real bad feeling as to how it would turn out.  As I said, much of my enjoyment was with the Redferne story line and how that comedic plot line elevated this above a bland horror movie.  David Twohy returns to write part of the screenplay, however sequels usually do not do as well as the original and I had a bad feeling a lot of the charm would be lost in Armageddon.  I had no idea how right I actually would be.

Warlock: The Armageddon doesn’t mention anything that happened in the previous movie and instead almost reboots the story before people had a name for it.  Now the Warlock (Julian Sands) is not just some warlock in a world of magic looking to seek favor with Satan, but now he is The Warlock who is Satan’s son destined to do his bidding.  Every 600 years or so the Warlock is born during a lunar eclipse and he has around six days to collect six magic rune stones so he can use them to summon Satan to Earth during a solar eclipse.  Young Kenny (Chris Young) finds out from his father that is destined to be a mystical Druidic warrior with magical powers and that he is the only one that can kill The Warlock (again, despite what we learn in the previous movie).  Kenny must learn to control the Force and become a Jedi Knight in six days in order to kill the Sith Warlock blah blah blah.

Warlock: The Armageddon is one of the most boring movies I’ve seen lately.  Like I said before, I don’t just use the B word without justification and I will happily explain why.  It is because nearly half of this movie is entirely pointless and doesn’t need to be in the movie.  Okay, so the plot is Warlock has to track down these six rune stones which means travelling all across America to get them.  You may think this would prompt our protagonist into also tracking down the stones to either pursue the Warlock to kill him or to get the stones first in order to prevent the summoning.  Wrong.  Kenny and his father have one rune stone and their plan is to hold onto it, train Kenny’s powers in order to fight the Warlock, and when the Warlock comes to town to collect the stone, Kenny will fight him.  That’s fine, but the writers needed to realize that there is no point in following the Warlock on his stone quest because there is no tension, suspense, or interest in any of it.  We know that the Warlock cannot be killed or even harmed by ordinary humans.  We are all confident that he is going to show up in town like clockwork on the sixth day in order to fight Kenny.  Yet for half the movie we are following the Warlock as he kills anonymous asshole after anonymous asshole for the stones.  I don’t care!  All of the stone holders are unknown jerks so we don’t care that they are being killed and like I said before, there is no tension at all because we know nothing can stop him until he gets to our protagonist.  This movie should have just been about Kenny training his powers and occasionally cutting to the Warlock to remind the audience of the impending dread that is coming.  There is a difference between occasionally cutting to the Warlock, and spending half the movie with him.

I say that, but Kenny’s plot line is just as uninteresting as anything else in this movie.  We aren’t told the rules of this universe or what Kenny’s powers specifically are so we have no idea what Kenny has to do to train to prepare himself for the final fight.  I joked about him being a Jedi, but that is basically what he is.  We see him sitting around floating baseballs with absolutely horrible visual effects.  I don’t know how floating baseballs helps him out but that is the go to effect for the majority of this movie.  Kenny is not even an interesting character.  He is a blank slate with no personality in a town of blank slates.  Kenny has a relationship with his father who is also not interesting and their relationship is not put to the test.  There is also a romantic subplot which is also boring because they are already in love at the beginning of the film.  The thematic arc of this movie is as straight as a level.  The dialog isn’t interesting and the movie takes itself too seriously as I feared.

I know the original Warlock could have been picked apart with plot inconsistencies and holes, but you forgave it because of its sense of humor.  When you get rid of it, you are left to stew about all the bullshit of this movie.  For example, they imply that the Warlock can’t simply kill the owners to get the stones.  He has to make bargains with them to get the stones willingly.  Of course, these are all Faustian deals which means they all end badly.  Okay, that is at least somewhat interesting.  So you would expect the Warlock to try to make some deal with Kenny for the stone right?  No, he just tries to kill him.  So what the hell is it?  If you can just kill them, then why waste time and dick around with the others when you could just punch their face off and take the stone?  Why is Kenny the only one that can kill the Warlock?  In the previous movie the Warlock was powerful, but there were ways he could be hunted and two humans ended up killing him.

Warlock: The Armageddon is a dreadful sequel.  It doesn’t advance the story in any way from the original, the humor is removed leaving you with a blandly written horror/adventure film, and most of the movie is pointless as it is spinning its wheels until we get to the climax.  There characters are dull, the dialog is uninteresting, and there is nothing in the training or the characters that we find compelling enough to go along with.  I almost feel bad for admitting there were a few good effects shots and one halfway decent joke because that would imply there is SOME reason to watch this movie.  There isn’t.  There is no reason at all to recommend this movie to anyone; not even to the most die hard Warlock lover.  And the worst isn’t even over because there is another sequel to this franchise.

Bernie (Richard Linklater) 2011

Posted in B on October 22, 2012 by moviemoses

Bernie is based on the true life story about a small town Texas mortician who is known as Bernie (Jack Black) to everyone.  All the townspeople generally consider Bernie to be practically a saint.  He is kind and compassionate to everyone, he donates all his time and money to charity, and goes above and beyond in giving family the best funeral experience for their loved ones.  Bernie meets up with elderly widow Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine) who is generally considered by the townspeople to be the most bitter and hateful (but wealthy) person on the planet.  Eventually the bitterness is too much for nice Bernie who murders Marjorie and tries to hide the murder from the public.

Bernie is kind of like half mockumentary and half docudrama/comedy.  The mockumentary comes in with the story being broken up by talking head segments where the townspeople give their two cents on all the people involved, the trial, and general gossip.  The docudrama-ish part is actually seeing things unfold with Bernie, Marjorie and the subsequent murder trial.

Bernie is half an inspired movie which comes from the mockumentary angle.  I’m sorry to say that in this true crime story, the true crime isn’t all that interesting.  In this movie, the crime isn’t as important or as funny as everyone’s reactions to the crime.  Much of the satire is derived from these simple small town people trying to make sense and rationalize what is going on.  Some of them believe Bernie is railroaded because he is a living saint, and some believe anyone would have murdered Marjorie if they had to live with her.  It is funny to see the prosecutor (played by Matthew McConaughey) losing his mind as everyone in the town is praying for Bernie and asking if he could get probation for murder.  One of the funniest bits to me is when the fake interviewer asks if Bernie was gay and one woman responds by saying that Jesus too wore sandals all the time and hung out with men and if it didn’t make Jesus gay it was good enough for Bernie.  This crime blew the collective community’s mind and they are doing their best to make sense of it all.

The parts involving Bernie and Marjorie just aren’t as interesting despite the best efforts of all the good actors.  It is just that Linklater decides to play this rather straight instead of going full ahead into dark comedy territory.  All we have to entertain us is Black’s performance which is like a muted version of Zach Galifianikis‘ character in the Campaign.  In the end the murder of a rich woman in a small midwestern town ends up rather banal.  I would have preferred if Linklater had pushed the boundaries and made it a darker comedy about this patient loving saint brought to a murderous rage by the most annoying woman ever.

The best I can muster for Bernie is that it is an amusing movie.  It does not go far enough to be a funny movie but the faux documentary segments are the most entertaining part.  I saw this movie as a die hard Linklater fan and while this was an overall good movie, it is not good enough for me to recommend you go out and rent this.

Rhinestone (1984) Bob Clark

Posted in R on October 17, 2012 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $28 million

US Gross: $21 million (could only find US gross)

Jake (Dolly Parton) is a country music star who is stuck in a bad contract with sleazy club owner Freddie (Ron Leibman).  The two make a bet that she can turn any ordinary Joe into a country star in a week.  If Jake wins she tears up her contract, and if Freddie wins she has to sign a longer contract and sleep with him.  That ordinary Joe happens to be atonal cabbie Nick played by Sylvester Stallone.

Rhinestone seemed like a perfect movie to re-evaluate for this blog.  Everyone cites this as Stallone killing his career but I doubt hardly anyone has really seen it.  Trust me when I say I came into this movie with good intentions.  Heck, this was directed by Bob Clark (Porky’s, Christmas Story, Black Christmas) prior to him sucking (see the Baby Geniuses series).

The best thing I can say about Rhinestone is that despite the shitty origins (being based on the song Rhinestone Cowboy) it had the potential to be a really fun movie.  Its just a fish out of water story about a city slicker learning to become “country“ which, when you think about it, is a very familiar story.  This is actually my first time seeing Dolly Parton in an acting role and it is easy to see why she had success.  She has a ton of personality, is a great singer, and is very attractive.  Parton steals every scene she is in an almost pulls off the task of making this movie somewhat likable.

And then Sylvester Stallone comes into the movie.  Look I love Stallone; I honestly do.  I can even see why producers thought he would be right for this role. You need someone who can be both a hunky leading man and an ordinary schlub and Rocky pretty much fits the bill on both counts.  So I am not just bashing Stallone because it is the easy thing to do.  I am bashing Stallone because he legitimately sucks in this movie.

The main problem is this comedy really needed a straight man.  The comedy from this movie is supposed to spring from the fact this ordinary guy is taken out of his comfort zone to the backwoods of Tennessee (or wherever) and forced to mingle with the goofy yokels in order to become like them.  The supporting characters are supposed to be goofy and the situations Nick are supposed to be in are supposed to be wacky, but Nick is not supposed to be wacky.  That is the problem.  Nick is chewing up tons more scenery than the rest of the cast which I would have thought impossible but scene after scene he is howling out his lines and bouncing off the walls.  He goes way beyond trying to hard to “get off my fucking television“ type annoyance.

It so doesn’t help that in this musical comedy, Sylvester Stallone can’t sing.  At all.  Part of the story should be this caterpillar to butterfly aspect where Nick can’t sing but by the time he gets on the big stage he should sound awesome.  In Rhinestone when Stallone has his big coming out, he honestly sounds ten times worse than when he started.  A medal should be given to Dolly Parton for trying to carry Stallone because you can see her straining to try to drown out Stallone’s grunting but with no luck.  I can’t stress to you how painful it actually is to hear the pretty singing of Parton contrasted to the caveman Rocky grunts Stallone forces out as if a melody is something he should hit like a heavy bag.  I was so thankful the credits started rolling despite Stallone doing an encore number because it meant I could mercifully shut off the movie at that point.

Rhinestone ends up being a bad film but I still don’t consider it among Stallone’s worst.  I’m not sure what that says about the quality of Stallone’s works.  As I said the premise had potential, some of the situations are charming, and Dolly Parton really tries to make this a movie of her own.  Unfortunately the plot is really thin, the writing doesn’t capitalize on the comedic elements of the story, and Stallone is absolutely dreadful in the supporting role.  Something tells me I should have avoided the fake jewel that is the Rhinestone for something more real like Nine to Five.

Hollywoodland (2006) Allen Coulter

Posted in H on October 17, 2012 by moviemoses

Production Budget: $14 million

Worldwide Gross: around $17 million

Hollwoodland is a docudrama about the real life death of Superman television actor George Reeves (here played by Ben Affleck).  Reeves death was cleared a suicide by the LAPD.  Reeves mother goes to private investigator Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) to find enough evidence to re-open the case.  Simo finds inconsistencies in the case as well as many would be suspects.

Hollywoodland is kind of a cross breed of a “true Hollywood story“ with Reeves‘ story and a film noir with Simo as the hard on his luck private eye.  I can see why the death of Reeves can make for a good conspiracy crime story.  Reeves was found bruised from an assault and there were other bullet holes in the bedroom where Reeves was found.  There were also aspects of Reeves‘ life which would seem like choice “juicy gossip“ on the surface.  What is strange is that when we actually dig deeper into this gossip, what should be sleazy Hollywood dirt becomes rather tame.

I’ll give you an example.  If you heard George Reeves was having an affair with the wife of a big wig at MGM you might think that is really scandalous or there is a huge motive for the husband to kill Reeves.  But then in the movie the other woman Toni (played by Diane Lane) explains that her husband has a woman on the side and he is perfectly fine with her having a relationship as well.  They even go out together in public.  You end up thinking the whole affair is pretty normal; well, Hollywood normal.

When you get right down to it, the movie doesn’t make a good case for any of the “suspects“.  Again, you feel quite the opposite (or at least I did).  SPOILERS if you care.  You don’t think Toni did it because she was more an crying emotional shut in due to the break up rather than a woman in a murderous rage.  Neither do you feel Toni’s husband Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins) is the type of person capable of pulling the trigger (or hiring others to murder).  Mannix is perfectly fine with blacklisting Reeves in Hollywood and killing his career and spirit rather than hiring some goon to put a bullet in him.  Neither do you feel Reeves‘ then ex-fiance Leonore Lemmon (Robin Turney) would have done it.  The movie implies she was a gold digger and upon Reeves breaking off the marriage she murdered him for the money.  But then the movie goes right back around to admit Reeves wasn’t worth much of anything at that point in his career and Lemmon didn’t give a crap about the break up.  I’ve never seen a true Hollywood style film like this where all the muck is cleaned up and the suspects practically cleared.  Compare this with Auto Focus which was about the dark side of Hogan’s Heroes actor Bob Crane.  After seeing that you feel like you want to take a long shower and take off a layer of skin with some pumice.

When you get down to the nitty gritty, the sad story of George Reeves is of a typecast actor.  The general feeling was George Reeves had the potential to be the next Clark Gable.  He got stuck doing a crappy kids show which, while it gave him temporary fame, didn’t pay that well and killed his legitimate career.  It is a sad story for sure but unfortunately a dime a dozen in Hollywood and not something you can build an entire movie on.

I haven’t mentioned Simo’s story up to this point but even compared to the tame Reeves‘ storyline I could not care about this one.  Simo comes off as too slimey even by antihero film noir characters.  You see him drag good people through the mud just for a couple of bucks and you never buy the change in his character that he all of a sudden cares about uncovering the truth of any of it.  We are not told enough about the character to really justify his world weary attitude and of what we do see turns the audience off.

Hollywoodland tries to do two different stories but ends up making both mediocre.  The real life mystery of George Reeves of course doesn’t have a satisfying resolution and the audience won’t even find the mystery all that engaging.  The private investigator plot is similarly unsatisfying and the main character is not likable enough to get invested.  The acting is all around solid.  Adrien Brody really tries as Simo but you wish he had a meatier role to work with.  Ben Affleck gives a very good performance at a time when the public was more than ready to label his career dead.  The production is well done and there are moments when you really do feel for George Reeves.  Hollywoodland is an okay movie, but there isn’t enough of any of the elements to make it worthwhile for others to check it out.