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Rating History

Deathwatch (2002)
1 day ago via Movies on iPhone

A unique setting raises this film above similarly themed films. Trenches are gloomy by nature and it doesn't take much to turn that omnipresent dread into terror. For once, our stalwart heroes have an obvious reason to place themselves in such a terrifying place. The downside is that they don't do much with the setting they're given. We get a few scary scenes (at least one of them memorable) but mainly it's just relying on the atmosphere to be disturbing without the need for much else.

Below (2002)
7 days ago via Movies on iPhone

A slow-paced ghost story set on a sub in WW2. Subs are naturally claustrophobic and scary, so this seems an ideal fit, but they're also quite linear, which means that you can't really not know what direction trouble's coming from. They're also crowded, another downside for a horror film, a genre that relies strongly on isolation to create scares. These aren't impossible hurdles to overcome (again, being in a metal tube thousands of feet beneath the water is scary by itself) but they do require a different approach to a typical horror film. This film doesn't really provide that. Instead it just cuts out those bits that don't work in a sub and replaces them with nothing much really.

Flight of the Navigator
16 days ago via Movies on iPhone

This is one of those films that flirts with greatness but never quite reaches it. The first half of the film sets up an amazingly unusual drama by having the kid discover he's somehow gone ten years into the future. A bit like a modern Rip Van Winkle only as a child. This gives us so many opportunities to explore the curiously shifting relationships between a boy who hasn't aged a day and his eight years' wiser family (including a younger brother who's now older than him) who all thought he was dead. It doesn't go deep but perhaps that would be too ambitious. Plus it doesn't have the time. The problem then becomes what to do with such an amazing setup. The answer involves alien spaceships. Not a bad twist. The problem is that once he gets onto the ship all plot advancement halts. Instead of going to meet the aliens, or fleeing from the Feds, or capitalizing on the family drama he simply flies around looking for home. I mean, I get why he wants to go back but it's not a very interesting conflict to watch. Especially since we rarely leave the ship. It's never exciting and it squanders the dramatic opportunities established earlier in the film. Which is too bad because the film that could have existed had the potential to be truly amazing.

Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years
18 days ago via Movies on iPhone

Even less structured than the last one, this film's main focus is the failing marriage (but successful partnership) between Franklin and Eleanor.