Nicholas S.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Jesus....where to start. Great later Vincent Price movie. In fact, my one of my favorites, second only to Theatre of Blood. Anton Phibes (Price) was a very successful concert organist who was horrible disfigured and left unable to speak after a car accident that happened when he was rushing to be at the side of his ill wife, Victoria. He survives his ordeal only to discover that his beloved bride had died on the operating table. Unhinged, Phibes embarks on a spree of murders (all themed from the Ten plagues of Egypt of the Old Testament, hell bent on eliminating anyone who was involved with his wife's botched operation. Trying to stop him are New Scotland Yard Inspector Harry Trout (played by Peter Jeffrey of Dr. Who and Midnight Express fame) and Dr. Vesalius (played by veteran American actor Joseph Cotten). All of the performances in the film are solid, with special props going to the three main male leads I mentioned. Vincent Price gives one of the most iconic performances of his career as the titular Dr. Phibes. He plays the character gleefully over the top in a way that only Vincent Price could manage. Also worth mentioning that he worked in nuances of his own personality into the character (such as his love of gourmet cooking and penchant for art snobbery).

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The fourth pirates outing starts promising enough, and glides steadily down hill to an ending that I saw as soon as I heard the phrase "fountain of youth". It all went downhill pretty quickly....proof that this series has come to rely on a pretty cut and dried formula, which, back in 2002, worked pretty damn good. Back then, though...Jack Sparrow was god. I left the theatre after seeing the Curse of The Black Pearl begging for more...and they delivered. Unfortunately, the movies just got progressively worse and worse, culminating in this anal abomination. On Stranger Tides as all the slick action and impressive visuals and epic set pieces that have become the hallmark of the series. On a technical level, it's every bit of the shining eye candy that you would expect it to be. Acting....I want Johnny Depp to distance himself from Jack much as he can. The character has become him, and, while it was cool to begin with, now I just want him to die. Geoffrey Rush is...well...not awesome (never thought I'd say that). He's just kinda there, but doesn't really add much to it. Peneope Cruz is...well...same story. Totally unremarkable (never thought I'd hear my self say that I missed Keira Knightly). Now....Ian McShane as your cooking with gas. He was great. The showstealer. But unfortunately, he wasn't good enough to carry the film on his own. If they make another movie...which I'm sure they will (cashcows), I hope they bring back the Blackbeard character and flesh him out some more. The bottom line....Jack Sparrow is an annoying tool. Harder core fans of the series will probably like this...but I'm afraid I can't recommend it.


Okay...another movie I expected to suck big time. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. I won't lie...I know next to nothing about the source material. And even less about Norse mythology. That being said, I don't know how true Thor was to the comics. What I do know is that Thor had a pretty good plot, a few really good performances (one of which does NOT come from Kat Dennings, and some awesome slick visuals. On the flip side, I feel that several actors were woefully underused. Anthony Hopkins got nowhere near enough screentime. Stellan Skarsgård (who is one of my favorite actors) got more, but he just wasn't giving as much into the character as he could have. Also, I felt that there wasn't near enough character development in the beginning. One moment Thor and Loki are young boys, sreenwipe, now they are fully grown, Thor is an arrogant jock, Loki looks like the child catcher from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. Zero explanation how they got there. My final grip is that S.H.I.E.L.D. was driving around in Acura crossover SUVs (obvious product placement). They should be driving around in 9,000 pound Vortec V-8 powered Chevy Suburbans, like any good shady government agency. The bottom line is that Thor, while it doesn't utilize the time and talent it has the way it should, is still well worth the time.

The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet may be one of the most disappointing movies I've seen in the last ten years. I grew up watching the can rail on about the Adam West Batman, but for me, The Green Hornet is where it is (it gave us Bruce Lee, for chrissakes). When I heard that they were making a movie, I got pretty psyched (in spite of myself). Even more so when I heard Michel Gondry was directing. Then I heard Seth Rogen was staring, and I lost all hope. The Green Hornet bares little to no resemblance to it's source material...not that it matters, since very few people of this generation had even heard of the old school hero to begin with. It's like they tried to make the character Britt Reid the most un-likable douchedevil they could. This is where most of the comedy comes from, and to be fare, Rogen does alright with it. Most of the other portrails are pretty much unremarkable, with the exeptions being Kato (played by Taiwanese superstar Jay Chou) and Chudnofsky (played by Christoph Waltz of Inglorious Basterds fame). Kato...let's face it. The shoes of Bruce Lee are biiiiig shoes for anyone to step into. Jay Chou does acceptably well, but most of it just comes from the way the character was written. Chudnofsky is the opposite of this. Waltz plays him with an absurd level of over-the-topness, and it just works. You can tell he's having the time of his life in this movie. On a technical level, the movie looks pretty good. There were lots of nice stylistic touches that give it a good level of polish (such as the 66' Chrysler Imperial Black Beauty). It did, however, totally lack the surealist touch that Gondry gave is other films, though. I can only assume that a good portion of the movie was made by Stephen Chow (who was originally signed on to direct), and Gondry filled in the blanks. The bottom line...if you see The Green Hornet in the 2-dollar DVD bin at Gamestop in the future...then's the perfect time to see it.


My TV refused to work after watching this fetid piece of ass. I'm dead serious. That's how bad this movie is. Nothing redeeming about it. Bottom line...if you want to watch this movie again after seeing it the first help. Fast.

The Hangover Part II

Okay, the first Hangover was good. Good as something that's not really my particular brand of vodka can be. It wasn't great, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it was passable. The Hangover 2 seems like it should also be good. It is, after all, the exact same thing as the first, just set in Bangkok as opposed to Vegas. I suppose the formula didn't age well, because to be frank, it sucked. It made no improvements over the first, in fact, it made zero effort to set the bar higher by just aiming to hit the exact same mark as the first. The bottom line....The Hangover 2 is certainly not horrible...just...well...average. Wait for the DVD.

To Live and Die in L.A.

I mentioned in my review for it that Black Rain suffered from a terminal case of the 80' very way, To Live And Die in L.A. is worse...horribly dated is an understatement. And this would probably drive a lot of people away from it. Which proves that most that most people are idiots. As ultra-cocky secret service agent Chance, William Petersen gives one of the finest performances of his career. Chance is on a mission to avenge the death of his partner at the hands of Ferrari-driving master counterfeiter Rick Masters (played perfectly by Willem Dafoe), and, with a drive that borders on monomania, will stop at nothing (even if it costs the lives of him and his new partner (John Pankow)). Great story, great visuals, a fantastic car chase (in my opinion better than director William Friedkin's early The French Connection), and some top-notch acting. With it's Wang Chung sound track, this film feels like a museum piece, but it's still an essential for any fan of the action thriller genre.

Double Tap
Double Tap(2000)

Rick Pang (Portrayed by the late Cantopop star and John Woo veteran Leslie Cheung) is a gunsmith and a highly skilled practical shooter. During a shooting match, a depressed day trader threatens the safety of innocents, and Rick his forced to kill him, using the titular double tap technique. After this, Rick discovers that he actually likes killing, loses his sanity, and goes on a killing spree (mainly focusing on members of Hong Kong's finest). Miu, the reigning pistol champ, is also the detective in charge of Rick's case. Technically, the film is fairly well made. There are some choppy edits, and the score is a tad questionable, but nothing that isn't easily looked past. It is apparent that much research went into the shooting aspect of the film. That being said, the gunplay is some of the most realistic I've ever seen. This give the films action scenes a high level of polish (though some of this is ruined with a few cheesy CGI bits). On the acting side of things, most of the performances are fairly average, with the exception of Leslie Cheung. As Rick Pang, he easily slips between arrogantly taunting his nemesis and gunning down his pursuers with a cold detachment the likes I haven't since the police station massacre in the the first Terminator movie. While far from perfect, Double tap is a fun and engaging movie that any HK movie enthusiast can enjoy along with anybody who just happens to enjoy some good gun porn.

13 Assassins
13 Assassins(2011)

I won't lie....I totally expected this movie to suck...but, low and behold, it didn't. This is one of the best jidaigeki since the days of the Japanese master himself, A.K. Though be warned, some may not dig the slow build up, but the end result is well worth the wait.

Black Rain
Black Rain(1989)

Admittedly, this movie suffers from a terminal case of the 80's, however, it is still a very solid thriller, with good performances from Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, the Japanese Clint Eastwood Ken Takakura, and Yusaku Matsuda, who is highly memorable as the villian, Sato (also worth mentioning that Matsuda died of bladder cancer shortly before the release of Black Rain). A good hybrid of the East-Meets-West and Buddy Cop genres, Black Rain might not have aged as well as some, but it still rarely disappoints.


Solaris is the prome example of those odd little experiences in life that try the hell out of you, but leave you feeling totally satisfied in the end. Yes, it's got a slow, deliberate (some may even say plodding) pace, it's very pretentious, and requires some serious thought (and maybe a second viewing, if your patience will allow it), and (as with Stalker) it's metaphysical themes may be a bit hard to take seriously, but...if you can get through all this, you have one of the greatest movies that a cineaste could possibly ask for. Under Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky's more than able hand, Solaris us beautiful, serene, and haunting scene after scene. One the side of acting, good performances all around, but with extra props going to the female lead. While it may but the casual view off, Solaris is a must for anyone who calls their self a "movie buff".


Two words: incredibly mediocre. The effects were good in certain places, but, alas, they are nowhere near good enough to carry the rest of this overly-polished Z-movie. On the acting side, everybody is a nobody to me (with the exception with David Zayas, whom I know from Dexter). Occasionally, this can be a pleasant surprise. Skyline is not one of those cases. All the acting in this movie is totally sub par (with the aforementioned David Zayas being particularly incompetent). So, in the end of the day, Skyline is a somewhat buffed up package of trite sci-fi cliches and people doing what barley passes as acting.

The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day

Boondock Saints 2: Electric Boogaloo....all the lame Tarantino knock-offness, half-assed violence, bad acting, and other poor production values that was the first, but with less Willem Dafoe. Who thought this looked good on paper?..


Even a fairly minor Kinski/Herzog outing is a great one. While I doubt this is what the great German director and his volatile star intended for me to feel, I cannot feel sorry for the poor, unfortunate, bumbling Franz Woyzeck, a soldier on tip-toeing along the edges of madness. I feel that this is because Woyzeck was produced right after Nosferatu The Vampire...thus explaining the more pathetically comical, burned-out performance. Still, despite lacking the usual level of insanity, Woyzeck is still a fascinating character study, and a must-have for fans of the director.

Vengeance (Fuk sau)


Vengeance is, in my opinion, the masterwork of Honk Kong super-director Johnnie To. The hight of To's stylish approach, but with substance to match. French rockstar Johnny Hallyday's performance as Costello, a chef/ex-hitman on a mission to avenge his daughter and her murdered husband and children, is a tad cardboard, but this actually contributes to the character, since he is slowly loosing his memory. Anthony Wong, Lam Suet, and Gordon Lam are good as Costello's aloof-yet-noble professional killer companions. And Simon Yam is perfect as the slimy George Fung, the main antagonist. Like many of To's films, Vengeance knows just when to flick your adrenaline switch up to eleven, and when to shut it off and play with your heartstrings. A must for someone who is looking for an action film that delivers more than your usual fare.

Triad Election (Hak se wui yi wo wai kwai)

Election 2 has most of what made the first so memorable; Triad goodness bound tightly together by the masterful hand of Hong Kong super-director Johnnie To. However, with main characters from the first film doing about-faces in personality and motivation, minor characters loosing what made them memorable, center stage being assumed by someone who was not that interesting, and an over-all lack of Tony Leung's over-the-top temper tantrums (couldn't they have at lest thrown in a flashback?!), Election 2 falls short of it's predecessor. Still worth a watch by even the most novice of HK cinema enthusiast, though.

Blue Velvet
Blue Velvet(1986)

David Lynch's masterwork. It somehow manages to juggle being beautiful, unsettling, disgusting, funny, disturbing, and poignant at the same time with it's portrayal of two separate sides of a small American town that somehow manage to co-exist without interfering with each other, the people who inhabit each world, and the repercussions of when the balance is disturbed.

Knight & Day
Knight & Day(2010)

Action is solid, but the story is predicable until the very end. Some genuinely funny moments, but they seem unintentional, and are few and far between. Would have made a great Tom Cruise vehicle if he still had the any semblance of a career. Made twenty years to late....

Le samouraļ
Le samouraļ(1967)

Despite being very deliberately paced, rigidly minimalist Le Samourai still manages to hold your attention until the very end. Alain Delon's stoic maybe-sociopathic portrayal of Parisian assassin Jef Costello could make for one of the just down-right coolest characters in cinema history. The film's bleak imagery is a nice contrast with the jazzy score.


For what can be considered to be Akira Kurosawa's final epic, I honestly can't think of a better way to go out. Visually awe-inspiring. I haven't seen a movie that looks this great in years. As far as I'm concerned, this movie is as close to feudal Japan as modern man can get.