Mark H.'s Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Lights Out
Lights Out (2016)
2 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Horror movies, in my opinion, usually start off with an uphill battle when it comes to critic reviews. Critics are particularly harsh on horror movies, often because the film relies on jump scares, too much CGI or recycled ideas from prior horror films. Lights Out, in a way, does suffer a bit from those very problems, but it overcomes them by simply doing it better than those films that it borrows from. Mama, a film from Guerrmo Del Toro, is a very similar film, but is far less scary. This movie benefits greatly by its relatively short run time (81 minutes) and feels fast, tight and focused. It also barely gives us time to relax or breathe, as the scares come fast and never let up from the first 5 minutes into the film. The dim, dreary locations (mostly Maria Bello's house) are spooky and envelope us in tense atmosphere even when nothing is happening. You want to open a window or turn on several lights in every room, especially the basement. This movie has been described as a thrill ride, deliberately fast-paced, with lots of action and few chances to relax. The movie takes place over a period of just a few nights and days, and every night something creepy or worse happens. It reminded me of Poltergeist, not because the films are similar, but because every night you feel like something bad is going to happen, and it usually does. This movie isn't very unique or especially novel or new, but it simply does better what other movies like it have tried to do. I really enjoyed it in a dark, crowed theater, so I paid to see it twice in consecutive nights.

Indian Summer
Indian Summer (1993)
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I love movies about summer camp. I don't know what it is, but when I was a kid, I was too homesick and terrified to actually enjoy the experience of summer camp. Now, looking back, or watching movies like Indian Summer, or even Meatballs and Little Darlings, I realize how special the experience of summer camp can be for kids with the courage and maturity to appreciate it. What is great about Indian Summer is, these 30-somethings get to return to their beloved camp as adults for one final week of camp before the camp closes for good. As the old saying goes, "youth is wasted on the young," and this movie captures that spirit by allowing these former campers one more week to relive some of the best times of their lives. I don't have fond memories of my one summer at camp, perhaps I was too young or immature to relax and enjoy it. I just wanted to survive and get home. Watching this movie makes me want to go to camp now, at age 42. In fact, my girlfriend and I are taking the journey to the very lake where this movie was filmed - Tea Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, in about 2 weeks. I can't wait. The location Director, Mike Binder picked to relive his real-life childhood camp experience is Camp Tamakwa, on Tea Lake in Algonquin Park. It's in the heart of Canada's wild, natural, untouched National Park and a perfect place to make a film like this. The casting is decent, although I could do without Kevin Pollak. The acting is fine. The only real problem with this movie, and it's a pretty big problem, is that it feels like one, long, inside joke where everyone is laughing hysterically at each of dozens of memories and most of them feel forced or not entirely believable. The actors are doing their best to express nostalgia, but it only works sometimes. An example of where it works much better is The Big Chill. We learn more about the characters and their respective relationships in that film than we do in this one. This is still a fun movie, more so for those, like me, who love the idea of camp and long for a second chance to go back and experience it. It's why we go camping in the woods as adults and why so many people buy motorhomes and journey into the woods. We all want to be campers again. And, as adults, we are better able to appreciate how special the experience is. And how lucky was Matt Craven? He got to play Hardware in Meatballs in 1979 and then Jamie Ross, 14 years later, in this film AND is engaged to gorgeous Kimberly "Father of the Bride" Williams. Lucky. I will add an addendum to this review next month after we visit the lake where this movie was filmed, and perhaps even visit the actual camp Tamakwa. I just hope it lives up to my expectations. My trip is, after all, inspired in part by this film! The movie was mostly fun for Mike Binder and childhood friend Sam Raimi, who plays Stick, as they revisit their childhood camp Mike attended for 10 straight summers. No wonder he wanted to make this movie! However, it's just another reason why it feels like such an inside joke - an experience we all wish we could have been in on, but most of us weren't.

Into the Wild
Into the Wild (2007)
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Fantastic realization of the novel of the same name about Christopher McCandless, who at age 22 and disillusioned by his parent's deception about his father's polygamy, abandons his comfortable upper-class life immediately upon graduating from college to explore the country largely on foot. He spends the first 2 years moving around the western states, taking various jobs and living off the land for weeks at a time. He travels down the Colorado River by kayak, and, after wandering for nearly 2 years, decides to travel to Alaska to attempt to live off the land for several months. The film is very well made, the performances, especially young Emile Hirsch, are very authentic and affecting. Backed by an incredible soundtrack of original songs by Eddie Vedder, this is a great movie about a somewhat lost soul, but someone most people can relate to at some point in their lives, who is merely searching for what he calls "truth." This film makes me question my own choices and lifestyle, which must say something about the power of this film. The end is tragic, but almost necessarily so. Would we have ever known of McCandless, aka "Alexander Supertramp," had he not perished alone in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wild? This is a compelling story that is, understandably, quite polarizing. Opinions vary greatly about Alex and his journey. One thing is undeniable - he had the courage and principles which few have at age 22 to walk into the world alone and try to discovery who he was. Sean Penn pays the proper respect to the life of one young man who, right or wrong, chose to live a certain life instead of being told what kind of life to live, particularly by those he no longer trusted or respected.

Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Excellent atmospheric thriller is both fun and funny while being fairly frightening in some spots. Mostly it's about the set decoration which consists of the entire town of Sleepy Hollow, built from the ground up to meet Director Tim Burton's vision of what Sleepy Hollow should look like. The acting is fine, if a bit silly at times, but this is actually a lighter mystery than conventional horror or gothic ghost story. Depp is fun as Crane, although Ricci is a bit miscast as the object of his affection. And honestly, Burton could have made better use of Christopher Walken, who is reduced to a fairly inconsequential role. We rarely see him, except in very brief glimpses of head-chopping and off he goes on his dark pony. I enjoy this movie a great deal, if mostly for the near-perfect set decoration, atmosphere and mood. Lots of nice images of spooky jack-o-laterns, misty fields and wet marshlands. It's alot of fun but seems to go on a bit too long and overstay its welcome. 15-20 minutes leaner might have been a wise move. But, overall it's a lesser effort from Burton but still one of his best and most enjoyable if you don't pick apart some liberties he took with the story. Nice annual tradition to watch around Halloween.

10 Cloverfield Lane
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

*Spoiler Alert! Any movie advertised as a "cousin" to a movie about space monsters invariably must involve space monsters at some point, right? That was my take on the marketing campaign behind "10 Cloverfield Lane." I was about 90% sure the supposed "threat" above the bomb shelter our young female protagonist wakes up in was, in fact, going to involve a space monster. It had to, was my thinking, for two reasons. First, because it would be a big cheat to refer to this film as a "cousin" or any other distant relative of Cloverfield and then have it NOT end up involving a space monster. Second, isn't it just that much more fun to make a movie where the threat is a giant space monster, as opposed to, say, a faction of North Korean military backed by the Russians and China? I just felt this movie would involve space monsters, if it were smart, and I turned out to be, well, you watch and see. As for the movie itself, any movie where just a few people spend almost every moment on screen in one or two rooms better be good actors, and engaging actors at that. Here, they made excellent casting choices. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a very good actress with nice range, and I don't know who John Gallagher Jr. is, but he was very good in this film. And finally, John Goodman, who plays the claustrophobia, militant, apocalypse-fearing, is-he-a-psycho weirdo with just enough offbeat, oddball twitches and moodiness to pull it off just right. He's very good in this movie and is a good enough reason to see it. Otherwise, the movie is just pretty good. It's not great, and it feels a bit thrown together at times for my liking. Maybe a slightly bigger budget and a more concise ending (after she heads up-top I felt a tighter ending was in order) coupled with a bit more happening in the bunker to fill this movie out and it may have been excellent. It is still a very good movie, and I really enjoyed it the first time through for sure. I did feel they showed their hand too early in the movie (about 30 minutes in) or at least tipped their cards too much for us with the first scene where our young lead makes her way to the top of the bunker. An obviously very sick woman, who looks and talks as if she's had a brush with something otherworldly, gave the mystery away I felt. If the main point of this film was to mystify us into not knowing for sure what exactly was above them, if anything, they should not have included that scene. Or, at least make it more vague so that we really don't know what the threat is. Even the mere fact that there IS a threat is something we don't really know until she shows up outside the bunker. Until then, Goodman still could have just been nutty. I wanted that mystery to play out a bit slower. In the end, this feels like a pretty good low-budget indie type thriller with some mistakes which is saved by very good acting all around. Had the acting been bad, or even average and lacked Goodman and Winstead, this would have been straight to DVD stuff. Overall, a fun, somewhat mysterious movie that gives itself away too early, then goes on too long after the hatch is blown.