Monday, October 31, 2016

Quick Review: A GOOD MAN (2014)

Superbly entertaining action pic, with Seagal in fine form as a relentless vigilante out to destroy an old nemesis. The story is simple but fun, the action fast and impressive, and Seagal and his co-stars seem to be giving it their all. One of Seagal's best DTV efforts.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Book Review: THE MOTH DIARIES by Rachel Klein

Disturbing, astute, psychological/Gothic thriller about a teenage girl's descent into madness while attending boarding school. Features memorable characters and some haunting imagery, but suffers from being monotonous and predictable.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

Endlessly inventive, compelling coming-of-age fantasy, filled to the brim with fascinating details and a hypnotic, elegiac atmosphere. But the aloof, snobbish characters and an unappealing cynical streak mar it significantly. Followed by two sequels.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Quick Review: PSYCHO COP (1989)

Surprisingly watchable micro-budget slasher/horror movie, with amateurish performances and one of the goofiest serial killers in the history of film. Followed by a sleazy, jokey sequel, Psycho Cop 2 (1993), that is fun but arguably inferior.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (1984): The Novelization: By Richard Mueller

Fun, energetic novelization of the comedy classic, with lots of extra tidbits for fans, including some fascinating background info on some of the main characters, especially Venkman (Bill Murray) and Stantz (Dan Aykroyd). It is also interesting to note the myriad difference between this version of the story and the final shooting script, as many of the jokes featured in the film are funnier and more polished. The writing feels a little rushed towards the end, but overall this is guaranteed to provide hours of entertainment for “Ghostheads”.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Book Review: SACRIFICIAL GROUND by Thomas H. Cook

I accidentally found a used paperback copy of this hugely impressive novel in a bargain bin and decided to take a chance on it. I am glad I did. Sacrificial Ground by Thomas H. Cook is an original, haunting, compelling mystery/police procedural that is high on style and atmosphere.

Cook's writing is, for the most part, impressively stylish, giving the tired genre a startling dose of energy and originality, with a unique, darkly psychological spin. Despite a tendency to over-stylize the dialogue - most characters speak in a mannered, wistful way that is far from realistic - Cook manages to imbue his plot and characters with enough life, scars, and quirks to make them memorable, while the whole novel is drenched in hypnotically poetic atmospherics. Highly recommended for fans of mystery/thrillers who are looking for something a little different.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Quick Review: MOST LIKELY TO DIE (2015)

Watchable, average slasher, slowly paced and with subpar performances. The make-up effects and kills are gruesomely impressive, though.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016)

As a die-hard fan of the original Ghostbusters (1984), I started watching this movie with a lot on my mind: Is it going to ruin the original for me? Is it going to suck? Was it even necessary to reboot the whole franchise?

A few minutes into it, I began to loosen up and have fun. And fun is the operative word here. The chemistry between the leads is infectious, the jokes are more hit than miss, and the effects are impressive without being too overwhelming. This is a movie that is designed to give you a good time, and it does.

But that's not the whole story. Ghostbusters (2016) is also a film that works less than it should, considering the talent involved (director Paul Feig, Melissa McCarthy, and a number of SNL stalwarts), with everybody either trying too hard or not hard enough. The script, while having some truly hilarious moments, is weak on plot, with a cartoonish, forgettable villain.

But the film's biggest fault is simply this: the filmmakers behind Ghostbusters (2016) can't seem to make up their minds whether the movie is supposed to be a bold reboot with its own identity, or a timid homage to a timeless comedy classic, with the cameos, which are for the most part uninspired, not helping matters. Add to that the lack of any serious involvement from Dan Aykroyd, the quirky genius behind the whole franchise and the man who gave the original most of its ideas, and you have a movie that it isn't as quirky or atmospheric as the original.

Which leaves us with a movie that is fun, diverting, and has its moments, but, on the whole, unremarkable. And for fans like myself who have been waiting for a new Ghotsbusters movie for almost thirty years, it isn't exactly what we were hoping for. But we will take it.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.