Tag Archives: Dramas Based on the Book


A brash Manhattan industrialist, his coke-bingeing wife and a slum wino have something grisly in common: They’re the latest victims in a series of seemingly motiveless murders, and all of them appear to have been killed by animals. Albert Finney stars in this shivery tale about brutal murders pointing to a previously unknown breed of canine creatures. Michael Wadleigh directs an innovative take on the werewolf legend full of mood and menace.

Rating: 7 out of 10

A high end, state of the art, protection agency along with the NYPD blames the horrific deaths of an uber- rich land developer and his wife on urban terrorists. Little do they know the actual criminals behind it all are a pack of mythic, bad ass, super wolves that live in the South Bronx. Bullshit, you say? Nah, it’s not. It’s the plot to Micheal Wadleigh’s 1981 horror thriller Wolfen based on the novel by Whitley Strieber. It stars Albert Finney as the hardened, semi retired police captain who is displeased about being on the case but is attracted to the police psychologist played by a very capable and likeable Diane Venora. Gregory Hines steals just about every scene he is in portraying a hip but smart medical examiner. And he sports an afro that has it’s own zip code.

I find that this film does work on many levels but it’s hard to peg where the story wants to solidify. It has all the cliche horror manipulations but it provokes thought from the viewer. There is native american indian folklore to consider since a suspect played by Edward James Olmos considers himself to be a shapeshifter. There is a subplot involving Wall Street terrorists and there is animal rights guy that claims “people kill people, not wolves.” Wrong. This film was probably a steadicam operator’s nightmare since it is used every time we go into wolfvision. It become dizzying at times but is still effective. There is some gore but not anything your average 12 year old can’t handle. I liked the film’s mood though when it evolves toward the discovery of the wolves hunting but yet protecting their turf in the Bronx. Hence the murder of the land developer. Wadleigh exudes carefully placed character interaction and mystery to propel the story to it’s rather timid ending.

The effects are a bit dated and Finney and Venora have zero chemistry. This though doesn’t really bog down Wolfen. It’s still pretty cool watching the wolves hunt their prey and when we eventually see them we are not disappointed. The wolves are beautiful yet very fierce and they do not want humans enchroaching on their territory. So there you have it. Wolfen is a smart, horror pop film from the early 80’s and it still has legs. It just won’t make you howl at the moon.

Five Movies to Snuggle Up to on Valentine’s Day


This is not my list of the best romantic films of all times. This is simply a list of some great romantic movies for you and a loved one to snuggle up to with a big bowl of buttery popcorn and watch on a chilly Saint Valentine’s Day evening. Here’s hoping you have a romantic day full of love!

Say Anything: This is one of the best teen movies from the 80s, and it’s just a heart-warming, romantic story of the lovable loser who falls for the perfect girl — a valedictorian. Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) and high school goody-goody Diane Court (Ione Skye) are threatened when Diane’s overly possessive, disapproving father (John Mahoney) interferes with their relationship. With a prized scholarship to study abroad hanging in the balance, Diane must find a way to make both men happy. Writer-director Cameron Crowe steers this 1980s teen flick into instant-classic territory. I highly recommend!

Amélie:This is one of the most darling films I have ever seen. If you don’t mind subtitles — as I’m sure many of you don’t — then this is a movie you may want to grab. It’s visually stunning with a truly unique director in Jean-Pierre Jeunet ( A Very Long Engagement), a fantastic romance story that unfolds in unusual and gripping ways, and it’s just pure fun. Definitely a winner.

A Very Long Engagement: This is another Jean-Pierre Jeunet film. What can I say? The guy makes great romantic films. Audrey Tautou stars as Mathilde, a young Frenchwoman who vows to find out what happened to her missing fiancé (Gaspard Ulliel) during World War I. He appears to have died after a court-martial, but she needs to know for sure. As she looks for the truth, she discovers unexpected things about herself and the people she meets along the way. It has some heart ache along the way, but what great love doesn’t?

Forest Gump: This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Most certainly in the top 25. It has everything you could want in a romantic film — a love that’s sparked from childhood that drives a character in everything he does through some of the most incredible experiences any man could have. There is nothing wrong with this movie. It’s simply flawless, and Forest’s innocence and love of someone who, on the surface, is beyond broken after so much tragedy befalls her, is touching. We all could learn to love like he does. It’s a wonderful movie, and a great choice for Valentine’s Day.

Slumdog Millionaire: I hadn’t seen this film when it won best picture. I’m always skeptical of films that become critic’s darlings and run away with all the trophies. This is not one of the best films I’ve ever seen, but it’s a fantastic date movie. It’s got a nice romantic plot with another character who endures incredibly terrible things all the while trying to find a long-lost love. I think it’s true that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Love isn’t worth having if it’s not worth fighting for.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Four boyhood pals perform a heroic act and are changed by the powers they gain in return. Years later, on a hunting trip in the Maine woods, they’re overtaken by a vicious blizzard that harbors an ominous presence. Challenged to stop an alien force, the friends must first prevent the slaughter of innocent civilians by a military vigilante … and then overcome a threat to the bond that unites the four of them.

Rating: 2 out of 10

In a word: crap.

This is a film based on the very popular Stephen King novel by the same name, but unfortunately this film has gone the way  most of the author’s books have when adapted to the big screen. It’s totally confusing, hard to piece to together, vague, and poorly acted — even by Morgan Freeman who could do nothing to save incredibly hokey dialogue.

In short, four friends rescue a retarded kid from some bullies. The retarded kid then gives them psychic powers. Flash forward 20 years, a plague breaks out from an alien who has been hunted for decades by a secret military group. You with me? OK. The alien is inside of one of the guys heads and he’s slowly killing off all the friends. The leader of the military is a psycho who is also after the friends, mainly the one whose been possessed by a super evil alien who wants to poison our drinking water with these crazy alien snakes that have been killing everyone. The alien snakes hatch eggs in bodies and then pop out their butts covered in blood. Yes… I’m serious.

In the end, the retarded kid shows up as an adult, turns into a bad-ass alien, and kills the super evil alien. A bunch of people die in between in horrible ways and you’re left completely confused, not only by the story, but how they made such a terrible film. Completely forgettable.

The Social Network

Director David Fincher’s biographical drama chronicles the meteoric rise of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) from Harvard sophomore to Internet superstar, examining his relationships with co-founder Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) and Napster founder Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake). Winning Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Director, the film also racked up Oscar nods in the same categories and for lead actor Eisenberg.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Even after “The Social Network” ended I didn’t know if I liked or hated Mark Zuckerberg, but I loved the movie either way.

David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin should never stop working together. The story of how Facebook was created by a Harvard undergrad and his friends could be told in a magazine article or story on the news, but it was was turned into an engrossing, funny, interesting movie that I think anyone would like.

The cast of young, mostly unknown, actors is amazing. And, I know people talk about Justin Timberlake being able to do whatever he wants, but I think he really can. He was great as the creator of Napster.

I don’t know how accurate the story is or who I side with, but hey, they’re all rich, so who cares.

The Andromeda Strain

A satellite crashes in New Mexico, prompting scientists to race against the clock to stop a deadly virus from spreading in this Oscar-nominated sci-fi classic based on Michael Crichton’s novel of the same name. The alien illness that sprang from the probe has already killed most of those living near the crash site, and now it’s up to a team of scientists to stop it. Note: Contains graphic scenes that may be unsuitable for young children.

Rating: 8 out of 10

When I reviewed “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” I lauded director Robert Wise for his phenomenal diversity in tackling the many genres that make up the pantheon of Hollywood films. I applaud Robert Wise once more for taking on what Stanley Kubrick had only done until “The Andromeda Strain.” The cerebral sci-fi film was released in 1971 and is based on the gripping novel of the same name by the late Micheal Crichton.

In fact it seems as if 2001 and Strain are almost polar opposites in design. 2001 is about mankind’s expansion and Strain is about the demise of man from a strong, super-bad virus from outer space. It comes piggy backed via a satellite that crashes and wipes out an entire town, save but only an infant and an old man.

The film follows the book closely and Robert Wise allows no pretention. There is a race on to catch a super germ from outer space and the feds need the scientists to catch it. We get very straight talking scientists and straight talking G-men in this cold and calculating geek-fest. There are many great elements, such as the art direction, which was nominated for an Oscar. Like MGM’s “Forbidden Planet” (soon to be reviewed), it has a complete electronic score by Gil Melle that is very cold and eerie. Composition and color stand out amazingly much like his work on Star Trek The Motion Picture.

Andromeda Strain is a great sci fi medical thriller but it’s possible scenario is what makes it hit home with many fans of the virus outbreak thrillers. Full of suspense and surprise I highly recommend “The Andromeda Strain.”

The Town

As FBI agent Adam (Jon Hamm) hunts for them all around Charlestown, Mass., highly skilled bank robbers Doug (Ben Affleck) and Jim (Jeremy Renner) plan their next hit. Meanwhile, Doug falls for do-gooder Claire (Rebecca Hall), who is unaware that Doug took her hostage during his last heist. Affleck directed and co-wrote this intricate action/drama that co-stars Blake Lively as Krista, Jim’s sister and Doug’s troubled former flame.

Rating: 8 out of 10

After “Mallrats” and “Chasing Amy,” I thought Ben Affleck was the future of Hollywood. Then he and Matt Damon won an Oscar for “Good Will Hunting” and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store. But then he came out with a string of awful movies, like “Daredevil,” “Armageddon” “Gigli” “Paycheck” “Jersey Girl” “Reindeer Games” and possibly the worst movie ever, the Michael Bay disaster “Pearl Harbor.” But Affleck has redeemed himself and his career in recent years with “Gone Baby Gone,” “Hollywoodland,” “State of Play,” a funny supporting role in “Extract, and now this Oscar-worthy film.

Affleck is finding himself as a director. “Gone Baby Gone” is one of the better films in the past few years, and “The Town” stands up to it. There is an intriguing love story between Doug and Claire that is intertwined with the FBI investigation. Jeremy Renner has a strong performance as James, the thug friend of Doug who is out of control and reckless. Blake Lively has the best performance of the film as Doug’s trashy, junky sister. I think she could easily be nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar.

The town has a nice mixture of bank heist action, suspense, conflicted love and friendships, criminal mystery and personal drama. It’s a dynamic film that has a lot going on. It gets lost at times because of the amount of characters and plot that need developing, and it slows down at times because of it and some aspects aren’t developed in great detail, but this film is definitely worth seeing in the theaters. Don’t be surprised if it gets a handful of Oscars nominations.