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Top 5/Bottom 5 Movies of 2009

First let me say that I’m not a professional movie critic. I actually have to PAY for all of my tickets, so naturally I haven’t seen everything, and I’m not putting movies on my list that I haven’t seen.

I was going to do Top 10 and Bottom 10 in separate articles, but then I realized that nearly half of the movies I’d seen would have to be on one list or the other (I counted, I’ve seen 42 movies this year, five of them more than once), so I pared it down to 5 of each.

There are some films (Hurt Locker and Bright Star in particular) that might have been on the “top” list if I’d seen them, but they never came to Sydney. I also tend to avoid movies if I think they’re going to be bad, so the ones on this list are the ones that slipped through my filters and/or I was dragged to by friends.

That said, on with the best and worst films I’ve seen in theaters in 2009.

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How to: Make a Horror Movie I Will Pay Money to See

If you’re even remotely connected to civilization, you can probably name about 30 horror movies made in the last twenty years that were not worth the time it took to watch them, let alone the 5-10 dollars (depending on whether you rented it or saw it in the theaters) you had to pay for the privilege of finding this out.

bad horror movies
I’m not naming any names, but…

You know the kind I’m talking about. They seem to be made according to a set of golden rules that go as follows:


1. Monster creatures/bad guys must spend as much time on-screen as humanly possible regardless of special effects quality and should never enter a scene unaccompanied by a loud blast of music.

2. Human characters must be as boring, whiny, and/or stupid as possible and explode like a bag of blood with a grenade in it when so much as grazed.

3. “Surprise” endings must be neither surprising nor the end of anything at all.

Getting a whiff of any of these tenets via the trailer is enough to send me and my money in the direction of another (ANY other) theater. (Congratulations, Midnight Meat Train you made me watch The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

In the interests of securing better entertainment for myself and my fellow moviegoers and more money for filmmakers (though only as a byproduct) I thought I would make this guide on how to make a movie that I will pay money for, using two films from 2007:

… as examples of what to do and what not to do, respectively. Rogue, despite its thoroughly generic poster, was surprisingly good. AVP:R also surprised me. Not by being bad, but by the depths of its horribleness.

Spoilers follow for AVPR. I consider this a favor to you, the reader. I’m saving you from having to waste two hours of your life watching it when you could stare at a blank wall instead and feel that your time was better spent.

I won’t spoil Rogue, however. That one you need to watch.

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Terminator Salvation Review, or Why You Should Never Get Into a Helicopter With John Connor

 good Terminator Salvation poster: the one without the giant metal face

Six years after the rather lackluster Terminator 3 came out and one year into the canon-bending Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles improbably named director McG got the go-ahead for a fourth film in the Terminator series: Terminator Salvation.

Terminator Salvation picks up the “John Connor is the hero of humanity” story from the first three Terminator films, but in the future, then the machines rule. Instead of following John this time, our hero is Marcus Wright a convicted murderer who wakes up in post Judgment Day Los Angeles fifteen years after his own execution to find himself in the middle of an all out war between the last remaining humans and the machines controlled by Skynet.

Sounds cool right? Unfortunately some people, even some people who are Sam Worthington have criticized Terminator Salvation for being plot-holey and a little unfocused. (FYI Sam Worthington played Marcus Wright, in case you were wondering why anyone cares what he says).

Click below to read more about that these mythical “some people” say, and what I say back to them.

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The Thorn Birds Miniseries Review: Why does no one else think this is terrible?

 The Thorn Birds: the book

For the longest time, whenever I heard “The Thorn Birds” I thought of “The Thunderbirds”. The former is a novel by Colleen McCullough about the Australian Outback in the 20th Century and the latter is a British television drama featuring marionettes who fly toy rockets and rescue people.

When I did finally get around to reading the Thorn Birds book and learned that it was awesome, I borrowed the video of the Thorn Birds miniseries.

It’s about a girl named Meggie who moves to a sheep station in the Outback with her Irish family and falls in love with an older Catholic priest named Ralph that she can’t marry but keeps trying to bone anyway. For years. Her other family members play into the story as well, as does the Vatican, World War II, and Queensland being very hot, but for the purposes of the miniseries and therefore this review, they’re largely irrelevant.

Usually I feel slightly guilty about not paying for things but am I ever glad I didn’t hand over any money for this one. It saves me the trouble of demanding it back.

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