We Need A New Iconic Horror Villain!


ImageGrowing up in the 1980’s was awesome. We had great movies genre movies coming out constantly like The Thing and Aliens. But one thing that really made genre movies so special in the 80’s was the glut of iconic horror villains we had to fear. From the 1970’s on through the hayday of the 80’s we had the likes of Leatherface, Freddy, Jason, Michael, Chucky, Pinhead and so many more. To a lesser extent you can include the Predator and the Xenomorphs from the Alien franchise. These were characters we rooted for, feared and hated all at once. They were wiping out the sinners. They were sparing the pure while making them strong. This was something I still feel that churches should get behind. 

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In most horror films from the 80’s you had a bunch of immoral types likes druggies, drinkers, fornicators and just all around undesirables, Then you had the heroine of the film – a girl filled with chastity and virtue. Who lived and who died? It’s pretty simple, really. The chaste girl always won out in the end. Why? Because she was pure of heart, mind and soul. This should be something the church recognizes and backs. They should want these films made and should show them in Sunday school. After all, most churches try to instill fear into their children to keep them on the straight and narrow. Catholics, I’m talking to you!

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But I got away from my original point. We don’t have iconic villains being created anymore. At best we get inferior remakes of A Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween. But where are the new guys? Ghostface Killer from Scream? He doesn’t quite fit the bill but he’s close. Jigsaw from Saw? He’s been dead since the third movie. But he’s also a little closer in theme. He did go after sinners, people not living life to their full potential and attempted to purify them. What about the invisible demon from Paranormal Activity? Nope. Although there is the family connection there as there was with so many horror films in the 80’s. Death in Final Destination? Again we never see him. And I always felt they should refer to him as Rube for the elaborate Rube Goldberg style traps we see in each kill. 

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The closest thing we have to 70’s and 80’s style icon is Victor Crawley from Hatchet. He’s one bad mammajamma. But, sadly, the Hatchet films barely get a theatrical release. It’s as if Hollywood doesn’t think we want a new crop of evil baddies…unless they’re remake versions of the originals.

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But here’s my question – is it Hollywood or is it us? What do we want to see? More of the same watered down PG-13 ghost stories, torture porn, or do we want a return to old school horror? I vote for old school. I hope I’m not the only one. I also hope it’s not because I was raised on them.   

That’s all I have to say on the subject until Wednesday when the next edition of The Gorram Nerd Hour hits. You can follow me on Twitter here, here and here. Or find us on Facebook.

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Evil Dead And Other Remakes


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Over the course of history we have had to suffer through a multitude of remakes with more on the way. It’s a fact of life that Hollywood wants to capitalize on a name. That’s just how it goes. How many times have seen the same Shakespeare story put on film even though there are other equally good Shakespeare plays that never get made? Why? Because people recognize the names of Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet.

Horror films get hit harder than any other genre because, as horror fans, we get excited that someone is actually releasing a horror movie in theaters. So we go and immediately take to the internet whining and complaining about the latest remake or sequel and how much the studio/director/star ruined your memories. But we go. Studios know this. And what do studios care about most? It’s not the fans. It’s profit. So we get remakes and a sequel a year to the likes of Saw or Paranormal Activity not because we demand it but because they know we’ll watch it. Hell, I have seen every Children Of The Corn and Hellraiser movie, not because I like them but because they were there. That’s what studios count on. Being a genre fan is frustrating and rewarding all at once.

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Thirty one years ago an established horror and science fiction filmmaker set out to make his first remake before they became the trendy thing to do in Hollywood. It was one of the only films in that thirty one years to do it right. The movie was The Thing, the filmmaker John Carpenter. He was already moving toward legendary statud thanks to Assault On Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog and Escape From New York. At the time this seemed like a bad career choice. Why make someone else’s film when you could do something original? But he believed in the movie and felt it had something to say just in the same way that the remake of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers did just a few years earlier. And, like Invasion, he got it right. Since then we have seen nearly all his early masterwork remade. None match what he did with the originals. There have also been a slew of other remakes of famous horror franchises with varying degrees of success – A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday The 13th, Prom Night, The Hills Have Eyes. The list goes on and grows by the day.
One movie that many prayed for a sequel to and feared a remake of was Evil Dead. This was the movie that launched director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and star Bruce Campbell. It mixed horror and humor seemlessly as well giving us the most innovative low budget look any horror movie ever could. For those reasons fans, myself included, feared that someone would one day ruin the franchise for us with a remake that insulted us all. I’m glad I was wrong.

The movie started in a very different way than the original. It opened with a woman, bloody and beaten, trying to escape through the woods when something bad happens. Then it cuts to introducing us to the the cast twenty-something pretty people that one expects from a horror movie. But that’s where the movie stops being like your typical “Dead Teenager Movie” (if could steal a phrase from the late, great Roger Ebert). Fede Alvarez had a very clear vision of maing a movie that was not only faithful to the Evil Dead fans but also a balls out horror film that was original and gory fun.

It’s hard to get a remake right because people feel all at once beholden to the original material and have a strong desire to explain things. Take Halloween. Rob Zombie felt that he had to keep the genreal story intact while explaining the childhood of Michael Myers. A Nightmare On Elm Street did a similar thing with giving more back story on Freddy right from the start. This used to be something that wasn’t given till you were three sequels deep in the 80’s. And there’s a reason for that. You need to go in to the first film with the intention of scaring the living shit out of your audience. When you begin to explain the evil away the audience begins to sympathize with the killer. That is like putting the nail in the coffin before the movie is even released. Fede Alvarez knew better. He didn’t go into detail about where the Necronomicon came from or how it gained its power. It was just evil and there were people stupid enough to not heed the warnings and read from it anyway.

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The movie got more right than it got wrong. It was smart enough to play with what we expect by keeping us guessing on who would live and who would die. The beats pulled from the previous Evil Dead movies were given a nice twist that kept me guessing. And Jane Levy was truly amazing as Mia. She went from frail to frightened to posessed to all out evil with what seemed to be such effortless ease. For her alone the movie is worth watching. But all the star aligned just right for this film. The cast, the director, the script – everything was spot on. Alvarez took just enough from Raimi’s style to make it feel like an Evil Dead movie while bringing in his own crazy style that fit so well for the movie. I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Also, stay after the credits for a little surprise.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars on this one. It is what horror remakes should aspire to – a movie that doesn’t need to be defined by the fact that it’s a remake.

Red Dawn: The Worthless Remake


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Anyone that reads this blog knows I hate remakes. I don’t pretend. But I will give credit where credit is due – True Grit, 3:10 To Yuma, The Thing, Last House On The Left. These all brought something to the table and were worthwhile remakes. When I first heard they were remaking Red Dawn I actually thought it may actually be a good idea. With the state of the world as it is today it seemed like it was a story worth telling again. I was even excited about the fact that they were using the Chinese as the bad guys. It made sense.

That was 2009.

By the time the movie hit theaters some three years later I had lost all hope that the movie could actually be good. Why? Not because it sat on the shelf. No. That’s easily explained due to MGM’s bankruptcy issues. The reason I lost faith was that the studio decided that China was too big a movie market to use them as a villain and potentially lose millions in revenue. So, instead, they changed the villain to North Korea because it’s okay to hate them unless you’re Dennis Rodman. The movie that’s creative decisions are made by following the dollar is not a movie worth seeing.

With all that said I want to tell you that I went into the movie with an open mind. But that didn’t last long. The moment the first car chase happened I was over being nice to the movie. The movie had a promising cast, an interesting director, even some really cool stunt work. But none of that could save the movie from the studio.

You know, I would normally go on and on about how much I hated the movie but just read my Twitter feed for the 23 tweets I sent out while watching it. They’re probably more entertaining than the movie itself.

Sorry for the lazy blogging. The movie just kinda put me in a mood. I need to watch something better to get this bad taste out of my mouth. Where’s my copy of Showgirls?

1 out of 5 stars.

Why I Like JJ Abrams For Star Wars


When Star Trek ended it’s long run of spin-off series after something like 19 years the movie franchise had already gone down in flames. People were saying it was the end of Trek. Rick Berman, the man who took over for Gene Roddenberry, had simply refused to break too far from the formula he felt still worked after all these years. The problem was the formula was making it increasingly more difficult to ever begin watching Star Trek without starting from the beginning. 

Many years of non-stop television series, ten movies over twenty five years, and constant complaints…even from the most die hard fans meant we may have seen the end of Star Trek. Thankfully Paramount wasn’t ready to accept it. They wanted a way to make Trek accessible to the masses. So they said, “To hell with the fan’s Prime Directive. We’re gonna shake things up.” And shake them up they did. After creating the best Mission Impossible up to that point Paramount was highly impressed with JJ Abrams and wanted to extend their working relationship with the man. Soon after they announced he would be taking the reigns of one of the most beloved franchises in the history of media. 

Let me say something here – I hate remakes/reboots/prequels or whatever other name they spend more time coming up with than the actual scripts of the remakes/reboots/prequels Hollywood makes. For some reason, though, after seeing Star Trek in 2009 I was completely satisfied. It was sort of a remake/reboot/prequel/sequel all rolled into one. And it worked. Abrams was not really a fan of Star Trek but two of his good friends and frequent collaborators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were. He tasked them with the near impossible – make a script that marries all of Trek together and changes everything to make it fresh and new. Abrams used his love for Star Wars by creating some great fights and seriously cool space battles, something more epic than we had seen in any of the previous Trek films. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is coming this Summer. I have seen the 9 minutes of footage they played in front of the Imax version of The Hobbit and let me say I was seriously impressed. Some say it’s a betrayal of Trek franchise for Abrams to leave it. I don’t see it that way. He has a proven history of laying the groundwork for other people to expand on the worlds he creates. With Alias he took a backseat after a couple years and allowed others to continue it on. With Lost he allowed Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse to make it into the show that became event television for six years. Fringe was left in the hands of others as well. He continued to stay on as executive producer for all of them but nurtured others into taking these shows and moving them in exciting new directions. Even after Mission Impossible III he stayed on as producer, hired a couple of writers he’d worked with in the past and entrusted the directing duties to Brad Bird. He took the fourth film and made the best one in the history of the franchise. So when it comes to Trek I have faith that Abrams will find the right person to replace him and take the franchise to new heights. 

As far as Star Wars is concerned I am very excited. Abrams has a very fertile imagination, a great eye for dynamic shots, and the ability to pace a story very well. The problem with George Lucas was that he felt bored. It was like he felt obligated to make the prequel trilogy but didn’t really want to. So he loaded it with boring stuff about trade embargoes and the inner workings of the Imperial Senate. It was like the odd numbered Star Trek films and how they were slow, boring movies with little action.

Between hiring Michael Arndt as the writer, bringing in Lawrence Kasdan to consult on the script, and hiring Abrams as director I feel like this new Star Wars film could be the best on since Empire Strikes Back.

Now, let the casting rumors begin. 

Is A Robocop Remake Justified?


I am a huge fan of Robocop. My dad took me to see it in the theater as a boy and I was in love. Even before I could grasp the subtlety of the film I loved the aggressive, over the top violence and reckless abandon of the film.

I have always been a fan of movies. For as long as I can remember I have loved everything about them. But Robocop was a wholly new experience for me. It was as though I was worshiping at the alter of exploitative cinema.

Cut to present day. After crying myself to sleep at night due to the lackluster sequels, cartoon, television mini-series, cereal, and video games I had given up any more decent Robocop coming my way. Then I heard Darren Aaronofski was going to make a rebootquel. My crying changed to tears of joy. Then he dropped out. Tears of sadness again. When I heard Jose Padilla was involved I immediately said, “who?” Then I looked him up and thought he might do something fun with it. Eventually he was joined by a very talented cast like Joel Kinneman and Michael Keaton. Things were looking good.

They released a teaser trailer for the remake as a commercial for Omni Consumer Products. The teaser was good. It seemed to have a subtle sense of humor about while not trying to mimic the commercials in the original film. Plus, there was the ED-209 in all its glory. It seemed for one brief moment all was right in the world and there may be some hope that the new version of Robocop could work.

Shortly after the teaser hit rumors started about Jose Padilla fighting with the studio about his vision for the film. MGM wants so desperately to have a hit film that isn’t James Bond again they will interfere to a point where something visionary will become a disaster. It happens all the time with studio projects. They want money so they hold focus groups. The focus group says they like Robocop but he needs to seem more human. They say they like the story but they don’t understand why Robocop can’t spend more time rescuing kittens. They say they love the gritty realism but they think Robocop should fly. When these things happen you end up with Robocop 3.

Here’s my feeling on the subject – Robocop’s suit was amazing in the original movie. It was big and bulky and could stand to be streamlined but don’t make it look like a black spandex suit. He doesn’t look like a robot. He looks like a ninja. Don’t lose the humor. That’s part of what made the first movie so great. And let the director make a movie with the studio interfering. Movies by committee rarely work.

Shut Up, Crime! – It’s Time To Review “Super”


I have been a fan of James Gunn for some time. I find his work to defy description now often than not. Is his work comedy, horror, drama, suspense? It’s always hard to say. That’s the beauty of how films.

Gunn got his start working for Lloyd Kaufman at Troma Productions. There he worked on the surprising good Tromeo & Juliet. After a few years of writing small indie fare he landed a job writing the big screen version of Scooby Doo. The movie that was made didn’t really play out how he wrote it but it still had its moments. Then he wrote the surprisingly good remake of Dawn Of The Dead. It was after that that Universal gave him the chance to direct an original script he wrote. The project was Slither, a movie that took aliens, worms, zombies, and a crazy small town and threw it all in a wonderfully screwy little stew that made for a highly entertaining movie.

After the box office failure of Slither it took James Gunn a few years to get another movie going. It was worth the wait. Super is a wonderfully written genre defying movie about a regular guy who tries to do something extraordinary. What sets the movie apart is the fantastic group of characters he had in the story. Rainn Wilson plays Frank, a man whose wife starts doing drugs and leaves him for her dealer. Ellen Page plays Libby, a comic shop employee who appears to be a bit unbalanced. Kevin Bacon plays Jock, the drug dealer. Liv Tyler plays Sarah, Frank’s drug addicted wife. All of these characters are so engaging that the tonal shifts in the movie are hardly noticed.

Frank feels he has been touched by the finger of God to put on a costume and fight crime in an attempt to win back his wayward wife. Libby joins Frank’s quest with a serious bloodlust that proves to be far too dangerous for her own good. The movie jumps from sweetly sad to comical to violent without such energy that if you walk in at any given moment you’d think you were watching a different movie. It is both heartbreaking and hilarious. It moves from disturbing and dark to sweet and light without batting an eye. And Gunn’s direction allows you to feel okay with that.

If you were underwhelmed by Kick-Ass or thought God Bless America was too dark and borderline creepy then Super is the perfect movie for you. I really do hope the rumors of James Gunn making Guardians Of The Galaxy are true. I would watch anything the man does. This movie gets 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Twin Peaks Vs. The Killing


I just decided to watch David Lynch’s wonderfully quirky Twin Peaks again after twenty years. As I was watching it I realized that there are several similarities between it and The Killing. I have not seen season two of The Killing yet so I don’t know where the similarities end but it is certainly obvious between the first seasons of each show.

1) Both shows take place in Washington state. It may not seem like a huge thing to say that two shows within twenty years take place in a certain state. The reason I feel it is important is the mood it creates. When a drama or a murder mystery takes place in Washington it automatically sets a rather dreary mood for the viewer.

2) Laura Palmer and Rosie Larson both lead double lives.
Another thing that brings these shows together is that Laura and Rosie were both involved in things their parents had no knowledge of. Both were, for lack of a better term, nearly or even literally whores.

3) The Casino Angle.
One Eyed Jack’s in Twin Peaks was a casino with brothel. It was located just over the border into Canada. Laura was possibly working there. On The Killing there was a casino on the Indian Reservation that Rosie was frequenting. This is where she was meeting her clients. On both shows it was difficult to get to the casinos due to jurisdictional problems.

4). Trust No One.
One thing Twin Peaks made sure of was that nobody was innocent. Everyone was hiding something. Whether it was running drugs or violent tendencies everyone was a suspect. The Killing was the same way. Thanks to the earlier similarities The Killing seems more like Twin Peaks by following this one. I know it is basic mystery writing 101 but there was already so much else I couldn’t help but include this too.

5) The Grieving Parent Is Not Beyond Reproach.
Laura’s dad is seen going more and more crazy as the show progresses on Twin Peaks. With The Killing it is Rosie’s mom. Both characters are given just enough insanity that it is possible that they may have killed their own daughters.

The obvious thing that sets these two shows apart is Lynch’s craziness. The show started off as a slightly odd murder mystery but by episode 3 it had moved into Lynch territory. As soon as the dream sequence began there was no doubt that we were in for a much wilder ride than we first expected. The Killing never went down that road. They kept things more firmly grounded in reality.

The funny thing is that The Killing is a remake of a show from Switzerland (I believe, or one of its neighboring countries). I have never seen the original series so I don’t know if they were inspired by Twin Peaks or if it was the person running the American remake that decided they wanted to turn The Killing into Twin Peaks without the weirdness. I don’t know if you can find the original show in the states but I would be curious to know.

Get Your Ass To Mars – The Original Total Recall Reviewed


The mighty Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoven, king of everything not subtle, teamed up for this 1990 science fiction mind bender. Based on a short story by the late, great Phillip K. Dick called “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” the story revolves around a man who might be another man who goes to a place to have a memory implanted and they may have unlocked stuff that was supposed to be erased.

The great things here are Verhoven’s over the top style and Rob Bottin’s amazing effects. The story also holds up well. The not so great things are Arnold’s trademark grunts and one liners that just don’t stand the test of time.

I go to the movies a lot and have seen the trailer for the remake numerous times. Every time I see it all I can think is “that was a shot from the original, that was another one, and there’s a bad one liner coming from Kate Beckinsale instead of Arnold.” Watching the original now it seems there is very little they could do to top it. Sure Kate and Jessica Beil are hotter than Sharon Stone and Rachel Ticotin but that doesn’t make a good movie. Hell, Beil and Beckinsale have both appeared in Adam Sandler films. That didn’t make them good.

Verhoven has a very distinct style he has always incorporated in his science fiction films, namely over the top violence and humor. Recall has that. What it doesn’t have is the same kind of social commentary that was so prevalent in Robocop and Starship Troopers. As much as I love Total Recall I actually love the other two more for that reason.

Despite the grunts and bad one liners Arnold Schwarzenegger is a lot of fun to watch in this film. The beautiful thing about having him in this movie is his presence. That man, despite his poor grasp of the English language and his bad acting, can make you want to watch him.

This movie gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. I would be surprised if the remake gets such a high mark from me.

Are We Ever Gonna See The Remake Of Red Dawn?


A couple years ago there was talk of two hot properties that were being developed over at MGM Studios – The Cabin In The Woods and a remake of Red Dawn. Then the studio had their bankruptcy issues and had put these movies on the shelf indefinitely. Cabin was saved by Lionsgate but Dawn was not so lucky. MGM wouldn’t sell this property. Nothing is set in stone yet but the rumor is that we could likely see the movie in theaters by the holiday season.

I have a bit of a soft spot for the original. Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, C Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Jennifer Grey, and Powers Booth in a John Milius film about Russians invading our borders. It was fun and fed on the fears of our country at the time.

The remake, however, was a risky proposition. Russia had crumbled so who could take their place in this film? China, of course. Well, it was China all through shooting. But the studio felt that they were too big a movie market to piss off so they went in and digitally altered the flags and any reference to China and changed it to North Korea. This is MGM’s claim as to why the movie has yet to he released.

The movie itself may or may not pull it off. It remains to he seen. What I don’t like is that Hollywood is afraid to make a country mad because of their choice of villain. What happens if Germany becomes a force to be reckoned with again but our movies are profitable over there? Will that mean we can’t make movies about Neo-Nazis trying to destroy us? It’s bad enough we are afraid to make Middle Eastern people mad by using them as terrorists in movies after 9/11. And I’m mostly Middle Eastern. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna get offended. I understand it was Muslim extremists and not the guy running my local coffee shop. So he’s Muslim, born in the Middle East and doesn’t eat pork. That doesn’t make him a terrorist. And when a country is our enemy it is the leaders, not the people that are causing the problems.

Even though I don’t like remakes I am curious about Red Dawn. I want to see if they at least keep the tone of the film close to the original. I also want to know if the North Korea as invaders choice works for the movie or if it just seems laughable. Maybe we will find out soon. Or maybe MGM will decide that now that Kim Jong-Il is dead the movie market will open up there and they’ll change it to Australian invaders instead.

Craig Brewer’s Footloose Remake Reviewed – Did It Make Me Cut Loose?


I want to start off by saying I have loved Craig Brewer’s two previous movies – Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan. When I had heard he was bringing Footloose back to the big screen I was curious. I grew up the middle child between sisters. That meant I was made to watch movies like Grease, Annie, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and the original Footloose on a pretty regular basis. Against my better judgement I developed a soft spot for some of these films, Footloose especially. Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, and John Lithgow were great in it.

The new movie stars Kenny Wormhold, Julianne Hough, Andie McDowell, Kim Dickens, and Dennis Quaid.

The movie starts with a group of teenagers drinking, partying and dancing when five kids get into a car and die in a terrible car accident. This leads to Dennis Quaid lobbying to outlaw dancing after his son died in the car accident. Three years go by and suddenly the new kid shows up to shake up the town. On what is presumably his first day in town he gets pulled over for playing Quiet Riot too loud in his car. That’s how we know he’s a troublemaker, he listens to the devil’s music.

Julianne Hough plays the reverend’s daughter, Ariel. She is a rebel who has become very adept at hiding her misdeeds from her parents. She’s on her own self-destructive path, possibly even suicidal. This sets up Wormhold’s Ren as a sort of hero when the two rebels get together and he reigns her in.

While watching the movie I couldn’t help but wonder about the relationship between the reverend and Ariel. If his only son, her brother, died from a combination of alcohol and dancing how could he be so blind throughout the course of the last three years when it comes to her? It’s a small town. Even if she had him fooled he would have heard rumors and rumblings of her misdeeds. If I was him and my son died that way I would be very protective of my daughter to ensure she wasn’t following her brother down the same road. It may be nitpicking but my feeling is that this relationship should have been better explored.

The movie overall was entertaining. Craig Brewer did a good job updating the story for modern audiences and his use of music in the film was inspired as usual. Was it on par with the original? Not quite. But it was a stronger effort than most remakes I have seen. For my money there isn’t a director working today that captures the spirit of the South in the same way Brewer does, the beauty, the racial tension, the sexuality, and the gritty feel. He knows the South, the people, and how to bring it to life on screen.

I don’t want to discount the performances either. Having seen former Dancing With The Stars dancer Julianne Hough in Footloose and Rock Of Age I can say that she is talented. Wormhold did a decent job filling Kevin Bacon’s shoes. Anytime you can Dennis Quaid you know the performance is going to be solid. The man delivers. Under Brewer’s direction these actors all did very well. I would love to see any of them work with him again on an original film, something where he is not a slave to the original.

I’m not trying to compare this movie to the original film. I think it would be unfair. This movie stands on its own well enough. I would rather compare it to other remakes outside the horror genre. Something like 3:10 To Yuma did a spectacular job at making you forget it was a remake. Footloose did that a couple times and I will give it credit for that. But, overall, it was no 3:10 To Yuma.

In my previous reviews I never put up a ratings system. I’m starting here. I’m gonna use a five star system as it is easiest and probably the most fair. Given the enjoyment I had watching this movie for the most part I feel that I should give it 3 stars out of 5. Brewer’s previous two films would be 4 star movies and I think he’s got a 5 in him somewhere. I can’t wait for that day.