5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVDs: October’s Low Budget is Better Edition

October has been a bad month for me. A nightmare so far. I can’t wait for it to end so that I can put it behind me (and it can kiss my ass). Computer Problems, Government Shutdowns, Misunderstandings, A Chest Cold, My Manager Quit and to add to that, this month’s DVDs were just plain awful.

"Let's light this sucker."

“Let’s light this sucker. And blow October to kingdom come.”

Not yet. Not yet. I still have some movies to review.

I had five reviews in my folder but I decided to wait for something good to come along. I didn’t want to do another Bad Movie Edition. (the last one got me in trouble) So this month I give you six, count ’em, six reviews. Two of the worst movies ever made. Two low-budget sci-fi thrillers that are good enough but not good enough to make up for the first two. Some cringe-worthy but cute Shakespeare and… well… Something good.

To the reviews…

First up The Worst Movie Ever Made… seriously

After Earth (Columbia Pictures)

After Earth Poster

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Screenplay by Gary Whitta & M. Night Shyamalan Story by Will Smith

Starring Jaden Smith & Will Smith

I knew going in that After Earth was going to be bad. I heard the stories. I asked for it. I pressed play with my own hand.

Jaden and Will Smith

After Earth does not disappoint. It is very bad. The writing is so awful that at times it made me wonder: If they were purposely choosing awkward and absurd ways of saying things, If the writers were creating dumb characters on purpose, or if they were just dumb writers. Oh man. And the acting… OMG You already have them saying stupid stuff, why would you also have them say those things with stupid accents?

Jaden Smith

So to recap… Bad dialogue, bad story, bad acting. BAD DIRECTING. Honestly guys, were you making this stuff up on set. Continuity problems and plot holes all over the place. Quite possibly After Earth is the worst Big Budget Movie ever made.

After Earth Cast

Jaden Smith needs to do a TV show or something like his father did. It took years for Will Smith to learn his craft. Stop casting his son in stuff, Hollywood. He has zero acting talent. None. Jaden moves well. But that is the best thing I can say about him. And Will Smith couldn’t be bothered to come to work for this horrible movie, he phones in most of it.

After Earth Monster

The gimmick of the film, that the main monster in After Earth senses fear, is an interesting idea. It is in fact the only idea they had. It is the ENTIRE movie. There is nothing else. And they don’t even explain it well enough to make it believable. What a piece of garbage.

But like I said. I knew that going in.

Don't Do It Jaden!

“Get out of here. He’s going to blow up the month.”

Not yet, kid. …Kid?

Skip it. (M. Night Shyamalan needs to stick w/ TV. How about a Twilight Zone reboot? Just no more movies please)

and then there was this…

The Lone Rangers (Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures)

The Lone Ranger

Directed by Gore Verbinski

Written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio Based on Lone Ranger by Fran Striker & George W. Trendle

Starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Barry Pepper, James Badge Dale, Helena Bonham Carter & Ruth Wilson

Wow, Hollywood. And I thought that After Earth was bad.

The Lone Ranger is a confusingly cartoonish and overtly racist piece of crap with plot holes that you can drive a truck through.

The Lone Ranger & Tonto

The original and still the best.

I loved The Lone Ranger TV series when I was growing up. I’m old enough to remember when the black & white serial was still in heavy Saturday afternoon rotation. He was the flawed anti-hero trying to make up for past misdeeds. So the filmmakers get part of the story right. The Lone Ranger is the story of the wrong brother, as they point out again and again. And because I was a fan, I was willing to give this movie much leeway. Honestly if not for the unbelievably cartoonish energy of the thing, it would have been… kind of… a… good…. I can’t even say it.

The Lone Ranger & Tonto 2

It is not. From the story told in confusing flashbacks at a carnival sideshow, to the god-awful portrayal of Tonto by Johnny Depp, to the outrageously bad decision to play the famous Lone Ranger Overture for the entire climactic battle scene (THEY PLAY IT FOR THE WHOLE THING). The Lone Ranger is just a bad movie.

Ruth Wilson

Gore Verbinski, who I once thought he was a talented director after how much I loved The Mexican, is not a good director. The Mexican benefits greatly from its three stars (Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts & James Gandolfini) taking the material seriously above the cartoonish gyrations of Mr. Verbinski. The Mexican is a fun film because of great performances.

The Lone Ranger does not have that luxury.

"I say we light this sucker."

“I say we light this sucker.”

Not yet, Tonto. I got more better movies coming.

Skip It (Not even the beautiful Ruth Wilson could save this mess)

Next up… a classic reimagined.

Much Ado About Nothing (Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions)

Much Ado About Nothing

Directed by Joss Whedon

Screenplay by Joss Whedon Based on Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Starring Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Reed Diamond, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Fran Kranz, Sean Maher, Riki Lindhome, Tom Lenk & Jillian Morgese

I have already professed my love of all things Whedon. But Much Ado About Nothing is a tad self-indulgent. I am rarely a fan of Shakespeare’s dialogue in modern settings. Nor am I a fan of Shakespeare badly read. I can’t even watch it. Can’t sit through it. Can’t take it. Can’t bear it. With very few exceptions. But since I have an immense affection for all the actors in Much Ado, knowing them from many of my favorite things, shows, movies, musicals, podcasts… and the director is a Whedon… I stayed. I watched.

Amy Acker & Alexis Denisof

Much Ado About Nothing is a good movie… if you can get past the bad Shakespeare recitation. (mostly from the men, the women are pretty decent) But for the exceptions of Amy Acker, who is quite talented; Riki Lindhome, who is great; and Nathan Fillion, who can do no wrong; the Americans, Canadians and Brits of the cast mumble and/or over-enunciate themselves through some insanely good writing.

But do you want to know what saves it?

Much Ado

JOSS!!! (his name is killing word) The pacing, the photography, the music, are all excellent and overall Joss’ Much Ado is a satisfying film. And since I’ve seen these actors on my TV more times than I can count, it was a lot like seeing my neighbors put on a play. And honestly, I was ready to turn this shit off after five minutes.

Nathan Fillion & Tom Lenk

I’m very glad I didn’t, because Will and Joss go well together. Just not Will & Joss and a cast of his friends unless they’re going to do it in plain English. But before you think I didn’t like it, I really did like it. It’s fun. And I like these people.

Clark Gregg

Rent it (Unless you don’t like Shakespeare at all then skip it or unless you REALLY like Shakespeare a lot then skip it. But once the cringing stops it’s a lot of fun to watch)

Now for some Sci-fi…

Europa Report (Magnolia Pictures)

Europa Report

Directed by Sebastián Cordero

Written by Philip Gelatt

Starring Anamaria Marinca, Karolina Wydra, Michael Nyqvist, Daniel Wu, Sharlto Copley & Christian Camargo

Europa Report is a high concept science thriller and It is gripping, suspenseful and surprisingly good.

Europa Report Cockpit

The movie is presented as a documentary, with most of the footage taken from in-flight cameras, from the first mission (manned mission) to Jupiter’s ice covered moon, Europa.

Europa Report Crew

Europa Report is a solid science fiction space travel adventure that is not for everyone. It is very high concept, very science driven and in my opinion very good.

Europa Report

Movies like these, that use found footage or a documentary style, are only as good as their cast and Europa Report has a fine cast. It is a well-written film that hits all the major space-travel clichés, all of the deep space horror film beats that we have come to love, and it handles them in one of the most authentic ways I have seen, and in one of the most original ways I have seen.

Europa Report Cam

For a lower budget film it is as good as it can possibly be.

Rent it (If you are a science nerd, or a sci-fi nerd or a space horror nerd or if you like good low budget movies. There’s even a Neil Degrasse Tyson cameo)

Next some sci-fi horror…

The Colony (Entertainment One, Image Entertainment)

The Colony

Directed by Jeff Renfroe

Written by Jeff Renfroe, Svet Rouskov, Patrick Tarr and Pascal Trottier

Starring Laurence Fishburne, Bill Paxton & Kevin Zegers

The Colony is a post apocalyptic thriller. It is not an exceptional movie but it is a pretty good, pretty thrilling, sometimes frightening movie none-the-less.

Laurence Fishburne

The earth is in another ice age. This time it’s absolutely man-made. (they try to stop global warming with technology but fail miserably) and the remaining humans live underground in small colonies. Colonies that are running out of food.

The Colony

There is nothing new here. No real surprises. The Colony is a dark action thriller about human survival and the breakdown of society. All of your standard clichés are here and at its core it is a paint by numbers post apocalyptic thriller. But it’s still pretty good. It’s like a cross between John Carpenter’s The Thing and James Cameron’s Aliens and one other film I shouldn’t name because I don’t want to give anything away. (But honestly it is what you think it is. There are no big surprises)

The Colony

Rent it (If you like suspenseful horror [not too gory but there is some gross stuff] and if you don’t mind the low-budget)

Now  for the something good…

Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics)

Before Midnight

Directed by Richard Linklater

Written by Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy Based on Characters by Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan

Starring Ethan Hawke & Julie Delpy

“These two are like my long-lost friends. Friends I haven’t seen in nine years. I think I missed them.”

Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke

Before Midnight was a pleasant surprise this month. I didn’t know they were making another one.  I thought after Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004) that Linklater and crew had little left to say but Before Midnight is just as good if not better than the other films.

Julie, Julie, Julie

I found myself, near the beginning of this movie, thinking, “Oh no. They’re just going to talk aren’t they.” I forgot that these aren’t movies but more like extended conversations. How long had it been? Nine years. But what I also forgot was that they were fantastic conversations.

Jesse & Céline

I love all of Richard Linklater’s films. If he were a bit more visual, (I put him in that group w/ Quentin Tarantino and Woody Allen, more writer than director) he would be one of my top five directors of all time. And my love for Julie Delpy has no end, in measure or time. I love her. Ethan Hawke… not as much, but I like him in these films.

Before Midnight Julie Delpy

Before Midnight fits right into the series; the cinematic evolution of a relationship between two deep thinkers and great storytellers. If you have not seen the first two movies then it won’t feel as personal as it does for the rest of us but I just love these characters. We have spent the night and the day and the night again with this couple. Before Midnight is still a good movie on its own but I recommend that you start at the beginning. However, if an hour and a half long filmed conversation makes you cringe even thinking about it, these are not the films you’re looking for.

Before Midnight

All three films are wonderful character studies. With humor and romance and philosophy and politics and gender and social commentary and love and death and art and beauty and… Julie Delpy, that are absolutely wonderful to watch. Like a fly on the wall. A European fly. A European fly with a tiny beret and a cigarette. They are not for everyone… but I love them. And Before Midnight continues their story beautifully.

Rent it (As with every one of Richard Linklater’s films, I will be buying it)

So to recap…

I reviewed six films.

Four lower budget films that were entertaining and interesting but whose budgets combined couldn’t pay for either of the other two big budget travesties of cinema that I forced myself to watch.

Europa Report: A claustrophobic thriller about a bright future filled with noble people and noble pursuits.

The Colony: A claustrophobic thriller about a future with not so noble people and less than noble pursuits.

Before Midnight: A well-written romantic comedy/drama with a familiar cast of characters that I’ve seen somewhere before.

Much Ado About Nothing: A well-written romantic comedy/drama with a familiar cast of character actors that I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere before.


The Lone Ranger & After Earth: Two of the worst movies ever made. I think maybe The Lone Ranger beats After Earth for sheer suckiness because of all the subtle and overt racism throughout the story, the production and the “creative” choices yet After Earth is a worst film because there is nothing good about it… nothing.

Alright let’s get out of here. It’s time to blow this month to hell.

“Let’s get out of here! It’s gonna blow!”

I will see you guys in a better month.

– Mel


5 thoughts on “5 Quick Reviews of 5 New DVDs: October’s Low Budget is Better Edition

  1. Thanks for the reviews. I just saw The Lone Ranger on an airplane and I got to say I even though I didn’t pay for it and it was the only thing showing I still felt robed of my 2 hours. I used to have some respect for Johnny Depp but that is crumbling after this mess. What was he thinking?! Or was he just looking at the paycheck? I don’t think Depp meant to be intentionally racist but it was casting him in the first place that was racist. And was it trying to be a comedy, a spoof a buddy movie or straight action? This film had a serious identity crisis among it’s many flaws. I’m interested in Europa Report and After Midnight. I’ll definitely check those out. It’s been so long since I watched the 2 films that I might have to re-watch them to catch up.


    • I don’t think I could watch all three Before ______ movies in a row. I think it would be like having your favorite cousins visit and they stay too long. It really is an entirely different era in their relationship and they refer to earlier stuff but I don’t think you have to watch the other two. I think it works better just remembering those things from 9 or 18 years ago.

      I really think you’ll like Europa Report. It reminded me of District 9. It has that same kind of realism.

      The Lone Ranger is just full of bad bad choices. But even the story has massively racist elements. The original Lone Ranger was friends w/ the local “Indian” tribes. SPOILERS SPOILERS This one leaves Tonto buried up to his neck in the desert to go save the bad guy from being executed. He fights to save the white cannibal serial killer who ate his brothers heart (down through his stomach somehow but hey you can’t expect these guys to know basic biology) while the army mows down scores and scores of the local tribe with no commentary but just cartoonish glee. END SPOILERS That movie was awful.

      Thanks for the comment.


    • Thanks Ash. After Earth almost looks intentionally bad. If they had dropped the boom mic in to a few shots, maybe thrown in an occasional jump cut, it could have been a Tarantino film.


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