Category Archives: Netflix Instant

Tomato Monster Review: Easy A

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 85%
RT Top Critics Grade: 94%
Metacritic: 72
Tomato Monster Grade: C+
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The Tomato Monster

‘Easy A’ is Emma Stone’s coming out party.  While she has been noticed up until this point, this might be the first time that she should be taken seriously for her work as an actress.  Also, ‘Easy A’ can’t be thrown into the bucket as just another teen comedy.  One of the reasons for this is the fact that ‘Easy A’ carries it’s message as it’s banner, and not the raunch that has come to define the genre.  In fact, ‘Easy A’ in many ways, reveals the shallowness of raunchy teen culture.

‘Easy A’ is a modern day telling of the high school reading list classic ‘The Scarlet Letter.’  Just to show how twisted culture has become, ‘Stone’ attempts to earn her ‘Scarlet A’, and even wears seemingly as a badge of honor.

In the end, ‘Easy A’ lacked backbone.  While it seemed to attempt to stand for something, in the end it fell flat because it stood for nothing.  ‘Tolerance’ would be the theme of the movie summed up in one word.  Whether I were to agree with the message of the movie or not, the movie didn’t compel me to do so, because Stone’s character seemed unsatisfied as she attempted to relish in it.

The roles of Thomas Hayden Church, Lisa Kudrow, and Stanley Tucci’s roles were barely memorable, leaving you wishing for more.

A majority of the story is told via first person, through the narration of Stone, which was a risk that proved to be worth taking.  This unique form of storytelling made ‘Easy A’ standout in the crowd.

While I believe that Stone deserves credit for carrying the load, and appreciate that ‘Easy A’ took substantial risk within it’s genre, I wasn’t emotionally moved or inspired by the film.  Something was missing.
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Messages/Themes

    • Social Insecurity
    • The Sexual Double-Standard
    • The Devaluation of one’s Image for Acceptance
    • The Dangers and Powers of Gossip
    • Be yourself

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Directed by: Will Gluck’s directing in ‘Easy A’ was a breakthrough performance. Gluck previously directed ‘Fired Up!’, which was a teen comedy flop critically (22% on Rotten Tomatoes), and in the Box Office ($18.6/$20). His only other work as a director is the newly released ‘Friends With Benefits’, starring Justin Timberlake & Mila Kunis (68% on Rotten Tomatoes).

Written by: Bert V. Royal did an impressive job in his writing debut in ‘Easy A’. Much of the critical praise for the film was directed specifically at the screenplay.
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Budget: $8 million
Box Office: $74.9 million
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Trivia

    • Emma Stone dropped out of Sucker Punch to do this movie.
    • In the original script, the “F”-word was used 41 times, the “S” word was used 13 times and the “C” word was used 3 times. The uses of these words were later cut down in the final script so as to receive a lower rating of PG-13 (the movie’s target audience) as opposed to a rating of R.
    • All the webcam and narration scenes were shot in one day. Emma Stone had a 14-hour day of simply staring at a camera doing every single webcam and narration for the entire movie and every so often she would have to walk around outside to stretch her muscles from sitting so long.
    • Emma Stone’s audition was her opening webcam scene.
    • Bert V. Royal wrote the screenplay, except for the last ten pages, in five days.
(Trivia Via IMDB)
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Netflix Instant Streaming Review: Scream 2

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 81%
RT Top Critics Grade: 94%
Metacritic Grade: 63
Tomato Monster Grade: C
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The Tomato Monster
Credit needs to be given where credit is due. It is rare to see a horror movie receive a passing grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, let alone a grade of 81%.

‘Scream 2’ has to be appreciated for what it is. It is a 90’s teen horror slasher film by director Wes Craven. He’s good at this genre because he reinvented it in the 90’s, after reinventing it in the 80’s.  ‘Scream 2’ followed in the footsteps of its predecessor, embracing a campy tone.  Personally I think that the acting is terrible, but I think that is the goal.  It’s a movie that is meant to be taken seriously, but not too seriously.  It’s meant to scare you a little bit, but laugh a little as well.

I thought that the twist in the movie was super predictable on one end and ridiculously preposterous on the other end.  I’m not going to deny that the movie was well made, because it was.  The truth of the matter is that the horror genre has changed a lot since this movie was made.  The ‘Saw’ saga has been ushered in and people are expecting a much darker and violent movie now when they go see a horror flick.  Watching ‘Scream 2’ just seems cheesy in today’s standards.  In my opinion that is what happened to ‘Scream 4’ in the box office.  The first 3 films each made over $150,000,000 in the box office, whereas the 4th installment made less than $100,000,000.  This is no longer the standard for the horror genre.  With that being said, ‘Scream’ once was ‘King’, and redefined a decade, and that should be applauded.  The Tomato Monster gives ‘Scream 2’ a C.

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Messages/Themes

  • People aren’t always what they seem
  • People will fall to their destruction in the pursuit of fame and glory
  • Pain can skew people’s concept of guilt and justice

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Directed by: Wes Craven has been one of the most significant molders of the horror genre over the past 40 years, going all the way back to his original ‘The House on the Left.’ Craven is responsible for bringing Freddy Krueger to life in the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ saga and is widely credited for reinventing the teen horror genre. The ‘Scream’ saga (4 films), is the second highest grossing horror movie series of all-time, behind the ‘Saw’ series (6 films). Craven’s average grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer in a directorial role is a 49.6%.

Written by: Kevin Williamson was the writer that might have captured teenagers’ fears and their hearts in the 1990’s. Williamson is responsible for writing ‘Scream’, ‘Scream 2’, ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, & ‘The Faculty’, which all helped define a new era in teen horror flicks. He also is responsible for writing the TV series ‘Dawson’s Creek’, which stole the hearts of teenage girls. Most recently he has been the writer for the TV series ‘Vampire Diaries.’ Williamson’s average grade on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer as a writer is a 44%.
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Budget: $24,000,000
Box Office: $172,000,000
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Trivia

  • The cast were not informed of the identity of the killer until the last day of principal photography. Also, the cast did not receive the last ten pages of the shooting script until it was time to film the scenes contained therein. Furthermore, the last ten pages of the shooting script were printed on gray paper in order to deter illicit duplication of them. All cast members were required to sign confidentiality clauses as parts of their respective contracts that precluded them from discussing the outcome of the story and the killer’s identity.
  • Robert Rodriguez directed scenes of “Stab,” the movie-within-a-movie of Scream 2. Rodriguez directed the Casey Becker scene and the Sidney and Billy scene.
  • When an early screenplay draft was leaked onto the Internet, revealing the intended identity of Ghostface, Kevin Williamson was forced to do some hasty rewrites. This meant that the film went into production without a completed script.
  • Usually when making a motion picture when an actor is heard on screen, but not seen, such as a voice on a telephone, the actor records his part during post production, which takes place after the completion of principal photography. However,Wes Craven had Roger Jackson, The Voice, on set and actually speaking to on-screen actors by practical, not merely prop, telephone in order to create reality and fear for them. Jackson said when he was on set he was kept out of sight of other actors so they could not put a friendly face to The Voice. Jackson said also that while observing on-set action on monitors, he could see Heather Graham appeared scared between takes, whereas Sarah Michelle Gellar would converse with him on the telephone.
  • Randy’s reference to fake nude pictures of Gale Weathers on the Internet was inspired by fake images of Courteney Cox that appeared on the worldwide web prior to production of Scream 2.
(Via IMDB)

Netflix Instant Streaming Review: Daybreakers

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 67%
RT Top Critics Grade: 46%
Metacritic Score: 57
Tomato Monster Grade: C+
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The Tomato Monster

‘Daybreakers’ is no Edward & Bella story.

Similarities to Twilight: 1) The movie is about vampires. 2) There is a vampire that is a hero and refuses to live off of humans. 3) There is a mild romantic connection between a vampire and a human…again I said mild.

While there is a vampire that is a protagonist in ‘Daybreakers’, the film should be well received by people who appreciate a more dark, gothic and violent vampire noir. The film tells a futuristic story of a world where vampires are the majority, and their future looks dismal because of the lack of blood supply, due to the few humans that are still alive. Ethan Hawke (Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Supporting Actor – ‘Training Day’ & Best Adapted Screenplay – ‘Before Sunset’) plays the role of the protagonist vampire that is in charge of creating a blood substitute to ensure the survival of the vampire population. His mission is slightly altered when he comes across a group of humans, led by Willem DaFoe (Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best Actor in a Supporting Role in ‘Shadow of the Vampire’ & ‘Platoon’), a former vampire, who has found a cure for the plague that has turned everyone into vampires. Sam Neill plays the role of the antagonist in the film, as the CEO of the company in charge of creating a blood substitute, but he also has an ulterior motive of repopulating humans and selling them for their blood.

If I were to critique the critics on this one, I would say that critics came out on top with this one. The film is an enjoyable vampire flick. It is gory and violent, but not to the extreme. It manages to pull at your emotions, especially through the relationship between Hawke and his brother in the film, Michael Dorman. I really enjoyed the cinematography and some of the concepts embedded within the plot.

I don’t mind a short film, but something about ‘Daybreakers’ left me wanting more. I think the story and plot had potential and could have gone much further. It also seemed like the movie failed to explain particular details, which also could be related to the length. The script didn’t blow my mind, but maybe it wasn’t supposed to.

Horror/Vampire/Zombie movies quite often struggle critically, but ‘Daybreakers’ received a passing grade, and I’m ok with that. If vampire movies are your cup of tea, ‘Daybreakers’ is worth the instant stream.
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Messages/Themes

-To what lengths will you go to make other people like yourself?
– Its never too late for reconciliation in a relationship.
– The disgusting thing about vampires is that they live off of humans, something they once were. Quite often we are willing to ‘suck the life’ out of others if it leads to our gain.
– Loneliness & lack of purpose can be disguised in the form of prosperity.
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Directed & Written by: Twin German brothers, Michael & Peter Spierig, both wrote and directed ‘Daybreakers.’ The Spierig boys have only directed & written one film prior to this, collaborating in the Australian zombie flick ‘Undead’ (Rotten Tomatoes: 30%/Metacritic: 34). Their average grade on Rotten Tomatoes is a 48.5%.
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Budget: $20,000,000
Box Office: $51,416,464 ($30,000,000 Domestic)
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Netflix Instant Stream Review: Serenity

Rotten Tomatoes Grade: 81%
RT Top Critics Grade: 85%
MetaCritic Score: 74
Tomato Monster Grade: B-
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The Tomato Monster
‘Serenity’ is a good find in the Netflix Instant Streaming Library. It will fulfill your Sci-Fi appetite & not waste too much of your time (118 minutes).  It’s the right blend of action and story. It had been awhile since I had seen a Sci-Fli flick, and I found myself sitting reminiscing on the Star Wars obsession of my early days. While not a complete mock of Star Wars, many of the main characters and key plot lines bleed Lucas.
With that being said, I’m not sure this deserved the grade it received. I’ll confess from the beginning that I’ve never watched ‘Firefly’, so I didn’t carry a nostalgic heart into watching it. I thought the acting was subpar, and was worthy of the Sci-Fi Channel.
Before you come for my throat, I do have a heart for Sci-Fi. This guy (me) has ripped through 19 Star Wars novels. I loved the new Abrams Star Trek movie. This didn’t carry the same level of excellence.
I did appreciate Nathan Fillion’s (Mal) character. He was cut in the mold of my childhood hero Han Solo.
Summer Glau’s (River) character was fascinating. Her Matrix like moves saved the movie for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed it.  I would have just barely passed this one with a score in the low 60’s.
As you sift through all of the madness of the Netflix Instant Streaming Library, this one should end up on at least the second shelf of your Instant Queue.
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Messages/Themes
  • Circumstances can lead unlikely heroes to arise.
  • Whenever humans attempt to ‘play God’, it ultimately leads to disaster.
  • Sometimes you are given information of such magnitude, that choosing not to act is not an option, no matter the risk.
  • The future is worth fighting for (I’m aware this is cheating…It was on the movie poster).
  • People are not like trash. We can’t throw them away just because things get sticky.
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Directed byJoss Whedon
Serenity is Whedon’s directing debut on the big screen.
Whedon also directed the TV series ‘Firefly’, which is the prequel to Serenity. He also directed spot episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, Glee & The Office
Whedon is currently directing The Avengers which is scheduled to come out in May of 2012.
Written byJosh Whedon
Whedon has also written/co-written many other films. His average score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer is 61%.
Movies Written With Passing Grades: Toy Story (100%) & Serenity (81%)
Whedon also wrote the TV series’ Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Dollhouse.
Whedon is currently writing ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ (October ’11)  & ‘The Avengers’ (May ’12).
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Budget: $40,000,000
Box Office: $39,000,000
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Trivia
  • Ranked #5 in Rotten Tomatoes “50 Best TV Adaptations of All Time”
  • The first Universal film released on HD-DVD (High Definition DVD).
  • The events of the film take place six months after “Firefly” (2002) {Objects in Space (#1.10)}, the final episode of the TV series. “Those Left Behind,” a three-issue comic book series written by Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, published by Dark Horse comics, and released during summer 2005, bridges that six-month gap.