Money Monster (2016)


Director: Jodie Foster

Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitrona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito

Screenplay: Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore, Jim Kouf

98 mins. Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality and brief violence.


I actually thought Jodie Foster (The Beaver, Home for the Holidays) had directed more films. Just putting that out there.


Money Monster, a popular finance and investment TV show, is currently airing their latest episode, starring financial expert Lee Gates (George Clooney, Gravity, Hail, Caesar!). As the show is airing, a deliveryman arrives and holds the building hostage, aiming his gun right at Lee. The man who holds Gates hostage is Kyle Budwell (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken, ’71), who lost every penny he had from his mother’s inheritance by investing in IBIS after it was endorsed on Money Monster. As the building becomes a media circus, Lee has to use the aid of longtime director and colleague Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts, Notting Hill, Mother’s Day) to talk Kyle down and keep himself out of the grave.

Money Monster is an interesting idea in itself, an angry investor takes a financial expert hostage on his own show, but the fire quickly burns out on this premise. As Lee and Patty work to keep Kyle from pushing a detonator, I slowly found myself uninterested in any of the characters, a shocking notion given the chemistry between Clooney and Roberts. Then, about halfway through the film, the implausibility meters breaks off on a strange tangent that seemingly makes no sense. That’s right, the ending of this film goes right off the rails and becomes rather silly.

Director Jodie Foster builds tension at the beginning of the film, but Lee Gates isn’t likable enough a character to inspire sympathy, nor really is Patty Fenn. Kyle is a rather stupid individual as well, and I don’t find myself on his side either. Really, I had a lot of difficulty deciding if who I’m supposed to root for.


All in all, Money Monster really falls flat very quickly on its intriguing premise and the movie never really gets back up. This was downright disappointing in every way.



-Kyle A. Goethe

[31 Days of Horror 3] Day 30 – Final Destination 2 (2003)


Director: David R. Ellis

Cast: A.J. Cook, Ali Larter, Tony Todd, Michael Landes

Screenplay: J. Mackye Gruber, Eric Bress

90 mins. Rated R for strong violent/gruesome accidents, language, drug content and some nudity.


Sequels are tough. Sometimes tougher than the original. Especially when it’s the first sequel of a big franchise, which Final Destination ended up becoming.


Final Destination 2 begins on the first anniversary of the explosion of Flight 180. Kimberley Corman (A.J. Cook, TV’s Criminal Minds, Mother’s Day) and her friends are heading to Florida for Spring Break, but when she has a premonition of a major traffic collision, she inadvertently saves multiple lives. Now, though, she and the survivors are dying one by one, and the only person who can help her is the lone survivor of Flight 180: Clear Rivers (Ali Larter, TV’s Heroes, Resident Evil: Afterlife), who resides in a psychiatric ward where she can be safe.

Final Destination 2 makes the fatal error of breaking the rules of the first film multiple times and insinuating that there are ways to cheat death when it regularly breaks its own rules. Death’s motives and methods change drastically in the film. The decision to bring back Larter and series regular Tony Todd (The Man From Earth, Hatchet II) were good choices, but to play with a pre-established set of rules really messes with the series.

I personally didn’t like many of these characters who came off as caricatures of normal humans. Kimberley is a nice lead and Thomas Burke (Michael Landes, Burlesque, 11-11-11), the Deputy Marshal, is a nice male lead, but most everybody else is rude, unlikable, or generally cartoonish.

Final Destination 2 definitely ratchets up the body count and style of the first film in spectacular fashion, now if only we liked the characters enough. The screenplay from J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress (TV’s Kyle XY, The Butterfly Effect) gives us little in terms of character development other than interesting but fizzly Rube Goldberg-esque deaths.

FINAL DESTINATION 2, Keegan Connor Tracy, 2003, © New Line
FINAL DESTINATION 2, Keegan Connor Tracy, 2003, © New Line

Final Destination 2 is a fun movie, but one that is picked apart quite easily. This movie has straight-up flaws, and most of them could be fixed by just understanding and respecting the mythology. Director David R. Ellis (Shark Night, Snakes on a Plane) would return to helm the fourth entry of this franchise to similarly misunderstood results.



-Kyle A. Goethe



For my review of James Wong’s Final Destination, click here.

31 Days of Horror: Day 1 – The Devil’s Carnival (2012)


Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Cast: Emilie Autumn, Sean Patrick Flanery, Briana Evigan, Jessica Lowndes, Paul Sorvino, Terrance Zdunich, Bill Moseley

Screenplay: Terrance Zdunich

56 mins. Not Rated.


Now, I get it, technically speaking, this isn’t a movie. More of a short since it doesn’t really meet the 75 minutes and up criteria that a lot of people consider a release as a feature length film, but I figured that it was something I needed to see, having heard good things for so long about it. I really loved Darren Lynn Bousman’s work with the Saw franchise and Repo! The Genetic Opera, so when it came time to test out another of his works, I was excited. Until I saw it.


I must say, it wasn’t all bad, but none of it was particularly good. The plot revolves around three newly deceased souls who enter a purgatory-like place called The Devil’s Carnival, where they proceed to be judged based on the nature of their sins in life. The three stories are based on Aesop’s Fables, but I didn’t feel any connection to any of these characters. All we ever really know about any of them is how they died, which I would say is important information, but I can’t root for or condemn anyone based on the nature of death as it is usually something out of one’s control. John (Sean Patrick Flanery, TV’s Dexter, The Boondock Saints)commits suicide out of grief for the loss of his son. Tamara (Jessica Lowndes, TV’s 90210, The Haunting of Molly Hartley) is murdered by her boyfriend. Ms. Merrywood (Briana Evigan, Step Up 2: The Streets, Mother’s Day) is killed in a shootout. Each one goes through several macabre steps but the motive is unclear.

The performances from much of the cast fine, with special points to Paul Sorvino (GoodFellas, Jersey Shore Shark Attack) as God and Terrance Zdunich as Lucifer. The whole issues comes down to whether or not this is actually anything new. The entirety of the film felt to me like passed over ideas from Zdunich’s previous work with Bousman in Repo! The Genetic Opera, a more refined and much stronger rock opera with definite character development. I felt like the film I was watching came down to just watching these people meander this strange environment, but I just thought there would be more to it.

The music is another factor here. It is uneven and just not all that engaging.

The makeup is a reason to see it, but not a reason to love it.


I would say that The Devil’s Carnival has been done before, and if given the option, I would pick the far superior Repo! for my viewing pleasure.



-Kyle A. Goethe

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