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By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Alex Cross and Paranormal Activity 4

 

There are only two new movies this week. The first is a reboot of a Morgan Freeman franchise. The last is the fourth iteration of a found footage genre pic. Let’s dispense with the niceties as first up is…
 
 
A detective is told that a member of his family has been murdered. He vows to track down the killer. *
 
The Good – Tyler Perry takes over for Morgan Freeman in the third film to feature Washington, DC detective Alex Cross. The previous two were 1997’s Kiss the Girls with Ashley Judd and 2001’s Along Came a Spider. Those films did not make a ton of money, but there was enough to cover their production costs. The most I can say about them is that I didn’t hate them, but I also felt there were plenty of missed opportunities. Director Rob Cohen (XXX, The Fast and the Furious) would not have been my first choice of directors but he is far from the last.
 
The Bad – I’ve read a few of James Patterson’s novels, and I am not a fan of his. His books (all 107 of them through next year) seem to be rushed out as fast as he can write them. I have never felt for any of his characters or feared for their safety. The same feelings also held true for the previous two Alex Cross movies with Mr. Freeman. The movies weren’t bad in and of themselves, but they were far from memorable, with twists that were telegraphed the moment a character walked on screen. Will this one hold true to form? From the previews, I’m guessing yes.
 
The Ugly – By the time you finish reading this line, James Patterson will have released 3 new books.
 
Alex Cross is rated PG-13 for violence including disturbing images, sexual content, language, drug references, and nudity.
 
 
It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and a suburban family witness strange events in their neighborhood when a woman and a mysterious child move in. *
 
The Good – The first Paranormal Activity was an effective thriller made on the cheap. It was one of the few found footage films that I have not found annoying. I can’t say much for the rest of the series (not having seen them) but if it can contain a micro of what made the original fresh, this one should be successful as well.
 
The Bad – It feels like I’m a broken record about this. I am NOT a fan of found footage films. I find the majority of them lazy and incompetent. While I still hold a candle for The Blair Witch Project, the first film of its kind that I have seen, the majority of the genre fails to be even substandard movies.   Earlier this year, Project X showcased the major problems with the genre, namely unlikeable characters, shoddy reasoning behind their motivations and multiple camera angles that betray the narrative.   We are to expect that everything is real by making the camera a character or a device in the movie, but many of them fail to utilize it to any potential. While Blair Witch had many of these instances, it also has the benefit of being one of the first of this type of film. The genre has not progressed past its simple origins. 
 
The Ugly – I’m surprised they’ve lasted 4 movies and have yet to break into 3D. Then again, it took the Saw series 7 films to “saw” through that barrier.
 
Paranormal Activity 4 is rated R for language and some violence/terror.
 
That will do for this week. Stay tuned next time where we visit a quiet town on a hill. Until then, keep those cameras rolling. You never know what you may shoot.
 
*all summaries taken from IMDB.com
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