Edge of Tomorrow

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8.5/10

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star as two soldiers dying over and over again while living through the same day in Warner Brothers newest sci fi smash, Edge of Tomorrow.I really enjoyed this film. It was clever, funny (For the right reasons), and surprisingly very well acted. Cruise returns to top form playing a character that is different than anything he has played in 15 years. He plays Major William Cage, a soldier who has risen the ranks without ever actually getting his hands dirty. It’s in that aspect that gives Cruise the vulnerability to show the fear of the soldiers going into this war. Many war films only show the soldiers acting like emotionless machines while going into battle. In Edge of Tomorrow, it’s our main character who is the most afraid. We feel sorry for this man as he doesn’t even know how to remove the safety from one of his weapons. For anyone who has seen the trailer, we know Cruise dies over and over, but what makes seeing the movie special is the comedic undertones of the way every death is played. There were some points in the movie where i got some legitimate laughs that i haven’t gotten from most comedies this year. It’s in that kind of screenplay that Christopher Mcquarrie can bounce all kind of ideas that a film with a similar premise like Groundhog Day only began to touch on. The deaths themselves aren’t played for laughs like Groundhog Day, but rather the situation and the fact that Cage has to memorize every single little thing about his day or he will end up in the same place. Once he has gone so far and dies, we feel the pain of the character because we went through it with him, and we can’t help but smile. Emily Blunt is absolutely the best part of this movie. She plays war machine, Rita Vrataski. She acts as kind of a symbol for the human revolt against the machines that have laid claim to foreign countries. It’s nice to see a woman engage as the toughest character of the film. As Rita, Blunt stands tall and trains Cruise to be the kind of soldier they need him to be to win the war. Her turn in 2012’s Looper showed her range of acting, but it’s in Edge of Tomorrow that Emily shows she has great ability to do her own stunt work. Her performance alone should inspire any female moviegoer who is on the edge of seeing this film to see it. Bill Paxton also hands in a great performance as a tough jerk general who is always the first person to greet Cruise day after day. One of the things i really enjoyed about the movie was the robot creatures. There are some real original takes on the designs of the robots from razor sharp teeth to the way they move around. The moving alone of the creatures kept every fight scene from ever tiring out. I can watch these fight scenes over and over again because i tried to keep my eyes peeled for a new robot every time. The design of the armor suits that the soldiers wear were also very futuristic and original for a motion picture. It did remind me a lot of the Titanfall game and it’s armor, but it’s nice to see it come to life in an actual suit, and not played off as CGI. The pacing of the movie is well done for at least the first 90 minutes. It’s in the final 20 minutes that the movie starts to drag on a little long. By this point in the movie, you know where it’s heading so the surprises are already long gone. The ending was one of the only things i had a tiny problem with and that is because it’s not fully explained all the way. I am not going to spoil it for you the readers, but i wish they would’ve stuck with the ending and the way things appeared to be going. When compared to the Japanese Manga, the movie is completely different. The only similarities are Rita’s name and character, and the premise of the war repeating day after day. Other than that, it’s a completely original screnplay. I can’t really decide on the book or the movie being better because i think they both have their place because they aren’t exactly one in the same. I did like the ending in the book better, so i kind of give it the edge on that front. It was great to see these powerful war battles come to life on screen from the beautiful pages of Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel. Edge of Tomorrow is refreshing for it’s comedic tones and not having to rely on action movie cliches that most of Cruise’s last 15 years has relied on. It’s easily his best starring movie since 1996’s Jerry Maguire. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and i definitely recommend it to everyone who watched the trailer and was even remotely interrested. It doesn’t disappoint.

X Men : Days of Futures Past

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9/10

This is the X Men film that fans of the comics deserve. I am still amazed 24 hours later at how much I really loved this film. Everything comes together perfectly in the newest X Men film directed by Bryan Singer. In this installment based on the graphic novels, the worlds of our mutants of the past and present collide. First of all, lets get it out of the way that there are some differences from the comics, but I don’t personally sweat on something like that. I have said before that if everything was 100% the same, there would be no surprises and no point to see the film. As long as the movie doesn’t completely ruin it’s origins, it’s all done in the brilliant world of creativity, and oh boy does the creativity reign supreme in this film. I am strongly debating if this film succeeds The Dark Knight in terms of my favorite comic book movie of all time. It really is that good. The story requires Wolverine to travel back in time to stop an event that eventually leads to the X-Men’s demise. That alone offers all of the opportunities in the world for some great on screen scenes between actors who have never worked together despite being a part of the same story. There are so many good performances that I don’t even know where to start. Hugh Jackman has proven that he can play Wolverine in his sleep at this point. I will never be able to imagine anyone else under the roll. He brings out the witty humor of Wolverine while not losing his intimidation factor. James Mcavoy adds a melancholy feel to Charles Xavier that he hasn’t quite felt in the on screen adaptations. He has lost so much, but he still believes there is a world out there worth saving. Jennifer Lawrence is really the screen stealer of this film. She flashes a dangerous side that Lawrence hasn’t quite gotten a chance to show in any film she has been in. Sexy and intelligent are the two traits that make Mystique the most dangerous weapon in this movie. Peter Dinklage brings a menacing genius to his scientist character that really makes you grit your teeth in hating him. Game of Thrones fans always brag about how great Dinklage is on the show, and I can promise you that you won’t be disappointed by his performance here. Evan Peters is absolutely my favorite thing about the movie as a young Quicksilver. He is so young and naïve, but his charisma comes out in spades as he is having the time of his life as this character. I yearned for more only minutes after he left the screen. Some other people have good time shining, but there are those who are left in the dust of supporting character. Halle Berry in particular as Storm is only given two lines, and you forget she exists until the final fight scene. I get that it’s a huge cast, but many characters are forgotten in this film. That is one of the only problems I had with the movie. Other than that, the 3D is useless. For one, outside of the opening, there is no reason to have it, and two, the cinematography of a future destroyed New York mixed with the 70’s flashbacks offer beautiful eye candy that doesn’t need 3D to enhance it. Singer really does his homework when it comes to the country’s fears and ideals during the Nixon administration. It’s even interesting that some famous events in U.S history are used to compliment X Men storylines. One thing that did surprise me about the film was that it doesn’t rely as much on fighting scenes compared to other X Men movies. There are some beautiful action and fight scenes in the movie, but this 2 hours and 10 minutes relies more on a well written script with great face to face confrontations to push it further. I like that. I like that it’s not like the other X Men films good and bad. The ending is something that I feel was written perfectly and would’ve been the best way to end this series. I already know they have plans on making a sequel, but I can’t see that one beating this in terms of offering something for a X Men reader to enjoy. There is an after credits scene that clearly shows the direction they are heading in with the time traveling aspect. I am fine with another X Men film, but I wish this was it. X Men : Days of Futures Past is the best film in the X Men franchise BY FAR. Singer elevates the action to delight the fans and newcomers but he delivers a fast-paced emotional storyline that blends in all of the previous films without confusing anyone. Certainly a first rate entertainment among the Marvel films to date. Well recommended, but leave the 3D on the shelf.

Godzilla

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6/10

Looking at the movies i have been anticipating for a long time, this one is near the top of the list. The most famous mega monster in cinema history is back with a reboot on a genuine classic. This Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor Johnson and Bryan Cranston as a son and father who suffer tragedy in 1999 during the biggest radiation readings in Japan’s history. 15 years later, they return to the spot of the disaster to encounter a new kind of terror. Before i begin with my review, i will say that i liked this film. I liked it, but i didn’t love it. Many people call it a tribute to the Toho Godzilla films, but i politely disagree. I see this as a new breed completely when it comes to the Godzilla. There are other Monsters in the film besides Godzilla, and that is a welcome call back to the past. But when it comes to the film as a whole, Godzilla movies have never been this monetarily invested in. It’s a Godzilla on a whole new scale. I do think it was done well and a hell of a lot better than the 1998 version (THANK GOD), but this is a film with it’s big problems. The biggest of those problems come in the form of the cut away edits. Every time Godzilla was about to fight a monster, the camera cut to a less interesting character with this storyline. I didn’t mind it the first time, but by the 4th time they did it, i was getting angry. Possibly a ploy by the director to get people so excited for when they finally do fight, but i didn’t view it that way. It makes your audience angry when you tease with them too much and don’t deliver. This movie doesn’t deliver on fight scenes until the final 20 minutes of a 2 hour movie. The fight scenes are great, i won’t lie on that. They definitely delivered through an unneccesary wait. It was kind of weird to see the take that this film had on Godzilla. There have been many times in past Godzilla films when Godzilla is the one people root for, but he has never been referred to as “Our Hero” like he was in this film. The lizard is looked at as kind of a protector to us in this film and i don’t know if i necessarily agree with that. As a protector, he has still killed hundreds of people and completely leveled the state of Hawaii and city of Oakland. Another comical part to me was when the creatures were treated like they were little children sneaking up on you in a hallway. I mean come on, these creatures are 300 feet tall and weight over 2 tons and you are surprised when they come out of nowhere? These characters couldn’t hear them coming? I didn’t have a problem with the look of Godzilla like some people did. I felt that to get the point across of how threatening this creature is that they have to make him bigger and stronger than ever. The other two creatures are great when it comes to the threat the present the cities and Godzilla. There are two of them and they team up as a male/female combo that puts Godzilla through a tough fight. I loved that Director Gareth Edwards is faithful in the fire power that Godzilla possesses. The coils on his back are still there to let you know when terror is right around the corner, and that was one of the brightest spots for me. Another thing i didn’t like was the stupidity of some of the armies used in the film. THey go through buildings with the intention of seeing if the creatures have struck their yet and used some of their chemicals, but then are surprised when there is a big hole in a building implying they were already there. Couldn’t they see this hole from the outside? Is there any reason other than filler to use these kinds of scenes? The chemicals are talked about and never mentioned again. The film is riddled with the same typical end of the world movie cliches, but they didn’t bother me as much. There is the cliche of a man trying to get back to his wife and kid, the cliche of the big character dying and it affecting the main character forcing him to fight back harder, and the cliche of the wide open ending. The score is excellent and really sets the tone when building the terror and destruction around the people. The acting was also very passable as Bryan Cranston is by far the best part of the movie. He is the stabilizing force that is this movie. When he goes, the film’s logic goes with it. I know i am talking logic in a movie with a 300 foot lizard, but i can only review what i am given. For once, it made sense to have a buff and macho type as the main character (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) because he is a trained soldier. His acting is typical, but he never really gets to show the kind of emotion that we need to get behind him. I know most of this review sounds like i am trashing the movie, but i am not. I can say i liked it and was disappointed by it at the same time. I think i am disappointed because my expectations were so high for it, and the hype was just as big as the monsters. I was expecting to maybe come out of the theater with a 7.5 or an 8 out of 10, so that is where i am disappointed. The movie does deliver on what you would expect, but it takes some pointless detours along the way. I would like to see another Godzilla movie of this stature, but i hope there is more fighting in the movie. For a film called Godzilla, i think his total screen time was under 10 minutes. I would like more Godzilla and more monster fighting in the next movie. Sparing Godzilla from getting stale is one thing, but abandoning the character is a whole other dish Even if the CGI is cheesy, people know what they are getting into with a movie called “GODZILLA”. Overall, i recommend the movie, but not for the full 10 bucks. If you can catch a before 5 PM showing of this film, i would recommend it. I think most people will like it, but find the same bloated problems with the build that i did. I think the movie ended at the right time just before it was about to fall apart. Thumbs up to Edwards, but as a fan of the old Toho Godzilla films, i do expect more. Good but not great.

The Amazing Spider Man 2

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6/10

The title doesn’t quite match the result in this sequel to the 2012 original. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a lot of things that could possibly make it a great movie, but it’s the negatives that leave it as a disappointment when compared to the first film. First of all, I will say that this is nowhere close to the terrible film that was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. This is actually a good film. Good not great. Some of the things I really enjoyed about this film were done at the top of their game, and it’s those reasons why I saw the film in the first place, so I didn’t go home too unhappy. The 3D is very well done. This is a film that will be in my top 5 current 3D films of all time. For once, it’s not just a blending in background. It offers a lot of in your face effects with the lightning of Electro coming at you, and the beautiful popping out building shots that are around Spider-Man when he webs across New York City. It is for that reason alone why I will recommend this film before the review is even over. 3D is probably the only way to see this film. I also really enjoyed the beautiful cinematography. If I were in charge of next year’s Oscars, this film would get a nomination in that department for the beautiful colors that radiate off of the fight scenes of Spider-Man and Electro. Colorfully, it can only be matched by Watchmen in the super hero genre, and for those of you who know me, that is a great thing indeed. The chemistry between Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man, Peter Parker) and Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) is present once again with lots of cute couple dialogue to go with it. These two are together in real life, so it’s no surprise that they know how to play a scene for all of the romantic jitterbugs in the audience. There was even a point when this movie kind of felt like a romantic comedy to me that was taking place in a super hero movie. When grading the acting of Garfield and Stone, the Spider-Man character isn’t even needed. I would enjoy a film with those two without gimmicks. The scenes between Sally Field (Aunt May) and Andrew Garfield are also very heartfelt. Field has always been on e of Hollywood’s most underrated actresses, and she shows that she is definitely the big dog on this set. She brings a feeling to Aunt May in this film that she has worked hard for Peter even when she hasn’t always had help. One of my current favorite actors (Dane Dehann) plays Harry Osbourne. A kid supposedly supposed to be Norman’s best friend from childhood. Dehann plays Harry incredibly with giving him a calm madness hiding just below the surface. He suffers from a lack of love from his father, so he tries to do things bigger and better than he ever did. There are a lot of things I didn’t like about the film, but I will go into them in detail. I loved Jamie Foxx as Electro and felt that he played a character with extreme loneliness very convincing. There are however times where he plays this character a little over the top for a science nerd working as Oscorp. His performance reminded me a lot of Jim Carrey as Edward Nigma in Batman Forever. Instead of breaking ground, he falls for too many of the nerd character clichés that never make him feel even on the same level as Spider-Man. I also felt it was a step back for this film to not include point of view shots like it did in it’s predecessor. Spider-Man is definitely a film franchise that could do revolutionary things with the camera work, and they explored this by letting the crowd see through Spider-Man’s eyes in the first film. Without it here, it just feels like we revert back to the Sam Raimi Spider-Man with nothing new to grow on. I was completely disappointed with how bad they hurt the Rhino character. I know he wasn’t supposed to be a big part of this film, but if I were a fan of that character in the comics, I would be pissed. Paul Giamatti is a great actor, but they give him this awful Russian accent (Yes I know the character is Russian) and he is unintentionally funny every time he pops up on screen. Giamatti and Rhino deserved much better. There were also some scenes that the logic had me laughing. I will try to keep the spoilers to a minimum here, but I need some to tell my point. There is a store scene where Parker is sick and is buying medicine. A robber comes in and tries to steal the money from the register, but is stopped by Spider-Man. If the worker really wanted to, he could look at the camera in the store and see that Parker (While wearing the mask) walks out with the exact same medicine that Parker had in his hands one minute ago. This could easily be fixable with a 1 minute scene where Spider-Man destroys the cameras, but we need to include a cute scene where people laugh because Spider-Man is sick while leaving the store Another scene shows Jamie Foxx becoming Electro while being electrocuted. It shows the gap in his teeth remarkably become fixed. I don’t have a problem with comic book logic, but what point does that have? Is it to make it hard for Peter and Gwen to recognize him? That is another thing that bothers me. Gwen is the one who realizes that Electro is a man named Max who is a scientist in her lab because Spider-Man refers to him as Max during their first encounter. Ya know, because no one else in New York City is named Max. When Electro rises, the logic becomes even funnier. There is a scene where he shuts off all of the cars in New York’s electricity but 50 feet from that everyone is using their cell phones without problems. What kind of electricity drains the cars, but not the cell phones? The friendship between Peter and Harry bothered me as well. We are supposed to believe that these two are childhood friends after not hearing about Harry for an entire first film. I know he left to go to the academy, but this friendship would mean more to the audience if we even heard Harry’s name once during the first film. It feels rushed and convenient that he returns now to add more adversity to Peter Parker. When Raimi wrote the friendship in the first series, it was beautifully constructed between three films before they ever struck fists. In this, it is rushed and never quite given the fight scene it deserves. The movie didn’t suffer as bad from overcrowding as i originally worried, but the final 20 minutes definitely feel rushed with three fight scenes between three different villains. Next, there is a scene where Peter Parker goes to find his Dad’s lost lab which is actually a train underground. Even if you can swallow that nobody found this train on ground radar and even if you can get past the fact that how Peter finds it is a true shot in the dark, you can’t get by the fact that everything in the train is 2014 technology that has no dust or spider webs in the train. It’s like the train has never been touched. I know this is starting to sound like a negative review of the film, but i really did enjoy it. I am trying to show why the film went from a possible 8/10 to a 6/10. The two worst areas of the film i saved for last because it makes me cringe even thinking about it. Sony owns the writes to Spider-Man, but did this movie have to be a big 2 hour and 20 minute commercial for Sony Products? I am not kidding when i say that there are 3, Sony Laptop shots, 3 Sony Cell phone models being used, and a big Sony desktop monitor. Keep in mind, this is all that i caught and that it’s possible that there are more out there. It just feels like a comedic spoof whenever this kind of thing comes on and takes you totally out of the feelings for the movie. The Sony thing is peanuts though compared to the worst musical score/soundtrack i have heard this year. Every pop/folk song like “For You” by Phillip Phillips is used to distinguish some kind of emotion because the director thinks the crowd is too stupid to pick up on emotions for themselves. If Peter is sad, you must play a song with sad lyrics in them. If Peter won’t quit, you must play a song that describes never giving up. Those emotion jams are nothing compared to the score that plays when Electro invades New York City. It’s some kind of awful dubstep song that has a male voice whispering words from Electro’s point of view. Words like “He lied to me”, “He forgot about me”, “SPIDER MAN SPIDER MAN SPIDER MAN” “DIe Spider Man”. It is single handedly the worst music i have heard in film this year. I get that Electro was a cheap reason to use dubstep in your movies because kids are hip to that music today, but it is so ear bleeding that i want to cover my ears even to risk missing plot dialogue. The ending is also kind of unsatisfying. There are technically two of them, and if they would’ve settled for the first one, it would have been awesome. Instead, they add on ten more minutes to film another fight scene that doesn’t even end. Seriously, they begin fighting and the camera goes to black. One will write this off as build up for the 3rd film, but i saw this final shot in the trailers, and when you see that shot in trailers it is supposed to get you psyched up to see the full fight, not wait another 2 years for another film so that we can maybe see the ending to that fight. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a decent effort by director Marc Webb (Webb, how cute?) but it is riddled in the kinds of negatives that made the first Spider-Man series feel old by the 3rd film. I really hope they can pick it up for the 3rd movie as the groundwork is set for an amazing confrontation. Lets just hope it stylistically resembles the first film more. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is recommended because the super hero era is still very big, but challenge yourself to not accept everything you see just because it’s a super hero movie. We don’t have to agree, but i don’t give any movie favoritism just because it’s a genre i enjoy.

Transcendence

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7/10

I am amazed when i see sites like Rotten Tomatoes giving this film a 17%, but give Heaven is For Real a 54%. What movies are these people watching? Transcendence isn’t a film that everyone is going to like, and i understand that. It is a film though that takes a used plot (See Lawnmower Man), but spices it up to bring a level of terror to a world that relies on technology (sound familiar?). Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Cole Hauser lead a dynamite cast in a film about two artificial intelligence professors (Depp and Hall) who work to create a sentiment machine that combines intelligence of our data systems with human emotion. The idea comes with backlash at the hands of an extremist group who sees the consequences that something like this could lead to. I am going to mention what i didn’t like about this film first because it’s very few things. First of all, it’s a ridiculous thought that something like this would ever be on a blueprint, i understand that. I think the intention of first time director Wally Pfister was to show that our real life situation of everyone’s need for technology is getting to dangerous levels. It kind of touches Animal Farm levels when it hints that humans will one day no longer be able to make decisions for themselves. That situation alone is enough to make anyone shriek at the idea of a computer God who now controls everything and everyone.I was impressed with the direction that Pfister crafted in this film. It even reminded me of one of my favorite directors, Christopher Nolan, and there is a reason for this. Wally was the cinematographer for all of Nolan’s films. Nolan also works as an executive producer in this film. His influence is easy to spot not only in the camera work, but the cast as well. Hall, Freeman and Murphy have all been staples in Nolan films, and that chemistry reflects in each of their screen time together. Transcendence starts off slow in the first 45 minutes, but then recovers itself with a twist that wasn’t even hinted at in the trailer. Seriously, after watching the trailer, i wasn’t too impressed going into this film. I think what really won me over was the chemistry of Depp and Hall, and their capability to create a product that most humans can’t even begin to understand. Understanding the scientific lingo is something that fans will have trouble fully grasping. In this world, the sky is the limit for these machines and technology, so we have to take that ride with our eyes forward. I also really enjoyed the score by Mychael Danna. He instills a sorrow to future that mankind is creating for itself. The piano notes hit at the most perfect moments when our main characters look across at each other knowing the terrors they have created. The ending is something else i really dug. I enjoy when a film has enough bravery to make an ending that is risky and goes against what might be best for the fans who dig simple cliche endings. It’s one of the reasons i am one of the only people who enjoyed Cabin in the Woods. The ending to this doesn’t back down, and that is something i will always appreciate. Transcendence is a dark and harrowing tale about the road we may be heading down. Technology is one of human’s biggest achievements and possibly biggest downfalls. It’s my opinion that technology is always one step above humans. I think that might be why many critics don’t understand this film. Recommended but wait till DVD, so you can rewind what you might miss.

Captain America : The Winter Soldier

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8/10

Steve Rogers is back as the first avenger, Captain America. This time the man donning the red white and blue battles a soldier created by Hydra who carries a dark secret of his own. The sequel to 2011’s Captain America packs an original punch with Marvel’s feature films. It feels very much like an espionage film straight out of a Jack Ryan movie. It gives every fan of the superhero something to appreciate, as it goes much further than a typical superhero movie. This film is completely different from the first film and i think that is what keeps Captain America so fresh. Other series like Thor are set in the same kind of setting and era, but Captain America goes from the 40’s to the current day, and it never misses a beat. Truth be told, i did enjoy this film a little more than the first one because it’s cool to see how the main character interacts with today’s technology and today’s problems like cyber hacking. He feels like he is in more trouble in a world he isn’t quite familiar with. The action is nonstop, and produces the best fight scenes of any Marvel film i have seen in a long time. In particular, the fight between Rogers and Georges Batroc (MMA’s George St-Pierre) has some amazing choreography that feels very authentic. Batroc isn’t on the screen for long, so you will be craving for a rematch between he and Captain America. The 3D wasn’t anything special, and i definitely wouldn’t recommend it when catching this at the theater. With the exception of some shield tosses at the screen, there is nothing to write home about to make it worth $12-14. The only other slight criticism i have is about the time. 2 hours and 10 minutes feels a little long for a film that we already know the back stories of these characters. I want to also mention the makeup design of Haley Atwell. She played the love interest of Captain America in the first film, but she has aged 60 years here. They show her in a hospital bed complete with makeup, and it actually looks great. Prometheus should write down on a piece of paper what to do and what not to do with makeup. It should be subtle and not stick out in the scene. Overall, Captain America : The Winter Soldier is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is getting overcrowded. It is my favorite story saga of the Avengers characters because it doesn’t limit itself to just one era. Looking for something to do with the family? Check out Captain America : The Winter Soldier. It’s well worth the price of admission. Just leave the 3D on the side.

Only Lovers Left Alive

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7.5/10

Dreamy and mesmerizing are the best words used to describe this film starring Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as two vampires roaming the earth, and the love story between them that follows. The two lead actors play vampires better than anyone i have seen since John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998). They hate the existence that they live in, but they make the most of every situation. Swinton is very intelligent as she has read thousands of books, and Hiddleston is a 18th century musician who collects vintage instruments. He also uses the Tesla way of running energy through his house.The love story between the two protagonists is something that feels eternal. Their love has lasted for centuries and it shows. They seem incomplete without each other.
I have to speak of the two best things about this movie because they both play IMPORTANT parts in this film. The first is the score. This is a movie that feels like the music never stops. It is mostly instrumental, but it comes in the form of these dark but beautiful pieces that echo off the walls of every scene. I don’t know if a soundtrack has ever been this perfect for a film in terms of generating the kind of feeling that the actors are going for. The second thing is the setting of Detroit. This is absolutely brilliant. It is in Detroit that these characters can go unnoticed and live in silence.The long shots of downtown Detroit play so well with the mood already set by the soundtrack and the characters. As for the vampires, they aren’t violent and there is something i like about that. The film only shows them attack their prey one time, and i am fine with that. It’s expected in too many films that vampires are violent, so it’s nice to go against the cliche. If i have one problem with this film, it’s the pacing. The slow and uneventful periods are what might take someone out of this film. I think to fix this problem they could’ve cut down about 15 minutes in some random script time. A lot of that cut time would be in the beginning because it does get off to a slow start. In comparison to some of the other vampire film lately, this is a beautiful breath of fresh air. Director Jim Jarmusch has created some great characters with his 2005 hit Broken Flowers, but this film i feel is even better than that one. Only Lovers Left Alive shows him venturing into territory that he hasn’t been used to since his mid 90’s days. It’s nice to see the director still has it with a film that pushes characters first and actions second. I recommend this film for anyone who doesn’t mind a slow build. You have to appreciate this film for the relationship and not so much the kinds of actions you are used to seeing in the Vampire genre. Hiddleston and Swinton carry this film to one of the year’s best so far

Divergent

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6/10

I liked this film a lot more than i thought i was going to. The Dystopian genre is really taking off in Hollywood, but this one stands out more than a couple dystopian films that are coming out this year. Divergent stars Shailene Woodley as Tris, a teenage girl who has to choose her future aspiration in a future world controlled by a brainwashing regime. The film is 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and i can safely say that i was entertained for the first 2 hours of it. It’s in the last 15 minutes that the film loses a little bit of it’s steam with a cliche outcome. The ending was weird to me because it almost seems like they went with an ending that could work whether this film gets a sequel or doesn’t do good at all and ends here. Either way, it works. Woodley is excellent in this role. She is young enough to capture a typical 18 year old’s emotions, but she is a good enough actress to channel adult like transformation. She really does transform before our eyes from a weak duckling to a full on fighting machine. Kate Winslet is also outstanding as the lady in charge, Jeanine Matthews. You can tell that Winslet is having a great time as a villain for once. She gets under your skin with smiles and soft speaking. Theo James is a little bland to me as Tobias Eaton, but i think the ladies will love him just fine. They give him the yawning scene of him taking his shirt off showing his tattoo so he and Tris can hook up yada yada yada. He just doesn’t do a good job displaying the emotions of the terrible situation that these people are under. I did enjoy some beautiful scenery which included a capture the flag game at night with the army training. The colors of this dystopian future really work with the wardrobe and emotional symbolism. What i found the most interesting about this film is that it kept me entertained for 2 hours with just building these kids into the soldiers they are born to become. It’s the training and the transformation of Tris that is the best parts of this film. I asked two teenage girls who were sitting 2 rows behind me if the film was a good adaptation, and they said they got just about everything right. They can’t speak for everyone, but that is a good sign for you the readers. Divergent is a film that isn’t as good as Hunger Games (My opinion), but it gives you better character building than that film ever could. I wish a lot of success for this film as i wouldn’t be against seeing the sequels. I just hope they keep out the cliche love dialogue at home. I realize it’s needed because it’s in the books, but i can’t watch those scenes without rolling my eyes. Divergent is recommended to anyone who is into this kind of genre. If you aren’t into books like these, wait till the dollar theater. It’s not essential to see it. Overall verdict – In the middle of the pack for the 33 films i have seen this year.

Under The Skin

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6/10

Truly the oddest film of the year i have seen. It’s got a lot of disturbing scenes in the form of Scarlett Johansson in the form of an alien who comes to earth to learn more about the humans she hunts. I say “hunt” because this alien attracts men while taking on the form of a beautiful woman. She brings them back to her apartment where they are all killed while under the sexual spell of Johansson. The idea itself behind Under the Skin is great but it suffers from a lot of the same sci fi problems that this month’s The Signal did. It has problems explaining itself, and maybe that is meant on purpose. You find out very little about the alien itself and why she is here to study these males. You never find out why these men are disposed of in a way that they are. The reason i kind of feel this is on purpose is because the movie has a couple meanings in the form of symbolism that i took from it. The first is that man is the most dangerous creature walking the earth. He is out for sex and doesn’t care who he hurts to get it. I don’t think a film like this can really be called feminism because the woman is clearly using the tool herself even if it is for death purposes. The second thing i took in the form of symbolism is that beauty is only skin deep. I can tell that the ladder is the thing this film was really going for, but it never fully commits itself in this direction. There is a scene midway through the film in which the alien picks up a man with a disfigured face. She continues to hit on him and shows more emotion in picking him up than she did any of the more physically attractive men. This is personally what i enjoyed most about the film as i felt it was heading in a direction that was more original and rare by today’s standards of good looking men and women in movie. The alien looks like Scarlett for a reason obviously and that is to prove how shallow these animals are. As i said before, it doesn’t fully commit itself to this direction and that is unfortunate. The last 30 minutes of the film are a scramble of a film that didn’t know quite how to end. It almost feels like the ending does nothing to add to the film’s originality because it’s the ending we were expecting in the first place. There are a couple other things i enjoyed about the movie. The movie is mostly a silent film with occasional dialogue being thrown in to get across the wants and obvious needs by her male suitors. It’s so hard for a movie to get across the points of it’s characters when there isn’t a lot coming out of their mouths, but Under the Skin made it work. This is by far Johansson’s best acting credit to date. In just a deer in the headlights stare, she makes the alien (no name given in the film) so pale and emotionless that we always prepare for the worst. We feel like these men are in for a world of pain that only we can see coming, but it never quite gets that horrific. SPOILERS – Some of the men are killed, but it only feels as bad to us because of Johansson’s powerful quiet demeanor. She is never too over the top while playing a character and a genre that she has little to no experience with. The camera shots are absolute beautiful and full of artful color. The fast paced shots of a motorcycle rider who is relative to Johansson’s character are done with the road underneath us speeding through quickly. It feels like we are chasing this man on a bike because of the absolutely brilliant and risky shots given. The location of Scotland is absolutely perfect for this kind of movie because of the foggy mist swallowing the forrest landscapes. It gives the area a sense of doom for the unknown that they don’t see coming. The direction is really hit and miss. The idea of the film is great, but it’s not amazingly executed by director Jonathan Glazer. Upon looking into it, he uses actual real citizens for shots of the alien in the mall and in a restaurant. This is brilliant because the star of the film has to react to the improv going on around her. His direction has pieces of miss because I felt like he had many great ideas, but got lost in some of the symbolism and that kept him from finishing a decent film. If the ending wasn’t so bland for me, i would’ve rated this movie a lot higher. It’s only an hour and 40 minutes, but you will be begging for answers by the end of the film, and it’s those answers that never materialize. I did enjoy Under the Skin, but i cannot for a second recommend this movie to a mainstream audience. Sadly, many people don’t like what they can’t understand in today’s society, so i can’t see this movie getting the world wide praise it kind of deserves. If you are curious for more things besides Scarlett Johansson’s nude body, give it a shot for her acting alone. It’s going to be unlike anything you have ever seen from her, but i think this film should be the cherry on the sundae for a great acting year for Johansson. Overall, the message of Under the Skin may go unnoticed by some, but the disturbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Johansson makes Under the Skin a haunting viewing experience

Robocop

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6/10

Is it better to have a conscience when being a police officer, or is a blank slate the best way to go? This question is the focus of the newest Hollywood remake, Robocop. First of all, there isn’t going to be a lot of critique with this review. The Robocop franchise is ridiculous and possibly the furthest thing from realistic. It’s like reviewing The Fast and Furious films for realism. There are a couple of things i didn’t like about this film, but i will get to that later. Joel Kinnaman stars as Alex Murphy, a Detroit police officer who is left with damage to 95% of his body in a set up explosion. A corporate big shot (Michael Keaton) and a scientist (Gary Oldman) come up with an idea to put Murphy back on the streets with a robot suit that controls his actions. Kinnaman is decent as Murphy, but he isn’t given the proper development that Peter Weller had in the 1987 original. Kinnaman is a good enough actor to make us care what happens to Murphy, but it would be better if we learned more about who he is and what his actions are as a cop for arguably the most dangerous city in the country. The filming of Detroit is one of my biggest problems with the film. I understand that 90% of movies aren’t filmed in the cities they are portrayed in, but Detroit is one that is hard to fake. Everyone knows what you are in for when you travel there, so to see it as a beautiful lighted up town is almost comical. The movie was filmed mostly in Vancouver and that is understandable as it is one of the cheaper places to film a movie. Two amazing performances come in the hands of Keaton and Oldman. Keaton’s character change is the biggest one of the movie as we learn what his true priorities are. There is a calm storm to his actions on the exterior, but you know it’s all just waiting to blow. Gary Oldman is the best part of the movie for me. He is such a veteran of film that he can do roles like this in his sleep. The role he plays as Dr. Dennett Norton is written very one dimensional, but Gary puts a caring sense of Dr. Frankenstein in the object he has created. He cares for Murphy’s health, and that gives him more definition than the characters he is surrounded by.Samuel L Jackson cameos as a talk show host who comes close to stealing the spotlight at times. He knows more than the viewers he talks to, but relates to them as he only wants the best for America. The action in this film is top notch. There are a lot of fast pace chase scenes with vibrating camera shots to replicate machine gun fire. The new black suit is really cool, but i hope they revert to the old school silver if they make a sequel. The black is supposed to represent the modernization of the Robocop character itself. Overall, i would definitely recommend this film to Robocop fans and action lovers alike. I think it is only passed by the original Robocop (barely), but it far exceeds parts 2 and 3 by a mile. It’s a fun, action packed extravaganza that takes the best parts of 80’s action and 2014 cinematography and creates a hybrid worthy of the Robocop name. Well done Director Jose Padihla.

Vampire Academy

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3.5/10 – Combine “Clueless” with your typical Vampire genre entry and you will have Vampire Academy. The problem with that comparison is that it doesn’t have the memorable lines of Clueless, or the creativity of a 1960’s vampire film. What you are left with is a hip and sexy look at one of the oldest genres in cinema history. This film to me tries to even cash in on some of what made the Harry Potter franchise a success. It creates a cool school where the kids are vampires and carry magical powers. It just doesn’t work when you are talking about something as dark as vampires. I get what producer Don Murphy was trying to do here. He was taking six books in this genre and picking apart the best parts to grab the teen audience into coming along for a ride the same way Twilight did. I think that is my biggest problem with this film; it lacks originality. Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry star as two vampire teenagers who run away from their high school only to be dragged back after a year on the road. Deutch and Fry are two actresses who i feel could do a lot better in a straight comedy flick. They are too unbelievable to be in this role. They dress sexy, they say the cool lines and they never once seem like they are in danger. I did appreciate the attempt at classifying multiple vampire groups like the Strigori. I wish they would have explored the different families in that respect more and left the teenage lingo out of it. These girls are teenagers and so are their target audience, but it’s just so BORING for anyone outside of that group. The film clocks in at around 100 minutes, and you feel every single minute of it. It’s easy to get lost in the explanation of the families and what powers they possess because the stories carry on and on. There was a nice twist near the end of the movie which i thought was by far the best part of the movie. Other than that, the dialogue is laughable, the CGI is terrible and the fight scenes lack dedication. This film currently holds an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes and it’s easy to see why. I call out directors in children’s movies who treat kids like idiots, so i am calling out the same in teenage genres. I can totally get behind those of you enjoying these books. After skimming through their premises, i can clearly say that they sound like a decent read. But the film dumbs everything that you liked about the books and says sometimes books should just be left alone. I recommend this to the Twilight crowd, but no one else. To those people, i would still wait for DVD.

I Frankenstein

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3/10

This movie had the ability to be so much better than it was. Aaron Eckhart’s latest role puts him as the creature himself from the famous legend. First of all, i had no idea Eckhart was actually playing the creature. I was led to believe he was Dr. Frankenstein. It is this casting alone that has a lot to do with what is wrong in I,Frankenstein. From anyone who has read the Frankenstein novels to anyone who has seen the countless number of films, they know what the creature is supposed to represent. He’s a tall, slow and practically brain dead science experiment that returns from the grave. The character that Eckhart plays is the EXACT opposite of those things. He’s quick, intelligent and even a master swordsman. This Frankenstein can do it all, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get me wrong, i love Aaron Eckhart but the man clearly doesn’t belong in this role. For those of you who say this is a new take on an old tale, you would be wrong. They even talk about the events of the past films/books at the beginning of this movie.This film just picks what it liked about the Frankenstein story and leaves out the rest. Besides this, the film has cheesy CGI and laughable death scenes that haven’t been seen since Van Helsing. Frankenstein is in the middle of a modern day war between gargoyles and demons. When a demon dies, they float to hell on a fire streak. Ya know, because fire represent bad. When a gargoyle dies, they float to heaven on a beautiful blue streak. Because blue equal good guy. I hope i came off sounding like a moron in those last sentences, it was intended. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have good ideas. The story of the creature in the middle of this war had the ability to be a great after story, but because it never feels like Frankenstein we are never fully invested. The scenery is something straight out of an Underworld movie. There is nothing wrong with that, as i always felt Underworld had some beautiful landscapes with great shading. The fighting choreography is also beautiful in sync. They definitely had great intensity with every fight from countless amounts of gargoyle and demon armies. The ending is laughable (Unintended) and takes away from any creative buildup that the movie gains in the first 80 minutes. Coming into this film, i wasn’t expecting much from it. I was a little wrong in that regards. I, Frankenstein is a film that isn’t quite the monster that critics have dismissed it to be. There is a little something there behind the dead eyes of a nonsensical script. With the right casting and a little less overbearing CGI, this film could have been near the top of the list for January releases. I would recommend this film to a very small audience, and that is the people who have seen and loved every Underworld movie. I think you will get a kick out of this movie. If it’s your intention to see I,Frankenstein, wait until the dollar theaters.