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.
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.
Spike Jonze latest film is his greatest accomplishment to date. Her is a dramatic piece about the depths of loneliness and the things we look to for comfort in an aching wound. I saw the film even a little different from the description that i just typed. I saw it as a piece that warns us about the rise of technological advances, and how the need for human life is slowly getting phased out. Juaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore Twombley, a man who is emotionally scared to open up to the world after the divorce from his wife (Rooney Mara). He buys a new operating system which gives the effect of an actual person in the room with him. What follows becomes the most emotionally invested relationship of Twombley’s life. Phoenix is absolutely breathtaking in this film. It sounds bad when i say this is a one man show, but he is definitely a step above the rest. That doesn’t mean that this amazing ensemble doesn’t do their parts. Led by Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde and the voice herself, Scarlett Johansson. These characters give Phoenix all he needs to play through a series of emotions. The film for me was more sad than anything else. When you think about where we are today in our own technological world, it hits a lot closer to home than people might think. Problems quickly arise in the relationship when the voice lacks personal touch, and i think it is done in a manor that the audience will fully invest in. I wouldn’t be doing my job if i didn’t talk about the phenomenal cinematography. This is the most beautifully shot film that i have seen in a long time. The angles and close ups on characters faces that represent what they are going through is a Jonze classic in his arsenal. It works best in a film like this that plays off nothing but emotional depth. The use of light in the outside shots are like the beautiful path that Twombley is walking on his journey out of solitude. The dialogue does get a little cheesy at times, but the premise itself is kind of cheesy when you think about it. It honestly didn’t bother me as much as it might some other people. The only thing that worries me about a film like this is that it might be too artsy and slow at times for people to enjoy. I think the real lovers of film will truly enjoy this film because it’s everything that is great about Hollywood. Sometimes you only need a great actor like Phoenix to hit with such a powerful piece of cinema gold. The people who are expecting huge things to happen in this film will be set up for disappointment. The big things are there, but they come in the form of character growth. The original cut of this film was 150 minutes, and i would certainly be interested in checking out some of that deleted footage. In the end, this film shows us that the line between human interaction is being cut thinner with time. But if we are willing to accept help from the most unlikely sources, maybe we too can change for the better
What can you say about this film that hasn’t already been said about the previous four Paranormal Activity films? Every time i write a review for one of these, i feel like i am just copying and pasting myself over and over again. The Marked Ones is the 5th film in the franchise. In this film, a boy named Jessie has graduated high school, but finds himself going through some frightening changes before his 18th birthday. After the death of his neighbor, he finds out some eerie things about his past. Lets get the good things out of the way. There are some better characters in this film compared to the other four films. That doesn’t mean 1. They make smart choices or 2. that you care about their survival. These films after all are the cheapest and most satisfying way to make a movie. They cost about 2 million dollars to make, but always see at least 20x the payback because they know cheap horror fans will see them. I also felt the ending had a decent concept but a terribly flawed execution. I won’t spoil much more about this film except that their is time travel. What is going on lately with horror films and time travel? After 2013’s Insidious Part 2 did a similar concept, i guess i can now look forward to Jason traveling back to 1974 to kill the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Wait, that actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea (wink wink). Anyway, The Marked Ones has all of the favorites that are included in these cheap movies; terrible acting, awful dialogue and the worst decisions made throughout this whole series. The film does connect decently with the past films, but it’s not enough to make me care. I am someone who actually did enjoy the first Paranormal Activity, but ever since it’s been a cheap knockoff of that one with small tweaks for originality. I wish horror movies would get back to the old days when a scene was built and built for a big payoff,not just jump scares. Don’t buy a ticket to Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones. Lets show the studio that they have to quit making a cheap effort to satisfy smarter fans. In closing, if you liked the other Paranormal Activities, you will enjoy this one. Everyone else? You aren’t missing anything
I cannot understand why this film is sitting at a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes. Simply put, 47 Ronin is a perfect film for someone who enjoys the fantasy genre. It’s a samurai dream composed of 2 hours of excellent fighting scenes and a great story to make you care about the characters. Keanu Reeves stars as a samurai who is cast out of his family when he illegally competes in a tournament. Keanu was dealt the right hand for a film like this. I think he is really good because (And i’m not trying to sound mean here) he doesn’t talk a lot. They keep his character very mute and let him show his actions with the sword. Keanu is someone who can show deep emotion without ever saying a word, so why do so many films ruin him with too much dialogue? In addition to what i listed, the fight scenes are excellent in this film. Some of the animation of the monsters can get a little cartoonish for me, but this film is well choreographed from beginning to end. It knows where it’s going and it knows how to get there. The only other problem i had with the film was the 3D. I don’t feel this is a film that is needed with the 3D experience. There are a couple cool tricks with a dragon’s tail coming at your face, or a ball and chain being thrown in your direction, but nothing to write home about. 47 Ronin tells a true story about a group of men who paid the ultimate sacrifice by standing by a leader that they always chose to fight for. It’s a tale of honor and sacrifice, and that is why i recommend the film. Fantasy genre fans will love it.
Coming from someone who is not a big fan of this series, i thoroughly enjoyed this film. This film has made walk away with the greatest feeling after seeing it, and that is for a few reasons. The first is that i was on the edge of my seat for this movie. The dragon Smaug is a great villain that adds even more because he can talk. The scene with the gold coins and his awakening scared me to death. There was just something about seeing his huge eye pop out that made my heart pump. The cinematography in these films is second to none. While i didn’t like the first Hobbit film, i can say that it was the most beautiful picture of the year. This one follows that trend, but it does it in a way to match the desolate mood of the Lake Town. This film’s views are seen more as dark and (hate to use this word again) desolate. The high frame rate is something pretty cool to read about with this film. The fact that they shot each frame at 48 frames per second is impressive, and it shows. I also really enjoyed the introduction of Bard the Bowman and felt Luke Evans was a perfect choice to play him. For those who don’t know, Luke has been cast in The Crow reboot, so i am curious to see what he can bring to Eric Draven. Some of the things i haven’t liked about other films are still there in this film, and i am sure i will get ambushed by fans of the series for it. Ultimately though, what kind of critic would i be if i didn’t put all of my cards on the table? These films are just way too long. I get that it is an epic story you are trying to tell with lots of characters, but maybe there in lies the problem; too many characters. I think the same story can be told without a couple of their back stories being learned. I also have never been a fan of Legolas. The guy is just too immortal for me to relate to. I mean seriously, could he get a cut or a scrape just once? Why do they even need an army if this guy can kill ten people in ten seconds? Just send Legolas to take care of any trouble in the town. I did enjoy the way the film ends as it sets up for There and Back Again quite well. I recommend this film to fans of the series for sure. As for non fans, it’s a hard prediction to make. I am not a fan and i loved it for the things i mentioned above. Give it a shot, it might surprise you.
My favorite book of the trilogy is adapted in this sequel that is every bit better than the first adaptation. First off, there are some things that are left out from the book in this film. If you go into every film not wanting anything to change, then you might as well stick to the books. This film got roughly 90% of the book correct. Some of the adaptations are surrounded by beautiful scenery and awesome acted dialogue that puts the first film to shame. The biggest thing i loved about this film as opposed to the first one is the fact that the characters are much better in this one. The characters are given time to shine in their roles. My favorite character in the books has always been Finnick, and Sam Claflin plays him perfectly. The character isn’t too overdone with his charismatic charms that he comes off as feminine, but he carries enough charm to make the character lovable. Jena Malone also turns in an incredible performance as Johanna. She really adds her own attitude to an already rebel character. Phillip Seymour Hoffman kicked so much ass as Plutarch that i could never see anyone else in the role. It’s as simple as that. Peeta and Gale don’t get too much time to shine in this film and i hope their roles will be more important in the 3rd/4th film since they are a huge part of the Mockingjay novel. The film’s 2 hour and 26 minute run time didn’t even feel like it as the time breezed by. With the final novel being adapted into two films, i am curious to see how well they keep with the pacing. Especially since the first of those films comes out in less than a year. I hope they aren’t rushed too quickly. Overall, this film is great and definitely deserves a theater viewing. If you liked the first film, you will love this one. If you hated the first film, you won’t find much charm in this one
I have a lot to say about this film, but i’m not sure where to begin. First of all, i am not reviewing the novel of Ender’s Game. I have never read the book and i will not even try to debate my knowledge on that subject. The film is an easily forgettable one. Is it a good film? Yes, but to anyone who hasn’t read the book or know a decent amount about the story, you will be lost at times. When i saw big names like Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley, i imagined that this film was going to turn in some incredible performances. But the trio of award winning actors are kind of left to waste with short dialogue that doesn’t give us any time to know their characters. Ford is the best by far in the fact that he is hiding more than we are led to believe throughout the film. For the first 90 minutes, i thought this film was all about practice and training, which would have put my review at around a 4 or 5. But this film redeems itself a little in the final ten minutes which pulls the wool from our eyes and turns around everything we were led to believe in the film up to this point. The action and set pieces in the film are beautiful. There is no debating that if you are to see this film, it must be at the theaters. I also enjoyed the work of Asa Butterfield as the story’s main character. His voice is a little pre-teen screaming when he gets excited, but i think he is great to play the role of a kid who knows he has a revolution that he is responsible for. In the end, Ender’s Game gives us a look at a possible sequel and i do think there will be enough fans to support that wish. To me, Ender’s Game is recommended, but it’s nothing incredible. The script seems rushed with so many of the events that are portrayed, but overall it’s not a bad little film. I would put this one somewhere in the middle of all the films i have reviewed this year.
A decent sequel from the same people who brought you the legendary original. This film lays the ground for a very unusual trilogy. I will not give much away about the upcoming third film, but this film gave what it always promises. It had great and goofy action scenes with a lot of blood. It had laughs that were a little few and far between, but still there. It had crazy characters played by some big time actors. The best of those performances are from Mel Gibson and Cuba Gooding JR. Cuba is only in the film for a few minutes, but his performance is one of my favorites just on the attitude he brings to the role he is playing. Gibson is great as the villain of the film. He creates a Star Wars-esque scenary (Yes you read that right) that creates an over the top finale. The things i didn’t like about the film were petty, but they were there. I have never been a fan of CGI blood when there are so many amazing special effects guys anymore. Hell, Tom Savini was starring in the movie, so there is absolutely no reason for this. I get that they might do it to make it look cheesy, but i think human effects would make it even funnier. I also didn’t like the ground work laid for the 3rd film. I will definitely go see it, but i am not looking too forward to it based on the scenery. These films are all about the goofy, but sometimes you can take it a little too far. I recommend Machete Kills if you want a good time at the movies. There isn’t anything wrong with waiting till dollar theaters though to see it.
This film was easily the most suspenseful film of the year for me. First of all, you have to see this film in theaters. DVD will not do it justice one bit. I also recommend you go to the 3D showing. I don’t usually condone 3D, but it was well worth it in this film. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stuck in orbit in space. That is the whole premise. It seems dull, but these two great actors really make the most of a situation. My favorite things about this film was the editing and the score. Both of which are the best of the year in my opinion. The music is what totally supplies the suspense of this film. You really care for these characters and can see the terror that they face coming from a mile away. I found it funny that Ed Harris supplied the voice for mission control again (Apollo 13). The only thing i didn’t like about the film was that some scenes drag on a little too far. I think this will ruin the film for some people with short attention spans. This film gives us the most beautiful shots of earth in the background, and it’s only with those shots can you truly understand how deep these two are in. I recommend this film to everyone, but only in theaters.
I really enjoyed this sequel to Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick. In my opinion, this film is more similar to the style in Pitch Black. It’s rated R, and the storylines of the two films are very similar. There were of course some very enjoyable differences. This film has the best characters of the three films. The acting is a little dull with a couple of them, but i haven’t cared about characters fate as much as i do in this one. That cast is led by Katie Sackoff, who i think is the best character in the film. She is kind of like a female Riddick without all of the cliche’s. She is definitely the biggest badass female i have seen in cinema this year. I also enjoyed the ending as i felt it gave something different to this trilogy. I was worried that this film’s ending was going to fall in the same category as the other two, but it gave a little twist at the end that made you keep from rolling your eyes. I thought the CGI of the landscape looked great at night, but very fake during the day shots. I think Riddick films work better at night anyway because that is what he is all about. If there is a fourth film in the series, i would like to see a movie completely at night time. The monsters in this movie were very original and packed a lethal punch to give Riddick a hard fight. I recommend this film to fans of the series and action buffs alike. There are parts that will have you rolling your eyes at the believability, but come on, it’s a Vin Diesel movie.
The final film in the flavors trilogy ends us on a positive note. There was a lot i really enjoyed about this film. About 35 minutes in, it becomes a totally different film that is all about learning from our mistakes and that the good times we had when we were young don’t have to be the best times of our life. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are back (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul) for another dose of comedic genius and great characters that are sometimes hard to find in today’s films. The character of Pegg’s was a little hard to like at first, but you realize that he is a man who doesn’t have much to live for. I thought the action and effects from the violence were done very well. The comedy is the right tone for a film that has a bit of a serious tone on alcoholism. The only things i didn’t like was what happened at the end of the pub crawl, and the ending of the film itself is a little drawn out. It’s cool that the film had balls to go through with an ending that some people might not be satisfied with when they head home. I definitely recommend the film to everyone, and especially to those of you who have seen Shaun and Fuzz and enjoyed them. I would say this is the 2nd best film of the trilogy behind Shaun of the Dead, but that is just my opinion.