Mr Peabody and Sherman

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7/10

The re-visioning of the 1960’s side cartoon on Rocky and Bullwinkle sees our main protagonists in trouble traveling back through time to get back home. The voice acting of Ty Burrell (Mr Peabody) and 10 year old Max Charles (Sherman) is done really well, and the perfect choice to compliment old school fans of the cartoon. Peabody is a dog who is the adoptive father of Sherman. He is a very intelligent canine who tries to teach his son about world history through a time machine. Sherman disobeys his father when he takes the time machine out and gets stuck in ancient Egypt. The animation of the film looked very crisp and beautifully textured. Dreamworks once again scores on a beautiful cinematography that really updates the cartoon. One of the biggest benefits to showing this film over another animated feature is that kids will get a history lesson from this film. It makes learning fun by taking our two characters back through some of the world’s biggest events and listing the time and place for those events. Many such historical figures are even brought to life to help the duo get back home. People like George Washington, Marie Antoinette, Da Vinci and even King Tut are given plenty of screen time to represent their respective era’s. There were two things that i thought weren’t necessarily problems but were very interesting about the film. The first is that the film really has no antagonist. I am sure some people will fire back with Mrs Grunion (The Children’s services worker) being the villain, but she doesn’t have enough screen time and isn’t dark inside enough to pull it off. It’s weird to watch a children’s film nowadays that doesn’t have an antagonist. The other thing was that for a film that was marketed as a comedy, it’s not a very funny movie. There is some comedy in the film that will make you chuckle and that is mostly adult comedy. It’s kind of sad to say that the comedy in this film really doesn’t represent children very well. I could be wrong with different kids seeing this, but the children in my theater barely ever laughed. I think all of this is OK because it is still a good and educative film, but it’s just weird that they marketed to kids and it didn’t really do anything for them. I saw this film with my friend who is almost 40 and we both had a couple good laughs when the entire rest of the theater was dead silent. I think that has to do with the comedy that is present being too descriptive for a 5 or 6 year old to understand. Overall, Mr Peabody and Sherman is a delightful ride through the past. It’s a story about our children growing up and having to let go so they can spread their metaphorical wings. It’s also a story about being different and being OK with that. I would recommend waiting till DVD or if you can catch a dollar theater showing of it. It’s a good film, but it can wait.

Non Stop

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7.5/10 –

Liam Neeson stars in this thriller about a hijacked flight to London. Neeson plays a U.S Air Marshall whose cell phone is hacked by the person who threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes. First of all, this film combines two things that i enjoy. I have become a HUGE Liam Neeson fan. Pretty much to the point that anything the man comes out with, i will see it. I also enjoy the airplane genre (If there is one). Films like Flightplan, Passenger 57, Air Force One and Snakes on a Plane are ones i have always enjoyed. What makes Non Stop better than any of the films i mentioned is that it gives us characters that we can get behind and care what happens to them. It gives us an easy enough plot of a whodunnit with a surprise behind every corner. The ending will surprise 90% of the audience as even i got the prediction wrong . The twist gives us a back story that makes sense with our villain. It’s smart and most importantly, it’s human. The camera work is also something that is very attractive to this film. It’s very claustrophobic in which it gives us up close and tight shots that make us feel like we are stuck in a cock pit with Neeson. Those close camera shots also make the guessing game a lot harder for the audience as we get a lot of suspicious faces from the passengers on board. Julianne Moore is the lead female for the film, but i don’t think she is a huge presence here. Her performance is kind of on sleep mode as her character doesn’t have a lot to do. I was particularly fond of Michelle Dockery as the flight attendant, Nancy. For those of you Downton Abbey fans, you know her very well as Lady Crawley. This is the first thing i have ever seen her in, and i think she plays to the drama of a scene very well. She has the kind of eyes that really make you feel her pain. It also doesn’t hurt that i kind of have a crush on her (wink wink). The only problem i really had with the film was some of the things that the villain was able to accomplish. Make no mistake, there are things you will have to look the other way for in this film, but it’s nothing too drastic. I would have a couple of scenario questions for director Juame Collet Serra if i had the chance, but it’s just the critic in me nitpicking. Non Stop is a slow build Hitchcock-like suspense piece. It’s movement is a lot like the plain in which it’s gaining more height with each passing minute. It’s one of those films that will grab your attention and keep it as you want to figure out the big reveal before the ending. I definitely recommend it to everyone.

The Monuments Men

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7.5/10

George Clooney stars and directs in this film about the real life story of the men who rescued and returned millions of stolen art pieces by the Nazi regime. Clooney might not be much of a factor in this film, but he sort of passes the torch to a dynamite cast that brings out the best in every kind of emotion. When i say that, i mean that i was surprised at how much i laughed through this movie. The film does have Bill Murray, John Goodman and Bob Balaban, but i didn’t expect that comedy would be at such a forefront in a film set during World War II. Murray is incredible. He isn’t given a lot of screen time, but he makes the most of a character that makes us laugh and cry as he feels the pain of being away from his grandchildren. Goodman, Matt Damon and Jean Dujardin are victims of a script that is jam packed with characters. They don’t receive enough time to shine, and are kind of backgrounds to the two best characters in the movie, Balaban and the always elegant Cate Blanchett. Blanchett is a victim of the Nazi’s when her brother is murdered in cold blood for discovering a couple of the locations where they store the stolen art. This puts Blanchett in a tight spot because she is the secretary (Forcefully) of one of the Nazi generals. Bob Balaban is by far the best thing about the movie. He is bright, bothered and above all else, charming. He brings a nerd quality that makes him stand out above other characters who are either quiet or the typical good looking Hollywood leading man. His sarcasm really brings out the best in scenes with Murray. The two are stationed on their own route together, and it’s during these times that you will get the best scenes of the movie. The problem with the characters that fall into the background is the fact that they don’t receive character build at the beginning of the screen. They are recruited by Clooney and just thrown into the fray. It would have been nice to know a little more about these people in their home lives. The movie is 1 hour and 50 minutes, but some of that time should be used to make us care more. Which brings me to my other problem with the film; it’s riddled in a slow movement. The first 80 minutes of the film move so slow that it will be hard to believe that it redeems itself in the final 30. Believe me, it all works out. The final few scenes will give you goosebumps at the depths that these monsters went to. The Monuments Men isn’t an amazing movie, and it doesn’t give you the intense warfare of Lone Survivor. The film does however give you an amazing historical insight (Pictures of the actual sights are present) mixed with actors we have known and loved for decades. What might surprise you is that i only recommend it to two types of people; historical buffs or fans of art. I think that anyone outside of these bubbles might get overwhelmed with the slow pacing. If this film sounds like your piece of art, give The Monuments Men a chance.

Labor Day

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7/10

I was very surprised in this film starring Kate Winslet as a mother who has her home invaded by a convict murderer (Josh Brolin) and the adaptations they face during this unpredictable event. Brolin is powerful in a role like this because he can show so much emotion without yelling. I really enjoyed the chemistry between him and Winslet. They are two people who long for each other after years of different loneliness. Director Jason Reitman shoots some beautiful hands-on shots when showing what is going through each character’s mind. I think a film like this could even work as a silent picture because Reitman is great at communicating with his audience. The film also takes place in a beautifully transformed 1987 Boston suburb. The film remains very truthful to the kinds of technology and food labels that were around in 1987, and no one appreciates that more than me. A movie can lose it’s focus for me if it has a cola can in the 1980’s when it wasn’t invented until 1995. Labor Day clocks in at 1 Hour and 50 minutes which might seem long to someone who knows the basic story, but it’s needed to show the advancement of relationships between Brolin and Winslet, but also Brolin and the little boy. Some problems i had with the film were few and far between. For one, there is tension in the final 15 minutes just because. From police officers getting a little too nosey for no reason to bank tellers asking Winslet what she is planning on doing with money she is taking out. It just makes the audience roll their eyes because there is no reason given for these things to happen. I also found it hard to believe that the police wouldn’t look at the cameras from the grocery store. On a news report, they say they knew Brolin was in the store, so why do they not look at the camera tapes to see who he left with? Wouldn’t the police watch those tapes and then find Winslet’s address? I also found it very far fetched that this movie and the relationships formed in 4 days. Loneliness is a frightening thing, but for a murderer who kidnaps Winslet and her son, this just doesn’t seem feasible to me. This may sound like i am complaining a lot about the film, but i promise that it’s better than 90% of the cliche romance pictures i normally watch. The ladies will love Labor Day, but i think even the guys will appreciate the powerful story being told here. Give Labor Day a shot. At the least, it’s a good date movie based on the relationship to root for in the film.

Still Alice

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7/10

When Julianne Moore won the Golden Globe for her turn in this film, i knew i had to check it out. What i found is a film elevated by Moore’s outstanding performance, and an educative look at the disease of alzheimer’s. “Still Alice” shows our title character, Alice Howland, a married woman with three grown children, and a career as an influential linguistics professor. When Alice receives a diagnosis of rare Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease,  Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. As a film, i found “Still Alice” to be very close to home with a woman close to my life. My Step Mother has been currently battling a disease similar to Alzheimer’s for years, and Moore’s portrayal was a mirrored look at everything you need to know about the condition. The film’s script is a little thin when observed outside of the obvious plot content. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the movie serves as a reminder to the depressing clarity that every one in three faces with such a scary disease. Julianne’s deterioration never seems forced or over the top. The film’s beautiful pacing is complimented well by Moore’s top notch portrayal stepping up more and more the deeper the film goes. The gutting of this legitimately beautiful and inspiring person is one of the toughest thing’s i’ve had to sit through on the silver screen in the last decade. Kristen Stewart surprisingly also hands in what is easily her greatest performance to date. She plays one of Alice’s children, and it’s clear that she has the closest attachment to her mother. The sorrow in Stewart’s eyes shows that she was perfectly cast. To anyone who knows anything about Alzheimer’s, you know i am not spoiling anything by saying the final ten minutes of this film are absolutely heartbreaking. The relationship by Stewart and Moore helps that bittersweet note feel like the appropriate one chosen. Love is the last thing remaining when all else is lost, and i found the moral of that to be smile worthy. The only thing about the cast as well as the film that i didn’t enjoy was the casting of Alec Baldwin as Alice’s husband. Don’t get me wrong, i enjoy Alec Baldwin, and think there is a serious side to his acting that a lot of his fans don’t get to enjoy often. In this film however, Baldwin is a little over the top. I get that he is dealing with a new found condition for he and his family, but he is the most insensitive pig, and i don’t think 100% of that was written that way. During the film’s opening ten minutes, i made a prediction to myself that Baldwin would be cheating on her. I was wrong about that prediction, but i called this because there is something about his performance that just doesn’t gel with a man married to a woman he’s loved for over 30 years. If he does one thing well, his disappearing act every five minutes makes you feel even more sad for everything Moore is going through. Overall, the film is consistent in it’s tear jerking approach. There are moments when the layers in the plot start to wear a little thin, but “Still Alice” is an good film turned into a great film by Julianne Moore. She is acting supremacy at it’s finest, and is a shoe in to take home the Oscar in March. That is something none of us could ever forget.

47 Ronin

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7.5/10

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.

Inside Llewyn Davis

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7/10

Inside Llewyn Davis is kind of like a new song by a famous artist (The Coen Brothers). It’s got a good rhythm (Screenplay) and good characters (Narration), but it’s not the best from the artist or nearly the kind of songs you fell in love with (No Country For Old Men, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou). With that said, Oscar Isaac is a Best Lead Actor front runner when the Oscars come in March. He gives an amazingly warmhearted and dry witted performance as Llewyn Davis, a folk song writer struggling to stay afloat in 1961 New York. The first hour of this film kept in contention with some of the best films i have seen this year. It’s in the 2nd hour that the film begins to lose steam. We find out that some things have happened in Llewyn’s life that he has to make right. Mainly impregnating the girlfriend (Carey Mulligan) of a fellow friend and artist (Justin Timberlake). Mulligan is outstanding in the role of the harsh and negative girl who doesn’t quite know what she sees in Davis. My biggest problem with this film aside from the ending (Which i will get to later), is that many of the questions were never answered. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we never find out about the abortion or a couple of other things by the movie’s end. It’s like they had a great story and abandoned some of the parts to make an artsy ending. The ending itself just happens anti-climatic. When the screen goes black, you will ask yourself if that really is the end. It’s a shame too because you really care about these characters. They deserved a better ending than the one they are given. It’s amazing that with all i have said that The Coen Brothers still put together a decent film. Some great positives is the setting of each scene with incredible lighting. Also a score that i will be picking up in stores that should win an Oscar. Inside Llewyn Davis is not a film for everyone. Nothing huge or groundbreaking happens in this film. But if you can sit through almost 2 hours of beautiful songs with deep characters whose questions are not always answered, then this cup of tea is for you, friend. It’s also pretty cool to hear Akron mentioned a couple of times in the film

Hours

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7.5/10

If this is the last full length Paul Walker film, then i can say that his memory will go happy. This film really surprised me with how good it was. In my opinion, Running Scared and Joy Ride are the best Paul Walker films, but this is very close as well. Walker stars a man who is on his way to the emergency room to be there for his wife who is giving birth. When he is told that his little girl is on a breathing machine until she can breathe on her own, he finds out his wife has passed. When you take a story that already has a great plot like that and mix it with the fact that this is all taking place during Hurricane Katrina, it makes for an edge of the seat ride. The hospital is completely abandoned, so it’s up to Walker to keep his daughter alive for their rescue 48 hours later. I love when a film takes place in one setting the whole film. I think it asks more from it’s actors that way, and Walker definitely delivers. I really enjoyed the realism from the faulty hospital equipment to the surprises that Walker has while being alone in the hospital. When Walker died, he left behind a lot of fans who enjoyed the charisma that he showed on screen. If you are one of these fans, you simply CAN NOT miss this film. The ladies will shed some tears and be yelling at the screen while the guys will appreciate what the man does to keep his daughter alive.

Out of the Furnace

 

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7.5/10

A very deep and dark movie about the lengths we will go when something happens to a member of our families. This film has some amazing character performances and it’s those performances alone that give you every reason to see this film. Those performances are led by Woody Harrelson as a drug selling country hick who runs an underground fighting ring. Harrelson is one of my favorite actors, and it’s always fun seeing what role he will play next. Choosing him to be the villain for this movie was great casting. Is there any role this man can not do? Christian Bale and Casey Affleck are also impressive as the brothers in the story. Affleck has a young charm that makes him too naive for the stupid decisions he makes. Bale continues to be the best character actor bar non on the planet. The man will do anything to prepare for a role. The one thing i will say about this film is without those actors giving amazing performances, this film is nothing. The script is mediocre and plays out like a film you would watch on Lifetime Movies. It knows the points it’s crowd is supposed to cheer and boo and it exploits them. The film has a nice haunted town setting of Pittsburgh and it’s surrounding suburbs. A soundtrack by Pearl Jam gives the town it’s extra feel of hard nosed fighters who just never know when to quit. I recommend checking this film out, but keep in mind that there are some slow parts. Those parts don’t seem as big of a deal with the performances unfolding at hand.

Oldboy

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7/10

This film has it’s advantages to the 2003 Korean original, but falls just short of surpassing it. Josh Brolin gives an amazing performance and stars as a man trapped and imprisoned for 20 years for things he did in his past. He finds out he is framed for the murder of his wife while in that prison. I really enjoyed the 2003 version and was kind of worried about this one. Spike Lee does a decent job in adapting a very violent story to American cinema. There were a couple of things that i actually liked better in this film than the original. I will not spoil those things for the people who have not seen either version. The camera work in this film is supreme to that of it’s original for the quick cuts and views the way Brolin sees things. The ending to this version is also better in my opinion, as i had a couple of problems with the way the original ended. The acting is better in the original as the villain in this film is laughable. It feels like Brolin is controlling him the whole time and that is something that just doesn’t work in this story. There were also some violent things left out of this version that i felt added to the story, and those opportunities were missed. Overall, this film isn’t a bad version of the story. I would recommend this film only after you have seen the 2003 original. If you liked that film, then i really think you will enjoy this one as well.

In Fear

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7/10

In Fear grips like a full speed thrill ride even as the tension threatens to spin out of control. I was curious to check out this film if only for the 100% rating it currently has on Rotten Tomatoes, and it didn’t disappoint…….completely. This film is the happiest i have been with an original thriller in a good couple of years. It stars two young adults who have only known each other a couple weeks and are on their way to a festival when they decide to get a hotel room for the night. Just miles from the hotel, they encounter a maze on the way to getting there. They take different ways at different times to get there but end up at the same place they started. I really enjoyed some of the chilling themes of this movie like being stuck in isolation in the woods. Make no mistake, setting is VERY important in a film like this. It’s obvious that not a lot of money was involved in making this picture, so you have to hit the audience with ideas that can make the experience memorable. Alice Englert stars as female lead Lucy. It is in Lucy that we feel her pain as being stuck in the woods with someone she doesn’t fully know or understand. When you really think about it, that can be frightening for anyone. The sound editing/mixing is also something that should be complimented in this film. The suspenseful score starts the engine, but it is the amplified sound that compliment the high speed chases the most. I felt like i was getting the most i possibly could out of a movie with three characters and a car. The last British thriller that i saw was The Descent films, and i think this movie is sooooo much better than those. As the film’s 85 minute run time goes on, it is the darkness that plays the biggest role. Our characters sense a feel of panic and time running out with a car’s gas tank. It’s those little things that sneak up to the audience and hit you hard when you realize what is coming. The only problems i had with the film were a couple of the things the couple encounter during the movie. (Minor spoiler) With only one villain, it’s hard to imagine how all of this stuff was accomplished. I also felt the ending wasn’t entirely satisfying. It did give me a sense of pleasure, but not worth what these characters entailed. Overall, In Fear is a straight to DVD film (March 11th) that is definitely worth a look. If you like 80’s style suspense that is almost complimentary to the John Carpenter feel, this is a good film for you. I don’t know if today’s audience will be completely satisfied with the film, but it will be refreshing compared to today’s standards of shot on video (Or shot on shitteo, as i refer to them) films that are plaguing the genre.

Thor : The Dark World

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7.5/10

This anticipated sequel to the original masterpiece comes close in bringing the greatness again. I enjoyed this film a lot from different aspects that the first film didn’t bring. It is nice to see Loki and Thor team up to form one powerful union. I can only hope that something comes of this when The Avengers 2 comes out in a couple years. Make no mistakes about it, this is Tom Hiddleston’s film. As Loki, he provides us with the best lines in the script and the deepest character development of anyone in the film. I also enjoyed how this film wasn’t afraid to take more risks than the first one. There are a couple of death scenes in the movie that really open your eyes and let you know that Malekith and The Elf Army mean business. Malekith just falls short on the magnitude of Loki as a bad guy and that is understandable. Loki is after all the biggest rival in Thor’s comic book series. With that said, i enjoyed how Malekith spoke in a different language. It has always been weird to me how these civilizations talk in perfect english in these films, so it’s nice to see a villain who goes against the grain. The action scenes are there once again with some amazing damage being done to Asgard and London. This film clocks in at around 110 minutes, but it never drags. I think that is why i prefer the Thor series as opposed to Iron Man or The Hulk. It manages to keep itself fresh in two films that are around the 2 hour mark, and it still has lots of story to tell. I wasn’t too crazy about how this film set itself up for a 3rd one, but we shall see if Thor can break what i refer to as “The curse of 3”. Overall, i definitely recommend this film to everyone. I don’t think anyone will be turned away when it comes to the action that Marvel always brings to their films…………..Ok, Daredevil and Elektra don’t count