Homefront

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5.5/10

I was really disappointed with this film about Jason Statham and his daughter starting a new life in the country. James Franco played a badass villain who really showed a different level for his acting. I know he has played a villain before, but nothing like this. He is a country hick who takes no lip from anyone. Franco is great, and there are some excellent dramatic scenarios that unwind, but this film has a lot wrong with it. The biggest thing is that these people are natural born idiots. I get that parents can act extreme if someone messes with their child, but even this is taking it over the line. This whole movie unwinds because two kids had a very minor fight at school. The reactions are just stupid and never quite make you feel relative to the subject. I also felt that the fights were very obviously choreographed. Even for a Statham film, the fights were just obviously overdone with everything looking too crisp for country people who probably don’t know anything about martial arts. Finally, i felt the editing was awful. They kept doing something where they would start cutting to the next scene but then stay on the present scene and then go to the next scene. It was just really weird to watch because you are focused on one piece and then they are shoving the other one at you before you are done with the previous scene. Homefront does have it’s charms, and if the film was ever on TV i would probably watch it. It does carry a deeper storyline than most Statham films. It just fails in the execution of the events that unfold. I would like to see this film done as a 20 minute short film by a college student looking to take his strides in Hollywood. Anything more than that just doesn’t make sense to me. Some people might like this film, but i just can’t recommend it.

Frozen

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8/10

The best animated film i have seen in a long time. Before seeing this film, i had no idea that it was a musical. It’s a good thing that it is, because this film has some of the best musical pieces from Disney in a long time. The thing that i love the most about this film is that it reminds me a lot of those Disney films from the 80’s and 90’s. It was a time when the music was possibly the most important aspect of a Disney film, and that is what this is. The film doesn’t have your typical love story or your typical villain. Hell, it even has a swerve. That aspect alone gives Frozen a very original touch. On top of it, there is some of the most beautiful visuals i have ever seen in an animated film. I definitely think this film should win the Oscar for best animated film. The cast is incredible. Outside of Kristen Bell, it’s not really anyone super famous and i like that. Just voice actors here, the way it should be. Idina Menzel has the voice of an angel with amazing songs that she had a part in writing. The comic character (Olaf) was pretty good too. I don’t feel he was desperately needed, but Disney loves their comedy. I definitely recommend everyone see this film. Kids will love the colorful characters, and adults will appreciate the creative songs.

The Hunger Games : Catching Fire

 

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8.5/10

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

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

 

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6/10

Ben Stiller is back in a film that is a little different than the films he has been known for over the last decade. He stars as Walter Mitty, a man who daydreams his life away while publishing photos for Life Magazine. The crew at Life are told that this will be the last issue ever published with most of the people losing their jobs. Some of the things i liked about this film was the amazing scenery and beautiful cinematography. It sets epic stages for Mitty to reclaim his life and go on the adventure of a lifetime. The Secret Life also gives us some awkward characters in the form of strangers he meets along the way. It’s sad that in these strangers we find that we care about them more than our two leads (Stiller and Kristen Wiig). Stiller and Wiig are very awkward in their form of conversation. It’s almost like two robots who have never met are talking for the first time. When we find out they have known each other for a couple months, it seems even weirder that they have such a problem being personable. Adam Scott gives another great performance as the villain of the film. Scott has been known to be very famous in these roles including a great performance in Step Brothers. The film runs out of miles in the main base scenes while Stiller is working at Life and at home. It’s kind of symbolic to the way this film goes. It’s only interesting when he is climbing mountains in the Himalayas or playing soccer in Afghanistan. The daydreaming also gets old by about the 3rd of 4th time it’s done. We see how predictable it is to tell the difference, and can see the joke coming from a mile away. Films like A Nightmare on Elm Street have always been great at producing a believable dream scene. I appreciate the explanation of why Stiller has less and less dream scenes by the end of the film, but it’s too late by this time. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has the ability to be one of the year’s best, but it flutters in the basic bore of Stiller comedy. Give it a shot on DVD, but nothing more. The Film Freak’s Mother – 8/10 – I really enjoyed the scenery of this film. A lot of the fields of green reminded me of my time in Ireland. I also enjoyed the role of the mother (Played by Shirley Maclaine) as she reminded me a lot of myself in the things i do to Christopher. Some of the scenes i didn’t like were the daydreaming. I felt it was really drawn out and overdone with too many minutes wasted on it. I also didn’t like the boss (Adam Scott). I felt he was a jerk.

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

Ender’s Game

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6/10

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.

Escape Plan

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5/10

I was very disappointed in this film starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger about an escape artist who escapes from prisons for a living. This film was INSANELY unbelievable even for a Stallone film. I watched The Expendable movies and loved them, but this film doesn’t pack the same charm. There are limits to everyone’s suspension of disbelief, but this excedes those limits to overdrive. It is also very predictable as you can see many of the swerves coming from a mile away. I did enjoy the work of Jim Caviezel in this film as the villain atop the prison. He seemed to be having a lot of fun in the work as the villain for once. A lot of the action scenes and witty dialogue is there, but it just doesn’t give us the same kind of charm from this year’s Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand. Those films were far superior and give us a story that is down to earth. The thing i didn’t understand about the prison was if they knew Stallone was an escape artist and they studied his work by reading his book, why wouldn’t there be more focus on him? I would have a guard on him 24 hours a day. Even when he sleeps. Those same thoughts will ruin this film for anyone with half a brain. I recommend this film to hardcore Stallone/Arnold fans, but no one else.

Machete Kills

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6/10

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.

Captain Phillips

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7.5/10

Tom Hanks gives his best performance in nearly a decade in this film about a ship taken over by African pirates. I didn’t expect too much from this film, but boy was i surprised. The film does a great job of telling the 2009 story of merchant mariner Richard Phillips and his amazing rescue. What i like is that i knew most of the events that happened in the film, but there were some things that even surprised me. That’s not to say that this film is 100% true, but we as a public are not privy to that kind of information, so i will take anything. The only thing i didn’t like about the film is it’s length. It is too long of a film and does drag at certain points. It would be easy to trim a half hour off of this film, but i kind of understand what they were going for. As i said before, Hanks is brilliant. This role is kind of different for him because he doesn’t often play a victim. I was really rooting for him and hoping for the best in every situation he was put in. Just when you think he may be safe, he was put into an even worse situation. I have seen six films this week and this is definitely the best one. The way it is shot is brilliant with a minor shaky cam that doesn’t go to extreme annoyance levels (See Die Hard 5). The cast is perfect, including the pirates themselves. I definitely recommend this film to everyone, but i would save it for DVD. It’s over 2 hours long, so you will appreciate those times when you can pause the film to go to the bathroom or do something around the house. Either way, definitely worth a look.

Metallica : Through the Never

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6/10

The worlds of music and film meet in this concert film with the story happening outside of a Metallica concert. First of all, the band still has it. They put on an epic 10 song performance that makes you feel like you are there in the live crowd. Shot with the beautiful Technicolor cameras, it makes for an amazing stage show that pushes the music even further. The other half of the film stars Dane Dehann as a stage hand who is caught in the middle of an apocalypse outside of the stadium. His job is to deliver a mysterious bag that we never find out what is inside. This part of the film we could have done without, but i understand why they did it. There are some beautiful symbolism shots that include a burning scene that had to be near impossible to shoot. We just never learn why this whole thing is going on and we know even less about why this bag is so important. There is no talking during this part of the film at all, and they just act as action and fighting scenes to play to the background of the music. To me, this film could be summarized as one giant 85 minute music video, but i think it’s a little more than that. I have seen concert films before and this one leaves you with a little extra. I do love Dehann as an actor and wish he could have gotten more character development here. This film only played for one weekend at Imax theaters and it’s understandable. It’s hard to categorize this as a film or a concert. It’s an experience that has to be seen by all Metallica fans. If you aren’t a fan of the band, it won’t mean anything to you.

Gravity

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8/10

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.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

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7/10

The laughs are brought with a very cute movie for the whole family. I really enjoyed this film that is a sequel to what i thought was the best animated film of 2009. All of the best characters are back with Terry Crewes filling in for Mr T. I personally preferred Terry Crewes as i feel he is comic gold in anything that he does. Steve the Monkey has always been my favorite character in this franchise, but i thought Berry was a much welcome addition. There was something about this film that was more adorable than funny. Don’t get me wrong, the laughs are certainly there, but this film was just more of a feel good story for me. It doesn’t match the greatness of the original, but it is still a very good film. I have been real pleased the last couple of years with animated films. I think they are reaching an artistic peak with the technology available. I would welcome a 3rd film in this franchise as i feel they kept it very entertaining in the 2nd film. I personally preferred the egotistical mayor of the first film as opposed to Chester V, but that is a nit pick. Take the whole family to see this film. The kids will like it for all of the adorable and funny characters, but the adults will love it for all of the puns the kids don’t understand.