Riddick

 

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7.5/10

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.

Empire State

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4/10

I can totally understand why this film which has a great cast went straight to DVD. Liam Hemsworth, The Rock and Emma Roberts star in this film about the biggest heist in American history. Hemsworth stars as a night time security officer who guards the city’s money exchange. When his partner is shot dead, he decides that life is too short and decides to rob the station of it’s 25 million dollars. Right off the bat, the problems i had with the film was the dialogue as well as the characters being some of the dumbest of the 2013 film year. For a robbery that was so much money, it sure seemed pretty easy with the way the security officers told everything to Hemsworth during his first day on the job. I mean, they showed him every possible way to get to the money and get out undetected past the security dog, the cameras and the secured timers. They told him so much, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for him to rob the place. It’s a shame that this film is so weak because it has a good cast and a decent story that could have been told a lot better. The Rock does nothing different in this film, and plays the same character that he does in every action movie. Roberts is probably the biggest waste though, as her character barely has ten total minutes of screen time. What is the purpose of even having a big name actress like her in this film? She doesn’t even seem to have a close friendship to Hemsworth, so i don’t even see the point of her character. I don’t recommend this film when it comes to DVD in 2 weeks. There are certainly much better true crime stories that are coming to DVD soon. Try The Iceman

The Frozen Ground

 

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9/10

OUTSTANDING OUTSTANDING OUTSTANDING!!! Before i begin my review, i want to say it is a tragedy that this film will not receive a worldwide release in theaters. It is currently playing on Pay Per View on demand and will be out on DVD soon. This film was one of the best films i have seen this year. The only single problem i had with it was the ending being a little abrupt, but it’s really just nitpicking. The performances were totally out of this world. I am someone who doesn’t like Nicolas Cage after 2001. Outside of Kickass and The Family Man, he hasn’t done anything good in this century (my opinion). This film totally brings Nicolas Cage back to positive status. Definitely one of his five best performances as the police chief hunting a serial killer with almost a decade of kidnapping, rape and murder. John Cusack is my favorite actor and he is totally chilling as Robert Hansen. The best thing about the films of the 50’s and 60’s were seeing Hollywood actors portray roles that you never expected. I never expected Cusack to play a derranged killer, but it is one of his best performances ever. Quiet, plotting and absolutely terrifying. I could go on and on about the cast. Vanessa Hudgens showed some deep acting chops as the only victim of Hansen’s who got away. 50 Cent is amazing as a pimp who makes some bad decisions. Dean Norris, Radha Mitchell, Jodi Lynn o Keefe, Kevin Dunn. The list goes on and on. I did a little studying up on Robert Hansen before watching the film and it seems this story is about 95% true with the telling of the gruesome events. This film and The Iceman were two true stories that were told real well this year, and that is why they are both in my current top 5 for 2013. The scenery is absolutely beautiful as well with a cold, chilling Alaska being the setting. I think it is almost symbolic of Hansen’s cold insides, and the things he did to these poor women. I definitely recommend this film to EVERYONE. If you see five films this year, make sure one of them Is The Frozen Ground. I imagine someone will find something wrong with this film that they will take out on it, but in my opinion it is better than all of that. If you don’t like this film, you don’t know good storytelling.

Paranoia

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5.5/10

If this is a look into the future of cell phone technology, i think i will keep my flip phone. Paranoia tells the story of competing cell phone companies who are looking for the next biggest thing. It just so happens that the next big thing they are selling is a model for a big brother system. This film is so unbelievable that it can’t even spell the word logic. Unbelievable technology mixed with an almost comedic business side of the cell phone world makes this film an easy pass. I am sure cell phone companies are very competitive with one another, but this is a little too extreme. This film turns into a CIA espionage movie midway through and never lets up. The only thing i really found redeemable about this film was the interaction between Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford. They are definitely two seasoned veterans who knows what to bring to two characters who betrayed each other. Liam Hemsworth is the same old same. I am not really a fan of his work because of the bad choices he has made in 2013 with what films to take. The dialogue is something out of a James Bond movie, and that is NOT for the better. Who talks like this? The characters are robotic and very empty through the better part of 93 minutes. I do not recommend this film to anyone. If you like technology, it could be cool. But i can’t see anyone coming out of this film with a positive review. This film was Harrison Ford’s worst opening weekend ever and i think it’s pretty easy to see why.

Jobs

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7.5/10

I enjoyed a lot of the aspects of this film. The scenery is well done with a great model of the Apple offices being displayed. I really thought the film was shot in a beautiful way with lots of close up angles to display the emotions of a character. Ashton Kutcher wouldn’t have been my #1 choice to play Steve Jobs, but he gets a couple things right. Steve Jobs was a genius, but an asshole at the same time. Kutcher brings out the asshole in Jobs, but that is about it. The problem with Ashton playing the Apple CEO is that i only see Ashton; i don’t see Steve. The best performances in a biography film make you feel like you are watching the character and not the actor. Some good examples are Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Jared Leto (Chapter 27) and John Cusack (The Raven).With that said, i would’ve opted for Jason Schwartzman. Jobs gets a lot right with a script that includes a lot of important dates. It also has a lot of events that should be cut from the film that don’t make any reason to be there. With a 2 hour running time, there are definitely ways to get this down to a 100 minute film. When comparing this film to The Social Network and Pirates of Silicon Valley, i enjoyed the story and characters more in Social Network, but i felt Jobs was better than Pirates. I recommend this film as a rental or pay per view purchase. Not that the film isn’t good enough to see in theaters, but there are some small things you may miss that will need rewinding, so i don’t think it’s suitable for theaters.

The Butler

 

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7/10

This was a pretty good film that told a very detailed story of how far equal rights has come in 80 years. Forrest Whitaker really gave an amazing performance as the butler of The White House. Whitaker’s performance has been praised by many over the last couple months, and while i feel it is good, i don’t feel it is Oscar worthy. To be honest, i actually cared more about his son’s point of view in the story. It seemed like his son was taking a very different road that you don’t hear about often in movies. This cast is absolutely one of the best of the year. Aside from Whitaker, there’s Oprah, John Cusack, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, James Marsden, Minka Kelly, Robin Williams, Terrence Howard and Cuba Gooding Jr. Not all of the performances are phenominal and the problem with a cast this huge is that you always desire more out of them, but they are given such limited time. John Cusack for instance, is my favorite actor but i felt he didn’t do Nixon well at all. The best impression was probably Alan Rickman as Reagan. The film has a lot of value for people to give it a look. You might even be like me and learn a thing or two. At 2 hours and 10 minutes, this film is a little long for the average viewer, but i think it’s well worth it. Personally, i feel it is probably one of the top two or three films currently playing in theaters.

Elysium

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5/10

I still don’t know what the hell i just watched. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in possibly the biggest bomb of the summer (my opinion). This film had a very confusing storyline, slow paced movement among the storylines and a weak ending. You could pretty much predict what happens in the film just by watching the trailer. There were a couple of things i enjoyed and that was the performances of Jodie Foster as the head of security on Elysium. She really brings a lot to the role as a snob who is trying to keep the poor class off of her land. I also enjoyed Sharlto Copley as the rugged bad guy, Krueger. The film also has some decent action scenes, but that is it. The problems with this film are the symbolism it expresses with our own world of overpopulation and a snobbish rich class. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with symbolism, but it was poured on WAY too thick in this film. Elysium is a look at the future that takes you on a ride through a look at the future. The problem with that look is that it only gets exciting in the final 20 minutes. It is within that time frame that we finally land on Elysium. Anything before that, is a long and boring look at characters in which we don’t ever receive a decent back story with. I don’t recommend Elysium unless you are a die hard Matt Damon fan. Even then, it would be hard for me to believe you would enjoy this.

2 Guns

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6.5/10

Honestly, i was a little disappointed in this film. It’s good, but it doesn’t have a lot of substance. The trailer pretty much tells you everything about the film, and you can tell the direction it is heading with all of the predictions in the first 15 minutes of it. I really enjoyed the team of Mark Wahlberg (stole the movie) and Denzel Washington, and you can tell they had a lot of fun shooting this film. The action is pretty good, the storyline reminds me of 1996’s Bulletproof, and they even manage to throw some great comedic humor into it. I guess i was disappointed because nothing out of the ordinary happened. Like i said, if you have seen the trailer then you have already seen 90% of this film. Bill Paxton is great as the bad guy. He is typically someone i am not a fan of, but he certainly fit well as a C.I.A agent searching for his 43 million dollars. I would only recommend this film at the dollar theater or to wait till DVD. It’s not something that would require you to put ahead of other (better) films that are currently playing.

Fruitvale Station

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8/10

This was a very deep look into the tragedy of Fruitvale Station in San Francisco on New Year’s Eve 2008. An african american male is shot by a caucasian police officer, leaving the family in shambles. This film is heartbreaking in every sense that a man lost his life at the age of 22. He left behind a daughter and a loving girlfriend. I enjoyed the film because it is shot very well. I usually don’t like the “Shot on video” style of films, but this story is a film that definitely benefited from it. Octavia Spencer is the best performer in the film as usual. She always gives such a performance that can tug at the strings of your heart in any emotion. I think she is purely underrated and one of the best actresses in Hollywood today. I also liked how they made a short incident seem longer in an 80 minute film by filling in the blanks. They gave us a great back story that made you care about the change and good things to come in these characters futures. There were a couple of things i didn’t like which included the actress playing the girlfriend. I just think she wasn’t emotional enough to pull off a role of that magnitude. You can’t even tell me for a second that his girlfriend wasn’t knocked to the floor when she heard the news of her boyfriend. Yet she plays it like a headlight in her car just burnt out. The movie is definitely worth a look, but the only problem with true story films is that you never know 100% what is real and what the studios did to enhance a film. The final shot of the movie is done so well and leaves you with a powerful stance when you exit the film. I definitely recommend this film if you can find it in theaters. If not, it should be out on DVD soon.

The Wolverine

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7/10

This is the Wolverine film that i have been waiting for. This sequel to the crappy X-Men Origins: Wolverine does things a little better in the story of this legendary comic character. It’s not 100% perfect, but it is getting there slowly. Hugh Jackman returns in a role that i couldn’t imagine anyone else in Hollywood playing. He is simply amazing by this point playing the troubled Logan. Jackman is probably the best casted superhero in any comic book film. This film finally took the dark premise of Logan’s life and brought it to the big screen, and that is something that no X-Men film has done correctly so far. I really enjoyed how they finally showed us the bone structure underneath the claws. It’s the little things like those that can always win me over. I wasn’t too high on the choice for Viper as the villain. She is an amazing character and very powerful, but i have always considered her more of an Avengers villain (comic books or not). It was also pretty comical to see Yukio beating her down. The visuals and shooting locations are beautiful for this film. I have always liked the setting of Japan when filming a troubled story. They seem to get it right with their western culture and beautiful landscapes. Be sure to stay after the credits again as we see build up for the upcoming X-Men : Days of futures Past. The 2 minute bit had me half excited and half wondering where the hell they are going with this film. Overall, i recommend The Wolverine to comic book fans in particular. I don’t think the outside world will get much enjoyment out of this film, but the fans of X-Men and Wolverine will love it.

Killing Season

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7/10

Robert De Niro and John Travolta return to top notch in this revenge thriller. De Niro held Travolta at gunpoint in the Bosnia war shooting and (what he thought) killing him. 18 Years later, Travolta returns for revenge. I loved the amazing acting by each one. This movie only features four credited actors, but it doesn’t need anyone else. It’s all about De Niro and Travolta giving great performances. The film only runs 80 minutes, but i don’t think it hurts it in anyway. It has a story to tell and that is as long as the movie could possibly stretch without it getting dull. I enjoyed the beautiful music score by Christopher Young. Johnny Cash even lends his support with the song “Don’t take your guns to town”. It certainly makes you never look at the song the same way again. Since this is an independent film, you probably won’t be able to find it, but i definitely recommend seeking it out when it hits DVD. If you are a fan of De Niro or Travolta, i think you will enjoy it.

Only God Forgives

 

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7/10

This review will no doubt be the weirdest and most contradictory of all of my reviews. First of all, i want to say that i enjoyed the film. It was definitely a good old fashioned Japanese revenge film. It reminded me a lot of the kung fu films because of the graphic violence of it. I also enjoyed the cinematography and the way the film was shot. Nicolas Refn sees a world in his films that is both beautiful and frightening. He is a director that i really enjoy, and i felt he did a good job here……..mostly. On the negative side, i can fully understand why this film was booed at Cannes Film Festival. This movie definitely isn’t for everyone, and i will go ahead and tell all of my readers that i would be very surprised if anyone else likes this movie. One thing that is good and bad about this film is that it’s dominated by the performance of Vithaya Pansringarm. Make no mistake about it, this is his movie. As much as you are told in the trailer and synopsis to hate this man, he is the guy you will feel the closest to. You understand why he does the things he does. Ryan Gosling and Kristen Scott Thomas are kind of wasted here. It’s a shame because you have great actors like these two in the film and they are practically on sleep mode the entire time. Only God Forgives will go down as possibly the only film i have ever liked and not recommended at the same time