Director James Demonaco shows how much he has grown with his ability to capitalize on the original groundbreaking ideas he had during the original film. In this sequel, Demonaco gives us characters who we care about, haunting images that show us the breakdown of not only the city but hope as well, and non stop action that never really stalls or slows down. I am going to be completely honest, i was looking forward to this film but i didn’t think it would be nearly as good as it ended up being. One reason for that could be that i felt this was the best Punnisher movie i have ever seen. No, The Punisher isn’t actually in this movie, but Frank Grillo’s performance of Sergeant absolutely hints at how great a Frank Castle he would be. Grillo plays the main character of this film and is out for vengeance of his own for the death of his son. Along the way, he rescues and picks up citizens who are being kidnapped so the rich can purge against them. The fact that this film was more from the point of the poverty crowd as compared to the wealthy main characters we got in the original film gives these characters more to relate to. They are fighting for a cause much further than just surviving for 12 hours; they are fighting to show the huge differences in the social classes. That is the hidden message i loved in Anarchy. It shows that The Purge itself might not be the cruelest of events that goes on between the world in the movie and our own. It’s a cautionary tale suggestion about a division class system where the lines keep getting thicker and thicker. The characters were definitely written with more humanity in the way they get sucked in to the events of the night. One couple’s car is vandalized into breaking down in the most dangerous part of the city. A mom/daughter team is in their house when a Swat team breaks in to take them. Then there is the Sergeant character, and his night of vengeance against a drunk driver. We get behind his character so much because he isn’t quite a hero, but he always does the right thing. Some of his action scenes make you wonder why Grillo at the age of 51 is just now getting these starring roles. On top of the movie’s heart pounding action, it gives you a lot of well choreographed fight scenes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. One thing that has me thinking while watching these movies is that i wonder if keeping The Purge around is even needed with how many people die every year. Is it all just another reason for the rich to get rid of the lower class? If so, it’s completely genius and only adds to the feeling that these poverty level families are at the mercy of the dollar. There is no doubt that this was the film we should’ve gotten the first time. One of my biggest problems with the first film aside from the ending is that the people made such stupid decisions that put their loved ones at risk every time. If the family from the first film was in the sequel, they would’ve been dead in the first five minutes of this movie. These five people are out on the streets with nowhere to run and no one to trust. That is the most terrifying thing about The Purge. I sit here so shocked by how good this film was that i think it is the best sequel to a film that sucked. The ending to this film was even done very well. There was a point where i felt it was going to screw the viewers out again like they did in the original, but this one makes up for lost time. The Purge : Anarchy clocks in at 100 minutes, and it never feels like it drags or treats itself as anything less than a dirty, grungy, action filled good time. I totally recommend this film to everyone. Even if you hated the first film, you will be flabbergasted at the difference between the two films.
Chris Evans puts away his Captain America shield to play one of the world’s last surviving 1% in the post apocalyptic sci fi film. Evans plays Curtis, a man who decides to lead a revolt against the authority of a train run by the upper class remainder of society. Right off the bat, i enjoyed this film a lot because of the originality of the storyline and the feeling of there being nowhere to run on a train. I also dig movies that really make the viewer think and search to find the hidden meanings in a film. Snowpiercer is full of these kind of such things from the political class treating lower class people like the plague, or the hazzards of eating the foods that they are served. This is very reflective of the kinds of foods that we eat in real life that are full of all kinds of chemicals and hormones that most of the population has no idea about. My favorite scene of the movie involves a brainwashing of children to believe that the leader of the train is a revolutionary and not a blood thirsty maniac who lives by the standards of “my way or death”. Director Joon Ho-Bong hits another home run after having another great political sci fi thriller in The Host. No, not that awful Stephanie Meyer movie that stole half of the mind power from the people who had to sit through it. Bong tells a story that he doesn’t want to be sensitive to anyone, and i dig that about him. He inserts twists of dark humor to add to a story that is already depressing enough, but shows you the up close camera shots of the faces of the lower class citizens to show that they have been fighting through lives of war long before this revolt ever happens. An example of this humor is during one fight scene the two sides stop to acknowledge the new year by passing through this huge bridge that only happens when it’s January 1st. That might not seem like a big deal to you the readers, but i think it’s hilarious that even at the end of the world these people are still trying to hold on to that last piece of normalcy. The only problem i had with the execution of the film is that the shakey cam kind of ruins some of the fighting scenes between the upper class army and the citizens leading the revolt next to Curtis. There were times when i had trouble keeping my eyes on the screen to the point that it even hurt because of how many quick edits there were between fight scenes. It’s a little hard to keep up with the action, and i’m sure it was meant that way, but i would prefer that the camera shots not having to be as heartpounding as the fighting itself. Other than that, Snowpiercer is a perfectly executed film. I wanted to talk abou the performances because there is lots that are noteworthy. Chris Evans is fantastic as the lead of this story. He really has stepped up as one of the best action stars in America, and i am glad because there was a point i was really worried that Evans was being terribly miscast in movies that were totally under him. Octavia Spencer makes a surprising appearance in a film that is completely opposite of anything she has ever done, and she is decent. She plays a mother who gets her child taken from her, but she is joining in the revolt to make the higher ups pay. I think it’s her character who the audience can relate to the most, and that’s not an easy thing in a film where everyone feels like shadows of their former selves. Spencer gives us that last shred of humanity for the audience to hold on to. Tilda Swinton is by far the best part of the movie as the 2nd in command on the train. She gets under your teeth like the stickiest of candies that you just want to pull off. I absolutely hated her and loved her in this role at the same time. This is a prime example of her ranking as one of the best transformational actresses in the world today. There is a surprise with who is the leader of the train named Wilford, but i won’t spoil it for you. The ending is a little open to interpretation, but i don’t take it as very positive with the final solution. I don’t mind it at all when a film does that because it’s certainly a lot better than drilling a Texas sized asteroid to save the world because it’s honest. I definitely recommend this movie for Sci-Fi fans and anyone who is in the mood for an original idea. Snowpiercer is violent, smart, shocking and everything the American Sci-Fi film should be. It’s a long, cold ride that that you never want to get off of.
A very smart movie about life, love, and the music business. Begin Again stars Keira Knightley as the music partner and girlfriend of a famous musician (appropriatly played by Adam Levine). Their worlds get turned upside down when they move to New York to record Levine’s first album, and he ends up cheating on Knightley. She spirals out of control and plans to move back to her home in England when she meets a down on his luck music executive (Mark Ruffalo) looking for one big move to put him back on top of the game. He realizes one night at a bar that Knightley could be that move. This film for me was so irresistably charming and enjoying that it is by far my favorite romantic comedy of the year so far. Director John Carney returns to the silver screen to direct his first music movie since 2007’s smash hit, Once. I personally feel that Begin Again is the man’s best film to date and a lot of that has to do with the flawed but realistic characters he creates in this film. Knightley in particular is a one woman wrecking ball having to play emotions ranging from one extreme to the next in a short instance. She finds her voice in herself to pick up the pieces and conquer the music business by using her own morals. She is absolutely a beautiful down to earth character as Gretta James. I will get to her performances as a singer later on. Ruffalo continues his taking of challenging roles after playing a sex addict in 2013’s Thanks For Sharing and now an alcoholic music executive on the edge of losing his wife in Begin Again. Ruffalo has always been someone to play a contributing supporting character, but not much on lead performance. I am glad that is starting to change, and i can’t wait to see where Hollywood takes him. First time actor Maroon 5’s Adam Levine is the perfect choice for rising musician Dave Kohle. Levine plays it soft spoken and very personable with a hint of arrogance just under the surface. This does wonders for the females in the audience to fall for him in the beginning and then feel what Knightley is feeling when we learn the truth. The movie clearly has done it’s studying on the music business because it paints executives in the lights of always wanting to change their clients. What’s refreshing about Gretta James is that she never changes who she is from start to finish. She educates the viewer on plenty of instances how the music world is flawed and makes us ask the question why the artist only gets $1 for every 10 made. The location of New York is practical but perfect for a movie about people with dreams. The backdrop of landmark places in the city plays perfectly as Gretta records a song for her record at these places in the city. Whatever happens while she plays happens. She decides to leave it all on the record. The music itself is absolutely the best thing about this film. I was very surprised to read that Knightley did her own singing for this film. Levine also plays a couple tracks that are moderately different from his normal Maroon 5 Schtick. Fellow Levine Voice mate Cee Lo Green also makes a brief appearance in this film and supplies a track for the soundtrack that i wish was heard in the movie. Recommendations if you are in the mood for a good listen are Lost Stars by Levine, A Step You Can’t Take Back by Knightley, and my personal favorite of the soundtrack, Like a Fool By Knightley. By the end of the film, you feel that there are three possible directions the movie could take and i’m not entirely pleased or depressed that it took the 2nd best road. It is if anything the only flaw i see in the movie. Begin Again is funny, romantic, and uplifting. It’s one of those films that gives you the passion to get back up and jam to the music that life brings you.
A growing army of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors bent on taking back their planet in this sequel to 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I did enjoy this film more than it’s original. It’s full of emotionally charged dialogue as well as a dark and destroyed setting that is made even more terrifying with the beautiful score by composer Michael Giacchino. The aforementioned does not mean however that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a perfect film or even one worthy of it’s 91% rating currently on Rotten Tomatoes. There is a lot that could’ve been done in this film to not only make it one of the year’s best, but create a legacy for the Apes films that no other has done. My first problem comes in the form of predictability. Cesar is the head of the Ape army and in this film he has a wife and child. His wife is sick from the opening bell and you can just sense that a human will come along and cure her of this. Otherwise, what would be the point of her dying from such a rare disease that no one but a human can save her? My second problem is the feel by the ending credits. You literally watch a lot happen from many fight scenes, betrayal actions from human and ape characters alike, and all out war in which everyone’s life is on the line. Yet you don’t feel like much has happened after 2 hours of this film. We are no further in the storyline than we were at the end of the first movie. Some more humans have died, but the film has virtually the same ending as the first movie, and that might not bother the rest of the audience but it felt pointless to me. As i said before, the emotions are great and the CGI is remotely better in this film with the Ape designs. It’s still looks a little ridiculous when an ape is standing next to a human and a human is obviously looking in the wrong direction. It sounds like i hated this film, but i promise you that a film’s setting and feel of the end of civilization has never been better. There is something almost Romero-esque from the world that director Matt Reeves shows us. One scene in particular shows us an abandoned gas station in which nature has reclaimed from the slabs of concrete now cracked. Gary Oldman is also a welcome addition alongside of actors like Keri Russell and the film’s lead, Jason Clark. Oldman is one of Hollywood’s most dependable actors even if he is only in a film for 15 total minutes. I really wish his role was bigger in a film that showcases him as a ruthless leader of the human race. Clark is pretty well, but doesn’t quite channel the same kind of relationship and chemistry that James Franco had with Ceaser. I haven’t heard much for the future of this series, but i hope that a 3rd film will actually showcase no human characters. It will be tough to keep it entertaining from that aspect, but it would be hard to believe that many humans are living after the actions of this sequel. ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is an intelligent war movie with themes of politics, leadership, trust and betrayal. It’s best moments are those that hit the closest to home that tells us to get it together before we lose our world to a stronger cause. One of the most entertaining big budget films of the summer for sure
Never before has a movie left me with such difficulty to write a review. I absolutely despised this film for so many reasons that i worry i won’t get them all out in this writing. The Signal is the story of three college students who are on a road trip across the west when they experience the hacking of a computer genius who reveals that this person already has taken over the cameras on their laptops and is currently watching them. The trio decide to go after him only to find themselves in the middle of an isolated area with alien activity. They are taken to a secret lab that has it’s share of hidden agendas, and the students are experimented on there. Beyond that, i can’t explain to you much about what i understood about this film, and that is the biggest problem that The Signal suffers from. It’s a great and original idea on the surface but it’s so poorly executed that director/writer William Eubank probably won’t be writing the screenplay in his next movie. So many things are so poorly explained that the viewer will have more questions coming out of the 90 minute run time than they did going in. Another big problem is that this movie lacked the science in the phrase science fiction. We just don’t get enough shots or talk in the world of the alien intelligence. How can a film whose trailer was flooded in extraterrestrial talk have so little of it in the movie? The performances sadly are nothing to write home about. Laurence Fishburne is probably the best as a soft spoken scientist named Damon who has many conversations with group leader Nic (Brenton Thwaites). Fishburne is pretty much on sleep mode throughout the whole film and that is a shame. If this film had the great moments from a top leading performance it could’ve at least broken into territory that this film never had a chance of reaching. Olivia Cooke has stolen my heart since premiering on Bates Motel, but she just doesn’t have enough screen time here to make a difference. She was the lone good spot in The Quiet Ones but that is because the director knew where his talent was stacked. It’s almost insulting to see her take a back seat to two actors (Thwaites and Beau Knapp) who can never generate a solid emotion from the audience. As for the film’s pacing, it’s so completely boring. The chase scenes in the laboratories even feel too rushed to ever give us the time to invest in the safety of these characters. It feels very artificial without any kind of intelligence. The big reveals at the end of the film aren’t very shocking at all because it doesn’t make the viewer feel like they have earned the money they just spent on this trash. The secret of Fishburne’s character is something that is so childish and poorly written that it reminded me of the reveal of BENSON (Ben’s Son) in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Just awful. When my Mother asked me why i didn’t like the movie i told her because i couldn’t explain what just happened. If i can’t explain anything and leave the theater with some legitimately good questions towards the film, how can i ever say i enjoyed it? Besides the idea of the college kids being the gateway from us the humans to the other species, this film builds the tension decent enough, it’s just a shame that the payoff is never big enough to warrant the trouble. The lighting is excellent, the camera work is very stellar with lots of excellent editing in the form of flashbacks from the characters mindset. Overall, what really upsets me the most about this film in general is it’s wasted potential. More answers and less with the characters on mute could’ve pushed a winner out of Eubank’s script. Instead, we’re left abandoned in the desert without any signal of hope.
Revenge is a young person’s game that extends generations in this smart thriller by Director Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party). Dwight (Macon Blair) is a homeless 30 something man living the most simple of lives. He sleeps in an abandoned car, he eats trash scraps, and survives on a couple dollars a day. His quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Proving himself an amateur assassin, he winds up in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family. On the surface, “Blue Ruin” is a story about payback that actually has a lot more to offer under the surface. What i took and what i loved about this film is that it serves as an ANTI-revenge film. Most people who watch these kind of films can always get behind the protagonist and support their cause no matter how grizzly the retort. What this film does differently is show the art of revenge as a childish act of “Can you top this?”, and it shows that the punishments really are a never ending road of back and forth until no one is left. Saulnier wrote a script that completely blew my mind for how simple, yet multilayered it became. The script has a Cormac McCarthy feel to it with very little dialogue, or positive reinforcement of the actions of Dwight. This man clearly isn’t presented in the light of a hero. He is the victim of misinformation when it comes to those he punishes. He takes the law into his own hands, and this film presents that as a never win option. To see it from this angle, shows how truly refreshing this film is. The acting is extraordinary. Blair hasn’t done many films, but i feel like his career is about to take off as a result of his Dwight performance. His sister Sam (Amy Hargreaves) captures him in a perfect quote. She says “I would forgive you if you were crazy, but you’re not. You’re weak”. With each little swerve we learn about Dwight, we find out that he is human, and that might be his greatest fault. The action and violence is brutal, but it all avoids the bloodshed. The focus is more on how horrific it is to take a life, and make us reflect wondering how our characters ever got to this point. We find those things out in many swerves and reveals about Dwight’s family, and the family he is going after. We don’t know the starting point of this bloodfeud until the end of the movie, but it’s each unwrapped layer that adds a stroke to a beautifully painted picture. The camera shots are mesmerizing of a blue hills southern landscape represented as the loneliness that the revenge game casts Dwight out in. He is alone in his quest, and it’s because of that it could all end at any time. This film is already out on DVD, and i couldn’t recommend it more. This is a film that didn’t get a theatrical release, but it is definitely well deserved of such screenings. If people don’t see this movie, it is a tragedy. With a run time of 85 minutes, i could’ve easily sat through another half hour of just basic dialogue. My only problem with the film is the logic of some of the events that go into place. For instance, a cop finds Dwight asleep in his car on the beach to tell him about the man who killed his parents is getting out of jail. I find it hard to believe that they would hunt down a homeless man and know he is the man they are looking for to tell him this. A simple fix could’ve seen Dwight walking by a newstand and seeing an article in the paper about him getting out. The man is in there for a double murder, so it certainly has the story to make the press. These logic points aren’t a huge problem, as “Blue Ruin” is the best kept secret of 2014.
A fast paced shoot em up Texas sized crime noir. Cold in July is the film adaptation of Joe Lansdale’s novel about a family who encounter a burglar in the middle of the night with the father (Michael C Hall) shooting and killing the robber. What happens next is what turns the first half of the film into a revenge plot by the burglar’s father (Sam Sheppard). Sheppard stalks Hall’s family and makes light threats to give the police something to look into. I was very surprised where the film ended up considering the way the trailer was treated, as well as the first 35 minutes of the movie. During the second half of the movie, it turns into a crime story shoot em up that keeps the film from ever getting stale. I personally loved the hell out of this film for it’s sharp turns, edgy performances, and incredible lighting that keeps each scene tense and on the edge of your seat. On the subject of performances, the three male leads are all great in their own ways. Hall continues to show that he has a bright future after playing the title character in Dexter. He carries normal traits to the character of Richard Dane that makes him vulnerable and always at risk. Too many of these films feature a main character who is always a badass, and i don’t think you can relate as well to those types of characters. Sheppard shows his wide range in characters with finally playing a role that isn’t a positive supporting type. There are times when it seems like this man is hanging on by the edge of sanity, but it is his facial expressions that create a silent but deadly trait in him. Don Johnson is also in this film, and i have to say that he is the best part of the movie. He plays a bounty hunter who inherits the charms of past Johnson roles. He gives the movie the comedic undertones that it needs to keep it from being just another action mystery. He gives the characters the logic they need to face any challenge in front of them. The lighting of this film is just pure visual art. Some colors represent different actions from the characters, and i have always been a fan of that kind of emotional symbolism in film. What i mean is that you will notice the walls turn completely red when bloodshed is spilled. You will notice a green background when fear is present with something our character is going through. It sort of adds a three dimensional feel that takes it one step higher with the direction of Jim Mickle. Jim did a zombie film in 2011 called Stake Land that i felt was terribly underrated. Cold in July shows that he can indulge in an already established screenplay by including violence with a purpose. He shoots it for honesty and something that is needed in a plot like the one that the characters encounter in this movie. The score is a mixture between synth electronica and southern rock. Two genres that would almost be comical to mix together, but it works perfectly for this movie. The electronic music is used during the long night shots with the characters driving through the landscapes of Houston, Texas. It’s similar to the synth pop used in the 2010 film, Drive. Cold In July is a tough tale of crime and revenge that seduces with the Lone Star lore of guns and killing. It’s got down to earth characters that always keeps us worrying for the next shoe to drop. The movie is currently playing On Demand for Pay Per View, and is totally well worth the $7 ordering price. With that order, you can watch it for 48 hours over and over again. If you enjoy it like i did, you will find yourself waiting for the next showing just to enjoy this feature for a second time. The best paced movie of the year that never slows down
One of the things i hate the most about reviewing films is when i feel like i have watched the same movie for the 34th time. This is a result of watching the latest possession film directed by The Exorcism of Emily Rose’s own Scott Derrickson. The film stars Eric Bana in the real life story of New York Police officer, Ralph Sarchie. Ralph works in the paranormal crimes unit fielding calls to the darkest and most satanic of New York’s citizens. He himself does not believe in God and this what blinds him from his work being brought home to him. Soon, his wife and child experience paranormal activity going on in the house that includes toys coming to life (Poltergeist) and children’s voices being heard in Ralph’s head (An American Haunting). That is the biggest problem that makes this film one of my least favorite of the year, it has no original direction. There are some cool albeit laughable effects that happen with the makeup and props department, but none of it feels like anything we haven’t already seen 100 times. Just in the last couple years alone we have had The Quiet Ones, Paranormal Activity films, Sinister, Insidious one and two, The Conjuring, and Devil’s Due. This genre is being completely overrun and as a result it is making every film worst than the last. This film is full of goodies when the Scary Movie franchise wants to make their 14th film in that series. You can’t even be legitimately scared anymore of any of these gags because they set themselves up for an easy parody. Deliver Us From Evil is terribly over acted, and that is sad because Bana is a decent actor in a film that suits his style of acting. This definitely isn’t it. Olivia Munn is in the film for about five total minutes, and that is a shame because i feel like the relationship between husband and wife would’ve impacted how we as the viewers cared about them when they got in trouble. Edgar Ramirez plays possibly the worst priest i have ever seen in my life. He drinks, he smokes, he has sex, and he curses often. I get that the bad ass priest routine is 2014, but there is nothing about this guy that makes me believe for a second that he is a priest or that he studied for this role. The only character i even remotely enjoyed was the goofball of the film, Butler played by Joel Mchale. He almost stops to look at the screen to laugh with the audience on how ridiculous some of these scenes really are, and nobody does sarcastic humor better than Mchale. The atmospheres are well done, but the pacing of the scares ruin any kind of momentum denying the audience to ever remotely scream out in terror. The story itself is also easy to get lost in. I followed pretty thoroughly and there were still parts that i had to go back and remember about because so much gets thrown on you at once. By the time the ending hit, i was so bored out of my mind that i could care less what happened with the ending. The ending though is something we need to talk about. SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!! So in the final 20 minutes of the film, Sarchie’s wife and daughter are kidnapped by the possessed guy Sarchie is hunting with the priest side by side. They arrest the possessed man and are asking him questions while he is still possessed. There are two stupid things with this scenario. 1. Do you really think a man supposedly under the possession of Satan is going to just hand over the woman and the girl? And 2. Why would a man possessed who has killed everyone he has encountered up to this point keep these two alive? I didn’t realize that possession was all about kidnapping and stupid setups for the convenient ending of Sarchie finding them. Perhaps the worst thing about this movie isn’t even anything i mentioned above but the film ruins the music of The Doors for me. It is played throughout the movie to the same effect that Quiet Riot plays in The Quiet Ones or The Rolling Stones play in Fallen. DAMMIT!!! That’s two more possession movies that this film rips off. Deliver Us From Evil suffers from the purest of all evils; evil script, evil acting, and an evil 109 minutes that i will never ever get back.
When the credits role after this nearly 2 hour dedication to 90’s western films, the first thing that comes to mind is the wasted potential of a cast so strong that it makes an argument for the greatest ensemble of 2014. The Homesman is about three women living on the edge of the American frontier that are driven mad by harsh home maker life. the task of saving them falls to the proud, independent-minded Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank). Transporting the women by covered wagon to Iowa. she soon realizes just how daunting the journey will be, and employs a low-life drifter, George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones) to join her. While this isn’t Jones’s first directing duties, it is his first wide release directing effort, and the mediocrity certainly shows. The problem with The Homesman isn’t necessarily in it’s direction for the settings and scenes that Jones creates, but rather the narration of the story he is trying to tell. The movie clearly casts Swank as a main character who women can get behind. One of the biggest reason many female movie goers cannot get into westerns is simply because they don’t have a character who they can relate to. For at least the first half hour of The Homesman, they are finally given this wish come true only to have it ripped from under them halfway into the movie. Swank becomes a shadow of the character she was written as. She becomes weak, complaining, and dependent upon Jones character for his strength and his love. I don’t want to cast Jones as a man who wrote this film to serve himself as a hero, but it’s hard not to even think about these things when seeing how his character takes charge of the three mental women as well as become the apple to Swank’s eye. I mentioned earlier how the film has an impressive resume for the cast. This includes Hailee Steinfield, James Spader, John Lithgow, and the great Meryl Streep. For those of you who have seen the trailer to this film, you would think that the actors i just named are prominent figures in this film, but you would be wrong. Spader and Lithgow are each given one scene for characters that they play very well. Steinfield shows a much needed young presence during a time when the film is spiraling out of control. The problem with her character though is that we learn nothing about her or her past. We are told that her character meant a lot to Cuddy, but we never find out why. Streep is pehaps the biggest mystery though in this whole debacle. She appears in the last 15 minutes of the film, and isn’t given any long dialogue or any character trait that makes her role stand out above the rest. For my knowledge, i feel like they cast Streep as a big Hollywood name to bring in more people to this film. Those of you who follow Streep in a dedicated fashion will be disappointed. One thing that made 90’s westerns like “Tombstone” and “Unforgiven” such epics is because they kept over 2 hour films very well paced, and endless charisma from their A-list casts. The Homesman seems intent on doing the exact opposite here as there are long periods of silence in a blank country side. The audience will immediatly be reminded of how bored they are every time one of these scenes pop up. One highlight in an otherwise bleak film, is that of the makeup and props department. The wardrobe feels authentic to represent the 1800’s western culture that the film was trying to get across. James Spader’s character in particular is almost unrecognizable as a pushy hotel owner. If you are a fan of the Westerns genre and are looking for a shoot em up fast paced drama that will make you long for the days when these films were commonplace, this film is not the one for you. Tommy Lee Jones crafts a painters-like scenery, but The Homesman offers nothing of substance to go with the setting. I give it a DVD rental if you find it interesting after watching the trailer.
What can you say about a series of films in which i have disliked every film. Then, director Michael Bay makes his latest effort a 2 hour and 40 minute epic of a film that ruins anything good about this film to begin with. There isn’t going to be any great analysis in this review. The reason this movie is bad mainly centers around the amazingly unnecessary length in time.There is absolutely no reason that a Transformers film ever has to be over 2 hours period. The movie had a decent first hour that was making this the closest i have ever enjoyed a Transformers film. Then it screwed it up with convenient scenarios and a dragging war scene that makes us feel exhausted by the time it reaches the credits. Transformers : Age of Extinction stars Mark Wahlberg taking the leading reigns from Shia Lebouf as a Texas father who finds Optimus Prime and is immediatly hunted down by the government. Wahlberg is one of few welcome breaths of fresh air as a father who is just trying to provide better for his ever growing daughter. Wahlberg works mainly because he is ACTUALLY an action star as opposed to the loud and obnoxious Shia Lebouf. One of the major problems with the other three films is that they don’t create any characters for you to cheer for or hope for their health. Age of Distinction has a few of these and some are surprising because they are bad people. Stanley Tucci is brilliant as Joshua Joyce, the leader of a robot maker who is out to end the autobots once and for all. Tucci glides across the exceeding entertaining point by giving us hilarious lines in the form of panic from the horrors he has created. TJ Miller is decent in the film, but is only in it for a matter of 30 minutes. The film overall has a darker tone with more gruesome imagery than the previous films. Some death scenes are done in a way that show you that Age of Extinction is treading on territory we haven’t seen before. The usual favorites are there that will make you laugh as always. Michael Bay clearly still has no idea how to write real people with real conversations. The boyfriend character of the daughter’s in particular really makes you hate the guy no matter how honorable they try to make him. With lines like “I need this mouthwash when i’m making out with your daughter” and “She has the best hands for my clutch”, it makes you wonder if Bay himself is an autobot who has never actually been around humans. The action to the film is excellent as usual because if there is one thing Michael Bay does is take the same building that has fallen in three previous movies and knock it over again. The final war scene goes on for the last hour of the movie, and this is long by Saving Private Ryan standards. Many fans and non fans of the series will be reaching for their watches by about the 90 minute point of this film. One thing that made me laugh in particular about this film as opposed to the others is that there is no branch of army anywhere to be found. SERIOUSLY. Remember when Josh Duhamel and Tyreese were soldiers who were fighting for mankind? Well, apparently soldiers in Age of Extinction just let everything get torn to hell and assume the autobots will save us even though every news channel is calling them terrorists. The ending leaves the door open for a sequel of course, and even two more films have already been confirmed. I know the fans of Transformers are going to like this movie because they have to, but how many times can you watch the exact same movie? That is exactly what this is, the exact same movie. You don’t really learn anything new to go with the previous three films which makes me even more angry when it comes to the fact that this film was nearly 3 hours. The Wolf of Wall Street was 3 hours long and do you know why? It had amazing performances to match a story that every single bit had to be seen to be believed from the memoirs of Jordan Belfort. The Transformers movies are like a big advertisement for the toys and Chevy vehicles. I can not recommend this movie to anyone except fans of the series. They are going to read my review and say they loved it, and to that i say i am happy that someone enjoyed it. Mark Wahlberg’s daughter said a line in the movie that i wanted to share with everyone because i think it would be the perfect ending to this review. “You can’t keep spending money on junk to make new junk”. Well put Tessa, but you clearly don’t understand what it means to be in a Michael Bay film.
Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in this film about an Australian society ten years after the fall of civilization. Pearce is a man struggling for a reason to live, but that all changes when his car is stolen by a gang of thieves. The leader of which left his mentally challenged brother (Pattinson) on the side of the road to die. The Rover is blessed to have great performances from it’s leading two men. It’s just a shame that the film is riddled in little written dialogue and a very slow pacing. Peace is outstanding as Eric. He expresses his actions in every possible way, but spoken word. He is a wise citizen living in this world that has completely crumbled around him. He knows what to expect of people before it is ever done. There are so many looks that Pearce gives to the camera that are so powerful. It’s mainly because of him why this film is as high as it is to begin with. Pattinson plays a challenged man pretty well. He is never given a lot of screen time awake to accomplish the same rewards as Pearce, but he is a very welcome addition to bounce off of his co-star. The two men start off as strangers with Pearce wanting to kill Pattinson because of guilt by association, but it’s kind of nice to see what their friendship developes into. Other than the performances, the only thing i can really mention in the positives is the beautifully done camera work. The background of the Australian deserts serves as a self storytelling in the viewers eyes. We can see the face of this land that has crumbled around these characters so much, but director David Michod is smart enough to never let us in on too much of what happened here. I think that is very intelligent as no story will ever match what the viewer can come up with in their heads. After what i mentioned, it’s sad that the rest of the film cannot follow suit. For one, the journey of our two main leads to go after the gang never feels worth it. Because of the terrible pacing in between long shots of absolute silence, these scenes make us feel like we have been watching their struggles for over two hours when in reality the running time is slightly over an hour and a half. I feel like there are so many shots that didn’t need to be as long as they were with plain facial reactions. Shoot the reactions yes, but don’t leave the camera on for an unexpected length. A lot of this movie i kept waiting for the scene to end, but a shot would continue to stay on. It sounds like a very nitpicking problem, but i promise you that you will be bored by this film at the halfway point because it never knows when to initiate a successful edit. I mentioned the long journey a couple sentences ago, and how i don’t understand how they could be doing this all for a car when you are living in a society where it’s just as easy to steal one. Trust me, i fully understand that the car is symbolic for the last peace of the old life that Pearce’s character has, but it’s just hard for me to think that anyone would care about something so practical in this new world. The score is another thing that starts off decent enough with soft building beats that can be compared to old John Wayne films, but then is corroded by rap songs that have absolutely no place in a story like this. It takes the viewer completely out of the movie because you can’t help but laugh at why they would ever add that song in here to begin with. I personally would’ve stuck with the instrumentals that were perfectly capturing the emotion coming from Pearce when his car is stolen. The ending is done very sloppy as well. It happens quickly and we never feel fully satisfied from what happens. It’s more of the same from the last hour that has a good idea, but not enough direction to take The Rover over the dull grasp. The Rover is intentionally dry and shapeless. It doesn’t leave much of a lasting presence except for the performances of Pearce and Pattinson. I was hoping for so much more out of a movie that seemed destined to breakthrough from the independent film world.
Clint Eastwood directs this big screen adaptation of the Tony Award winning musical that tells the story of four friend musicians who came together to form the smash 60’s group The Four Seasons. This movie was everything and more to a viewer like me who doesn’t know much about The Four Seasons other than their music catalog. It’s not afraid to get dirty with the behind the scenes problems of guitar player and band founder, Tommy Devito. The thing i find the most impressive about Jersey Boys is that it takes the actors from the Broadway stage and puts them in the film. To me, Broadway acting and film acting are two different spectrums, so to have this great cast of John Lloyd Young, Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza really hit it out of the park, it’s extraordinary. These men were born to play these characters from the enchanted musical numbers to the attitudes that every member brings to the stage. Piazza in particular really impressed me as Tommy Devito, a man whose borrowing problems really put the band in an awkward situation that would normally kill other bands. Young is also outstanding as Frankie Valli. Some of his parts are a little corny with the dialogue, but i realize that in the 50’s and 60’s that was the times. It’s even more impressive that these actors recorded their own versions to classic hits like Big Girls Don’t cry, Sherrie, and Rag Doll. They sound very beautiful being restored to perfect crisp audio with today’s sound technology. The story itself is told very well with the narrative feel of the four characters. It never gets overdone with the way they look into the camera because that was one of the selling points of the original play. It’s each character telling their side of the story. One of the things that always brings me down about musicals is when the song is performed in an unlikely situation. Take Grease for instance. 10 badass guys in a group singing about summer love at the top of their lungs on a set of bleachers. Jersey Boys doesn’t have this problem as every musical number is set during a stage performance. The cinematography is done well, but it’s the wardrobe that really gives this movie the 60’s feel. Everyone is dressed accordingly with old button up suits for the guys, and long dresses for the ladies.. It almost feels like a Scorsese film with it’s glossy kind of look complete with wide shots of wet streets. The very few criticisms i have of the movie are so small that it didn’t really take much away for me. The running time is a little long. During the last 20 minutes i felt like i learned everything there is to know about these characters, and just kind of waited for the film to end. Another thing is that i would’ve liked to know more of the backstory friendship between Devito and Valli. The film starts off with them doing odd mob jobs and playing in this band. We don’t really know anything about them, and then are thrown into this right away. The story is about the band, but some background to fill in the blanks is always good to know. I also had a problem with the jump forward in time without explanation. One second we see Frankie marrying his wife and then 20 minutes later he has three teenage daughters. Some simple on screen text displaying “Fifteen years later” could accomplish this. There were times I was struggling to keep up with the age of the musicians at certain points, but it didn’t completely tear me away from the film. The ending credits were also something noteworthy. They feature the entire cast coming out for one big musical number Broadway style that acts as a final bow to the audience watching. It really ties it together to where it feels like you just sat through a 2 hour play. Eastwood has shown that his place behind the camera to tell a good story is exactly what you get with him. With films like J Edgar, Invictus and Letters from Iwo Jima under his belt, Eastwood continues to fully grasp the kinds of characters he is presented with. The man does his homework and spares no shame in showing his characters at their best and worst. Something i really appreciate in a director. In closing, i recommend this film to everyone. I have heard that some people who saw the stage show first were a little disappointed in the way some of the magic didn’t carry over to screen, but i honestly couldn’t tell you either way. If this is the first time around in the Jersey Boys experience, this film does a good enough job to not only get the facts right, but also have a lot of fun musical numbers with it’s audience. Jersey Boys is a B+ for me.