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

The Way Way Back

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9.5/10

Every year there will be a couple of films that get delayed a few months because i wasn’t able to catch the films while they were in theaters. Luckily, The Way Way Back announced that it was going back into theaters for a limited engagement. This was a film that i wanted to see since May, and it didn’t disappoint. This film was a lot better than i thought it was going to be. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash write and direct a tribute to all of our adolescent memories. The Way Way Back is about a family who takes a vacation to the father’s (Steve Carrell) beach house. First of all, the characters are the best i have seen in a film all year. Carrell plays an amazing douche bag who tries to rough up his step son by dragging him out of his shell. Liam James plays that kid we all once were who longs to belong to someone or something. That feeling of loneliness that drifts into all of us when we enter our teenage years. He also plays it very well. Toni Collette was great as his mother, Amanda Peet, Rob Coddry, and Maya Rudolph turn in decent performances as well. My only gripe is that Coddry doesn’t have much to do and is kind of wasted, but his character isn’t a main one so it didn’t bother me that much. The two people who really steal this film are Alison Janney and Sam Rockwell. Janney is brilliant as an alcoholic mother who is a humiliation to her kids and friends. She has some of the most awkwardly funny moment that can’t help but drag a smile out of you. Sam Rockwell plays my favorite character of the year, by far. His character works as kind of a father figure to James and he sees the child that he used to be with loneliness. He gets James a job at the Swim park he works at, and it turns into the best summer of James life. Rockwell’s dialogue is something that deserves to be seen by everyone. He has a sarcasm that reminded me a lot of Randall Mcmurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). The script is amazing and really gets across the dramatic points that this story has to tell. It’s with those dramatic tones that this film is hard to judge if it is a comedy or drama. I personally saw it as more of a comedy. The drama shows that there are more problems with this family that meets the eye. Steve Carrell is not the best adult figure to these teens going through growing up. The only things i didn’t like about this film was slight nitpicking. I feel that the beginning 15 minutes start off slow and might make some people lose interest. Some people don’t have patience at the beginning of a film, but i am telling you to give it a chance. Those fifteen minutes just build the story before it plays out the problems in front of our eyes. I also didn’t like the last two minutes of the film. The film technically has two endings. The first one is amazing. It sends you going home with a smile. Then there is the 2nd one that leaves you with kind of a bad taste. I can’t give away too much because i really want people to see this film. It’s just not the way i would’ve ended it, but i think the directors were going for a realistic tone that happens in the everyday world. Overall, i definitely recommend this film. I don’t want to give away where i have it ranked currently, but it’s definitely one of the best films i have seen this year. Plus, i was alone in the theater and that always makes for a more enjoyable experience.

World War Z

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8/10

This is the happiest i have been after an original zombie film since 2003 (28 Days Later). The world is overrun by disease infected zombies in this end of the world drama. I say “disease infected” because this film treats the zombie epidemic as a disease…..and it works. It’s nice to see a film take an old idea and make it fresh again with the psychology and not the killings of zombies. That is what makes World War Z different; the zombies infect, not kill. Some of the scenes were amazingly scored by rock legends Muse, which only adds to a heart dropping scene like the one in the plane. Things i didn’t like about this film was the camera work. I got a headache watching this film that took me back to Die Hard 5 earlier this year. Shaky cam work doesn’t always have to be a stable in an action scene. I know why they do it, but just shoot the scene and leave it at that. I also had a dispute with the ending, but because of spoilers i can’t get into that. Brad Pitt is just ok as the lead in this film, nothing good or bad. I felt that a no namer could’ve done just as well, but it probably wouldn’t have sold in that perspective. Overall, i recommend this film in theaters but not in 3D. Outside of the plane scene, i didn’t feel it added anything great.

Man of Steel

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7.5/10

Such a beautiful film with a cast that really hits a home run. Zach Snyder is back with another amazing piece of cinematography. As a fan of Watchman and the beauty of Sucker Punch (Cause not much else was great about that film), this movie only improved my opinion on Mr. Snyder. This is the film that every Superman fan has been waiting decades for. In my opinion, this is the greatest Superman film of all time. Great acting performances are handed in by Kevin Costner, Russell Crowe, Laurence Fishbourne and of course the amazing Michael Shannon. I didn’t really like Amy Adams as Lois Lane, but she is a football field better than Kate Bosworth. It also took some time for me to adjust to Henry Cavill as the man with the cape. I am not fully in his camp yet, and it may take another Superman movie to see what he can do when he is deeper under fire. The problem with making a Superman film and why nearly no one has been able to do it is because he is the strongest and fastest superhero on the planet. It’s hard to put someone up against him and make him seem defeated and vulnerable. Zod is an excellent choice to put up some adversity, but i had a couple other villains who i would’ve preferred. I absolutely loved the action and destruction in this film. After being slightly disappointed with Iron Man 3, Man of Steel redeems my faith in the superhero genre. My favorite part of the film was definitely the epic showdown between Superman and Zod which goes through buildings and streets like they are wallpaper. I longed for more scenes on Krypton as i felt they were some of the best of the movie. Overall, i definitely recommend this film and would like to hear your opinions on where it ranks among the original four Superman Movies and the 2005 Superman Returns