Rush

 

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8/10

The title says it all in this fast paced film about two rival Formula 1 drivers who live the fast life of racing, and give it all to defeat the other one. This film had a lot of great qualities to it. The camera shots were beautiful with some incredible edits. This film should be nominated for an Oscar for it’s editing alone. Chris Hemsworth is great as the cocky and young, James Hunt, but it’s Daniel Bruhl who steals the show as Niki Lauda. During the film, you will find yourself rooting for Lauda even as the story follows Hunt more. I think that is what really puts Ron Howard above most directors in terms of storytelling. That subject definitely isn’t abandoned in this film as the story is every bit as good as any other part of the film. The only thing i would probably change about the storytelling is the outside of the racing world. We get glimpses into the different lifestyles of Lauda and Hunt, but we don’t ever really see enough to see what they are going through. The film is about the racing world, but to see more from the outside characters (Olivia Wilde especially) could make this film go a whole lot further. There are times where the film gets a little slow from the same scenario, and that is where some outside perspective would’ve helped. I would definitely recommend this film to everyone. I think racing fans will love it for obvious reasons, but non racing fans will like it from the charisma of Hemsworth and the intelligence of Bruhl.

Prisoners

 

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9/10

Hugh Jackman is an Oscar contender in this dark kidnapping drama. This 2 and a half hour film is filled with enough swerves to always keep you guessing. I thought the film played out more as a TV show than a movie. It has such a bleak surrounding that you wonder if the sun ever shines in this town. Two children go missing on Thanksgiving Day after playing outside, and the only thing the parents have to go on is an R-V that the kids were playing on outside. The thing i find the best about this movie is that it’s much more than a harrowing drama. It plays out a story that shows how parents can become a nightmare version of themselves when they lose the thing that can be the most precious to them, their children. This film turns in great performances as well from Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis and Maria Bello. Infact, i think Terrence Howard is the only actor who was wasted by a jam packed film. There simply just isn’t enough for him to do in this film. Some people who watch the film are going to hate it because there is kind of a negative aspect to the way the film ends, but i think it’s perfect. All of us have to answer for the sins we have committed and that is no further proof than in the film Prisoners. This is definitely the best film in theaters right now, and i recommend that everybody go see it. I don’t think a film has ever been as smart to cops and how they act when a child goes missing. A top ten of the year for sure.

Thanks For Sharing

 

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6/10

If Judd Apatow directed a film about sex addiction and the toxic traits that come with it, this would be the film he would make. Thanks for Sharing follows a couple of people in a group (Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Pink and Josh Gad) who struggle with the real disease known as sex addiction. This film does do a lot of good in opening the eyes of the world, and getting the word out there. It does have a lot wrong with it at the same time. For one, Mark Ruffalo just doesn’t feel right in this role. He comes off as a smarter man in all of his films and is quite good at playing the stereotypical genius character. That is why someone like The Hulk is perfect for him, because he is the side of Bruce Banner that is the scientist. In this role though, it just doesn’t work. He shares no on screen chemistry with his girlfriend in the movie (Gwyneth Paltrow) and that really hurts the scenes. Ruffalo is a great actor, but there are just some films that certain actors shouldn’t do. Tim Robbins however, was born to play this role. He plays a father whose own son is a drug addict. He struggles between the responsibility of leading a group and being a positive role model for his own child. Pink is also a breath of fresh air. For this being her first big role in a film, she really nails it. She brings such a deep sense of comfort and paranoia at the same time in her role as Dede. The scenes in this film were shot very well, but don’t take many risks. It’s a pretty safe movie with some real touching moments. There were just a couple of parts in particular that really took me out of the film. You can see some things coming from a mile away, and i think that is truly one of the film’s biggest weaknesses. Overall, the film is just OK, but should probably still be seen by anyone who is into films like these and 28 Days. As for sex addiction, i would stick with 2011’s Shame. It polarizes the disease in a more life altering nature.

Insidious : Chapter Two

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5/10

I am convinced that i may be the only person who didn’t like this movie. I have seen posts over the last week from people saying it was “The best movie ever” and “The best horror film of the year”. It all left me scratching my head after watching it. Insidious 2 does have it’s moments. I particularly enjoyed the storyline about the abused little boy and the spirit of the woman in black. It made complete sense when they were explaining the back story and some of the things that happened in the first film. The one thing i didn’t understand was how the good spirit of Josh could hear the alarm going off in the first film and then be the one ringing the alarm at the same time in the 2nd film. The thing that is real depressing is that i laughed my way through a lot of this film. The fight scenes were anything but suspenseful and the scenes are just utterly pointless. The comedic dialogue was great (especially with the two nerds), but it doesn’t belong in a demonic film this dark. The score is once again phenominal. There is something about hearing violins during jumpy scenes that really heightens the terror. I also enjoyed the work of Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne. They were definitely the right choices for the mother and father of this family. This film really made me sad for the first one because i LOVED that movie. The suspense was great and it didn’t need some cheap comedy laughs or even a backstory for it to be great. Speaking of which, where the hell did the man with the red face go in this sequel? He is nowhere to be found. You would think that he would have a lot to do with this abused child becoming a killer. Overall, i DO recommend this film because i know people are going to like it because some people were not raised on classic horror films. This is a genre that i am a very tough critic with because it’s my favorite kind of films, but i do not give this a passing grade.

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.