The Quiet Ones

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3.5/10

Hammer Productions return with the latest film in the possession genre, The Quiet Ones. It stars Jared Harris as a college psych professor in the 70’s who leads a paranormal study about a supposed possessed woman on if she is really haunted or terrifyingly disturbed. I can’t really say this film was a disappointment as i didn’t expect much out of it. I can truly say that i didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. Director John Pogue definitely brings the Hammer feel with him as this film is beautifully produced with that 70’s glossy camera kind of feel. I think that the setting is what people are going to remember the most about this film years from now, and that could be a good thing as most of the other parts of this film are a complete waste of your time. The movie relies on the cheap kind of scares to move it’s audience. It’s the exact reason why i loved recent horror films like The Conjuring and Sinister. They didn’t rely on jump scares with loud frightening sounds out of nowhere to scare the audience. That is one thing that is constantly annoying about this film; the audio is set to 11 on the amplifiers. I worried about going deaf before i even remotely got scared. The film also recites the 2014 horror movie problems with not knowing how to end it’s film. The ending we get is the same one we got in Devil’s Due, and it’s just extremely lazy. What happened to closure (good or bad) in a horror movie? The script itself is very sloppy with random scenes coming out of nowhere to see what sticks. It seems that this film was written with just a series of ideas and not a story to bring them all together.This film has a lot of CGI problems in the form of fire and a Ghostbusters looking creature coming out of a character’s throat. When the ladder scene happens, it almost looks like something out of The Thing. The problem is that this is 2014, and computer effects should not be looking that bad. Besides the setting, the only other thing i enjoyed was the lead 3 actors, Harris, Sam Claifin and Olivia Cooke. Harris is just too good for this film. His dialogue is charming, witty and very fast paced. He is years ahead of the writers of this film. Claifin is the character we learn the most about as the movie goes on. He is the one we can relate the most to, and this is because of his pity for this girl who is the subject of no sleep and many brutal tests. Cooke is outstanding as the possessed woman, Jane Harper. She quickly won my respct in Bates Motel, and she puts a lot into a possession victim. That isn’t always the easiest role to play, as you are playing a role that is being controlled by an entity that you have no idea how to control. She gives Jane a sweet side that hasn’t been emotionally represented this well since Emily Rose. The Quiet Ones is a film that sets itself up like a Frankenstein creature that never comes to life by the final act. It’s good for performances, but could be so much better if it had a complete story to go with it. Not recommended.

The Other Woman

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5.5/10

Interestingly enough, the film that i had the least interest in was the one that ended up winning the best weekend film. That’s not to say that The Other Woman is a great film by any means, but it has it’s charms. It stars Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton as three women being played by the same guy. Mann in particular gives her best performance in her limited filmography. She plays Kate King with the kind of humorous sadness that this film should’ve entirely been about. The Other Woman is supposed to be a story about the power of feminism, but it never fully commits to that power to give us the courageous film that we could’ve gotten. Diaz in particular is such a robotic character that it’s hard to ever get any kind of read on her emotions. She goes through the whole film explaining how she doesn’t need a man, only to be interested in a new man 5 minutes later. She tries to be the tough, independent female, but she is terribly miscast. Upton is in her 3rd film, but none of that acting lessons are paying off in this film. She brings nothing more to the typical bimbo with breasts, and the movie’s 2nd half suffers greatly for it. With all of the issues i just mentioned, you are probably wondering what about his film i enjoyed. It does deliver in comedic schtick. I found myself laughing during this film the most i have in months. Leslie Mann has certainly learned enough about comedic timing from starring in her husband Judd Apatow’s flicks. She is the sole reason why this film succeeds in the casting department. I also dug seeing Don Johnson playing the father no one has ever had. He portrays Diaz’s father, and specifically gives her some jaw dropping advice when Diaz suspects her boyfriend is cheating on her. He says “To put on something sexy, go over and get laid”. What father says this to his daughter at any age? He also has a completely unbelievable hook up by the end of the film, but i am not going to spoile that for you. The Other Woman’s first act sets the bar pretty nicely for where the film should go. It’s unfortunate that the 2nd half of the film gets gobbled up in too many story lines moving at once. The viewer will often have to stop to reflect on where the characters are at that point. The revenge scene with the boyfriend is severely ridiculous. I wish i could tell you more, but i know a few people who plan on checking this out. I only recommend this film to the ladies who are planning a girls night out. I think they can relate to some of what goes on in the film enough to appreciate it. The men will win because their women will appreciate that their guy isn’t like the nimrod in this film. Enjoy it ladies, and remember to thank your favorite film critic

Night Moves

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6/10

Director Kelly Reichardt returns with another social commentary on life. This time, it’s about the damage being done to the environment so we can continue down a road of being spoiled at the hands of damaged wildlife and waters. Night Moves is a story about fighting for a cause and just how far you are willing to take that fight. Despite the poor grade i gave this film, i found it to be a decent film that had some problems filling in the blanks. Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Saarsgaard, and Dakota Fanning as three environmentalists who have the idea to blow up a dam to make a protest towards the energy sucking dam. I personally felt that all three brought something to characters that on paper could’ve been played by just about anyone. Eisenberg in paricular has a fire growing below that quiet exterior. He continues to impress on serious roles that bring so many dimensions to his skills as an actor. Fanning is alright. I will say that she has become more tolerable than her roles as a child, so that is a plus. Saarsgaard is one of my favorite actors in film today, and serves as a kind of leader for this group as a former Iraq war soldier who knows a lot from his time overseas. The tone of tension building for the film is absolutely perfect even if it never quite pays off. The film has enough during it’s first act and into the second to leave you shading an outline for the trouble that this trio has in front of them that they have not quite realized yet. I think the locations of a foggy and dreary wildlife park and surrounding areas of an agricultural harvest farm inject a spreading of melancholy for the wildlife that we take advantage of every day. The film does have some good points and keeps the viewer well informed from the decrease of fish population over the next 30 years to the percentage of dirty air that will surround the trees that breathe natural oxygen. In that aspect, the film feels like a documentary more than a film at times. The third act is where the film (like most in 2014) got ruined for me. It’s basically the reaction from the madness that these characters have caused, and i just don’t buy it. The characters are of course expected to make stupid mistakes and act consciously, and that isn’t my problem with it. My problem stems from the complete 360 that these characters do when the pressure gets too hot. I won’t spoil anything for you the reader, but it’s hard to see these actions happening when they were very cautious planning it out, and almost scared to follow through with the act. The final scene is kind of left to the viewer in terms of where these viewers are going, and a movie like that can be very dangerous because it rarely ever works. We are the viewer and you are the director, so we look to you for the answers and not vice versa. The viewer will feel ripped off by the lack of ending that Reichardt gives us, and that is why it’s hard for me to recommend this film. I did enjoy it for the little things that i mentioned as well as a chilling musical score by Jeff Grace, but Night Moves feels like a half effort from a director whose message in 2001’s The Unbelievable Truth cut straight to the point and did it for less than a quarter of the budget. I don’t believe that Reichardt’s best days are behind her, but i think Kelly would be best to give us more substance with the environmental facts next time. Night Moves is a thorough examination of guilt based on ideals, and how far we are willing to go to define the moment before the moment defines us. With an ending as powerful as it’s first two acts, this film could’ve been at the top of the list for suspense films in 2014. If you want a film that challenges you and forces you to search for the right answer, look for it on DVD next week.

Transcendence

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7/10

I am amazed when i see sites like Rotten Tomatoes giving this film a 17%, but give Heaven is For Real a 54%. What movies are these people watching? Transcendence isn’t a film that everyone is going to like, and i understand that. It is a film though that takes a used plot (See Lawnmower Man), but spices it up to bring a level of terror to a world that relies on technology (sound familiar?). Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Cole Hauser lead a dynamite cast in a film about two artificial intelligence professors (Depp and Hall) who work to create a sentiment machine that combines intelligence of our data systems with human emotion. The idea comes with backlash at the hands of an extremist group who sees the consequences that something like this could lead to. I am going to mention what i didn’t like about this film first because it’s very few things. First of all, it’s a ridiculous thought that something like this would ever be on a blueprint, i understand that. I think the intention of first time director Wally Pfister was to show that our real life situation of everyone’s need for technology is getting to dangerous levels. It kind of touches Animal Farm levels when it hints that humans will one day no longer be able to make decisions for themselves. That situation alone is enough to make anyone shriek at the idea of a computer God who now controls everything and everyone.I was impressed with the direction that Pfister crafted in this film. It even reminded me of one of my favorite directors, Christopher Nolan, and there is a reason for this. Wally was the cinematographer for all of Nolan’s films. Nolan also works as an executive producer in this film. His influence is easy to spot not only in the camera work, but the cast as well. Hall, Freeman and Murphy have all been staples in Nolan films, and that chemistry reflects in each of their screen time together. Transcendence starts off slow in the first 45 minutes, but then recovers itself with a twist that wasn’t even hinted at in the trailer. Seriously, after watching the trailer, i wasn’t too impressed going into this film. I think what really won me over was the chemistry of Depp and Hall, and their capability to create a product that most humans can’t even begin to understand. Understanding the scientific lingo is something that fans will have trouble fully grasping. In this world, the sky is the limit for these machines and technology, so we have to take that ride with our eyes forward. I also really enjoyed the score by Mychael Danna. He instills a sorrow to future that mankind is creating for itself. The piano notes hit at the most perfect moments when our main characters look across at each other knowing the terrors they have created. The ending is something else i really dug. I enjoy when a film has enough bravery to make an ending that is risky and goes against what might be best for the fans who dig simple cliche endings. It’s one of the reasons i am one of the only people who enjoyed Cabin in the Woods. The ending to this doesn’t back down, and that is something i will always appreciate. Transcendence is a dark and harrowing tale about the road we may be heading down. Technology is one of human’s biggest achievements and possibly biggest downfalls. It’s my opinion that technology is always one step above humans. I think that might be why many critics don’t understand this film. Recommended but wait till DVD, so you can rewind what you might miss.

A Haunted House 2

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2/10

In 2013, i posted a review about A Haunted House that trashed the film for basically being an 80 minute sex joke. I called it crude, humorless and completely pointless. I would now like to personally apologize for everything i said about that film. A Haunted House is still a tasteless chud, but it’s sequel is where the real evil exists. Marlon Wayans returns as Malcolm Johnson. A man who is being plagued by evil spirits through two different girlfriends. This film acts as a spoof on such horror movies as Sinister, Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Conjuring. I only enjoyed three of those films, but i can safely say that all four are better than A Haunted House 2. As to where sex jokes were the film’s premise in the first film, racism appears to be the schtick with this movie. Racism is everywhere and everything, it’s apparently supposed to be hilarious and i had no idea. Gabriel Iglesias shows up as a neighbor who is Mexican. I mention his heritage because the movie certainly does every 2 minutes. I am not someone who is a big Iglesias fan. Every joke in his arsenal is about him being Mexican or him being fat. It’s that simple. So when you hear he is in this film, it should come as no surprise that the person and the character are one and the same. Lets not stop there though because there are more sex jokes as well. Remember that amazing scene from the first film where Marlon Wayans is having nasty sex with a stuffed animal? You get to relive that whole scene times two with the doll from The Conjuring. He has sex with this thing for no reason what so ever. Somewhere in planet bizarre this is funny. All you have to know about this film is that it’s the rudest, crudest movie to come out this year…….BY FAR. I am all about a good comedy that is a little juvenile, but this is completely beyond the limit. On top of this, there are cussing children, scenes that don’t connect well with the scene that is directly after it, and THE MOST ANNOYING CHARACTER that i have seen in a long time. For those of you who thought Leonardo Dicaprio said “Old Sport” too much in 2013’s The Great Gatsby, i laugh at your comment. Affion Crockett plays Malcolm’s cousin Ray-Ray, and he says the word “Cuz” no fewer than 90 times. I AM NOT KIDDING IN THE SLIGHTEST. I turned to my friend and said i would punch the screen if he said it one more time, and sure enough he did it in that exact second. The character is like nails on a chalkboard. Like Kenny Crumpton doing the weather for your funeral. Like Nickelback on repeat 24 hours a day. The camera always on thing doesn’t work as well for this movie because in scenes where it looks like a camera is on, there is no possible way a camera can be there. Cameras appear and disappear in character’s hands. I searched my mind to find even the slightest thing i liked about this film, and i could find nothing. The house they shot in looked nice. Does that count? The credits were error free in typing. How about that? A Haunted House 2 is on par with A Winter’s Tale for the absolute biggest disgrace i have seen this year. Time will tell by December 31st when we find out which one is worse, but for now i want to go to a very quiet place and rock back and forth. A Haunted House 2 is AWFUL. It doesn’t even deserve the 6% on Rotten Tomatoes. If you see it, you are only wasting your own money. The Film Freak warns all.

Locke

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9/10

Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Hardy has become a star. Locke is the story of a car ride with concrete boss, Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy). He is on a trip that requires him to leave his job and family for one night because everything will inevitably change. Rather than telling you why Locke is taking this trip, i will instead try to review this film without giving anything away, because the surprises are the best thing about this movie. There is only one actor in the whole film who we see, so i will just review Hardy’s acting. He truly does give the best performance of his career and one of the best performances of 2014. Ivan is a man who has made some terrible decisions in his life, but he does what has to for them to be made right. He specifically says that he doesn’t care if people love him or hate him, he has to do what has to be done. Hardy plays him to an effect of the crowd feeling every kind of emotion for him. We love him, hate him, feel sorry for him and scream at him all in the short 85 minute run time. He is clearly carrying some extra baggage underneath the hood (metaphor not for real) and is haunted by figures of his past. As i said, the film is very short, but i think any longer and it would drag on. There is only so much you can do when your movie takes place in the same place for the whole span, but Director Steven Knight pushes the envelope even further than i ever expected. Hardy is certainly a one man wrecking crew in this film and shows that he is very comfortable with the pressure and camera being put squarely on him. There was something similar to this with 2010’s “Buried”. In that film, Ryan Reynolds was in a coffin underground for 90 minutes. I loved Buried very much, but i think Tom Hardy is even more talented in the fact that he doesn’t need to yell or panic for us to see the blood boiling underneath. For most of the film, he plays it very cool despite dealing with some decisions that will totally wreck any semblence of a life. The camera work doesn’t seem like much since it takes place in a car, but i think it gets very creative with the way it shoots Hardy from every angle. The camera shakes when we the viewer know the lid is about to blow from everything Locke goes through. There is also a very excellent shot of the backseat when Locke is talking to someone who doesn’t exist. The pieces are slowly coming off of this man’s sanity, but instead of it being just another piece to a man’s insanity in a film, Knight plays it to learn even more about the character’s backstory. I always love a movie that reveals a piece of the puzzle one bit at a time. When we first enter the car with Locke, we only know that he is a man who works at a concrete business. Other than that, we have to learn the rest by phone conversations that take place in the car. That is why Locke is absolutely brilliant. It doesn’t need millions of dollars to make a movie that leaves the viewer glued to the edge of their seat. What worries me about this film is that people won’t like it because it’s nothing other than phone call conversations in a car. To that i say you have to look deeper and reflect on how the pressure is built and built until you wonder what the outcome will be with this man. You have to appreciate how difficult it is to keep a movie exciting when there is only a one room shot. If people have a problem with the ending, i will say that i agree halfway. I think the ending is OK, but it is a little anti climatic. The answer we are given almost feels too easy in the first place to be accepted considering how much our protagonist has been through. Other than that, Locke is a masterpiece of a film that is already one of 2014’s best. It is a must see for anyone who appreciates great performances with films that don’t need the big budget or the crazy explosions.

Wolf Creek 2

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5.5/10

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the Australian Outback, hunter Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) returns in the sequel to the 2005 original that redefined horror. I am kind of in the middle when it comes to how i really felt about this film. It does have it’s memorable scenes like a sensitive male anatomy part getting cut off in the most graphic and revealing way possible. It also has a kangaroo massacre scene with several kangaroos being run down by a car with “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” being played in the background. I found myself laughing during these scenes, and i don’t know if that’s what the filmmakers were going for or if there truly is something wrong with me. Besides that, Wolf Creek 2 offers nothing really new in this sequel. Jarratt is outstanding as usual. He could pretty much play the antagonist role in his sleep at this point. His charm is the only reason i would recommend fans of the first film to see this one. The story structure is practically the same as the first film. You can almost time everything scene by scene, and it’s because of that you can predict what is going to happen next. The ending is EXACTLY the same as the first film. It’s at the end of this 100 minute film that you realize there was no point at all to making a sequel to this. I mean, we did see more of the hideouts for Taylor than we did in the first film, but we learn nothing more about his character. I can only hope that if they do a Wolf Creek 3 that it’s a prequel showing us the origins of Mick Taylor. That is exactly what they should’ve done with this sequel. Like the original, two backpackers are camping throughout the Australian outback when they come across a psychopath who likes to hunt humans for fun. The protagonists are so unlikable, and i blame that on the fact that unlike the first film, this one doesn’t take the time to give us a back story for them. Some people didn’t enjoy the first film because the first 40 minutes were built up so slow and only focused on the three protagonists journey to Wolf Creek. I thought it was done right, as you legitimately cared about what happened to those three people. In this film, their deaths mean nothing. The graphic gore has times of sheer genius, but it flakes out in the last act. It truly cannot decide if it wants to be a plain rated R or to really push the boundaries into territory not often seen in the States. The ending is something that is a little confusing and totally doesn’t make sense. The door is certainly open for a 3rd film, but i can only hope that they grant my wish, and not give us another plain Jane sequel. Overall, i would only recommend this film to fans of the first movie who are thirsty for more of Jarratt’s comedic tones that he brings to his characters. Either way, wait till DVD.

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4/10

When you see a decent actor like Greg Kinnear in a film that doesn’t quite live up to his talents, you start wondering if his best days are behind him. Kinnear stars as the father of a boy who ends up in the hospital with a burst appendix. After his recovery, he mentions to his father that he was briefly in heaven when he was under the knife. This story is an adaptation from the New York Times #1 Bestseller, and while i haven’t read that book, i can say that the film is a big waste of time. There is so much wrong with this film that i hope i can get it all out in a basic review. When i compared this film to Son of God, i realized that this film does come off better as a motion picture. It has enough to keep the viewer interested in it’s questions, but fails when we are served the answers to those questions.Beyond this, the kind of film it comes off as is something that you would see on the Hallmark Channel. Son of God is an overall better film though. The reason being, it wasn’t afraid to take a chance with graphic violence that didn’t quite cater to the audience it was intended for. What i find interesting about Heaven is For Real is that we are led to believe that Greg Kinnear and his family are 30 thousand dollars in the hole when he works as a 1. Preacher, 2. Fireman, 3. Parts installer. He also has a nice countryside house which makes it hard to believe this guy is borderline poor. Another cute ongoing storyline is when word gets out of the little boy’s journey through Heaven and the townspeople find it uncomfortable that this is being talked about. Keep in mind that this is a religious community and all of the people who don’t believe him ARE THE PEOPLE SITTING IN THE CHURCH PEWS!!!! I have only been a Catholic for 23 years, but i thought believing in Heaven and God was kind of like the status quo for this group. The first half hour speeds a little too quickly when we are trying to learn the quirks and ticks of what makes this family. Because it speeds by, these people come off as lunatics when we see the way they act at church and softball games. The ladder, being one of the corniest scenes i have seen this year. Director Randall Wallace definitely tries to make this religious film something more that every kind of fan can relate to. Even to go so far as to add a big bad wicked rock anthem like “We Will Rock You” to the film. It’s cute because the little boy wants nothing to do with religious hymns, and instead sings Queen. It all seems so desperate. Which brings me to the little boy who plays Colton (Connor Corum). He is cute, and i am sure will win the award for “Child actor who every woman wants to pinch his cheeks”, but he is the single strangest child actor i have ever seen. He makes these faces that make him seem like he is hearing voices, and i don’t mean the religious kind. A scene when he vomits in the toilet is one of the funniest things i have seen this year. Not that there is an art to something so disgusting, but his noises are so imitated and made even better when the camera pans up to show nothing in the toilet. This film is just an absolute sloppy mess. I am ready for the backlash that comes with me hating this film because it rightfully deserves every word that i have made clear. The biggest shame with this film is the wasted star power of Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church. Two of Hollywood’s best role actors who are on sleep mode because this script would rather show you the cameos and not give them anything to earn that screen time. Heaven is For Real isn’t the worst film i have seen this year, but it’s pretty close. I can now add one more reason to why i left Catholic schooling after nine years; i didn’t want to turn out like the Burpo family in Heaven is For Real. The Burpo family, what an appropriate name. This film made me Burpo for 95 long minutes. Not recommended

Rio 2

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5/10

The effort is on a higher scale in this sequel to the 2011 animated feature that i wasn’t a fan of. I will say that Rio 2 is a better film than it’s predecessor, but it is completely riddled in problems. Blue and the family are back with the mission to move the family to his girlfriend’s (Jewel) homeland of the amazon. Blue runs into some tough adjustments along the way, and he has to prove to Jewel that he has what it takes to rough it in the jungle. This film felt very tedious and overstuffed to me. There are too many characters with too many storylines, and only 95 minutes of screen time to wrap everything up. The characters are so hard to distinguish because a lot of them look the same. It’s a rough animated film when you have to memorize every celebrity (Over 20 of them) just to know who is standing in what scene. Beyond this, the characters and their journeys just aren’t that exciting. One thing that films like Despicable Me and Frozen does well is that they give us characters that we learn so much about in such a small bit of dialogue. I felt like i knew everything about the sisters after i watched Frozen, and that is because that is storytelling done well. The animation is absolutely breathtaking with far away shots of Rio and the amazon. There is definitely nothing to complain about in the graphic department of coloring and shading. I did not see this film in 3D, but i can imagine that you won’t need it to fully enjoy the scenery that compliments the colorful feathers of each bird. I also felt that the songs were done a lot better than the first film. One scene in particular is where the villain of the film, Nigel is singing about how he plans to poop on the party of the main characters. It’s cheap laughs for the kiddies, but that doesn’t mean i didn’t catch myself laughing at it as well. The soundtrack is definitely the highlight of this film, but those tracks are few and far between. Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx, Tracy Morgan and Bruno Mars to name a few, really do a great job for their characters. Their voices don’t necessarily stick out in a scene and that is perfect when doing voice work. It should be about the film and not the actors playing the animation. Overall, i know there are a lot of Rio fans out there, but i would wait till DVD on this one if you absolutely have to see it. I can just hope that this series will stop here because these characters have already squeezed every drop of this less than stellar franchise. Rio 2 is a bust.

The Raid 2 : Berandal

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7.5/10

This hard hitting sequel to the original has some big shoes to fill. The 2012 original raid is what i consider as the greatest action film of all time. It’s fight scenes alone pack such a punch that you feel like you are going through the pain that the characters are. While some things are on a bigger scale with the sequel, the film generally follows this same format with over the top fight scenes that are complimented by shaky camera work that actually has a reason for once. Iko Uwais returns as the protagonist, Rama. He is a cop who survived the carnage of the first film, and is quickly recruited to play a criminal to infiltrate a mob boss. Uwais’s experience in martial arts is what really makes each fight scene look amazing. There are some scenes that are really violent when it comes to the consequences of the characters. It’s for that reason alone why some people might pass on The Raid series, but i promise you that this isn’t one to miss. The Raid 2 was actually given a theatrical run, and it’s good to see more foreign films get a look in American cinema. The score is also quite excellent to this film. It builds the suspense and the terror that lurks behind every corner. The Raid 2 needs that score more than it’s original because it plays more on emotions in this one. The film clocks in at nearly 2 and a half hours (A little long in my opinion), but it’s because everything is bigger in this film. One of the charms about the original Raid was that it took place in an apartment building. Thus creating the claustrophobia that our protagonists are exploring. With The Raid 2, the story is everywhere, so it needs more time to invest in that telling. I mentioned before that it is a little long in time length, but i feel this way because we literally go 40 minutes at one point without any violence what so ever. I understand that you can’t make the movie about just one thing, but that is the bread and butter for this franchise, and the action scenes have never slowed down one bit even though we have seen over 20 fight scenes between the two films at this point. The storyline itself gives us a Kill Bill kind of feel with Uwais working his way through the ruthless Jakarta Crime syndicate. He is on a mission to find out which gang members are legit and which are undercover cops like himself. You really feel for this character that Iko portrays because he is doing everything to protect his family. This includes going to prison for two years just to get close to the mob boss’s son. The Raid 2 : Berandal is a very worthy sequel to the original. It doesn’t leave you with the same feelings that the first one did because at that time that film was original. After watching the sequel, you will undoubtedly compare it to it’s predecessor. Something that doesn’t give this film as original of a taste as the first. Without question, i urge everyone to rent the original on DVD, and catch this one in theaters. For 145 minutes of solid in your face action, it’s a must see.

Oculus

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7/10

When you think of WWE films, you think of awful movies that don’t have the budgets or the writing to compete with Hollywood’s finest. Oculus will go down as an exception to that rule, but it’s a shame that the last five minutes of this film ruins what could have easily been an 8/10. Oculus is about a possessed mirror that has killed every family it has been around for the last 100 years. We pick up in current day when a brother and sister are recalling the events that went down 12 years prior. First of all, i really enjoyed the back and forth shots between present day and 1998 with the siblings being younger. We are told the end result of 1998 in the first 15 minutes of the film, but there are still a lot of shocks along the way. Another thing i really loved is that this film didn’t settle for cheap scares. Most horror movies today go for that shock when a character pops up on screen out of nowhere to scare the audience, but this film doesn’t need it. Oculus uses terrifying images to really rip at it’s viewers. I can’t really say the film is scary, but it does have enough intense moments that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The best part of the film for me was actually caring about characters in a horror film for once. So many writers have no idea how to get the crowd away from rooting for the serial killer, but Director/Writer Mike Flannagan gets it correct. I found myself feeling so bad for the terror that is unwinding in this family’s loving family. Flannagan isn’t afraid to aim for the throat on his main characters, and it’s greatly appreciated. As i said before, the last five minutes fall into a cliche mess of a famously bad late 90’s horror film that i won’t mention. If i say the film, it will automatically give away the ending. They are one in the same, and that is a shame because Oculus (Unlike that 90’s film) deserves a lot better.Honestly, this is the only problem i had with the film. This ending is so tragic because this film goes from suspenseful and original to mediocre on this list of 2014 films. Karen Gillan, Rory Cochrane and Katee Sackoff give performances that stay away from the cheesy of what every horror film this century has done. They are great facial actors, and what i mean by that is that they know how to get into the heads of their viewers when the closeup shot is shown. Sackhoff especially has eyes that are perfect when that chilling piano music starts to play. Oculus is arguably the biggest surprise so far of 2014. If we can go back and rewrite the last five minutes, it’s one of the best horror/suspense films of the 2000’s. It’s a perfect date night film for any couple who gives the time of day for awful horror films. If you gave those a chance, this definitely deserves a chance. In the era of 40 Paranormal Activity and ripoffs to that franchise, Oculus is a terrifying gasp of fresh air.

Draft Day

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7/10

Jennifer Garner’s character in this film says the quote “Some roads are filled with misery, and those are the right roads”. This quote has said so much for the history of the Cleveland Browns franchise. They have always been on the opposing side of winning. So naturally, a studio has to make a film about them someday. Draft Day tells the story of Sonny Weaver JR (Kevin Costner) who is the GM for the Cleveland Browns. He is given news that this will probably be his final season with the team, so he has to put all of his chips in on this season to be a winner. I personally enjoyed Draft Day. It’s not one of the best sports films of all time, but it does leave a lasting impression on any Browns fan or Ohio resident. It’s a film that goes way beyond football. Director Ivan Reitman takes a lot of long exclusive shots of the city of Cleveland edited with the history of the Browns history. I personally appreciate a film that isn’t afraid to show a city that isn’t LA or New York. There are plenty of Browns fans ironies in the film that i won’t spoil for you here. These are the lines that are bound to leave a laugh or giggle among anyone who is well versed in this team’s history. This film also did something i have never seen with the editing features. With this film taking place on the day of the draft, there is naturally a lot of phone calls in the film. When this happens, you get the typical side by side split screen shot, but there is something more to this. One guy can step into another guy’s half of the screen and it makes it seem like they are in the same room together. I thought this feature was really cool, and required several double takes when you first see it. The cinematography is a little amateur as it sometimes seems like you are watching a cheaply made indie film. For anyone who has seen the Akron Soap Box Derby film “22 Hill”, you will understand completely what i mean. The cast takes each role about as far as you can go. Jennifer Garner plays the financial worker for the team as well as Costner’s love interest. Frank Langella is good as the owner of the team who doesn’t always know what is best for them. Terry Crewes and P Diddy also show up to make some well cast cameos. Diddy in particular is in the role he was born to play as a fast talking agent of the biggest star in the draft. Denis Leary totally stole the film though as the know it all head coach who coached the Dallas Cowboys to a super bowl win 2 years prior. His chemistry with Costner keeps the audience on their toes at the right moments when the movie almost drifts off. The draft itself is written unpredictably, but it’s just so far fetched. Some of the deals done by the other teams in the film would have them losing their jobs in a matter of days. If the draft happened that way, then everyone would be a winner. In my eyes, it is redeemed by the end because (Minor spoilers) they don’t show what happens with the Browns on the next season. So it’s left totally up to the viewers mind if these moves paid off. Some people might have a problem with that but i don’t. It’s no secret that new teams need chemistry to gel together, so there is a chance this team didn’t get it done after all of these moves. Overall, Draft Day is a welcomed experience for Northeast Ohio patrons. It gives us our day in the sun, and that sun should shine the brightest for those fans who spend their hard earned dollars on a team that isn’t always rewarding. This is your day Browns fans. This film is a love letter to you for your dedication to being the best fans in sports, and that is from a Cowboys fan