Ender’s Game

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6/10

I have a lot to say about this film, but i’m not sure where to begin. First of all, i am not reviewing the novel of Ender’s Game. I have never read the book and i will not even try to debate my knowledge on that subject. The film is an easily forgettable one. Is it a good film? Yes, but to anyone who hasn’t read the book or know a decent amount about the story, you will be lost at times. When i saw big names like Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley, i imagined that this film was going to turn in some incredible performances. But the trio of award winning actors are kind of left to waste with short dialogue that doesn’t give us any time to know their characters. Ford is the best by far in the fact that he is hiding more than we are led to believe throughout the film. For the first 90 minutes, i thought this film was all about practice and training, which would have put my review at around a 4 or 5. But this film redeems itself a little in the final ten minutes which pulls the wool from our eyes and turns around everything we were led to believe in the film up to this point. The action and set pieces in the film are beautiful. There is no debating that if you are to see this film, it must be at the theaters. I also enjoyed the work of Asa Butterfield as the story’s main character. His voice is a little pre-teen screaming when he gets excited, but i think he is great to play the role of a kid who knows he has a revolution that he is responsible for. In the end, Ender’s Game gives us a look at a possible sequel and i do think there will be enough fans to support that wish. To me, Ender’s Game is recommended, but it’s nothing incredible. The script seems rushed with so many of the events that are portrayed, but overall it’s not a bad little film. I would put this one somewhere in the middle of all the films i have reviewed this year.

Bad Grandpa

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6.5/10

This film can best be described as shock-comedy. With that said, i really enjoyed this film from the producers of the Jackass TV show about a widowed grandfather who has the task of driving his grandson back to his father across the country. This film definitely made me laugh and gave the viewers a lot to talk about for years to come. It didn’t give me the same satisfaction as watching an actual Jackass movie, but the little boy (Played by Jackson Nicoll) is pure gold. He totally steals the movie with the things that come out of this child. My favorite scene of the film takes place at a ladies night dance club where Irving realizes it might be easier to pick up chicks if they are already hot for buff bodied male strippers. The only complaint i had from this film is that it’s too short. It clocks in at about 85 minutes with credits included, and by that point i felt like the film could run another 10-15 minutes and be entertaining. The 2nd half of the film is definitely the better act because it spikes up the storyline with the comedy that is already present. I recommend this film to lovers of the TV show and Johnny Knoxville fans. Johnny is his same charming weirdo self, so you won’t be disappointed

The Counselor

 

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4/10

I am now convinced that most of the films i anticipated this year are trash. 2013 is a bad year for film. I had such HIGH hopes for this film and i couldn’t have been more disappointed. Before you see this film, make sure you know everything about the plot and what it is about. I read a ton up on this film and i still had trouble following everything that was going on. We never understand why Michael Fassbender accepts the job of the counselor, and we don’t even understand what that position entails. We are literally just given a bunch of colorful characters and prepare them for the worst. The only things i liked about this film was the beautiful shots in cinematography and the work of Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt. Diaz plays the best role of her life and is the only effort on conquering this awfully told story. But even she couldn’t overcome the tremendous odds laid against her. There is pointless and laughable sexual dialogue during the first 20 minutes that will make you roll your eyes when you think professionals wrote this. I was such a huge fan of Mccormick’s 2008 hit No Country For Old Men, but i have trouble believing The Counselor was written by the same person. There is almost no trace of that brilliance with building the story up. Surprisingly, this film has a lot of gore and blood. Some of the death scenes are done really well, but you wonder why they have to happen at all. I couldn’t imagine anyone is going to get any enjoyment out of this film other than the things i mentioned above. If you wish to see it, i would wait till DVD. When you pay 8-10 dollars for a movie, you are kind of forced to stay for the whole thing.

Escape Plan

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5/10

I was very disappointed in this film starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger about an escape artist who escapes from prisons for a living. This film was INSANELY unbelievable even for a Stallone film. I watched The Expendable movies and loved them, but this film doesn’t pack the same charm. There are limits to everyone’s suspension of disbelief, but this excedes those limits to overdrive. It is also very predictable as you can see many of the swerves coming from a mile away. I did enjoy the work of Jim Caviezel in this film as the villain atop the prison. He seemed to be having a lot of fun in the work as the villain for once. A lot of the action scenes and witty dialogue is there, but it just doesn’t give us the same kind of charm from this year’s Bullet to the Head and The Last Stand. Those films were far superior and give us a story that is down to earth. The thing i didn’t understand about the prison was if they knew Stallone was an escape artist and they studied his work by reading his book, why wouldn’t there be more focus on him? I would have a guard on him 24 hours a day. Even when he sleeps. Those same thoughts will ruin this film for anyone with half a brain. I recommend this film to hardcore Stallone/Arnold fans, but no one else.

Carrie (2013)

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6.5/10

Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore star in this remake of the 1976 thriller about a girl with telekinetic powers. This film wasn’t as bad as i thought it was going to be. The dialogue was awful, the high school kids were a little over the top with their villain hatred, and it’s a little hard to believe Chloe Moretz in this role. Moretz is a great actress and a great pick for the role of the prom scene, but it’s every thing else that i have a problem with believing her in the role. Moretz is too beautiful to play a role that was described as an “Ugly duckling” in Stephen King’s book. The prom scene is pretty badass though. They modernized it to make some pretty gruesome deaths that much more interesting. Julianne Moore and Judy Doyle were amazing as the mother and gym teach of Carrie White, respectively. Moore is one of those actresses that can play any role you put her in. She is just that damn good. I sort of wish the film were a little longer than the 91 minute cut that we received. I can imagine there are some decent deleted scenes as there was a good chunk of the story left out. Still, Carrie isn’t a bad little film. I would recommend it for the dollar theater if you want to get out of the house. We don’t really learn anything new in the story, so the only reason to see it is to see the performances by the different actors at the helm.

Birth of the Living Dead

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6.5/10

This documentary about George Romero’s original zombie masterpiece shows us the struggles of introducing the world to zombies. It’s hard to understand today just how much Romero went through with trying to get this film into theaters and drive ins because the world as we know it today loves zombies. What i loved about this film was all of the stuff i learned about the cast, what it took to purchase the equipment and the copyright mistake that led to a horror classic possibly losing millions of the take it brought in. This documentary gives us some great in depth interviews with Romero. The master of zombies tells us that no one wanted to give a first time 27 year old director a chance, and how that was his motivation to get the film released. The only thing i didn’t like about this film was how many films outside of the horror world that it took credit for. I don’t exactly think The Godfather trilogy was made because of the negative ending in Night of the Living Dead. It’s a bit of a stretch to claim many cinematic classics, but i see what they were going for. Check it out if you are like me, and a big fan of the Romero zombie epics

Machete Kills

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6/10

A decent sequel from the same people who brought you the legendary original. This film lays the ground for a very unusual trilogy. I will not give much away about the upcoming third film, but this film gave what it always promises. It had great and goofy action scenes with a lot of blood. It had laughs that were a little few and far between, but still there. It had crazy characters played by some big time actors. The best of those performances are from Mel Gibson and Cuba Gooding JR. Cuba is only in the film for a few minutes, but his performance is one of my favorites just on the attitude he brings to the role he is playing. Gibson is great as the villain of the film. He creates a Star Wars-esque scenary (Yes you read that right) that creates an over the top finale. The things i didn’t like about the film were petty, but they were there. I have never been a fan of CGI blood when there are so many amazing special effects guys anymore. Hell, Tom Savini was starring in the movie, so there is absolutely no reason for this. I get that they might do it to make it look cheesy, but i think human effects would make it even funnier. I also didn’t like the ground work laid for the 3rd film. I will definitely go see it, but i am not looking too forward to it based on the scenery. These films are all about the goofy, but sometimes you can take it a little too far. I recommend Machete Kills if you want a good time at the movies. There isn’t anything wrong with waiting till dollar theaters though to see it.

Captain Phillips

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7.5/10

Tom Hanks gives his best performance in nearly a decade in this film about a ship taken over by African pirates. I didn’t expect too much from this film, but boy was i surprised. The film does a great job of telling the 2009 story of merchant mariner Richard Phillips and his amazing rescue. What i like is that i knew most of the events that happened in the film, but there were some things that even surprised me. That’s not to say that this film is 100% true, but we as a public are not privy to that kind of information, so i will take anything. The only thing i didn’t like about the film is it’s length. It is too long of a film and does drag at certain points. It would be easy to trim a half hour off of this film, but i kind of understand what they were going for. As i said before, Hanks is brilliant. This role is kind of different for him because he doesn’t often play a victim. I was really rooting for him and hoping for the best in every situation he was put in. Just when you think he may be safe, he was put into an even worse situation. I have seen six films this week and this is definitely the best one. The way it is shot is brilliant with a minor shaky cam that doesn’t go to extreme annoyance levels (See Die Hard 5). The cast is perfect, including the pirates themselves. I definitely recommend this film to everyone, but i would save it for DVD. It’s over 2 hours long, so you will appreciate those times when you can pause the film to go to the bathroom or do something around the house. Either way, definitely worth a look.

Metallica : Through the Never

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6/10

The worlds of music and film meet in this concert film with the story happening outside of a Metallica concert. First of all, the band still has it. They put on an epic 10 song performance that makes you feel like you are there in the live crowd. Shot with the beautiful Technicolor cameras, it makes for an amazing stage show that pushes the music even further. The other half of the film stars Dane Dehann as a stage hand who is caught in the middle of an apocalypse outside of the stadium. His job is to deliver a mysterious bag that we never find out what is inside. This part of the film we could have done without, but i understand why they did it. There are some beautiful symbolism shots that include a burning scene that had to be near impossible to shoot. We just never learn why this whole thing is going on and we know even less about why this bag is so important. There is no talking during this part of the film at all, and they just act as action and fighting scenes to play to the background of the music. To me, this film could be summarized as one giant 85 minute music video, but i think it’s a little more than that. I have seen concert films before and this one leaves you with a little extra. I do love Dehann as an actor and wish he could have gotten more character development here. This film only played for one weekend at Imax theaters and it’s understandable. It’s hard to categorize this as a film or a concert. It’s an experience that has to be seen by all Metallica fans. If you aren’t a fan of the band, it won’t mean anything to you.

Gravity

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8/10

This film was easily the most suspenseful film of the year for me. First of all, you have to see this film in theaters. DVD will not do it justice one bit. I also recommend you go to the 3D showing. I don’t usually condone 3D, but it was well worth it in this film. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are stuck in orbit in space. That is the whole premise. It seems dull, but these two great actors really make the most of a situation. My favorite things about this film was the editing and the score. Both of which are the best of the year in my opinion. The music is what totally supplies the suspense of this film. You really care for these characters and can see the terror that they face coming from a mile away. I found it funny that Ed Harris supplied the voice for mission control again (Apollo 13). The only thing i didn’t like about the film was that some scenes drag on a little too far. I think this will ruin the film for some people with short attention spans. This film gives us the most beautiful shots of earth in the background, and it’s only with those shots can you truly understand how deep these two are in. I recommend this film to everyone, but only in theaters.

Runner Runner

 

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4/10

This sloppily made film made me want my 8 bucks back. Justin Timberlake stars in this film about the internet gambling world and the hazzards that come with it. First of all, Timberlake is a spoiled brat who doesn’t care about other characters when they get ripped off, but we are supposed to get behind him and root for him to punish the bad guys. As i said earlier, this film is sloppy for a lot of reasons, but i will give you some examples. Timberlake loses all of his money (17 grand) in the first ten minutes of the film by gambling, yet he has enough money to give $40 to his loser father, take a flight to Costa Rica, and get a hotel room for a week. Another mess was a party scene with loud club music being played (The DJ was DeadMau5 – EXCELLENT). Timberlake can hear the female lead talking perfectly word for word from 40-50 feet away. Superman like hearing, ladies and gentlemen. 80 minutes into this film and i wanted to kill the director for all of the poker puns that were being added into EVERY sentence. 1 or 2 is fine in a cliche film like this, but Jesus do we really need one in every scene? The one saving grace for this film was Ben Affleck as the poker website creator. Some people have complained that his role was a little over the top for the villain, but i think it’s perfect. Affleck was so believable as this prick, that i was actually rooting for him by the end of the film. Timberlake is just that unlikable in this film. That is not to say that i haven’t enjoyed Timberlake’s roles in film, but this seems like he took a step backwards. This is the film that pop stars make the first time they step into film (See Britney Spears in Crossroads). I don’t recommend this film to anyone, and it should be avoided at all costs.

Don Jon

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7.5/10

To see this film’s trailer is to only see half of the film. This comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a lot more than a young man’s addiction to porn. It is about his transformation into becoming a better person which makes his sexual experiences that much better. Tony Danza totally stole the movie as Levitt’s father who is a shining example of most hard assed parents who want the best for their kids. I always say that Requiem For a Dream should be shown to every high school kid in the world, well this film needs to be shown to every male who is in a relationship. I don’t want to give too much away, but this film asks the question of which things within yourself are worth changing for what you view as tranquility. The only things i didn’t like about the film was some of the acting being a little over the top. I think people see New Jersey citizens in the script and always have to play to the stereotype. I feel like these characters could’ve added a little more to making them their own. Also, Brie Larsen plays Levitt’s sister and is totally wasted as she plays the Silent Bob role of the movie. Don Jon is a film about opening up your eyes and changing the things in your life that may be toxic to the way you live. I recommend this film to the male demographic. I don’t know how secure the female demographic will be to enjoy this film. The porn might be a little too over the top.