Enemy

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8/10

I really enjoyed this film about Jake Gyllenhaal playing a school teacher who discovers that he has a twin in the film business. Gyllenhaal once again teams up with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve to bring a colorless and claustrophobic look at a man who is figuratively being pulled from the inside. I get the feeling that a lot of people who watched Prisoners will feel alienated by this film because it doesn’t lay the answers out as easy as Prisoners. This is a film that will slowly present you piece by piece of the puzzle, and they won’t all come together until the very last shot of the movie. This clearly isn’t a film for everyone, but i think everyone should give it a look because there is a lot of praise to be done in this 88 minute feature.I say that this film isn’t for everyone because it does have it’s moments that have to be left up to interpretation. The tone and soundtrack to this film are not only eerie and intense, but very unique. The twin storyline is something that has been done before, but in Enemy it is done differently. In past films of this genre, the two characters are made to be so different that they’re clearly obvious which one is which when on camera. In Enemy, Gyllenhaal plays two characters that are very much one and the same with the exception of their careers. The shooting of the face to face scenes is done well because it never shows both of their faces at the same time. I think if it did this, it would look hokey and the audience would have a tougher time taking it seriously.I also enjoyed the very bleak California setting. The colors to represent the backgrounds in each shot are given a kind of foggy feel to go with the moods of each doppelganger. It feels very much like a late 90’s David Cronenberg film based on it’s colorful textures alone. I do have a theory for how this whole story pieces together, but i won’t ruin it for those of you who want to check it out. I ordered it on Directv Pay Per View and that certainly helped with the theories i was gathering myself while watching the movie. It presents us with a 10 minute interview with Gylenhaal and Villeneuve after the feature is over. If you are going to check it out, i recommend this as the only way to go. It isn’t currently playing in any theaters, and i don’t know if the DVD will give you the kinds of clues and hints that the DirecTv version will. Enemy brought out everything i liked about independent features. Solid performances, heart pounding situations, and the option to always make you think.

That Awkward Moment

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4.5/10

Who says you can’t grow up to be a child? Zac Efron sure doesn’t. Efron plays the biggest jerk i have seen in a film in a long time. This is seriously the best they had as a main character? This is the guy we are supposed to root for? Three friends (Efron, Miles Teller, Michael B Jordan) make a pact to stay single when Jordan finds out his wife has cheated on him. What follows is a fast talking waste of 94 minutes. The first problem comes in the form of the fast talking itself. The film tries to be a hip indie dialogue driven film, but the problem is that NO ADULT TALKS LIKE THIS. These are like grown babies who dress up in adult clothes. The only character that is worth anything is Jordan’s. His character is given plenty of time (Unlike Teller) and isn’t a complete jerk to every female he meets (Unlike Efron). You actually feel for this character, so you get invested into his rises and falls when he gets back with his wife. For those of you wondering, NO!!! The women do not add anything to the film. The have low self esteem insides which pushes them to be with guys like this in the first place. Efron calls his girl a hooker FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!! Other than the Jordan storyline, i didn’t find a lot else to enjoy. The film is lost between trying to be a comedy and an emotional drama. It tells us to laugh at one crude joke after another, and then forces us to try to feel bad when a character gets drunk at Thanksgiving in front of all of their families.It literally adds nothing to the romantic comedy genre. Don’t waste your time on a film this bad. Even for DVD, this is asking too much. The Efron fans will fall for every word he spews, hook line and sinker. I am sure Labor Day isn’t going to be amazing, but i will be glad to get this terrible taste out of my mouth that Director Tom Gormican has left me

Labor Day

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7/10

I was very surprised in this film starring Kate Winslet as a mother who has her home invaded by a convict murderer (Josh Brolin) and the adaptations they face during this unpredictable event. Brolin is powerful in a role like this because he can show so much emotion without yelling. I really enjoyed the chemistry between him and Winslet. They are two people who long for each other after years of different loneliness. Director Jason Reitman shoots some beautiful hands-on shots when showing what is going through each character’s mind. I think a film like this could even work as a silent picture because Reitman is great at communicating with his audience. The film also takes place in a beautifully transformed 1987 Boston suburb. The film remains very truthful to the kinds of technology and food labels that were around in 1987, and no one appreciates that more than me. A movie can lose it’s focus for me if it has a cola can in the 1980’s when it wasn’t invented until 1995. Labor Day clocks in at 1 Hour and 50 minutes which might seem long to someone who knows the basic story, but it’s needed to show the advancement of relationships between Brolin and Winslet, but also Brolin and the little boy. Some problems i had with the film were few and far between. For one, there is tension in the final 15 minutes just because. From police officers getting a little too nosey for no reason to bank tellers asking Winslet what she is planning on doing with money she is taking out. It just makes the audience roll their eyes because there is no reason given for these things to happen. I also found it hard to believe that the police wouldn’t look at the cameras from the grocery store. On a news report, they say they knew Brolin was in the store, so why do they not look at the camera tapes to see who he left with? Wouldn’t the police watch those tapes and then find Winslet’s address? I also found it very far fetched that this movie and the relationships formed in 4 days. Loneliness is a frightening thing, but for a murderer who kidnaps Winslet and her son, this just doesn’t seem feasible to me. This may sound like i am complaining a lot about the film, but i promise that it’s better than 90% of the cliche romance pictures i normally watch. The ladies will love Labor Day, but i think even the guys will appreciate the powerful story being told here. Give Labor Day a shot. At the least, it’s a good date movie based on the relationship to root for in the film.

I Frankenstein

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3/10

This movie had the ability to be so much better than it was. Aaron Eckhart’s latest role puts him as the creature himself from the famous legend. First of all, i had no idea Eckhart was actually playing the creature. I was led to believe he was Dr. Frankenstein. It is this casting alone that has a lot to do with what is wrong in I,Frankenstein. From anyone who has read the Frankenstein novels to anyone who has seen the countless number of films, they know what the creature is supposed to represent. He’s a tall, slow and practically brain dead science experiment that returns from the grave. The character that Eckhart plays is the EXACT opposite of those things. He’s quick, intelligent and even a master swordsman. This Frankenstein can do it all, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t get me wrong, i love Aaron Eckhart but the man clearly doesn’t belong in this role. For those of you who say this is a new take on an old tale, you would be wrong. They even talk about the events of the past films/books at the beginning of this movie.This film just picks what it liked about the Frankenstein story and leaves out the rest. Besides this, the film has cheesy CGI and laughable death scenes that haven’t been seen since Van Helsing. Frankenstein is in the middle of a modern day war between gargoyles and demons. When a demon dies, they float to hell on a fire streak. Ya know, because fire represent bad. When a gargoyle dies, they float to heaven on a beautiful blue streak. Because blue equal good guy. I hope i came off sounding like a moron in those last sentences, it was intended. That’s not to say that this film doesn’t have good ideas. The story of the creature in the middle of this war had the ability to be a great after story, but because it never feels like Frankenstein we are never fully invested. The scenery is something straight out of an Underworld movie. There is nothing wrong with that, as i always felt Underworld had some beautiful landscapes with great shading. The fighting choreography is also beautiful in sync. They definitely had great intensity with every fight from countless amounts of gargoyle and demon armies. The ending is laughable (Unintended) and takes away from any creative buildup that the movie gains in the first 80 minutes. Coming into this film, i wasn’t expecting much from it. I was a little wrong in that regards. I, Frankenstein is a film that isn’t quite the monster that critics have dismissed it to be. There is a little something there behind the dead eyes of a nonsensical script. With the right casting and a little less overbearing CGI, this film could have been near the top of the list for January releases. I would recommend this film to a very small audience, and that is the people who have seen and loved every Underworld movie. I think you will get a kick out of this movie. If it’s your intention to see I,Frankenstein, wait until the dollar theaters.

Fed Up

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8/10

A gritty and disturbing look into the American food distribution system and the negative results that follow in a descensitized society. Fed Up is a documentary that looks into the FDA and slides aside the curtain to corruption involving bribery from major snack companies, surgery for overweight children who haven’t even hit their teenage years yet, and the things hidden in these junk foods that aren’t always revealed on the label. To me, Fed Up opened my eyes to the horrors of processed foods like Super Size Me did for the fast food industry. It was really impactful to see the kinds of stacked decks that we as people have of living healthy. Director Stephanie Soetchtig and narrator Katie Couric state the facts on sugars and salts that hurt our body through each individual portion, and what they do over a ten year span. I enjoyed Fed Up for how feeble minded they made our food government administration look. The same group who characterized pizza as a vegetable are clearly guilty for not having done enough to give us better choices in the real world, and safer choices for our children in schools across the country. I do believe that Fed Up is one of those films that needs to be shown in schools to act as a backlash against the brainwashing that TV does to young minds who see colorful characters like Ronald Mcdonald or Captain Crunch and don’t have anything to oppose this with because these big name corporations have so much money and time invested in the products they present. The narration by Couric was outstanding and reflects decades upon decades that she has studied on this particular issue. The facts are presented with graphic animations that are made easily enough for anyone to understand and receive an education to the horrors that we are putting into our bodies everyday. I also thoroughly enjoyed the dancing around the issue approaches to these administration executives who were asked questions on what they have done to eliminate sugars from their products. They come across as big wigs who have absolutely zero involvement of presenting a healthy option to their customers and are only interested in loading their wallets even fatter. One thing that did surprise me about this film that i never really took the time to think about was the effects this will have on our military soldiers over the next fifty years. One out of every three children now face obesity and where will that leave the men and women fighting for our country who don’t have the right genes to combat a disease as powerful as obesity? The lone problem i had with Fed Up is that it gives some decent minor arguments on what we can do to combat these processed foods as to bringing them into our own homes, but it never really has a bigger picture plan. The documentary profiles how popular cigarettes were in the 60’s and 70’s and how countries came together and took a stand against what they called “Cancer Sticks”. Instead of offering a commentary for how we can fight this juggernaut, Couric rather states that it’s impossible to take down something so huge. Sure, there are dietary suggestions that the closing credits offer, but i left this documentary feeling like it’s a losing battle that will only get greater as 60% of our country now suffers from diabetes. That is a bigger figure than ever before. Even with that in mind, Fed Up is the single greatest look at the single greatest terror driving up our death rates. Obesity is greater than cancer now, and it’s time we woke to treat these corporations the same way we do the alcohol and tobacco corporations. I absolutely recommend Fed Up to every one. I guarantee you that everyone will learn at least one thing in this documentary that they didn’t know before. After you watch this film, you will fear the many colorful aisles of a grocery store in the same way you fear looking at your own tombstone before you ever die.

Ride Along

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6/10

The latest film in the buddy cop genre pits the rough and tough exterior of Ice Cube with the comedic bumbling of Kevin Hart. Those things mix together pretty well, as both men have great chemistry with one another. It is however the lack of material that wastes away two decent performances with a flawed script. Ice Cube is a cop in Atlanta when he hears news that Kevin Hart has just got accepted to the academy. Cube’s biggest problem with Hart is that he plans on marrying his sister. The film has moments where it goes through an identity crisis, and doesn’t know if it wants to be a bad to the bone action film or a corny comedy. The parts that really feel the most natural to Ride Along are the parts that make it feel like it is a borderline rated R. When i found out this film was PG-13, i could only scratch my head and ask why. You have the biggest comedian currently in the world mixed with a guy who has some pretty good comedic turns in films like Friday, Barbershop and 21 Jump Street. Let these two loose on a script that neuters both of their performances. There were some excellent supporting roles in the work of John Leguizamo and Lawrence Fishbourne. They both seem like they are too big to be in a film like this with supporting roles, but they give it their all. A big twist happens midway through the film that is pretty obvious to anyone who is paying attention. I am happy to say that i totally saw it coming because i have seen enough of these buddy cop movies to know what to expect. Ride Along is a movie that is recommended because people love Kevin Hart regardless of what he does. It’s those fans that are going to make this movie #1 this weekend. It’s not personally the funniest thing i have ever seen him in, but it’s ok. You get about 70% of his funniest things in the trailer that most of you have already seen. I would catch a daily screening of this film. It’s just not worth the full price

The Nut Job

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3.5/10

This is the angriest i have been at a film in a long time. The continuing trend of Hollywood studios treating children like they’re idiots, continues with The Nut Job. This film is the equivalent to a cheesy joke told at a party with friends. It’s an unfunny and uninteresting mess.The film stars a couple squirrels (Will Arnett and Katherine Heigl) who are literally fighting over nuts to feed a park of other animals. The biggest pain in the film is how many times they use the “Nut pun” OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. I think the audience understood the first time that nuts is a dirty pun that you can use as a sexual innuendo. It’s childish the first time and mind numbing by time 1,456. The voice acting is what gives this film as high of a rating as it is. Liam Neeson is outstanding once again. This time he is a villain who is the park’s leader as he is harboring a secret plan to starve them all out. Neeson is one of those actors who doesn’t need a face to truly grasp the emotion that he is delivering. Even in a script this stupid, he finds a way to make his character menacing. The 3D is totally useless. There is absolutely no reason that this film had to be in 3D except to make Pixar own even more of your wallet. There is one part in the film that didn’t make sense to me, but by the film’s end it was put in there just so the bad guy could be defeated. Another villain who is a human is blessed with the ability to hear dog whistles. This talent hurts him as he holds his ears in agony every time it’s blown. It’s never explained why or how he has this ability but it sure enough shows you why it was put in the film at the end of the movie. If it wasn’t for the voice work and Pixar’s excellent animation, this film would have been worse than the latest Paranormal Activity. It was THAT bad. I will recommend this film for kids, but even the ten or so kids in the theater i was in were getting bored with it. I caught several glances of them kicking the chairs in front of them. One even played games on his mother’s cell phone. The kids will like it, but only the hardest of die hard Pixar adults will like this film. I have yet to even explain the worst part. That is saved in the closing credits of the film. The film’s theme is Gagnam Style by Psy, and sure enough he makes an animated appearance dancing on the side of the credits. If 80 minutes of torture won’t make you roll your eyes, Psy’s 2 year old dance on the side of the screen will. It’s great to have a song in a children’s movie (yelling) THAT THE CHILDREN CAN’T UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE!!!!! Save your money and go see Frozen if you haven’t seen that. If you have, see it again. See it 400 times before this

Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit

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6.5/10

Tom Clancy’s latest adaptation stars Chris Pine as the one and only Jack Ryan. Jack has been a staple of Clancy novels and films like The Sum of All Fears, The Fugitive and The Hunt For Red October. The film also stars Kevin Costner as a CIA agent who acts as a mentor to Ryan. Costner is electric in this role that gives him an action star edge. With his future films coming, it seems Costner has decided to take a different direction in the films he does. Pine is great as Ryan. It is nice to see Jack Ryan portrayed as a younger fresh faced person coming out of college. Pine is the combination of intelligence and ignorance to play the Ryan character at it’s all time most human. The film itself is decent. There is a lot going on in this film that people might not be able to comprehend with the quick talking wit of the movie’s characters. If you are understanding when it comes to world currencies and foreign banking, you will pick up on this film with no problems. The action itself is fast paced with lots of high stakes on the line. Towards the end of the film, we learn that there are two missions for Ryan to solve. One in Russia and another on American soil. The Russia storyline is by far the best part of the movie. It is there when we really get to see the CIA at it’s very best in solving terrorism plots. The 2nd mission is the one that kind of brings this film down from a possible 7 or 7.5. It relies a lot more on chances that will make the viewer roll their eyes and the amazing coincidences. The villains are a little overdone like all Clancy novels, but we don’t spend a lot of time getting to know them. Ryan is definitely the main focus here with quick moves and a relationship with a beautiful woman (Keira Knightley) that is hanging in the balance. He is torn between doing his job and telling her what he does for a living. Shadow Recruit is a great film for anyone who enjoys Clancy’s novels or the fast paced American action film. Anyone else will feel left out when it comes to what is really at stake in this film. I enjoyed it, but i feel it can wait until rental.

Devil’s Due

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4/10

This is probably going to be the most credit that i ever give to a film that i rated 4/10. Devil’s Due brings us back to the same tired and predictable genre of found footage. It is a modern day version of Rosemary’s Baby without all of the memorable scares.The film is about a couple that gets married and goes on their honeymoon to Mexico. The two encounter trouble late one night while agreeing to go to an underground party. This film does have it’s chilling images that make you want to take a look for a second longer, but because of the POV camera style you will miss those shots and never get to soak in the true terror. One of my biggest problems with these films are that there is never a good reason as to why the camera is always rolling. In Paranormal Activity : The Marked Ones, a gang walks up to a kid who is obviously filming them. WHY WOULD THIS HAPPEN? What gang is stupid enough to show their faces on camera? Devil’s Due actually gives us a reason for the over 20 different cameras used in the film, and i think it is acceptable. There are cheap scares with loud noises that come out of nowhere, but not as many as other franchises rely on. My favorite part of the movie is the wonderful effects done during the possession scenes. There is a shot in the woods where three stranger teenagers go flying up in the air and one of the kids is taping the whole thing on his smart phone. It’s a shot that truly warrants watching just for how impressive it is. Easy in execution, but it goes a long way with true cinema buffs like myself. After this, it’s all downhill. A film like this will always suffer from meaningless characters because the camera isn’t on them long enough for us to learn anything about their backgrounds. They will simply always be actors to us for this reason. Also, for those of you who were upset about 2012’s The Devil Inside not having an ending, you will be disappointed in this film as well. The ending is basically just pushing repeat on your DVD menu with the opening 2 minutes of the film. Devil’s Due shows a lot of heart in a genre that truly should fade out fast. If it can get past some of the weaknesses i mentioned in this review, there might be a chance for a passing grade for one of these films someday. Or maybe i am just tired from a long day at the theater

August : Osage County

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5/10

Osage County is perhaps one of the most overrated films i have ever come across. For all of the Oscar buzz and critical praise that this film received, it really is quite disappointing. The story which is based on a play of the same name is about a dysfunctional family dealing with the loss of the father of the household and the secrets that follow. This 2 hour run time really has nothing to fill in the blanks with but childish arguments. Sure, it is an honest look at a real American family, but the big events in this film happen few and far between. Meryl Streep is definitely Oscar nomination worthy in her portrayal as Violet Weston. She is the same Streep who brings tears of cinematic virtue to every role she plays. Her character struggles with drug abuse, and it’s clear she is ripping apart at the seams. Julia Roberts is ok, but i didn’t feel she deserved an Oscar nomination. She practically plays the same character in every film (my opinion), and i think this film is cluttered with too many characters for it to be a memorable role for her. Two other bright spots in the film are Chris Cooper and Margo Martindale as the brother and sister of Violet. They have amazing chemistry as a couple who have been married far too long, and bring the best comedic chops to the film. It is the great acting performances like this that even give this movie this high of a grade. It tries so hard to be this generation’s Friend Green Tomatoes, but it just doesn’t have the articulate pacing of that film. The characters are so unlikable that by the end of the film we are left with a closing that doesn’t touch our hearts like it should. Overall, i would say that maybe this film will appeal to some female movie goers, but that’s about it. My advice to those fans who want to see it is to wait till a dollar theater or DVD rental. August : Osage County shows brief moments of excellence, but it’s the long waits in between that kill the momentum of this Oscar favorite.

The Legend of Hercules

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4/10

God, this film is bad. How do you screw up a story that is so universally known and embraced? You send in Director Renny Harlan. Kellen Lutz stars as the world’s strongest man and his coming of age against a dictator father and brother who want him dead. This film had a lot of problems, but none were bigger than the terrible miscasts. Kellen Lutz should never be the lead in any film, and i say that as a man who is trying to help him. He works much better as a supporting character like he did in the Nightmare on Elm Street remake. They try to show him off with several wet chested out of the water scenes which does nothing but present him as a piece of meat. I am sure the ladies are going to tell me that Hercules is supposed to be presented in that light, but his story is so much more. I get that sex sells, but Kellen Lutz is laughable whenever he reads a line that is supposed to be an important part of the story. He just doesn’t believe what he says and therefore cannot become the character. I also felt the CGI was disappointing. Some of the objects are terrible when it comes to the real details, but nothing more than a lion in the beginning of the film. You can almost see the invincible object that Hercules fights against that is supposed to be the lion because he just doesn’t put his all into it. This is the only bad fight scene of the film though, as the fighting was one of the only things i enjoyed about the film. The war scenes in particular are done with great design and choreography. It’s like this was the one area they definitely had covered before they started writing the film. I also enjoyed the performance of Scott Adkins as King Amphitryon. Adkins is having the time of his life as he throws all cares out the window and gives us a performance that makes us yell “FINALLY, SOMEONE WHO GETS IT”. The Legend of Hercules clocks in at 99 minutes, and because of the slow pace it feels even longer. With a slow start mixed with an uncomfortable rape scene, this film is tough to get into from the get go. I do think the 3D would probably make for a better experience. I saw it in 2D, and thought some of the scenes would look impressive in 3D. In particular a chain wielding Hercules fight scene. If you want a cheesy movie that you and your friends will have a good time giving funny commentary, this is the film for you. I don’t think even a buff chested Kellen Lutz will be enough for the ladies to like this mess

Lone Survivor

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8/10

Director Peter Berg’s love letter to the men and women who fight for our country is a tale of survival and courage in the fight for freedom. Lone Survivor is the story about Operation Red Wings, a navy seals unit stationed in Afghanistan. This movie focuses on Marcus Luttrell who was the lone survivor in the horrifying real life events that took place. This film doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the survivor. From the title alone, you know only one person survives this mission, and they reveal who it is in the opening minutes. Instead, it chooses to use it’s 2 hours to focus on the characters and their back stories so you care more when they lose their lives. The problem i have with a lot of war movies is that we don’t find out a lot about the characters that the cameras follow. That leaves me with a sense of not fully invested in them if something bad happens. Peter Berg has definitely done his homework as this is one of the greatest war movies i have ever seen. Led by a tremendous cast of Mark Wahlberg, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana, Taylor Kitsch and the always great Ben Foster. The shooting is deep in impact as it chooses to give us an up close look at the damage and rounds being fired. I was happy that Luttrell served as a producer on the film as he helps the actors really grasp the feeling of being soldiers. It is this reason alone why i wasn’t 100% behind 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty. The actors in the film never quite feel like soldiers to me because of the little things. My only lone criticism of this film was there being no subtitles with the Taliban soldiers. I think it’s obvious that it needs to be revealed what is being said between them when they encounter American resistance. I have no idea why this wasn’t included, but it needed to be. Lone Survivor is the best survival film i have ever seen, and i think everyone will enjoy this film. It has characters that you can really feel for, and that is something that any good war film definitely needs. It will be in theaters next week, so check it out.