The Bag Man

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4.5/10

Somebody should tell director David Grobic that he has obviously watched a lot of David Lynch films. The problem is that he seems to not have taken anything from watching those films except a mysterious setting and characters that don’t add up to personable. John Cusack stars as a down on his luck kind of guy who is hired by Robert De Niro to deliver a bag. He is told not to look in the bag, but to just deliver it. If that setting sounds familiar it is because it has happened a thousand times. The film adds nothing to a premise that is growing literally by the minute. It’s sad that Cusack and De Niro have been demoted to these straight to DVD films because they can be two of Hollywood’s best with the right script. If there is one positive that i took from this film it is that it does indeed keep you guessing what is in the bag. It gives you an answer that is pretty basic with a finale that does up the rating a little bit with a swerve. The film also has Dominic Purcell who stars as a crooked cop. For those of you who know me, you know i love Prison Break, and it was great to see Lincoln Burrows and John Cusack go head to head. The biggest negatives i took away was a sloppy script, too long of a run time (108 minutes) and (Surprisingly) bad acting. Cusack and De Niro are obviously doing this for a paycheck and that makes sense because they are both on sleep mode. I appreciate Grobic’s attempts at a Lynch-like film, but he doesn’t have the intrigue or the dedication from his actors to pull off a Blue Velvet or Mullholland Drive. Pass on The Bag Man.

Devil’s Knot

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4/10

So much wasted potential on a film with a great cast and one of America’s most perplexing court cases for the sake of revealing all the facts. Devil’s Knot is the story about the trial of The West Memphis Three. They were three teenagers who were accused of killing three little boys in the woods. The police department and the courts are using the boys as scapegoats because they are satanic living in a very religious town. I was very intrigued with the opening 20 minutes of this film. The way it is presented as a murder mystery really made me think they were going to explore more than just the three teenagers who were accused of this tragedy. Instead, it becomes a story about religion wars with both sides coming off as ridiculous. Both sides are in a tug of war battle to make the other one seem same, and that is what is the hardest thing to understand with why they made this film. It all just seems very pointless to me with so many better educated documentaries out there. It all is shot and played out like a movie of the week special. It makes me wonder how Director Atom Egoyan ever got such big name actors as Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth and Mirelle Enos to be in this movie. Each of their performances are among the lone bright spots of this 103 minute film. Witherspoon in particular gives one of her top 5 performances of all time as a wounded mother of one of the three deceased children. It’s a shame that all of her hard work and prep in making this mother come to life is wasted on a movie that is earnest and cautious when it comes to it’s revealing of the town and it’s people.Firth is forced to sit and watch from the sidelines. It’s something that really decreases the effect of his character and the film at a time when it needs a saving performance the most. I think Egoyan had a shot to really make this movie into something that doesn’t echo that information already told by the documentaries and thousands of news reports. What we are presented is a film that is entirely pointless. Is it meant as a reminder of the events? There are much better explanations of this tragedy (See Paradise Lost on Youtube) that don’t dull down the events to compliment a boring movie. We learn nothing about the three men who were put through hell because of the different things they believe in. I would have liked some of that time to be shown on the things the men were doing the night of the murders. Devil’s Knot is something i wouldn’t recommend, and will totally never see again. It has no replay value because these are events i already knew before the film. I am not even sure if there was one time watch value now that i think about it.

Adult World

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4.5/10

A tale of growing up and letting our dreams go is told in this drama starring Emma Roberts, John Cusack and Evan Peters. Roberts stars as an aspiring poet who hunts down Cusack (who is a famous poet) to work under him and learn more. At the same time, Roberts runs away from home because her parents are tired of supporting a hobby that isn’t going anywhere. She needs a job quick to pay for her new apartment, so she starts at a porn shop because it’s her only option. The film does have a great premise, and one that hits especially close to home for me. It’s execution though, is forgettable at best. Roberts is good as a whiny and mopey teenager, but she doesn’t grow into much more by the film’s end. When the credits show at the 89 minute mark, we are left with the same suicidal teenager we started with. Cusack is outstanding as always. I like that he is taking on more outside of the box roles with his independent films. Last year, he showed a menacing side as a serial killer in The Frozen Ground, and now he shows a phobic snob in Adult World. He serves as a father figure who is constantly rolling his eyes at a young generation that he doesn’t understand. As i said before, the film doesn’t execute in the way it should. This could easily be a good movie, but it’s slow in it’s search for excitement, it has an attention seeking main character and it’s got an abrupt ending. Overall, Adult World is something that should only be seen if you are a fan of Cusack’s work. He is the only good thing about the film. I would say it’s good for a Redbox rental, but nothing more.

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

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

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

A Madea Christmas

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4/10

93 Minutes has never felt longer. I shouldn’t say that this film was a total waste, there are a few laughs. I hate saying this but Larry the Cable Guy was by far the best part of the film as the father of the husband in this story. Madea goes on vacation with a friend to the country to visit the friend’s daughter. Throughout the weekend, they find out that the daughter is married to a white man. This film does pack a decent message with the point of us all bleeding red, but at what a price. To sit through Madea’s loud rude and crude humor is just not worth another glorified Hallmark movie. Take away the rude jokes and that’s exactly what this is. Cheap acting and a story that totally doesn’t make sense. The people of this small town supposedly invested all of their money in this jubilee, so they all go broke. Sounds like a pretty stupid place to me. By the end of the film, the town gets their money back and some more ($100,000 a year for four years). It’s said that the school will be able to buy a couple computers with that money. How much do they think a computer costs? For that much money, they could build a new building than the town hall building that the kids currently go to school at. I also feel like the reason for some of the racism in the film (Both black and white) are some of the dumbest reasons i have ever heard. A Madea Christmas is the best of the three Madea films i have seen, but it still has a long way to go. This kind of film only appeals to the deepest Tyler Perry fans, and from what i have heard, that isn’t many. I don’t need to tell you this, but pass on this one

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.

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.

Getaway

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4/10

This unoriginal film was definitely nothing to be amazed with. Ethan Hawke, Selina Gomez and Jon Voight star in this fast paced thriller about a man’s wife being kidnapped for a hefty ransom. In a nutshell, you have seen this premise a million times before, so what makes Getaway so different? Absolutely nothing. I mean sure, there are some amazing camera angles and the action is off the hook, but it has a very week story that doesn’t bring out the best in the characters. Action can only take a film so far without a story line. The Fast and Furious films are a great example of this. They needed a storyline for the last couple of films so it wouldn’t be the same chase and crash scene over and over. Selina Gomez is possibly the most annoying character of the year. She seems like a brat who whines and constantly complains. Voight is good as the bad guy (Big surprise there, huh?), but he doesn’t have a lot to do. We don’t ever see his face, and come to think of it, this film is a lot like 2002’s Phone Booth. We don’t see the villain’s face or (SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER) we are thrown for a huge loop at the end when he isn’t the bad guy caught. It’s the exact same ending. The film is good for it’s action, but i don’t think that is enough to make a believer out of me. I don’t recommend this film unless you see it on HBO or Showtime in a year. It’s nothing to really get excited about.

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

You’re Next

 

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4.5/10

This film just didn’t do it for me. Maybe i will be wrong about this one and people will enjoy it after they watch it. There is certainly enough to like about this film. It has an amazing female lead who is tough to the core and has no problems defending herself. It has a good setting in a creepy mansion in the countryside. That certainly makes for some eerie scenes. It has an amazing score which at times took you back to an 80’s horror suspense. Finally, it had a great setup. When you find out who the killers are, you realize that it is a great idea for a movie. The problem is that i didn’t really care about the killers when i found out who they were because i haven’t been given enough time to care. The movie starts with two quick murders and then slows down for the better part of 20 minutes. It shows us a fight with a family and then the murders start again. So basically, these characters whine about the dumbest things and seem like rich snobs. Not exactly a stereotype we can all sympathize with. I also felt they were a little sluggish with the death scenes. Some of the murders are shown, but a couple were given the camera-away shot with the violence. The acting and dialogue were awful. These are the dumbest characters in a movie maybe ever. They know that three masked people are shooting arrows at them from outside, but still want to run outside because they feel they have a good chance to get away from them. The ending is kind of abrupt and doesn’t give the greatest answer with what happens. I would really be curious in having other people watch this film and see what they think. My two friends liked the movie, and thought it was good. Maybe i am just a tough judge when it comes to horror because it is my favorite genre, and the genre i grew up on. I certainly could understand if someone liked this film, but it’s just not for me. As a result, i can’t really recommend this film, but i would like to get some opinions from other people who have seen it. Please post if you do