The Woman in Black 2 : Angel of Death

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3/10

Hammer Films return to the silver screen with the sequel to the 2012 original starring Daniel Radcliffe. During World War I, a group of orphaned children are moved to the Marsh House 40 years after the events of the first film. It isn’t long before supervisors Eve (Phoebe Fox) and Jean (Helen McCrory) start to sense that this house is not what it appears to be as the children in their care begin to disappear. As their house of safety becomes a house of horrors, Eve enlists the help of a handsome pilot (Jeremy Irvine) to help investigate what is happening. Eve soon discovers that it may not be a coincidence that she has come to reside in the house inhabited by the Woman in Black. When i heard a sequel to the pleasant 2012 surprise was coming, i wasn’t happy to hear this news. After seeing the movie, i am not only displeased that a sequel exists, but i feel that the whole thing is entirely pointless. “The Woman in Black 2” has it’s charms though. If there is one thing that Hammer Films always does well, it’s an eerie setting that the minimal budgets go into. The Marsh House seems to have little to no light in the house, and that is reflective of the house’s tragic events. If Director Tom Harper could put a little bit of anticipation in the scares he attempts, then this could’ve been a sequel to live up to it’s name. As it stands, the story (what little there is) is very thin. The film feels very monotonous, and the audience will suffer through a first act that leaves the eyes very heavy. I did appreciate the attempt at something different with the World War I setting, but it’s clear that this era is only used to make some of the paranormal events feel not so paranormal. The house shakes at random periods with lights flickering on an off, and this can all be conveniently explained because of the fighter pilots flying over the house. One thing that worked about the original was the emotionally frail acting of Radcliffe. There were bruises beneath the exterior of his protagonist, and it’s something that just doesn’t feel believable with this sequel. Fox is a decent actress, but there is so much she does wrong as the front and center of this film. Because of her lack of emotional depth, it never feels like she fully understands the events at play. There are scenes where she is terrified, but it never feels like these unbelievable events will ever permanently scar her. Another hilarious on going game i had with myself was to see how often her English accent changed throughout the film. Fox is a British born actress, so i don’t understand why some scenes sound American, and some sound like the former. It might not seem like a big deal to the casual viewer, but it’s something that distracted me any time the film had a plot it was trying to convey. I mentioned earlier that the jump scares were without anticipation, and a lot of that has to do with this sequel settling for twice the amount of jump scares than it’s predecessor. I counted seventeen jump scares throughout the film, and anyone who reads my reviews knows i think it’s the cheapest form of horror that you can display. The movie feels like a James Wan film, in that he cranks up the shrieking noises any time someone appears out of nowhere. Films like this are becoming a parody of themself, and i for one would like to see this trend halted. A couple of jump scares a film are OK, but seventeen jump scares average out to one every 5-6 minutes of the film, and that is quite excessive. One thing that i enjoyed about this film more than the original was the ending. Everything feels well tied up in this film compared to the original that left us feeling like there was so much more story to tell about “The Woman in Black”. I was hoping this movie would sew up all of these loose ends, and to some degree it did. My compliments towards the ending however, involves an ending worthy enough of the fight that our characters went through. I can’t explain much more without spoiling the film, but i was glad to see the picket fence ending for a change. Overall, i can’t recommend this film to anyone. The first film is far superior, and i would recommend that to my readers for Radcliffe’s haunting performance alone. The strange thing is that this is considered horror, but the blood and language are non existent. If you feel your child could deal with jump scares accordingly, then “The Woman in Black 2” is a safe bet if they really have to see this. It’s a sequel to a film that definitely feels like something you would discover at a video store before you ever knew it was made.

The Pyramid

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3/10

Some of the Earth’s greatest wonders were never meant to be uncovered. Some films should remain hidden just the same. A team of U.S. archaeologists gets more than they bargained for when they discover a lost pyramid unlike any other in the Egyptian desert. As they unlock the horrific secrets buried within, they realize they aren’t just trapped, they are being hunted. There is so much wrong with Director Gregory Lavasseur’s film that i struggle to even know where to begin. As with most horror films this year, “The Pyramid” settles for cheap scares, and acting reminiscent of a Uwe Bowl film. What really perplexes me about this film though, is the inconsistencies among it’s own rules. There are many instances in the film when our characters go back on the rules set earlier in the script. In the opening ten minutes, our group is told that they have to leave Egypt because of ongoing riots that are happening in the area as a result of their findings. The group’s leader, Holden, gathers up all of his equipment and is telling each of his crew to hit the road against their wishes. The very next scene shows Holden and some of his crew standing around a monitor watching a robot they created enter the pyramid. Did we miss a scene here? What made Holden change his mind? Just a minute ago he was ready to call it quits and now he is leading the charge into the pyramid. Another instance is when our main character tries to use her cell phone in the pyramid and it doesn’t work because they are “600 feet under the ground, and the walls are two miles thick”. About a half hour later, another character uses a satelite on his robot to stream a connection to the outside world. Guess those walls grew thin all of a sudden, huh? Our characters also enter the pyramid with gas masks to protect them from the poisonous gases encased in the tomb, but these masks seem to vanish a couple of scenes into their voyage. Why could this be? Perhaps to further a plot point of our characters dying later on in the film. Trust me when i say i have seen bad horror films this year, but “The Pyramid” may very well be the worst because the things it does wrong are multiplied when factored in with the goofy imagery and AWFUL CGI work. The creature that is plaguing this pyramid looks like something you would see out of a late 80’s Tim Burton animated featurette, and in 2014 this does not give the movie the look Lavasseur probably intended. The actors give terrible green screen body acting to match this creature that ensured lots of laughter from me and the rest of the audience. As i mentioned earlier, the film settles for cheap scares instead of resting on an already creepy setting. Jump scares are something that has always bothered me because i feel they are too cheap to bring out the most of real terror. Anyone can turn up the volume and be frightened by the loud noises they are hearing. It’s in that aspect and a few others that this film feels a lot like this summer’s “As Above So Below”. I bring this up because i felt like i have seen each film twice now. Both films are about uncovering an ancient tomb underneath the ground, both films explore the realm of claustrophobia, both are found footage films that totally don’t need to be. The ladder is another HUGE inconsistency with the film. This movie picks and chooses when it wants to be a found footage film and when it wants to feel like an actual movie. It’s confusing at times because you wonder what parts of the horror they encounter are going to be seen by the person who eventually watches this tape. My biggest problem with found footage films is when they have absolutely no reason to be that way. This film has a minor reasoning why the cameras are on with the unlocking of the pyramid, but i find it hard to believe that our characters would keep cameras rolling when they are running for their lives. It slows them down too much, and it’s just too illogical. “The Pyramid” is an awful exercise in a tired subgenre of horror that has certainly run it’s course over the last decade. It’s only playing in two theaters in my area, and maybe that was two theaters too many. This film deserved to remain buried.

Third Person

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3.5/10

Paul Haggis writes and directs this film with an array of Hollywood’s finest A-listers at his fingertips. When describing the plot of Third Person, i had trouble conjuring up the right words to accurately describe it. The story is spread into three different narratives with the first being a cheating relationship that stars Liam Neeson as an author, Olivia Wilde as his mistress, and Kim Basinger as Neeson’s wife. Neeson is writing his latest novel in Rome while seducing Olivia Wilde off of her feet. He uses Wilde as a forefront for his novel without even caring about her feelings. The second story involves Adrien Brody as a con artist business man type who is in Paris to make a big deal. He meets a mysterious woman (Played by Moran Atias) who needs twenty five thousand dollars to get her daughter back. Brody decides to help, but is left in question as to whether this is a scam or not. The third story (And only decent one in my opinion) stars James Franco and Mila Kunis as exes who are fighting for soul custody of their child. Kunis delivers what i feel is the only solid performance in the film playing opposite of anything she has ever done. She is a down on her luck loser who knows her life is spiraling out of control after the death of her daughter. Kunis was the one bright spot in a film with performances that are easily calling it in. The two biggest problems with this film is that it is too long (136 minutes), and the stories with it’s characters just aren’t interesting enough. You wonder how these stories have anything to do with each other minus some characters passing by one another much like Richard Linklater’s Slackers or Haggis’s 2004 film, Crash. It’s supposed to be a film about love, passion, and betrayal, but it’s all just not interesting enough to last over 2 hours. I found myself having problems even supporting any characters because they were all deceitful in some way. Maybe that was the point of the film, but it also leaves your audience not caring about their fate by the time the credits roll. The three stories aren’t interesting enough on their own and only drag the movie down when combined. There are some twists that happen during the film, but they come and go without being treated like a big discovery or reveal. How are we supposed to care if the movie obviously doesn’t? I have always dug Haggis’s style so i have absolutely no idea what went wrong with a movie director who panned Million Dollar Baby, Crash, and Casino Royale. This definitely feels like a Haggis film, but the endless supply of big time celebrities interracting and crossing stories feels used and abused ten years after his Oscar winning film, Crash. Third Person feels like a 20 minute idea with 115 minutes to fill in, and that time is never given that attention. The cinematography and artistic style of the camera angles were done very well with mostly light tones surrounding the locations of Rome, Paris, and New York. The big twist at the end with the three stories being related isn’t very well explained, and i hope you like symbolism because otherwise you will not understand the big reveal. It felt very easy to predict for me personally because the trailer was a lot more revealing than it probably should have been. I definitely do not recommend this film. It left me feeling tedious and overwhelmed by a story where i had to look for all the clues. I like a challenge in a film, but sometimes presenting the twists with an easy highlighter is much needed. Third Person is an absolute mess of the film. Even a blockbuster cast cannot save it from a disjointed plot and laughable dialogue. It’s a film that tries to be smarter than it really is, and that’s what will keep the audience from ever relating to Third Person. It’s a complicated mess that is best if you stay away from it.

Dumb and Dumber To

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3.5/10

Twice the rude, twice the crude, and twice the unoriginality plague the latest film that is a sequel to the 1994 smash hit, “Dumb and Dumber”. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their signature roles as Lloyd and Harry 20 years later with Lloyd being in a mental hospital after the events of the first film. The original film’s directors, Peter and Bobby Farrelly take Lloyd and Harry on a road trip to find a child Harry never knew he had and the responsibility neither should ever, ever be given. The first movie was mindless, but it had the kind of charms and sarcastic wit dialogue that made you do a double take when hearing the punchline. This movie feels like a complete remake of the first film with many scenes and jokes being recreated. For as many people who said “The Hangover 2” was a remake of the first film, this film is every bit the same to it’s original telling. The film’s protagonists are still dumb, but they are even worse in the sense that this movie does neither of them any favors. Lloyd (Carrey) is a complete jerk in this film. The things he did in the first film made you feel sorry for him because he still had a heart for his best friend. A kind of child like innocence if you will. In this movie, he does horrible things and mocks people, and it gives his character an understanding why no one wants anything to do with him. Harry (Daniels) doesn’t have enough meaningful dialogue in this film to compete with Carrey for on screen time. The first film makes both characters feel equal in screen time, and equal in hilarious moments. This movie is clearly the Jim Carrey show. New actors to the film include Kathleen Turner as the infamous “Fraida Felcher”, Rob Riggle playing two roles as twin brothers, Laurie Holden as the film’s main antagonist, and the big screen introduction to Rachel Melvin as Fraida’s daughter, Penny. Melvin in particular is a welcome addition as she feels a lot like the stupid innocence characters of the first film. How nice it would be to have someone equally as charming for her to bounce off of. The comedy is at many times disgusting with no real punch line for a laugh out loud moment. That’s the biggest problem with this film; no moments that will have the audience clutching their stomachs in laughter. There are a handful of moments that gave me the quick giggle, but nothing that will ever be nearly as memorable as it’s predecessor. I almost feel like they waited too long to make a movie like this. Then again, the original is a movie that didn’t need a sequel to begin with. It’s all a big cash grab for an actor (Carrey) who said he would never be in a sequel to one of his original movies again. After seeing this, i wish he had the strength to hold on to his original morals. “Dumb and Dumber Too” is awful by even sequel standards. The movie knows how paper thin it is by even showing scenes from the first movie in a side by side with a similar scene from the sequel during the post movie credits. If there is one good thing from this film, it makes you want to run home and watch the original movie to have the laughs you waited 105 minutes for during this snorefest. Some people will enjoy this film. I’m not foolish enough for a minute to think there isn’t an audience for this somewhere. I just don’t think anyone on this planet will ever have to think even for a second when they are asked which film is better. I don’t recommend this movie. Instead, i say stick with the original. No matter how many times you watch it, that movie will never feel as paper thin as this pointless sequel.

Ouija

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3/10

The world’s of the silver screen and the board game collide in this possession haunt. Ouija tells the story of a group of friends who must confront their most terrifying fears when they awaken the dark powers of an ancient spirit board. There isn’t much of a surprise when Ouija comes up mostly empty in the 85 minute run time it tries to stretch out. The film feels double of this run time mainly because it’s pacing is terribly misconstrued in a PG-13 rating that¬†suffers even further because of it. The film stars Bates Motel’s Olivia Cooke, and this is an actress who is MUCH better than the roles she chooses. This film isn’t as bad as her earlier 2014 film, The Signal, but this film isn’t doing her any favors. It’s a role that is too generic for someone like her to take on. The strange thing is that the movie doesn’t even really do anything terribly wrong, it’s just an antagonizingly boring effort. The visuals that the movie does conjure up certainly is not anything we haven’t seen from better films in the last two years. The dialogue is something on the line of early 90’s teenage shows like “Saved By The Bell”, and it just makes you care less and less about these characters and their survival. The movie’s ending is unforgiving to even the couple of people who are interested enough to stick around for nearly an hour and a half. There was a group of teenagers a couple rows ahead of me, and they enjoyed the film until the ending when i heard one yell “THAT’S IT?”. Even though i hated the film, i was kind of surprised along the same lines. First of all, the evil spirit haunting the group of friends is easily defeated to where any pee brain could figure it out. Lets put it like this, the person who dies second or third in a Friday the 13th film, would breeze through the villain in this movie. Once the spirit is defeated, the film continues on for ten more minutes for absolutely no reason what so ever. The camera cuts to black because it feels like we ran out of film rather than produce a real ending. It’s not as bad as 2012’s “The Devil Inside”, but it gives the whole presentation a pointless film. What’s the saddest about a movie like this is that it will still make a ton of money and inspire ten other films just like it. I think that is the biggest problem with horror films today; they have no reason to strive for better because they have an easily pleasable teenage audience just itching for the next one. Ouija by all accounts is a boring game that (SURPRISE SURPRISE) crosses over to a boring film. I would only recommend it if you absolutely need to catch up on sleep that you have been depraved of. If i want real Halloween scares, i will settle for a heart pounding game of Candy Land. Ouija is shamelessly…….BORING.

Annabelle

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3/10

A couple begin to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by a satanic cult. Annabelle is the prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring based on the backstory of the most terrifying gag of that film, a demon possessed doll named Annabelle. “The Conjuring” was probably my favorite horror film easily of the last five years because it affected it’s audience psychologically instead of the cheap jump scares that Hollywood horror films have been famous for over the past two decades. “Annabelle” goes back on all of the greatness that it’s predecessor has created. It’s a dull, uninspired, and lazily acted film that adds nothing to the genre, and makes you wish you were watching something better from the films it steals it’s inspirations from. “Child’s Play” came out in 1988, and it’s a film that has one of those premises that is hard to rip it off without people seeing that you legitimately stole from that film. This movie is the exact same premise, possession, and goal of the doll as it’s 1988 counterpart. What i liked about the doll in “The Conjuring” was that she was mysterious and even a little believable in the way that Annabelle never moved or winked or said a word. Her charms were in her abilities to look at a camera and have the audience shriek at the eyes of a demon that she possesses. That is the first thing that this movie does wrong; it gives away her origins for a story that isn’t very interesting. My biggest question coming out of this film is how this doll isn’t classified as police evidence when the authorities arrive at the doorstep of our main protagonists. It’s logic like that which will make the watchers at home roll their eyes. But what makes the viewer really lose their interest in this film is the lack of delivery from how the camera never knows when to cut. There were scenes that lasted 5-10 minutes with beautiful suspenseful music playing to almost ear shattering levels when the scene just ends. I kind of compare this film’s problems to that of “Godzilla” this year, in which it never delivered on the things it was teasing the whole film. We got so many looks from Annabelle that you were just waiting for her terror to be unleashed at any moment. Things eventually start happening towards the end of the film, and it concludes with a brutally nauseating ending that makes you wonder how that was supposed to solve the problem to begin with. I mentioned before that the acting was awful, and boy do i mean it. The actors resemble hardcore pornography actors, and their acting only supports my theory. These two (Played by Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton) are more wooden than the damn doll is. How is it that the depth of a character who barely moves and doesn’t talk is more emotionally gifted than that of two characters who soak up all of the 93 minute run time? The musical score of the film did give me a little enjoyment with the classic violen infamously known in James Wan films. There is also one scene that i legitimately liked involving an elevator not going to the floor that Wallis needs. I have been getting some recommendations on how i feel about kids seeing the films that i see. I don’t think Annabelle has anything terribly bad in it when it comes to gore. There are some bloody scenes, but nothing crazy. It’s more about the cheesy imagery of the demons that it presents as nightmare candy. With that said, i wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone under the age of 10 years old. The language is clean, the sex is non existent, but the imagery might make the wrong impression on a little one who doesn’t quite know that this is only a movie. “Annabelle” presents characters and situations that easily sets itself up for mocking by the awful “Scary Movie” franchise. The sixth version of that franchise will have enough gags and jokes from “Annabelle” to give the audience another torturing 90 minute film. If that isn’t enough to make you truly hate this movie, then i don’t know what is. I would only recommend “Annabelle” as a rental, but even that is pushing it.

Good People

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3/10

Young American couple Tom and Anna Reed (James Franco and Kate Hudson) fall into severe debt while renovating Anna’s family home in London. As the couple faces the loss of their dream to have a house and start a family, they discover that the tenant in the apartment below them has been murdered and he left behind a stash of cash-$400,000 worth. Though initially hesitant, Tom and Anna decide that the plan is simple: all they have to do is quietly take the money and use only what’s necessary to get them out of debt. But when they start spending the money and can’t seem to stop, they find themselves the targets of a gang who stole the money. I found Good People to be one of the most ridiculously cliche and boring films of the year. The first thing wrong with the film is the terrible casting job of Franco and Hudson. This film is a shoot em up action style chase movie reminiscent of Luc Besson films, so what made the casting director ever think James Franco was the perfect person for this style? The good news is that he doesn’t play the role as comedic James Franco, but the bad news is that it’s a step back from his role as the villain in 2013’s “Homefront”. This feels like a paycheck collector for both Franco and Hudson as their personalities are practically muted and the two feel like shells of their former characteristics. Besides the casting, the movie is just too slow paced. The action is done pretty well and explosively, but it takes the film 43 minutes of it’s 82 minute run time to get started. I get that a film has to build it’s plot, but it’s SO SLOW within that opening first act. Tom Wilkinson gives the film what little charge it has playing an FBI agent tracking down the stolen money. It’s funny to see Tom’s reactions to our two protagonists explaining their reasons for stealing the money because he looks at them like idiots. That right there is the biggest problem within the film; our main characters are completely stupid. As the title suggests, i don’t doubt that these are good people, but they also are not the smartest people on the block. A man gets murdered in his apartment and their first instinct is to collect cash that they find is obviously hidden. Maybe it’s just because i have watched so many of these films before, but with the house trashed it’s obvious the murderers were looking for something. With Franco and Hudson living upstairs, who do you think is the first door that this gang will knock on? SPOILERS SPOILERS – If this isn’t enough, the ending is by far the most hilarious part of this film. Our couple meets with the gang at Anna’s childhood home to give them the money. It’s an obvious set up that is put together by Wilkinson, but the gang doesn’t know this. When they get there, it’s traps gallore. One guy falls through a floor and is impaled onto spikes, one guy two nail gun shots in the feet, and much more. My first instinct was that this was a rated R version of Home Alone, and by then i was seriously as done with this film as i was ever going to be. In the end, the couple live and are being treated in a hospital when Tom Wilkinson comes by to visit them. He gives them some of the “Lost cash” for them to keep. The moral here boys and girls is that you should always steal cash that isn’t yours. More moral backbone from a film that is too predictable and doesn’t add anything to the genre. I definitely do not recommend this film. Even if you are an action film buff, there isn’t enough of the good stuff here to keep anyone interested. In closing, sometimes good people do bad things, and sometimes they make bad movies. I’m calling out director Henrik Ruben Genz on this one. Terrible film.

As Above So Below

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3.5/10

A team of explorers search for a lost rock beneath the catacombs of Paris, France in the newest found footage film designed to give you nightmares. As Above So Below is the worst kind of film that you could possibly encounter for an array of reasons. The first is that the plot is actually intriguing enough to get your curriosity flowing. I did a report on the Paris Catacombs in high school, and the caves in them are just begging for a scary movie to be made down there. You get sucked in and then you immediatly regret the decision to spend money on it when you see the presentation. Even for found footage movies, the camera work in this film is awful. Most of the time, you find yourself confused on what you are looking at. It is even more aggravating when a character will say “Look at that” and you can’t tell for one second what is present in front of the camera. It moves around too much and that hurts a film that relies on scary visuals. I won’t say it’s pointless because for once it actually makes sense why everything is being recorded. The main character of the film (Perdita Weeks) is being interviewed for a documentary about her uncovering some great mysteries in the catacombs. Each character is equipped with a helmet camera and it makes sense. What sucks is that we get the feel of constant quick reactions every time a character is scared or hears something. Another thing that annoyed me about the film was just how conveniently these characters figured out mysteries that are a thousand years old. Like i’m sure no one else figured out to touch a tombstone a certain way to get the wall to move, or no one else could figure out the verbal clues given on the walls all around the catacombs. Our characters figure things out like they are sharing the same brain, and it’s aggravating because unless you study alchemy or ancient scriptures, it will all be greek to you. I found myself still stuck on the start of the sentence when these characters have already figured out what moves walls. I mentioned Alchemy before because it’s interesting how much of this film is more about that than Hell and the Devil. I was led to believe that this was a movie about the gates of Hell, but it turns out that it’s more about rocks and the powers that they behold. The film is only 88 minutes and the first 50 or so establishes nothing with no death scenes and not much backstory for the characters. When the film has about 20 minutes left, it starts killing off characters because the movie needs to end soon and we haven’t done much with the threats of this cave. It’s just utterly sloppy. The ending is so frustrating because it’s more of the “Love conquers all” kind of thing. It’s crazy because you wouldn’t expect anything like that in a movie like this. It seriously made me angry the way that this film ends because it’s unlike anything you would ever dream up. I found myself asking how this ending couldn’t have been done 40 minutes prior to this. I won’t give much away, but it’s a solution that was right in front of our characters eyes the whole time. The lone thing i enjoyed about this film was the setting of the actual catacombs. I appreciate that this film was shot mostly in the Paris caves as it shows more on camera than you are used to seeing in documentaries. I just wish the setting had a better story to capitalize on what could’ve been the scariest film of the year. I definitely cannot recommend this film to anyone as it is one of the worst films i have seen in 2014. In closing, if above is anything like below, then leave it as well as this film buried with Paris’s terrible past. The Catacombs hold the remains of about six million people. Hopefully the film won’t affect as many people.

Clouds of Sils Maria

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3/10

The worlds of art and life immitate each other in this story about a celebrated actress who accepts a different role in a play she starred in 20 years earlier. Juliette Binoche is Maria, she picks and chooses the roles she accepts very carefully, and shows she stands for something with the projects she undertakes. She is traveling with her personal assistant Valentine (Kristen Stewart) to accept a lifetime achievement award for the playwright and director who launched her career. On the way, they learn that the celebrated director has passed away. At the gala, an up and coming director offers Maria the chance to star in a reboot of the play that made her famous, this time portraying the part of the older woman that the young woman in the play seduces and destroys. Maria reluctantly accepts, and as she attempts to find her way into the other character, she learns more about her new young co-star Jo-Ann (Chloe Grace Moretz), a talented but troubled teen the tabloids have made a fixture for her tantrums and bad behavior. “Clouds of Sils Maria” is a film that has been getting a lot of critical praise on review websites like Rotten Tomatoes (90%), and IMDB (4.8/5). After watching it, i can say that i am in the minority of those figures, as i felt the film that was stylistically shot lacked anything in terms of emotional substance or release. A huge problem facing this film is that we are left with more questions leaving the film than we were going in. Binoche was good as Maria, and it was quite interesting to see her play a dominantly english speaking role, as i have only seen her in French films. Her character hides a lot inside mostly due to her life in the public eye. For instance, it’s clearly obvious that she has legitimate feelings for Valentine, but the movie never explores this possible romance between the women even though it’s staring us in the face the entire movie. SPOILERS – Valentine disappears with twenty minutes left in the movie, and we never find out what happened to her. Did she quit as Maria’s assistant because she couldn’t have her romantically? Did she fall off a trail ledge and die? NOTHING IS GIVEN. Stewart is OK in this role, but once again i had trouble believing anything she said. I think she has the ability to be a great actress, but she has to get lost in the roles she takes on. Most of the scenes are Binoche and Stewart practicing lines to this play that we never get to see the entire film, and it’s in those pulse draining moments that we learn absolutely nothing about these characters except the feelings they have for each other. It’s funny because i watched Binoche for over two hours and still felt i knew nothing about her personally, and everything about her as an actress. If that’s what director Olivier Assayas was going for then fine, but it doesn’t make for an exciting movie when 80% of it is stage preperation. Chloe Moretz is in the movie for maybe a total of ten minutes, THAT’S IT!!! Considering the dependancy of this play relies on her negativity to stay out of the tabloids, i expected we would get more from her. She plays a character similar to Lindsay Lohan or Amanda Bynes, and there was one scene that made me want to stop the movie despite having an hour left. Moretz is being interviewed at a podium over some recent DUI problems she had and her answers are making the press laugh with every one given. The laugh track used in post production is absolutely terrifying, and this film loses any seriousness it gained with the beautiful landscape shots of the Sils Maria mountainside. The biggest cavity this film has is a scene when it is mocking the superhero genre of Hollywood. This scene seems to be nothing, but pretentious commentary from the director as to say these movies are a stain on Hollywood. They show a clip with Chloe Moretz portrayinng one of these superheroes, and it’s terrible even for parody standards. The clip shows Moretz with a leather suit and red wig, and ZERO special effects. Is Assayas foolish enough to believe for a second that The Avengers or X Men looked even remotely this bad? Don’t get me wrong, i’m not a backer for superhero films. I have more than had my fair share of problems with the genre in the last five years, but if you say the genre stinks and your parody is worse than what does that say about your movie? Even worse, these scenes feel like they come out of nowhere and don’t meche anywhere close to the first hour of the movie. The plot of this movie is contrived and nonsensical, and i have no desire to recommend this film to anyone. 90%? 90%? 90%? I respect others opinions, but how did a movie this amateur seem acceptable to so many people? This was easily one of the worst films i have seen in 2014, and if my words mean anything to you, you distance yourself from it like a plague

Lets Be Cops

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3.5/10

Two friends unsatisfied with the way their lives are going decide to take matters into their own hands portraying Los Angeles police officers when they are anything but. The movie stars New Girl Tv stars Damon Wayans JR and Jake Johnson as the comic duo. Lets Be Cops does nothing for their comedic chemistry that is shown on their TV show. Not much comes out in their portrayals of Justin and Ryan. The film itself wasn’t funny, terribly paced, and completely didn’t make any kind of sense in even the furthest stretched minds. For instance, Ryan was a college football star quarterback for Purdue University (Located in Indiana) yet they have a college reunion in LA. Did everyone decide to fly across the country for a college reunion or is this movie stupid enough to think it or we believe that Purdue is in California? That is just the tip of the iceburg with the absence of reality in this movie. Another factor is that if you can get by the fact that these two can portray cops and not get caught, they respond to every operator mission without calling it in. The cops never run into them while they are at the scene or the real L.A.P.D never stops to ask themselves how this call got answered when it wasn’t radio responded to begin with. The film was 100 minutes long, and that was way too long for a story that is entirely too easy to begin with. The movie’s awful pacing tells us everything that we need to know about our characters, the story, and the villains within the first half hour. The other 70 minutes drag without anything that remotely resembles a laugh in the slightest way. It’s sad that this is the debut of these two stars who have made such an impact in the TV world. Wayans in particular deserved a much better script with a title that is anything but generic. The one positive that i took from this movie was the performance of Rob Riggle. He is an actor who usually sticks pretty close to the same loud comdedic schtick in all of his movie, but Lets Be Cops saw him take on the role of a 90’s action star. It was such a fresh look for a character who makes you smile every time you see him on screen. You smile because you are used to getting ready to laugh for anything that comes out of this guy’s mouth. In this movie, they let him play the straight man without demeaning his character in the slightest way. Because our two main characters are annoying and fearful, Riggle is actually the guy we find ourselves cheering for. The rave reviews stop there however because Lets Be Cops is just a terrible movie. What frightens me the most about this film is that New Girl enthusiasts will see the movie and even enjoy the movie because Coach and Nick Miller are in it. I challenge you the viewer to demand more out of a comedy that had every chance to be enjoyable and just wasn’t. If you are paying attention, you the viewer will see lots of hilarious setups and payoffs that you have already thought of in your head. What happens is opposite of what you think, and it’s a lot less humorous of a result. The ending is terribly predictable mainly because we have seen this kind of zero to hero movie played out hundreds of times. There are some cameos that add a drip of comedic water for an audience already thirsty beyond it’s needs. Overall, i don’t recommend this movie at all. As i said before, New Girl fans will watch it and like it for it’s stars, but it’s just not a good movie at all. It’s sloppily made and just too long to push a genric story that comes off more as an action movie because it certainly isn’t funny. Instead of being cops, Wayans and Johnson should’ve aimed to be entertaining. Maybe then it wouldn’t have been one of the worst comedies of 2014.

Sex Tape

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3/10

After getting finished with Sex Tape, i couldn’t help but compare the film to that of an actual porno movie. No, not for the charming reasons you are probably thinking, but because it’s like after you watch one scene you feel like you have seen them all. Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz try to rekindle the kind of chemistry they shared on Bad Teacher in Director Jake Kasden’s newest film. Kasden also directed Bad Teacher, so it’s completely understandable why he cast Diaz and Segal as his main characters in this film that is neither funny nor intelligent. I am not an idiot to think that a movie called “Sex Tape” is going to have much going for it at all, but the biggest problem i had with the title is that the movie is very tame. There has been a lot of commotion for seeing Diaz’s butt in this film and it didn’t really give me anything that i felt was noteworthy. Compared to what we see on our own TV’s nowadays, a naked butt hardly turns the gears. The couple in question make a sex tape to spice up their boring marriage. They find out the next day that they send the tape out to other people because it is synched into Segal’s Ipad and all of his friends have his former Ipads, so it sinks to them as well. This concept alone is a little far fetched, but it’s the things that are right under your nose that make you really scratch your head. For starters, how could he give his friends all of these devices and yet still not un-sync the things that connect to his own Ipad? How does he afford all these Ipads when he either doesn’t have a job or doesn’t work many hours? Either way, the film never tells us what he does. Another question is how he knows all of this about technology and about the Ipad itself, but doesn’t know that you can erase the file from going to other synched pads by erasing it from the master Ipad? It’s logic like this that made a film with terrible acting (another porn cliche) and awkward dialogue even worse. I would say that the film is dirty enough that no kid under the age of 16 should be watching it. One thing that completely took me out of enjoying the film any time i tried to get into it was the constant advertisement for Apple and their products. For those of you who read my reviews often, you know i absolutely hate when a movie whores out it’s products just to make a quick buck. This movie is absolutely no exception because it gives us times where the plot freezes to describe what the new Ipad does. One line in particular is Segal talking to Diaz saying “The new Ipad’s have amazing cameras, and the options are so versatile”. This film rivals only Spider-Man 2 as the film with the most shameless plugs of the year. One thing that will always find me on the negative side of a review. If there was one thing i enjoyed about the film it’s Rob Lowe. Lowe is cast as Diaz’s squeaky clean boss, but when they have to go to his home to get his Ipad they find that there is more to him under the collar. It’s hilarious to see Rob cast as a hardcore rock rebel with paintings of his face hung up around the house based on Walt Disney movies. The scenes with him were the only ones that gave me an honest laugh, and this film definitely could’ve used more of that. Rob Coddry and Ellie Kemper also appear as best friends of the main couple, but they don’t have enough to do, and when they do appear it just feels too forced. On a side note that has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, could someone find out if Jason Segal has botox treatments done? his upper lip looks like he got out of the dentist’s chair before the numbness wore off. It bothered the hell out of me watching him talk through the whole movie. The verdict? With neither the dedication to embrace its dirty premise nor enough laughs to function as a worthwhile rom-com, the flaccid Sex Tape suffers from cinematic impotence. Skip it

The Signal

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3.5/10

Never before has a movie left me with such difficulty to write a review. I absolutely despised this film for so many reasons that i worry i won’t get them all out in this writing. The Signal is the story of three college students who are on a road trip across the west when they experience the hacking of a computer genius who reveals that this person already has taken over the cameras on their laptops and is currently watching them. The trio decide to go after him only to find themselves in the middle of an isolated area with alien activity. They are taken to a secret lab that has it’s share of hidden agendas, and the students are experimented on there. Beyond that, i can’t explain to you much about what i understood about this film, and that is the biggest problem that The Signal suffers from. It’s a great and original idea on the surface but it’s so poorly executed that director/writer William Eubank probably won’t be writing the screenplay in his next movie. So many things are so poorly explained that the viewer will have more questions coming out of the 90 minute run time than they did going in. Another big problem is that this movie lacked the science in the phrase science fiction. We just don’t get enough shots or talk in the world of the alien intelligence. How can a film whose trailer was flooded in extraterrestrial talk have so little of it in the movie? The performances sadly are nothing to write home about. Laurence Fishburne is probably the best as a soft spoken scientist named Damon who has many conversations with group leader Nic (Brenton Thwaites). Fishburne is pretty much on sleep mode throughout the whole film and that is a shame. If this film had the great moments from a top leading performance it could’ve at least broken into territory that this film never had a chance of reaching. Olivia Cooke has stolen my heart since premiering on Bates Motel, but she just doesn’t have enough screen time here to make a difference. She was the lone good spot in The Quiet Ones but that is because the director knew where his talent was stacked. It’s almost insulting to see her take a back seat to two actors (Thwaites and Beau Knapp) who can never generate a solid emotion from the audience. As for the film’s pacing, it’s so completely boring. The chase scenes in the laboratories even feel too rushed to ever give us the time to invest in the safety of these characters. It feels very artificial without any kind of intelligence. The big reveals at the end of the film aren’t very shocking at all because it doesn’t make the viewer feel like they have earned the money they just spent on this trash. The secret of Fishburne’s character is something that is so childish and poorly written that it reminded me of the reveal of BENSON (Ben’s Son) in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Just awful. When my Mother asked me why i didn’t like the movie i told her because i couldn’t explain what just happened. If i can’t explain anything and leave the theater with some legitimately good questions towards the film, how can i ever say i enjoyed it? Besides the idea of the college kids being the gateway from us the humans to the other species, this film builds the tension decent enough, it’s just a shame that the payoff is never big enough to warrant the trouble. The lighting is excellent, the camera work is very stellar with lots of excellent editing in the form of flashbacks from the characters mindset. Overall, what really upsets me the most about this film in general is it’s wasted potential. More answers and less with the characters on mute could’ve pushed a winner out of Eubank’s script. Instead, we’re left abandoned in the desert without any signal of hope.