Saturday, October 31, 2015

Goosebumps Review

Goosebumps Review
I got a kick out of the "Goosebumps" books growing up. I read several of them, and honestly I wish I knew what happened to them. I would have loved to have held onto some of them for my children in the future. To see if they found a love for comedic-horror-fiction as I have. R.L. Stine is like the comedic Stephen King, and I always liked how his books were both creepy and funny in equal measure. I loved that he created a cast of characters that was every bit as bright as any other book series. They have always been a fun read, and I enjoyed reading them when I was young.

"Goosebumps" the movie is very much in the spirit of the books, even though it isn't based on any of the individual books. I remember thinking using R.L. Stine as a character might have been silly, it actually works in a wacky way that I found surprising. I also liked that the movie had fun with lots of familiar horror movie cliches without going too far overboard. There isn't anything at all in this movie that is particularly scary. This is a movie that is more geared toward children, but that's okay. That is very much in the fashion of the books, it was a children's fiction series so it should be fitting in the movie. I'd be lying if there weren't moments in this that made my crack a smile, so I think the film did its job.

Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) is moving from the big city to a small town with his mom (Amy Ryan) who just found a job at the local school as vice principle. Zach didn't particularly want to leave and he doesn't like the small town living, but he supports his mother. When moving in he finds that he is attracted to his next door neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush). She seems normal, but there is something off about her, just like there is something off about her mysterious father. In order to find answers, Zach breaks into Hannah's house with his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee). Boy oh, boy does Zach find some answers. Zach find out that Hannah's mysterious father is none other than R.L. Stine, the famous author of the "Goosebumps" books, and that all of Stine's creations are real and live in the manuscripts which Stine hides from everyone. If you were to unlock these manuscripts all the monsters and ghouls R.L. Stine has ever invented come rushing out of them. Led by Slappy The Dummy (voiced by Jack Black), they begin to terrorize the town.

Not only does Jack Black provide the voice for Slappy The Dummy, he also stars as R.L. Stine. Its a typical Black performance, but he allows himself to soar. Slappy the Dummy is easily the most iconic of all of R.L. Stine's creations, and I liked that he was front and center here. Black was able to create a voice that was chilling and humorous and I honestly didn't know it was Black until I looked it up afterward. His performance as R.L. Stine is quite good, and I think R.L. Stine makes something that is completely his own. I don't know anything about R.L. Stine's life or what inspired him to write, but Black's performance makes us believe in Stine and everything that he ever has done, which is pretty good.

The young cast is also equally strong. Minnette and Rush create a believable and sincere young love interest with each other. They also make good use of the film's childish humor, not making it come off so silly. The younger cast embraces the more kid friendly parts of the movie, and allows the audience to buy into it as well.

I liked that the movie featured one last little spook right before the credits. I liked that there was a movie that families could go to this time of year, since the cinemas are usually littered with R-rated horrorfests each year. I liked the real R.L. Stine cameo in the movie. I liked the fun Stephen King comparison joke in the movie. But most of all, I liked that this movie completely embraced the atmosphere and joy of the book series, and created a movie that almost perfectly reflected them.


Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Review

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension Review
I don't care what anybody else says, the "Paranormal Activity" franchise has  been the best horror franchise of the 21st Century. While "Saw" had a great first film, it quickly wore out its welcome, being a complete parody of itself. I remember when I sat in the theater in October 2009, seeing "Paranormal Activity" for the first time, and its been the most fun I have had at the theater for a  horror film in a long time. I love that it reminded us that more can be better, I love that it showed that found footage isn't always a terrible decision, and how to use the device wisely. It took the filmmakers two years to finally release it. They changed the ending a bit (even though the original ending was pretty, freaking creepy.) but they had a monetary juggernaut on their hands.

I was a little hesitant when "Paranormal Activity 2" came out, simply because I thought it would just be more of the same with a different family. While that is kind of true, its kind of not true. The genius of the franchise has been telling a complete story, developing the characters more and more with each new film and creating a mythology that expanded with each new chapter. The only thing that worried me is that with each new chapter, the ending was more questions than answers, and I thought they'd keep it that way to keep the cash flowing. "Paranormal Activity 4" is still my least favorite simply because, it didn't try anything different in terms of scares and it didn't expand the mythology much at all. I didn't want this to slump into every other horror franchise. 

If "Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension" is the final film, then fans of this story will be delighted. This is the perfect time to put the bow on the series, and this film has the potential to end things perfectly. This movie is more answers than questions, and we can see a complete story with an equally complete ending. Oh, and I should say that this film is still packed with scares.

The film revolves around the Fleege family, who recently moved into a new house in Santa Barbra California. Ryan (Chris J. Murray), his wife Emily (Brit Shaw) and his daughter Leila (Ivy George) are preparing for Christmas when Ryan discovers an old box of videotapes, all dated from 1988 and 1992. He discovers the tapes show two little girls involved in some spooky cult business. If you've been keeping up with the series, you know which girls I am talking about. But what's freakier is that the girls seem to be describing the Fleege family in 2013! All the while Leila spends most of her time with an imaginary friend. That imaginary friend's name guessed it...Toby.

Ryan finds this  3D style camera, and at first I thought this was going to be a stupid idea. What made the previous movies so scary was that we couldn't tell what was happening, and it made for a more frightening affair. Turns out, director Gregory Plotkin found a way around this. Because even though the camera can pick up when a ghost is in a room, it still has the ability to scare. There were some pretty effective "boo" scares in this movie. The moments when Leila is talking to Toby and then does things around the house for him, completely horror. 

While I enjoyed this movie throughout, and while I just discussed how complete this felt, there were parts of the ending I couldn't stand. After being faithful for so many years, I think its fitting to finally put this story to bed, especially since "Paranormal Activity 4" all but confirmed that this series is running out of gas. But at the very end, there is this little glimmer of light that maybe we aren't done and maybe there is more story to tell. Come. On. This coupled with a recent studio executive explaining that he wants to keep it going as long as possible makes my skin crawl. This was the best way to end things and it is a miracle we got six movies of terror all telling a cohesive story and then got a fitting ending. Why does Hollywood always have to tarnish good things for more money? 

All good things have to come to an end, even horror franchises. "Paranormal Activity" offers a fitting conclusion that ties up all the loose knots. Now, the real question is can they run with it. Can they keep it that way. Sometimes what makes a thing so good and so timeless is its will to end, and again its a miracle that the ending to things was so satisfying. At least they tried to give a good explanation to all the questions we have had over the course of this franchise. If you have been enjoying this series, then you will love this one too.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jessica Jones Trailer

I saw this trailer about a week ago, and I have been thinking about it for awhile. I am just in awe of how well Marvel has been doing lately. When you have been a fan of something for so long and it enters a brand hew medium and the people behind it make it work over and over and over again, its amazing how awesome it can be. The first season of Daredevil blew me away. I figured it would be good, and I thought the initial trailers for it looked good. I just didn't quite understand how good. I never expected it to be as great as it was. I wonder if they expected to get a second season of the show so quickly.

This November, the second part of Marvel's Netflix mini-adventure will hit our TVs. Jessica Jones is a very different character compared to Daredevil. She is a private investigator, she has superpowers, she had a brief stint as a superhero that didn't pan out. Not only that, but she married Luke Cage and they became one of the first (if not, THE first and THE ONLY) interracial couple in comic books. That's pretty cool. The first trailer was released last week, and it looks like another slam dunk for Marvel and Netflix. I like that the show will be incorporating more superpower stuff into the show, while also making it dangerous and adult. I don't know much about Krysten Ritter outside of "Breaking Bad," but she sold me on Jessica Jones here. David Tennant as Kilgrave seems creepy perfect and Mike Colter looks to be a good Luke Cage.

If you dug "Daredevil" then I heavily encourage you to check out "Jessica Jones" in November. The show also takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and because of that, I will review the show when it airs. I look forward to seeing how this story connects with everything going on in this massive, moving story.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Green Inferno Review

The Green Inferno Review
What a year its been for Eli Roth.

Last week, I wrote a review for Eli Roth's "Knock Knock" a movie I enjoyed more than I thought. There is dark sense of humor laced in Roth's horror movies, hard earned laughs with a rough edge, which makes his work so absorbing at times. Before "Knock Knock" I didn't think much of Roth's work as a whole. I liked his producing credits more than his actual movies, and thought as a director he was vastly overrated.

It took two years for Roth to finally release "The Green Inferno," and after seeing the finished product, I can understand why. "The Green Inferno" is a test on all your senses, its a test on how long you can watch a screen without cringing and its a test on how well you can hold your bile. This is the movie I thought "Hostel" would be, but what I think I never got. I was wildly excited when I heard the positive word-of-mouth, and trailers for "Hostel" in 2009. When I finally saw the movie, I was pretty letdown. I didn't find any of it scary, and the torture scenes were the biggest disappointment of that year, possibly that decade. When I heard Eli Roth was going to make "The Green Inferno" and that it was going to be a cannibalism film, I was pretty hesitant to buy into it. If Eli Roth couldn't go all the way with his torture movie, how could he ever tackle cannibalism? Well, I think people will be in for a treat, if they haven't laid eyes on this already.

Justine (Lorenza Izzo), is a college freshman who goes on a retreat in the remote Amazon jungles to protest against a big logging company. She is accompanied by Alejandro (Ariel Levy), Lars (Daryl Sabara, Daniel (Nicolas Martinez), Jonah (Aaron Burns), Samantha (Magda Apanowicz) and Kara (Ignacia Allamand). After their protest is a success, their plane crashes in a freak accident, the group is completely cut off from technology and civilization. Well, maybe not civilization, as an indigenous tribe of Amazonian find the group. The people who died on the actual plane were the lucky ones, as the group soon finds out that this tribe is a tribe of cannibals.

Look, I read stories that somebody fainted in the middle of "The Green Inferno" so I was a little nervous about what I was about to see, and I liked what I saw. The killing and eating scenes in this movie are much more intense and much more cringe-worthy than any scene in "Hostel," and that is a great thing. It shows really maturity and upgraded talent by Roth. While I wouldn't say I lost my lunch watching the movie, they were still amazingly effective. In fact, I wish they were worse. I have a pretty good idea to why they weren't worse. After "Cannibal Holocaust" in 1980, I am sure there is only so much a cannibal movie can show nowadays, but there was still a cartoonish quality to the killings which I wished Roth went more realistic.

I am absolutely taken aback by Lorenza Izzo. She was also in "Knock Knock," and she played a completely different character than she does here. She can do both character types well. In "The Green Inferno" she is a survivor, but not in a corny, cliche way, but in a believable way. Her character is really put through the ringer here. There is a particular scene that had me gasping for air, and she made us feel her pain. Izzo is bright young talent, and I can't wait to see what she does next. Lots of the cast appeared in a thriller called "Aftershock," directed by Nicolas Lopez, who is credited with a producer in this movie. "Aftershock" also starred Eli Roth himself, so its clear him and Lopez are close. I kind of liked "Aftershock" but I didn't feel the laughs were earned in that movie, and at points it felt like two different movies. Much like "Knock Knock" there is a humorous silver lining in "The Green Inferno." But I think Roth is much more successful with his laughs than Lopez was. First of all, there are not too many funny parts in "The Green Inferno." Second of all, when it is time to laugh, they are hard earned, you almost feel bad for laughing given the circumstances of the characters.

I liked the dark sense of humor in this movie. I liked that it wasn't the cannibalistic tribe the survivors had to worry about, but hazardous water streams, giant ants and other rain forest dangers lurked around every corner. I especially thought it was clever that during the end credits the Twitter handles of each actor is attached to the character they play. This allows the audience to rave about the movie to the actual cast and crew who made it. There is also a set up for a sequel so juicy, you'll be instantly excited after leaving the theater. While it took two years to finally get released, I think overall, "The Green Inferno" was worth the wait. Its a nasty good time, even if its not a completely vomit-inducing affair I was led to believe it was. I think Roth is getting stronger and stronger each time he steps behind camera. If he keeps this up, he will surely get the big name in horror that he has always wanted.





4,722 hours, that was the length of time Jemma spent on the other side of the universe.

This episode took us back in time to when Jemma got sucked up into the liquid rock that was in the background last season. The truth behind it finally revealed in this season. It is not the symbiot alien that gave us a few Spider-Man villains, its something else entirely. In fact, I am not sure the rock was from the comic books at all. Which is fine, not EVERYTHING in the show is something from the comic books. I really don't mind when they make something up for the show, its fun to keep us guessing as viewers.

In tonight's episode, the entire focus is on Jemma. This is how she survived on the mysterious planet she found herself on when the liquid rock swallowed her. She thought for sure once she landed on this planet that Fitz would zip right to her using his brilliant brain, but it wasn't how it happened. At first, she's actually blissfully optimistic. She looks around the planet, discovers that its breathable, has better gravity then Earth, and the more she's looking around ,the more she begins to realize that maybe Fitz won't be coming anytime soon, perhaps its a lot harder to get to her than she thought. So she has to survive. She makes fire, she tries to find water, which is shockingly drinkable, and finds food which is equally-shockingly edible.

So at first, I thought this episode would be the Marvel version of "Castaway," but then it tripped us up, just like they usually do. You see, there is another person on the planet. An American astronaut has also been on the planet since 2001. His name is Will and he is played by an actor named Dillon Casey. At first, as to be expected, Will and Jemma do not trust each other. But they eventually warm up to each other. Will is drawn to Jemma's magnificent intelligence, and how she thinks. Jemma likes Will because he's strong, he has experience on the planet and hell, its just good to have someone else around on a planet with no sun. Will also breaks the news that the planet seems to almost have a mind of its own. This seems hard to believe for a science nerd like Jemma, but the more she's on the planet, the more she believes it. Now, this might be a stretch, but I wonder if the planet Jemma and Will are on is  Ego the Living Planet from the comics. Yes, there was a planet with a face in the comic books. How is that as silly as a talking raccoon?
I liked an episode that had no Coulson or Daisy and focused on Jemma. Even though Jemma and Fitz have both broke out as great characters, it still seemed like Jemma was mostly confined to the background in the first two seasons. I like that they have given her something significant to do on the show. And if they decide to throw her into a love triangle, that will be extra interesting. Oh yes, things got slightly steamy between Jemma and Will. Nothing sexual, nothing nasty, but they began to care for each other. It was natural, there was no way that Jemma thought she'd ever get back to Fitz. But when Fitz does land on the planet, it seems like Will sacrificed himself so that Jemma could get back to Fitz. At the end of the episode, Fitz shows Jemma all of the surveillance and research he has done on the planet, and it is revealed that Will is still alive. That is why Jemma wanted to go back so bad last week. While I feel bad for Fitz, Will has the potential could be a cool character, and it will be interesting to see what comes of him. But Fitz, poor, poor Fitz.

Something like "4,722 Hours" is clearly a filler episode, but its a very good filler episode. Plus, it would have driven us nuts to not know what Jemma was up to while she was away. I am sure this planet will begin a larger story line for the rest of the season, so perhaps it wasn't a filler episode at all. We will find out as time roles along, but overall another solid episode.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, October 26, 2015




"Minority Report" has been tough sailing for me so far. I am trying to focus on the good of the show, I am trying to look over what makes the show good and where to find the potential, but that is growing harder and harder each week. It can be a bit aggravating when a show has some potential, but its throwing all its focus in the wrong places. "Minority Report" has been a show that has relied on its gimmicks instead of focusing on how it could be different. Tonight, was a little different I thought. I want to caution the word different in a big way, but hey it didn't feel like the rest of the season as a whole, so that was good at least.

Dash, Arthur and Vega go to see Agatha in Fiddler's Neck, a remote part of the state of Maryland where the triplets were dumped after PreCrime ended. It has become its own world with its own rules, almost sovereign from the United States. There are some interesting affects, apparently the city of Fiddler's Neck was partially sunk after global warming, which is what lead to Fiddler's Neck becoming its own entity. The town even has its own law enforcement called The Guard. Dash and Arthur pick up on a potential murder, something so hard that even Agatha is picking up on it, and she apparently hasn't had a vision in years. 

That wasn't the biggest focus of the episode though, the biggest focus revolved around Agatha. I liked that Agatha was front and center this episode. I have found it interesting that so far, we never really knew if she was a good person or a bad person, and even though that question is mostly answered in this episode, it provided some much needed character development. She has a little bit of a romance in this episode, and the show connects to the potential murder of the episode through this romance. The episode also showed how Fiddler's Neck isn't exactly what it seems. It seems cliche I know, but I would be lying if I wasn't entertained by it in some capacity.

I would love it if the show ended up making more episodes like this. Its not totally a cop show with a gimmick, and what it offers on the side may not be happily original, but it was an episode that had its charms. I liked that the episode got our heroes out of the city and had them doing stuff elsewhere. This episode was different compared to the other episodes, which felt wildly refreshing.

What did everyone else think?




Tonight's episode borrows its title of an essay written by Albert Camus, a wicked little piece of philosophy. In Camus' essay, he discusses how the absurdities and futilities of men and how we continually search for the meaning of life. Camus uses Sisyphus, a figure in Greek Mythology who was doomed to continually push a boulder up a mountain, just to watch it fall down the mountain again. This was Camus' grand metaphor, that finding happiness and meaning in life is absurd and we shouldn't fall over ourselves trying to find meaning in this world, or we will never be happy.

In tonight's episode, the essay's metaphor is compared to the struggle Lou Solverson in this season of the show. Lou Solverson started this story trying to find what happened to Rye Gerhardt, and after tonight's episode, he realizes just how hard that will be and how dangerous it will be. How is Solverson expected to find Rye when he is continually being surrounded by enemies? Will his search to find Rye end up being meaningless if he doesn't complete his search due to death? Does this render the search ultimately absurd?

Tonight's episode had some of the best stand-offs of the season so far. There was a moment when Solverson was escorted to the Gerhardt farm, as he demanded to talk to him because his fingerprints were found on the gun found in last week's episode. There is an intimidating stand-off between Solverson and Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan). Both Patrick Wilson and Donovan are outstanding in the scene, and I love how completely calm Solverson is in the midst of being outnumbered and outgunned at the farm. Solverson also has a stand-off with Mike Milligan, the character Bokeem Woodbine played. I was absolutely mesmerized by Woodbine's work last week, and once again, he delivers another amazing performance. In a show full of stars, I am loving that Woodbine is sticking out in a huge way. He doesn't have as many scenes in this episode, but he certainly makes the most of his time.

Ed and Peggy Blumquist also finally decide to get rid of the car Peggy hit Rye with in the season premiere. Though the idea never comes across the minds of Ed or Peggy. Peggy is visited at work by Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), and they are discussing how Rye disappearance could be due to a hit and run. The discussion leads to one of the biggest laughs of the season so far, even if it is derived from one of the biggest cliches ever. Now it seems the Blumquists could be in the clear for now. You can never know for sure with "Fargo."

One thing I didn't mention during the season premiere was that Rye saw what looked like a UFO, which is why he got hit by Blumquist's car in the first place. There was some small talk about aliens in the sky this episode, so there was some significance to what Rye saw that night he killed three people. How will aliens work their way into this story? I have no idea, but its clearer with each new episode that this is going to be absolutely nothing like the first season. This season has a life of its own, and it this looks to be an even weirder season than last.

What did everyone else think?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Overlooked Film of the Week- "Identity" (2003)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #101

There are some movies that I can't believe didn't get  the respect and viewership I think they deserve. This was a movie that generated some minor buzz, but vanished soon after. I can't believe somebody can watch this movie, and not have a huge, satisfying reaction from it. The horror genre is so ordinary right now, with a found footage movie released seemingly every month. Last decade, the horror genre was just as ordinary, but for different reasons. Filmmakers seemed to have a competition in them to see how many people they could kill in a movie in how many different ways. I never understood how lots of gore somehow meant scary. I understand that lots of horror is based upon shock, but when you see one horrible scenario after another, its almost as if you build an immunity from a disease. I feel several horror fans became horrifically desensitized to human depravity last decade that when we saw something that truly tried to be scary, we didn't know what to make of it.

"Identity" features death, but its not so distasteful that it takes out of the experience. Much like "Devil" which I talked about during the last Overlooked Film of the Week, this is a movie that feels very much cut from cloth of Agatha Christie. It follows a group of people stranded at a Nevada motel in a horrid rainstorm. The group suddenly realizes that the group is oddly connected to each other, but they are also dying one by one. Someone in the group is killing everybody, and the group is trying to find out who. There is one cop, one ex-cop, a prostitute, a newlywed couple, a family, and the cop is carrying a inmate to a prison. Its so easy to pin the deaths on the inmate, but is that what is happening?

The cast is incredible, which features John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Clea DuVall, William Lee Scott, John Hawkes, Jake Busey and John C. McGinley. Every actor brings their A-game to the table, they make some fairly one-dimensional characters shine bright on the screen, and their enthusiasm for their characters keeps the story moving, keeps the audience guessing as to who the killer is. A horror movie can be elevated by the whims of a cast, and this one does very well together and with their characters.

Then there is the twist. There weren't too many twists last decade, and I feel like it has been awhile since I have seen a good twist. Granted, the twist in "Identity" isn't on the same level of "The Sixth Sense," "The Crying Game," "Fight Club" or "The Usual Suspects." But the twist in "Identity" did have my friends and I discussing it well after the movie was over. Its definitely something that was creatively crafted and wisely visualized. Maybe its just me, but I certainly did not see this coming the first time I saw this. I really enjoyed it, and for anybody that like a mystery movie with a good twist, check this out for sure.

"Identity" took the mystery at a dinner party in a spooky house movie, and moved it to a rainy motel. It works in the newer reversal. If you like fun mystery movies with a killer on the loose, check this out. If you like watching a great cast set off fireworks, check this out. If you are a twist junkie, check this out. I can't believe this wasn't as popular as it should have been, but perhaps we can bring it back!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Back To The Future Day

We've arrived to it at last. The actual date when Marty McFly went to the future. From the year 1985 to October 21st 2015, the exact date of today. Its a fun day to be a movie fan, especially ironic since the Cubs have been doing so well, and they were predicted to win the World Series this year, and that is what is happening right now. Well, I take that back, the Mets game is going so hotly in their favor right now. But boy, would that have been something.

So "Back To Future" may have got the Cubs World Series win wrong, but there is some fun stuff they kind of got right. Pepsi released 8000 bottles of Pepsi Perfect in celebration of this day, and all 8000 bottles were sold this morning, good luck finding one now. Your best bet might be EBay, if you've got a surplus of cash. Its amazing to me that things like Hoverboards and Shoes that tie themselves are actual things being pushed through the business cycle now. And the things Google are doing with Facetime and Hangouts? That had to be somewhat inspired by certain scenes from the movie. I also read that USA Today had the same cover as the newspaper from the movie, showing the scene when Michael J. Fox got hauled off to jail. Overall, its been a fun day, trying to figure everything the future did bring us. Sure, we don't have flying cars and we don't have nineteen "Jaws" movies. But its cool to see the links from the movie and how they add up to today.

You know what I like most about the "Back To The Future" movies? I love how optimistic they are. My dad always said that science fiction always dealt in darkness, and for the most part I agree with him. If you look at movies like "Blade Runner," "The Matrix," "Terminator," "Total Recall," "Minority Report," "A Clockwork Orange," "Gattaca," "Planet of the Apes," "Children of Men," even "Wall-E" to an extent, these are stories that are slightly dreary. In "Back to the Future," it was different. We didn't blow ourselves up, the human race did not self-destruct. It was refreshing in a very fun way. You can say the same thing about "Star Trek" which is another science fiction movie I like for similar reasons. I think "Star Wars" doesn't really count since its more of a space opera and fantasy rather than science fiction. But "Back to the Future" is cool because of its optimism. it dissected the breakthroughs our society could produce, not how we would destroy ourselves. 

Plus, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd make one of the most perfect teams in the history of movies. I mean they are fun to watch. They will forever be canonized as one of the greatest duos in the history of cinema. When they were together, it felt all was right, they are a couple of guys that made you feel good. They brought you on an unforgettable journey, and they did it in the best possible fashion.

Re-watching the trilogy on bluray, I can't believe how well the films have held up. The format changes from disc to bluray is gorgeous, and I do mean gorgeous. It feels like a group of movies that came out a few years ago, not over twenty. Plus, the adventure, the storyline, the confidence of the all felt dazzling. It had been a few years since I had seen them, and it felt like a completely different experience for me this time around. I was reminded why I love movies in the first place. I tapped into creatively, discovery and life. This is a trilogy that surely will go down as timeless. This is a set of films I can't wait to share with my future family and several more generations to come.

I hope you got out and did something fun today. I hope you watched these movies this week. I hope you plan to watch these movies this week. I hope you will show them to someone who hasn't seen them. I hope you rediscover what made them so wonderful in the first place. I hope you are rooting for the Cubbies, because they surely need some support right now. I hope you got your hands on a Pepsi Perfect and I hope it is as sweet and delicious as it is in my dreams. If you don't plan to drink, I certainly don't blame you, hold onto that for as long as you can. Heck, maybe watch "Jaws" today too, tis the season to get some suspense in with it being Halloween and all. I hope these movies are grinding the gears in the heads of the next generation, and perhaps by the time I am an old man, we will have flying cars. 

"Back To The Future" is a reminder that anything is possible. It is a reminder that dreams can not only come true, but should be allowed to flourish. It reminds us that courage should be an important dietary supplement that keeps our lives running, keeps us happy, keeps us adventurous, keeps us human. It reminds that even though there is lots of darkness in the world, there is so much to be happy for, so much to be proud of, so much to desperately hold onto. That is a positively encouraging thought. 

Have fun today, and if you haven't seen these movies yet. Now is as great a time as any.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Knock Knock Review

Knock Knock Review
I have never really been blown away by any of Eli Roth's movies. I have always enjoyed his enthusiasm for the horror genre, but his actual movies themselves have never really reinvented the wheel nor have they scared me. "Hostel" wasn't anything special, neither was "Cabin Fever." The movies I have enjoyed which featured his involvement were "The Sacrament," "Aftershock" and "The Last Exorcism." But he didn't direct those films, he only produced them. As a director, I have always come to expect more.

I have never gone to the door for anybody growing up. I remember when I was a early teenager and my parents were beginning to trust me by myself at home, little by little. I never forgot when I was home alone for the summer or a day off of school or what have you, the last thing my dad always said to me was "never answer the door for anyone." To this day, even at 26-years-old, I never answer the door for anyone. If I know someone is coming, that's a completely different story, but an unplanned visit is not my forte, and for the safety of myself and those I love, I steer clear from my door, especially if I am alone.

I don't know if anybody reading answers the door when someone comes knocking, but if you do, you won't anymore after viewing "Knock Knock." This is a psychological horror movie with a humorous edge. It probably won't keep up all night, and it won't boo you to death. Its also a movie with little to no gore. I can already see the different temperaments of horror wondering why I am even recommending this in the first place, but bear with me. "Knock Knock" is an effective little film. A film that dissects secrets and temptation and what ifs in a horrifying way. While there is a comedic edge to the movie, there is a dark side to it all that I found profoundly unsettling.

Keanu Reeves plays Evan, an architect and a family man. Its clear from the opening titles that he loves his wife and he loves his children very much. His family is going away for the weekend, and Evan would go to if only he didn't have so much architectural work to do. He stays home to finish a big project over the long holiday weekend. There are some jokes made by friends about having a party while the family is away, but Reeves paints his character as such an innocent, loving father that its hard to imagine.

He's working hard at night when the suddenly there is a knock on his door. When he opens it, he sees two girls (Ana De Armas & Lorenza Izzo) standing there. Its pouring down rain, and they are trying to get to a party but they got lost. They ask to come in to see if Evan can assist them and he agrees. He orders them an Uber driver when the girls realize their destination is an entire different neighborhood. So while waiting for the driver, the girls ask Evan about his job, his family, life in general. The conversation seems normal at first, but then the girls begin to ask more personal, more sensual questions and it makes Evan quite uncomfortable. There is something off with the girls as soon as Evan opens the door, that much can be seen by the audience, your just not sure if they are going drug Evan, hurt Evan or something of the sort. It turns out they expose Evan to his inner id, and they do with a gleeful evil that's it begins to unsettle the audience.

What makes "Knock Knock" so horrifying is how evil the girls are. Ana De Armas and Lorenza Izzo are two actresses I have never heard of, but my goodness are  they vile in this. Not only that, but they relish in each vile bit of nastiness Roth asks them to do. Evan soon finds himself in an uncontrollable nightmare, and De Armas and Izzo make it personal and horrifying. Yes, their plot seems a bit telegraphed, but the acting between the girls make it matter.

I have never thought Keanu Reeves is the best actor, and that doesn't change here. There are moments where he overacts a little bit. I don't know if he's responsible or if the script writing is responsible, but some of his pleas and demands fall flat. There is a moment when he tells the girls off that just made me crack up in tears laughing, unable to believe that the same guy played Neo. His performance doesn't derail the movie, but it certainly takes you out of the experience in some of the moments. But the work done by the girls is so good that you forget just how bad Reeves is in some of the movie's moments.

I think with "Knock Knock" Roth is getting stronger as a horror director. This is a step up from anything he has directed before. I hope this is a sign of light in the horizon, because his heart is in the right place. I hope he turns into the fright master he so wants to be and this could be the watermark that led him to greatness. Still, there are some setbacks in "Knock Knock" but its an overall fun ride.

The last line of dialogue is so good that you won't know whether to be terrified, whether to feel bad for the characters or to laugh out loud. The confusion made my jaw drop. Check it out, it may surprise you.





Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone.

That's exactly what went flying through my head after tonight's episode concluded. Even though Director Coulson is doing everything to make S.H.I.E.L.D. a better organization than it was, it is a spy agency. It is still run on secrets, and those secrets could still get certain people in trouble. In fact, its very possible that they could have got someone killed tonight.

Coulson does not tell Agent Johnson or Agent Mack that he's helping the ATCU. Coulson also doesn't tell Bobbi Morse about Hunter going after Ward. When Hunter infiltrates Ward's new HYDRA, he and Agent May are able to kill several of his men, but Ward lets them know that they are keeping tabs on May's ex-husband, and if they don't layoff, he could die. Hunter has already risked so much to get to Ward, so he goes in guns blazing. Oh, and Lash? The new Inhuman that looks more like a sea monster than a person, well apparently he can shapeshift, and the show is sending pretty strong signals that we have seen him before in a human form. Oh, and Jemma finally lets Fitz know that she needs to go back to the planet she was marooned one, still for reasons unknown.

This was a very interesting episode just because of how gleefully it plays with secrets and lies, and how spies use that to save the world. In the end, because spies lie and deceive, are they really the heroes they claim to be? The world of espionage has always been a gray one, and that gray world in this story almost brought the world to its knees. Perhaps these secrets and lies will keep playing into the season as a whole, and maybe they affect the Civil War somehow? Who knows. Its fun to hatch theories like this, with a show so deeply connected to a film franchise. 

I will be interested to see how these decisions and choices haunt everyone moving forward.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, October 19, 2015




Well, I have been pretty harsh on this show so far. Not because I feel like I need to or to be cool. I just feel its an overall lazy show, with interests that I think should move front and center. The show tried something new tonight, again. Its kind of semi-new since the show doesn't seem to want to lose track of being a police show. But they tried to make us care about the characters a little bit. While I think that's important for any show, I am not sure if comes of shallow or comes off convincing.

The entire episode revolves around the night Detective Vega's father was murdered, which happened conveniently before PreCrime started. With the help of Dash and his brother Arthur, who both can see the vision better, and Detective is able to put in the pieces. What is supposed to be a huge emotional scene for Vega just falls flat. It falls just as flat when Detective Vega confronts her father's killer, seemingly for revenge. Again, the scene falls painfully flat, because all of the character development just feels forced instead of natural.

I think the proposed big moments in this episode fall flat because there hasn't been any development over the first four episodes. This show is so sharply focused on being a police show that it treats the characters paper-thin. So when something important happens in their character arcs, it feels like an entirely different show. It feels disconnected to what else is going on in the show. Plus, the big showdown between Vega and her father's killer is treated in such cliche, so desperately trying to tackle our heartstrings that it comes off artificial. None of the emotions were earned and none of the drama is earned because we just don't know these people. They have been big types the first four episodes that all of sudden becoming characters comes off silly. If the show made us care about these people earlier, I think the emotions the episodes were trying to convey would have hit harder.

I did like the subplot of discovering what our government had in the Precogs before the program was shut down. There was a character played by the great Reed Diamond who was thinking about rebooting that government idea and that this might lead Vega to betray Dash so the Precogs can become governmental tools. I am interested in that story, and I hope a healthy chunk of the first season explores this. Because this ordinary show isn't doing it for me.

What did everyone else think?




With a season full of great actors, I am blown away that it is Bokeem Woodbine who is really sticking out. I have always liked Bokeem as an actor, and I don't think he's really done anything bad. But, he's really something here. He has two big, character-crunching scenes in tonights episode that was an absolute blast. Bokeem Woodbine is going to be the one to look for here. He plays a member of the Kansas City Mob, the criminal organization trying to buy out our coercion family in North Dakota. The Kansas City Mob is also very interested in the murders from last episode, because it can help them get a foot over the family. Bokeem visits a typewriter seller who came into contact with Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) before he murdered the judge. The way Bokeem goes about getting the information is both intimidating and fun, and the sociopathic glee Bokeem displays is amazing. He also has a verbal stand-off with the sheriff played by Ted Danson, and again he steels the scene. I love his Midwesteren accent, I love his play on language. Bokeem is crafting the best character of the show so far, and I can't wait to see what he's up to next week.

Not much new is revealed this week. The Blomquists are trying to get rid of Gerhardt's body. The Gerhardt family is trying figure what to do next to hold their power, with the Kansas City Mob closing in. State Trooper Solverson is hot on the trail. What makes the episode fun is how confident the show is, and how smart the writing is. There is a slight wedge of dark humor that I find absolutely lovable. I also love that the show holds the movie's style without becoming a gimmick completely. I am very much invested in what is going on with these characters, and its only the second episode of the series. I also love the "24" style bit near the end, as split screens show us what each character is up to right before the big cliffhanger to end the episode. I know it sounds silly, but it was wisely profound. The cast is crushing it all over the place, and they are really becoming their characters fast.

The second season has a lot to live up to and I am hoping it can do it. So far, I don't think it has anything to worry about. It already looks like a worthwhile season.

What did everyone else think?

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Essentials- "Shadows And Fog" (1992)

The Essentials- #101

Shadows and Fog
I have loved Woody Allen for as long as I can remember, and he has a very similar style film by film. They almost always take place in New York City. They always deal in the world of love, cheating, lies and divorce. They sometimes even slide into all four of those arenas in each film. There is also a thin cut piece of existentialism in each of his films as well. Sometimes, he likes to detach himself from the themes that made him so popular. Sometimes he goes outside his own box. He has done so with "Shadows and Fog."

In the movie, Woody Allen plays Max Kleinman, a bookkeeper who is sprung out of his bed to join a search party. There is a serial strangler on the lose in his small, unnamed town. Max Kleinman is the usual Woody Allen character. He's skittish, he's weak, he has low self-esteem and he is constantly unsure of himself. He feels compelled, and in the lack of a better word bullied, into joining the search party to find this strangler. 

Mia Farrow, who starred in several movies with Allen, plays a sword swallower for the local circus. She is in love with one of the clowns (John Malkovich), for whom she finds out is having an affair with someone else in the circus, played by Madonna. Disgusted and angry, the sword swallower flees the circus, runs into the night, the same night that the serial strangler is on the loose. She meets Kleinman and assists him in finding the serial strangler before he gets his hands on anybody else.

So yes, there are several usual Woody Allen tropes in this movie. But what makes it good is how confident it is in its material. I love the German expressionist style of the movie, which makes it stand out over other Woody Allen films. It is also one of the more fun concepts Woody Allen has ever played with. While lots of characters walk around and talk about life, that isn't the ONLY thing they do. There is some action, there is some humor, and Woody Allen successfully plays with it and gets as much from it as he can. Over the backdrop of lovely black-and-white, this movie soars.

Woody Allen and Mia Farrow were always good together, and I think this is one of my more favorite duos they created. John Malkovich is good in this. In fact, this is one of the better casts Allen has ever assembled. There is good work by Madonna, Jodi Foster, Kathy Bates, John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Lily Tomlin, Kurtwood Smith, Kenneth Mars, William H. Macy,and John C. Reilly. They all do incredible work, soaking up the fun concept Allen has brought them together for.

If you like fun little mysteries this time of year, then you will want to check out Woody Allen's goofy caper. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Beasts of No Nation Review

Beasts of No Nation Review
The future of film is upon us, thanks again to Netflix.

Its amazing to imagine that this service that began as rented movies showing up in your mailbox turned into so much more. You can stream countless amounts of movies and television shows right at your fingertips with a Netflix account. Netflix also got creative and began to produce their own original programming. It started with a couple of television shows, then moved into the documentary realm, some of which were nominated for awards. Tonight, Netflix shakes things up yet again. Tonight, Netflix distributed their first film production. While this movie is playing at some theaters, you are really going to have to work for it to find it at a venue. Your best bet is on your internet browser of choice, and this is something you are going to want to see right away, because "Beasts of No Nation" is a mesmerizing, breath-taking experience.

The film follows Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy living in an unnamed African nation at the height of a civil war. When his village is on the eve of getting attacked, his mother flees with his younger sister, leaving him, his brother and father in the village to protect their home and stores. When the government attacks them, Agu watches his father and brother die, and he flees his village. He spends a few days on his own, until he is picked up by rebels, lead by a fierce Commandant (Idris Elba). The Commandant takes Agu under his wing, and trains him to be yet another child soldier in his army against the government, with his father and brother dead, Agu agrees to follow The Commandant's orders.

"Beasts of No Nation" is a harrowing nightmare. The use of child soldiers is nothing new in the African continent, so something like really hits home with power. It is a well-written, well-acted piece of cinema and if Netflix markets this right, "Beasts" could be a heavy-hitter in this years's Oscar race. Idris Elba could be the first black actor this decade to walk away with the Lead Actor statue. Yep, I am not even kidding here. Idris Elba has done remarkable work over the length of his career, but he's always been a supporting man locked in a leading man's body. Now, he is given the freedom to run with a great role, and instead, he flew. The Commandant is a raw and vicious character, vile and manipulative and Elba easily breaths life into him and makes it all look effortless. I hope this generates a lot of buzz because Elba has been gearing up for something like this for quite sometime now and I think he more than deserves it.

I also think Abraham Attah could also be a worthy contender in the actor race. Usually, I have always felt that putting a child in the Oscar or awards race is more of a gimmicky publicity stunt rather than an honest nomination. But in Attah's case, its the complete opposite. I don't know where they found this kid, but he awesome, plain and simple. The entire movie rests on Attah's shoulders and if he wasn't strong enough, the film would have failed. We feel Agu's loss of innocence, he's need to prove himself, his fear, his despair. These are wide emotions for any child actor to convey, and much like Elba, he makes it all effortless.

I think lots of people like lighter toned movies, and there is no question that "Beasts of No Nation" is a heavy experience, but that doesn't mean it isn't a ride not worth taking. It is a brutally beautiful, hard fought morality fable. The cast of actors makes it count every step of  the way, and if they believe in it, we believe in it. This is what great filmmaking is all about, getting the audience to believe in your story, and even though it takes you to places you don't want to go, it does so with a zing of inspiration and a confident heart. It is rather hard to look away.

This is also a big moment for the movie business itself. Netflix just made a big push, and it could change film media forever. This is the first time a streaming service has released a movie on their own, and I am dying to see how this weekend plays out for them. I am curious to see any changes this makes on the business of movies, and exactly how those changes will take place. This is a huge moment we are living in and all I can say is support this film. Let's see how bright this future can be.


Crimson Peak Review

Crimson Peak Review
I have been a big fan of Guillermo del Toro for quite sometime now. Over the  years of my del Toro fandom, I have noticed something; there are two sides to Guillermo del Toro. I think Guillermo del Toro has a spectacle side, as he's one of the most reliable directors of the big, popcorn films. Watch the "Hellboy" movies, watch "Pacific Rim," they are wonderfully exciting, epic in scale, but there was always a storyline there that drew the audience in. The other side of del Toro always delved into the strange and the spooky. I think "The Devil's Backbone" is one of the great recent horror films nobody saw. I also think "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" was big fun, but may only be remembered as having the best teaser trailer in history of horror. Even though I wouldn't consider "Pan's Labyrinth" a horror film, it certainly has some moods and themes that kind of creep me out, and its totally Guillermo, through and through.

There are times when the two clashing personalities of Guillermo intersect, and the last time that happened, it was 2002. I think "Blade 2" is big time fun, but when I saw for the first time, there were parts that definitely made me jump. I was captivated by a movie that had good horror parts, but also had the fun of a comic book movie, and the epic feel of a blockbuster. After all of these years, I am still drunk on "Blade 2" and I was hoping to have that same unquenchable feeling for "Crimson Peak."

"Crimson Peak" has the epic feel of a blockbuster, a talented ensemble of terrific actors doing terrific acting, and it attempts to mash the scary and the massive together into one movie. The genius of Guillerimo's work is the story that draws the audience in, and I think he does that again with "Crimson Peak." It is a very well-written movie, and given that Guillermo has Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnan to work with, makes it even better. Plus, Guillermo is making a gothic-style haunted house movie, which is right up my alley in terms of taste. Especially since the movie has a impeccably crafted old school feeling to it. There is certainly a lot to like about "Crimson Peak."

On the flip side there are couple instances that fall flat to me. What surprised me the most was that those instances were the moments that were meant to be scary.

The movie opens with Edith Cushing (Wasikowska) in a white dress, outside in the snow, covered in blood. She is talking about seeing ghosts and assuring us that they are real. We then move backward a couple of years and see that Edith is struggling writer, but his father is a successful business man so she is able to live in comfort until her big break. She feels unfulfilled though, and that changes the moment she meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston). They instantly fall in love, but Edith's father doesn't approve. That all changes after the sudden death of Edith's father, Sharpe and Cushing eventually marry and move back to England, Sharpe's home and live in his gothic mansion with his sister (Chastain).

There is something very off about Sharpe's gothic mansion, and there is something off about Sharpe's sister. Guillermo really ramps up the mood and atmosphere, and there is a tidal wave of surprises at the end of the movie. But the worst thing "Crimson Peak" did was advertise as a horror movie. Because its not much of one. The film's first have is very much a gothic romance movie, and Hiddleston and Wasikowska do excellent work to draw us in and get us to care about them. But when Edith starts seeing ghosts, those are the moments of utmost disappointment.

Look, I love it that Guillermo tried to tackle the gothic romance and gothic horror genres. It is a dash of unique in this found footage landscape that is ruining the horror genre currently. But ambition can only take you so far, the ghost scenes fall flat due to the overuse of CGI. There are several close-ups on the ghosts in the movie, and you can see the seams on each one. Sure, there are some good scenes, one in particular involving an invisible body that was the film's highlight, but it was so artificial that it was a letdown. Worst of all, the ghosts felt like an afterthought. Guillermo could make a director's cut and completely remove the ghost aspect of the movie, and it wouldn't hurt the film one bit. In fact, I believe it would have been stronger overall. There is a great story for a human nature horror movie that works better than a supernatural horror movie.

Guillermo del Toro is way too talented to make a boring movie, and that's saying something because the first half takes its time to get things set up. We become very invested in the characters in that time, which makes "Crimson Peak" not a wash. There is a lot to like in this, I just wish that the ghosts were treated with just as much energy as everything else around them.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Godzilla VS. King Kong: Coming Soon

After the success of "Godzilla" in 2014, the wheels have been turning in Hollywood. There is a plan to bring lots of big budget monster madness to the silver screens. At first, it all just seemed like a fever dream, a big rumor that was never going to happen. But then it was announced that a King Kong movie was coming, it was going to be called "Kong: Skull Island." We didn't know much other than that.  

A bomb was dropped the other day, and it has been confirmed that "Kong: Skull Island" in 2017, "Godzilla 2" in 2018 and "Godzilla vs. King Kong" in 2020. Yep, the two most iconic monsters are coming and they are going to face off against each other.

I am now much more interested in "Kong: Skull Island" than I was. It is getting a great cast so far, and it might set up for Kong's big showdown a few years later. Hollywood seems to be obsessed with world building in their franchises now, and I bet that will be no different with setting up Godzilla and King Kong. I am very curious now how "Kong: Skull Island" will play out. I liked "Godzilla" in 2014, much better then that piece of crap from 1998, so this is extra exciting for me.

What do the rest of you think?


Marvel and the Rumor Mill

For the last few weeks, Marvel has been shrouded in rumor.

So much so, it is nearly alarming.

When it comes to rumors, I do not always write about them right away. Because of the big "R" word itself. Especially on the internet, you can never take any rumor seriously. There are several websites that will stretch the yellow journalism boundaries for a good story. Even when it comes to superhero movies, well especially because of superhero movies. Maybe this fad will fade out, maybe it will have decades and decades of longevity, but they are a hot business right now. So people will stretch the truth just get massive hits on their website. Me? I like to make sure something is as credible as possible. I like to sit on stories for a little while, see how they materialize for a couple days. I like to see who steps up to either confirm or debunk a story. There is so much information out there, and most studios smother their productions in secrecy now. The way we pass on information has changed, so Hollywood has to adapt to the challenge.

Earlier today, there was a "rumor" that said that Fox agreed to move Fantastic Four back to Marvel and that we would get a "FF in the MCU" film as early as 2020. When I hopped onto the computer to see what else I could find out about this story, I read that has been officially official that Fantastic Four will stay at Fox. There will be no Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe coming anytime soon. How do I know? Fox came out and said so, and trust me they would know.

That's what is most important about these rumors. There are only a few specific resources that can confirm and debunk something, in this case it was either Disney or Fox, and one of them stepped up to debunk the story. Anybody would not be confirmation, no matter what way you cut it. If you are reading a story and somebody said they heard it from "somebody at the studio," well that's not concrete, that's just a story. Always be wary of words like "reportedly" or "rumored." because that always means that the story isn't set in stone. After reading so much movie news over the years, and yes I am a huge nerd in that aspect, you pick up on norms in the field of movie news. Its easy to see when a story is true or not.

For example, last week we heard that the Netflix TV show "Iron Fist" and the 2019 "Inhumans" movie for Marvel were both scrapped. Apparently the source said they heard it from a studio exec you got drunk at the bar. Seriously, somebody said something of the sort at a fucking bar? We are supposed to lose our minds over not seeing some unique, cool characters over some ramblings of a drunk guy? Don't make me laugh. Unless Kevin Feige, the President of Marvel Studios, steps up and confirms this, then bet on the show and movie coming out in their appropriate release dates. You can't count on some studio exec because we can't know how in the loop they are. The story didn't even give a name, so how can take this with anymore than a grain of salt.

If we are on the topic of choice, I am kind of glad "Fantastic Four" is still at Fox. As much as I would love to set my eyes on a "Fantastic Four" movie that was actually good, I like that Marvel is going forward with some of their more obscure characters. If Marvel had the rights to Spider-Man right away, or will if they had Fantastic Four or X-Men, we would have never got an Ant-Man movie, or a Doctor Strange movie on the way. Or Guardians of the Galaxy, or Captain Marvel or Black Panther. But if we haven't seen these characters yet, they are headed to a theater near you soon. That's exciting, the cool C-list characters are on the A-list now, and that's awesome. Marvel is not just making good movies about these characters, but popular movies. They are money-making machines and they are generating lots of buzz. This is why we see them take chances, and move around their schedules so much. That's why stories like possible scraps come up, because Marvel has that power and it took lots of time to get there. 

I can't wait to see their future, how they move into Phase Four. If Inhumans and Iron Fist fall through, I am sure it will be for focused and thought-out reasons. But honestly, for now, I would expect to see those media showers on time.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sicario Review

Sicario Review
I was on-board on "Sicario" before I ever set foot in any sort of theater. When you put Emily Blunt, the actress who almost and rightfully should have, played Black Widow for Marvel, in with Josh Brolin aka Thanos and Benicio Del Toro aka The Collector, good things happen. I think good things happened here with "Sicario." The chemistry between Brolin and Del Toro is chemistry I think we'll see in a future movie down the road, I am sure. Those three actors together in the same movie about drug cartels, sign me up.

The trailers for "Sicario" will lead you to believe that it is a flat out action movie. Heck, the premise alone will make you believe it is a flat out action movie. When an optimistic FBI agent (Blunt) joins a CIA SAD officer (Brolin) and his brutal contact into Mexico (Del Toro) on a mission to avenge some fellow agents who died at the hands of the cartels, you would think you are on a path to some really badass venues. I think there is plenty in "Sicario" that would lead you to say to yourself "THAT'S BADASS!" But the movie itself isn't so, not on a whole. You know what? I think I like the movie better than way.

"Sicario" is really about someone who wants so badly to fight the good fight, only to learn that the good fight doesn't exist. Its literally a depiction of someone losing their innocents. The movie states that the only way to fight evil is by bringing your own brand of evil to their doorstep. While "Sicario" is not the first movie in history to showcase this fact, it does so in such a confident manner, that its hard not to give yourself over to it. Its more of a drama than a action movie, but the brief action seems to count just as much as the dramatic parts. This isn't just throwaway moments, these moments matter, which is what makes them so memorable.

The entire cast is riveting in this. I think Emily Blunt has grown considerably since her days of "Devil Wears Prada," and she is proving, year after year, just how strong of a performer she is overall. She is an exciting talent, and I can't believe she is not working more often than she does. Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro are simply the best. They could do this work in their sleep, and they could make it all worthwhile. I also liked that there was a brief but meaningful presence made by Maximiliano Hernandez, who played Jesper Sitwell in several of the Marvel movies. He does good work here as well.

What is most shocking is that according to "Sicario," the situation of the War on Drugs seems painfully similar to the War on Terror. There are lots of gears grinding towards a solution in both camps, but we still feel miles away from it at the same time. How can we put so much effort into something and still feel so far away? "Sicario" offers a terrible answer to that question, and the answer may not delight everybody who sees the movie, but I give the filmmakers credit for going there. There are some stories that you have to tell the whole way, or not at all and there is lots the filmmakers got away with here, all making it worthwhile.

I don't think "Sicario" will bring anybody to the awards circuit this year, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be scene. Its a drama that is better than it had to be, and its an action movie that doesn't delve into the ridiculous and mindless. "Sicario" is a blunt instrument, and it may seem familiar, but the ride itself is worth taking.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Prophet's Prey Review

Prophet's Prey Review
Sometimes, there is nothing scarier than the truth.

If you have kept up on current events, then you probably know all about Warren Jeffs and the Fundalmentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. You know for many years he rose to power within the church and the congregation who follows Jeffs live isolated from the outside world, and to put it in the best way possible, dress like its the 1880's. Jeffs was charged with child molestation, rape, child labor and host of other crimes and is currently serving a life sentence plus twenty years. Yet still being in jail, he rules his congregation with an iron hand. Its a sickening, sad, true story and those emotions elevated after viewing this documentary which smudges your face in the ugliness of Jeff's teaching.

We follow two private detectives as they still currently try their hardest to break into the world of the Fundalmentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. They have been following the FLDS since Warren took up power, and we get in depth look at the church on a whole. We see a brief history of how the church came into being. We learn that Warren Jeffs may or may not have killed his father in order to grab hold of the church. We learn how Warren celebrates multiple wives and how he molested several children. Sadly, we also learn how all so much police work over the years has done nothing to drop the church of itself.

The film focuses lots of how brainwashed the people of the church are, but one observation stings more than most. One of the private detectives discussed how brainwashing really isn't apart of it. These people are so hardwired to their culture and religion that they may never give up their beliefs. You see this motif over and over again in the movie, and I believe it. Not just with the FLDS, but every single religion out there. I am not sure words like brainwashing and mind-control can be real phrases to pin on religion. When someone grows up in a certain culture and belief system, that culture and those beliefs imprint on you. The more you grow up in ground zero, the harder it is to break away from those beliefs. I believe this is why the FLDS is still 10,000 strong even after Warren Jeffs has been in prison for so long.

This is a very effective documentary, but lots of it is hard to watch. It is very spooky to watch. I have been working at a daycare for over two years now, and any sort of harm pertaining to kids effects me more than it ever has before. So many parts of this movie had a hard effect on me. All the child labor, all the children betraying their parents, the stories of molestation, its awful. There is a great fear that this movie tapped into because of it, and how it still goes on irks my core.

"Prophet's Prey" leads us to the front door of darkness and it won't let you leave until it has told you its story. Its a movie that scared me more than the most brutal of horror fiction. Its also one bizarre, brutally sad history lesson.


TV REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (Episode 3, Season 3)



This week on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." we return to the conflict between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the newly formed ATCU. The ATCU is grabbing all the Inhumans there because they believe they pose a threat to the world, while S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to help them control their powers. This week S.H.I.E.L.D. and ATCU quasi worked together to find Lincoln. Daisy really wants to find Lincoln, and it looks like Daisy will be getting a brand new love story for the show. Yep, Lincoln and Daisy had a nice smooch near the end of tonight's episode, and it will be nice to watch her find new love after the fallout of Grant Ward. Though the tone of the episode pointed out that Coulson may not be so interested in pursuing a team of Inhumans for S.H.I.E.L.D. which makes me kind of sad, I want to see the Secret Warriors!!!

The other half of the episode focused on Lance Hunter, who finally got Melinda May to help him track down and kill Ward. He goes to bar that is secretly recruiting for the new HYDRA Ward is putting together, and the person behind is none other than Dan Feuerriegel. Who, most of you are wondering? Did anybody catch "Spartacus" on Starz? If you didn't you need to Netflix it pronto because its one of the best shows of the last five years. I loved seeing Dan Feuerriegel on here and it was a great performance. I hope to God that this isn't the last time we see him, because I love the mini-Spartacus reunion this show has been offering (TAKE THAT ARROW AND FLASH!). But by the end, Lance is inside HYDRA, growing closer and closer to Ward. This is getting very exciting.

This episodes true champion was Luke Mitchell, who plays Lincoln. He's really been standing out recently. This episode was his on paper, and Luke Mitchell took that and ran with it. Mitchell is creating an outstanding presence on this show, and I can't wait to see how his character develops more on the show. Very good work, Mr. Mitchell, I hope there is plenty more to come.

I still really dig the new direction the show is taking, even if it is taking babysteps. For example, I love the HYDRA element even though they are not the big bad of the show. I remain curious about Jemma and exactly what happened to her on the other side of the universe. Its briefly touched on here, but what does get said about it should lead to a fun story thread. I like all the spy type stuff still going on, even if the show is carving up a somewhat new identity. The best shows out there sometimes adapt, and nobody wants a circular plot, so I applaud this newer direction the show is taking.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, October 12, 2015




Every week, I watch "Minority Report," and every week I am trying to find cool stuff in it.

I am trying to find some points of hope in this otherwise ordinary police procedure. There is one piece of hope. The subplot involving Agatha seems interesting, it is radically different from her character in the movie. But at least it is interesting. At least, its interesting so far. There is so much still in the shadows, but it seems like Agatha could end up being the big bad of this show, or at least this season. Like I said, I am not sure how much I like that prospect, but we will see how it materializes. 

So much of the rest of the show is so ordinary that I feel like I am watching a futuristic version of "Law and Order." I am glad they stopped playing the whole "Hey, remember THIS from the movie" game, but its just a gimmicky police show. One that is strictly pedestrian, one that doesn't embrace the challenging aspects of what they are setting up. I don't know if the show really wants to be anything challenging or different. Its well acted and well polished, its just missing a little zing of inspiration the show desperately needs.

I am losing hope in this one quick, so it better change for the better soon.

What did everyone else think?