Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Midnight Special Review

Midnight Special Review
An unknown alien trapped on Earth. A small sympathetic group protecting it. A governmental group looking for it. We have seen these plot points play out in movies for years and years. From "E.T." to "Close Encounters" to "Super 8" just a few years ago. I love that there can something more to a alien on earth story than just the typical, aliens are bad and they are going to invade us. I have been just as drawn to the idea that something accidentally came to us, and they just want to go home. Even though our world leaders would make that next to impossible for them. I love it, but it has been overdone over  the years.

"Midnight Special" feels like that sort of movie. There is a little boy named Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) who is on the run with his father Roy (Michael Shannon) and his best friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). Alton is capable of magnificent things, and he is going to do something special on a certain day, and Roy plans to make sure he gets to where he needs to be. The government is trying to track Alton down. Roy can't let that happen, Alton has a very specific engagement at a very specific time on a very specific date. If Alton does not make it, things could go very bad for us.

 Of course, that sounds familiar. But "Midnight Special" takes on a road you don't necessarily expect. Its a movie that feels all too familiar, while also being completely different at the same time. Yes, Alton is not from our planet and he is on the run, but he may not exactly be an alien. Yes, the government is after Alton, but perhaps not for power or greed or conquest. Yes, Roy is Alton's father. Or is he? Its never really confirmed if Roy adopted the boy or helped make him. Alton has a mother named Sarah played by Kirsten Dunst. But when we see Sarah and Roy interact in the movie, they come off as if they just met. I have not got into the characters that Sam Shepard, Paul Sparks and Adam Driver play. But you must know that the less you know about this, the more enriching it will be.

The film was written and directed by Jeff Nichols. This is the fourth film he has made. I haven't seen "Shotgun Stories" yet. But I have seen "Mud" and "Take Shelter," a pair of films that flattened me the first time I saw both of them. I can tell with confidence that Jeff Nichols is a rising talent that should be put on everyone's radar. He has a dedication to craft, mood and atmosphere in his previous films, and "Midnight Special" is no different. There is a wonderful use of music in this film. All the performances are top-notch. The very minimal use of special effects in the film is just enough that this film feels authentic and real, even though there are some clear otherworldly things going on in it. I also love how Nichols played with expectations of the genre, but also made something that is exclusively original. Never an easy thing to pull off, and he made it look effortless.

I loved seeing Michael Shannon reunite with Nichols. In "Midnight Special," he is playing a very different character compared to the one he played in "Take Shelter." But that just shows the profound range Shannon possesses. Edgerton, Dunst, Shepard, Driver and Sparks are all very good in their roles. But in a movie like this, you have to cast the right child. I have to say that Nichols made a slam dunk when he hired Jaeden Lieberher to play Alton. I love that he isn't the typical scared, frail child we usually see in this movie. Alton has some real personality, and I enjoyed watching Lieberher play with that. I can't wait to see what this young man does next.

Expertly crafted, impressively set-up, beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, "Midnight Special" is the best film of the year. Watch out for Jeff Nichols.

FINAL GRADE: A+

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Cell Trailer

I have been a huge Stephen King fan all of my life. I have also loved zombies all my life. So when I was in high school, and I caught wind that King has written up his own take on the zombie story, I positively couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Especially, with a set up so juicy. The cell phone craze was present around 2006, but they weren't the devices we know today. But even back then, there was no question as to how attached to them people were. Stephen King's Cell told the story of one day, a pulse getting released to all cell phone lines all across the world. With the result that turned its users into mindless killers. Sure, that may sound silly, but there is lots of silliness in the horror genre when you really pull things apart. The zombie genre has always dealt in metaphor, and looking back at it now, its amazing the story King set-up and even what he predicted. Now more than ever, we are slaves to our cell phones. We feel naked without them. (I myself accidentally left my cell phone at home from work today, and I couldn't bare how incomplete I felt without it.) We can do so much with them now, and some people have their entire lives on their phones. We are, in a way, being controlled by them. Being zombiefied by them.

When I reflect on reading that book, I remember a great set-up. I remember an excellent and quick opening that grabbed the readers. King likes to ramble, especially when he should be throwing us into the story, but Cell was different, and I loved it for it. Sadly, the rambling began later in the book, and one of the things King has always had trouble with is sticking the landing. The ending to Cell was pretty disappointing, and I learned that I wasn't alone in that thinking.

Its taken years and years for "Cell" to be adapted into a movie, but its been a plan for awhile. A decade ago, horror filmmaker Eli Roth was attached to make the movie, but the film fell into development hell for years. The movie "Cell" was finally made in 2013, but it is getting released this year.

The film will star John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson (both of whom worked together on another King adaptation, "1408") and Isabelle Furhman. The film will be directed by Tod Williams. It looks like King himself worked on the screenplay, trying to create a better ending than he wrote for the book. That piece intrigues me a lot, and I think I am little excited about the potential big differences between book and movie. The thing is, 2013 was a few years ago. I have read that Cusack and King himself were forced out of the movie. Its taken a long time for this to finally get on its feet. What was the problem? What took so long after the movie was filmed? These all feel like red flags, I hope I am wrong. But I am not holding my breath, because the good King adaptation are far and in between.



TV REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (EPISODE EIGHTEEN, SEASON THREE)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

EPISODE EIGHTEEN, SEASON THREE- "THE SINGULARITY"
I was pretty livid last week over this show. I still can't stand that the show has decided to do the whole "double crossing secret agent" for a third time in a row. I said it last week and I'll say it again, they can make an interesting and entertaining show without doing the same thing each season. Especially since this exists in the MCU. The sky should be the limit, but somehow its not. Not quite.

Tonight's episode saw Jemma, Mack and Fitz go find a special scientist who specialized in finding ways to keep parasites out of animals. They feel his work will be critical for creating a way to save Daisy from Hive. Hive's powers do indeed work like a parasite, and if they can get Hive out of Daisy, she'll be right as rain. The thing is, Daisy doesn't want to go back to S.H.I.E.L.D. Or at least, that is what Hive would have her say. Daisy has always wanted to belong somewhere, to have a family and Hive is creating a weird family. Hive has the powers to see deep inside all of us and find what we want and need, and that is how he gains followers. Daisy nearly killed Fitz this episode just to prove that very point. It really tough to see Daisy on the dark side of force, so to speak. That Australian guy that Lincoln and Daisy met a few episodes ago? He's with Hive now too, he was given powers from Hive, and Hive also took "the only weapon that can kill him." Because, you know, plot convenience.

The Australian was given powers where he can pretty much turn anything he wants into a grenade. Trust me, he started going through every code name from the comic books that revolved around someone with fire powers. I don't know yet what name he will land on though.

The scientist Jemma and Fitz tried to find is played by none other than John Hannah. The guy who played Evee's sister in 1999 "The Mummy." I love John Hannah as an actor, and I absolutely love seeing him in the MCU. Hopefully, he isn't a character that is "one and done." When we see him at episode's end, he was captured by Hive. What does Hive want with him? I am not entirely sure. We will find out next week. 

Jemma and Fitz have come a long way in their relationship. They are even talking about hoping on the good foot and doing the bad thing, if you catch my drift. I like that these are receiving more depth in their relationship. These two have become the heart and soul of the team, and I am glad they are beginning to feel more and more like that. Especially when Jemma has a very dreadful encounter with Hive. I love these two, and I am glad they are being fully developed.

Other highlights include Coulson and May watching the entire HYDRA infrastructure get destroyed by Glenn Talbot. There is also a moment when Coulson and May are looking for Hive and Daisy, and they go to a  house that was rigged to explode. Coulson keeps May safe with a Captain America-style S.H.I.E.L.D. that is hidden in his robotic hand. It was a wonderful moment. I wonder where we will find Brock Rumlow and Baron Zemo when we see them in "Captain America: Civil War," since HYDRA is hurting pretty bad now. The show keeps hinting that someone is going to die, and I still see it as a big mistake. Now is the time to really begin to develop these characters, not kill them to create some cheap drama.

What did everyone else think?

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Huntsman: Winter's War Review

The Huntsman: Winter's War Review
Back in 2012, I saw "Snow White and the Huntsman" and it was fine. Not horrible, not fantastic, just fine. I think out of the two Snow White movies we got that year, it was the better of the two, but I just feel that is a fainter praise than it probably comes off. I certainly would have never guessed in a thousand years that it would ever get a sequel. But sure enough, in 2016, we get "The Huntsman: Winter's War." Which is a prequel/sequel that focuses on how Chris Hemsworth's Eric became the Huntsman we saw in 2012. We also see a bit of history of Raveena, the evil queen played by Charlize Theron and her sister Feya (Emily Blunt). Who gained the power to freeze things once she got angry by her husbands betrayal. 

Did we need this sequel? Not even close. Did we ask for this sequel? I don't know about your friends and family, but I know nobody who was hoping and praying for a return to this world of Snow White. So I ask myself why this movie was even made. All I can guess is that its just another hollow reaction to the success of Disney's "Frozen" from 2013. Because Emily Blunt's Feya takes center stage in this movie. If you can imagine a warped version of Elsa who gained a hunger for power and took children  out of their beds to build an army, First Order style. Feya forbade this army to fall in love, because after her husbands betrayal, love is bad. Two people she trained her army were Eric and Sara (Jessica Chastain). Eric and Sara ended up falling in love, so one day Feya had Sara killed in front of Eric's face, before exiling him from her army.

But don't worry, I haven't spoiled the movie. You see, Sara didn't really die. Feya just used her powers to have Eric believe she died. Turns out, Sara is looking for the mirror that brought Raveena so much power, because she knows Feya wants it. If the mirror ends up in Feya's hands, it could mean big trouble for the entire realm. At this point, the movie becomes a typical, flat, Liam Neeson-narrated "adventure." The mirror is turned into the McGuffin of the movie, and by the end we don't know if the true villain is Feya or Raveena. Eric and Sara spend some time of the movie getting mad at each other, but of course, they fall in love again. What is really confusing is that they keep making a big deal about saving Snow White's land, even though we never really see Snow White at all in the movie.

I love Chris Hemsworth, but I have to admit that it feels like he's incapable of making any good movies that aren't under the Marvel banner. (Aside from "Rush") He's packed full of charisma and tries hard to make this movie count, but nothing about his character stands out. The script he trying to bring to life is horrid, and he just can't make any of it count. Should I only get excited about Hemsworth when he's playing a character named Thor? That certainly seems to be my take on his career at large.

Charlize Theron is fine I guess. She isn't in the movie much. This isn't the movie we think it is from the marketing. While I'd welcome something like that normally, this is such a big mess that I don't think there is a movie at all. I think Emily Blunt is fantastic, and I think she does everything she was asked to do here, there is just nothing of substance to her character. The same can be said of Jessica Chastain's character. There is nothing these characters offer that would want me to buy a ticket to another adventure, there is nothing here that can possibly make me care about anything I am seeing. Any actress could have done what Raveena, Feya and Sara do here, and I am a little disappointed that Theron, Chastain and Blunt didn't do much make these characters stick out. These are three of the best actresses working in Hollywood right now, and they made this movie feel like a Syfy movie.

When it boils down to it, "The Huntsman:Winter's War," is a grab-bag of events. First, its about Eric and Sara and their quest against Feya. Then I guess they didn't know how to end it, so they threw Raveena in for a big main event-style fight to close things out. Everything that had to do with the mirror just shows that this movie is about how incredibly insecure Raveena and Feya are. I wonder, do women find this sexist? Was this the fable that the Grimm brothers were aiming for so many years ago? I don't know, I just know everything in this movie was poorly explored, poorly explained, and felt hollow. 

Plus, Feya rides into battle on top of a polar bear. Much like the White Witch from "Chronicles of Narnia." I literally thought I was watching "Chronicles of Narnia." Couldn't the filmmakers been a little more original?

FINAL GRADE: D

The Boss Review

The Boss Review

I like Melissa McCarthy. She made me laugh out loud in "Bridesmaids" and when I saw her in that movie, I figured she would be a promise of great things to come. I thought she'd be some form of a female Zack Galifianakis. But much like Galifiankais, most of the characters McCarthy plays are the exact same. These weird, socially-inept people who fall down a lot and have a crude sex pun in literally every situation. That has become the extent of talent. One could argue that people like Seth Rogen and Micheal Cera play the same people every movie, and that would be a fair assessment. But at least Cera and especially Rogen can be funny a lot more often. With all of that said, McCarthy is still able to pull out a hidden treasure like "Spy" last year. She's one of those actresses where, if used correctly, could feel like a new sensation with every movie.

Sadly, I mostly felt "The Boss" just a standard Melissa McCarthy movie. Sure, her character isn't quite as strange as we are used to seeing. But she still falls down a lot and she still has some oddball sexual pun she seemingly pulls out of her ass. In "The Boss," McCarthy plays Michelle Darnell, a CEO of her own company who has always put business first. She's this snarky female-Donald Trump (although a lot less racist, sexist and ageist) who will do whatever to make the American dollar. She's been successful, and she has become one of the wealthiest women in the world. She has had the help of her assistant Claire (Kristen Bell), a single mom who wants to rise within Darnell's company, but is treated like a typical assistant we see in these kinds of movies. One day, Darnell is busted for insider trading and spends some time in federal prison.

Once out of prison, she is hit hard by the real world of not living rich. She has no home, no company and no morale. Seeing no other option, she asks if she can crash at Claire's home until she can get back on her feet. She's not used to living in a small apartment with all the pleasantries she is used to as a billionaire, but Claire and her daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) try to make it work with her. Michelle is trying hard to get back into the game, but its hard due to Michelle's long-time corporate rival Ronald (Peter Dinklage). One day, she attends a girl scout meeting with Rachel the same day she tries one of Claire's delicious brownies, and she finally sees a way back into the big time. She is going to create a brownie empire with Claire, and uses some of the profit to create a college fund for Rachel and her fellow scouts.

So how good is Melissa McCarthy? She's fine, in a McCarthy kind of way. While I will admit that the movie made me laugh at some parts, it didn't make my stomach hurt with laughter the way I hoped it would. There are various forms of comedy in the film, but I think it seldom sticks. This is the same schlock we are used to seeing from McCarthy, the problem though is that for me, its starting to get old. We know McCarthy is capable of better, we know she can be really funny for an entire movie. So why make stuff like this?

I have seen Kristen Bell in a lot of movies over the years, and honestly I never get much from her. Such is the case with "The Boss." Most of the time she just comes off as a blank who is saying lines into the camera, and that shows big time here. If she didn't have McCarthy to bounce off of, she wouldn't be much of a presence at all. The role of Claire is a role that any actress could do, so I was hoping Bell would find a way to make the character stand out. Instead, she just goes through the motions.

I will say the film's highest saving grace is of course, Peter Dinklage. The guy is amazing, and I find myself baffled that the same actor is playing Tyrion Lannister on "Game of Thrones." They are completely different style of character, through and through, and it shows that Dinklage is a true talent. Dinklage sells the awkward and strange demeanor needed for his character. He sees the dry humor in his character and embraces it. There is a great scene at the end of the movie where Dinklage pulls out a samurai sword, and its just such a great scene because Peter throws himself into the role. If you need any reason to pay money for this, he would be it.

"The Boss" is, simply put, not that funny. Its just an ordinary script that tries to be more, tries to do more, but ends up failing overall. There are some good things in it, and McCarthy is certainly involved in some of those things. But they never add up. But we know they could have added up, there is a great comic performer hidden somewhere in McCarthy's wheelhouse, and I wish she'd let that performer out to play more often.

FINAL GRADE: C+

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Trailer

The 1960 western "The Magnificent Seven" is a classic of the genre. It was as shameless but fun remake of "The Seven Samurai." It had a great cast that included Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and Eli Wallach. It was essentially about seven cowboys who kicked ass and took names.

In the remake, it will be Denzel Washington, Chriss Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D'Onofrio who are cowboys kicking ass and taking names. This will also be something that is richly diverse. I am not just talking about the mere Washington casting. This group of seven includes an Asian and a Native American in the ranks. This looks like it will have a more fun tone than the original, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.


The Invitation Review

The Invitation Review

I think I am just scared out of my mind of cults. A few years ago, I watched a horror movie called "The Sacrament," which was basically a fictional retelling of the Jonestown Incident of 1978. Even though you can predict what will happen by the end of "The Sacrament," its still terrifying, it still gets under your skin. I obsessed over it weeks after I saw it, and really as far as horror movies go, nothing much happens. Doesn't matter, it got to me. I think certain subject matter irks me, and that matter is cults. I can't begin to imagine what it would take for a person to drop their lives and join a very strange and very controlling community. But, to each their own, I guess.

"The Invitation" is about a couple who gets forcefully drawn into a cult plot. There is a character that sees the whole movie coming, and its a massive ticking time bomb until the finish. Of course, its the type of movie where the audience knows something bad will happen, the main character knows something bad will happen, but nobody believes him. Yeah, its not the best horror film in the world, but it definitely sparked my attention due to its subject matter. It revolves around a crazy cult who has sinister plans for a particular dinner party. I just wish the movie had been scary. 

There is some subtle stuff that is freaky, like a scene when a woman is making creepy faces in a mirror all by herself. There is also a scene were a cult official is aiding someone who is about to commit suicide. There is a massive morbid feel throughout this entire movie, and racks up the stakes and the atmosphere of the movie. But I need more than just stakes and atmosphere. It certainly helps a horror movie, but it doesn't make it all the way good. There isn't a lot of content in this movie that is scary. I was hoping for bigger moments. But they never came. Sadly, the rest of the movie is just the main character trying to convince his friends that this cult thing is bad, and they not believing him. I liked the set-up and premise for most of the movie. I just wished they did more with it.

Logan Marshall-Green plays Will, the hero of our story who is trying to get everybody to believe him. Will takes his girlfriend Kira (Emayatzy Corinealdi) to a dinner party of an ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard). Will and Eden split after the death of their son. Eden apparently has found salvation from her sons death through a cult called "The Invitation" which is represented at the party by Pruitt (John Carrol Lynch). "The Invitation" is just like every other creepy movie cult. But the work done by Lynch is as creepy and as menacing as anything he has ever done. The performances are good across the board. They are just doing very basic character moments, instead of anything big or fascinating. 

I have liked Drafthouse Films so far and the movies they buy and promote. I just can't say anything big about this one. It seemed like a pretty ordinary horror movie to me. It has a great premise, and as much as I fear cults, perhaps I was a target audience member. There is good acting throughout, but there are not many scares, and not much suspense.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Captain America: Civil War clip

Some of these have been popping up online.

I usually don't get too excited for small clips, but this one was particularly cool.

Check out Winter Soldier schooling Team Stark.

Black Panther looks pretty cool in action. But I have to admit that Marvel's dependence on Iron Man is starting to show slightly. Sorry, but Iron Man truly is a guy with some spiffy armor. There is no way he'd last as long as he did with no armor against Winter Soldier. Sorry, wouldn't happen. Just like he wouldn't come so close to beating Thor in fight, like he did in "Avengers."

But, trust me, I am not an Iron Man hater. Although I will be for #TeamCap for this movie.


TV REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (EPISODE SEVENTEEN, SEASON THREE)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

EPISODE SEVENTEEN, SEASON THREE- "THE TEAM"
Oh, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." you try my patience.

I was pretty steamed when the show decided to dump Mockingbird and Lance Hunter. Sure, they are getting their spin-off show, but just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. It was whimsical luck that "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." got a second season. They chose to really revamp the show, which gave us a third season. Part of that revamping was introducing a host of cool new characters. Which added to the flavor of success. Now, not even a whole season after the introduction of Mockingbird and Lance you take them off the show. After spending a whole summer playing with the idea of taking them off then not? That just seems sloppy and silly.

Tonight, they turned Daisy Johnson into a villain. Oh sure, she's under the control of Hive. But its pretty clear in the stinger for the upcoming four episodes that she will be standing arm-in-arm with Hive. There is also a possible death for her on the horizon. By the end of this episode, I had to make sure I was watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and not "Game of Thrones." Just because one show in existence can kill off its entire cast of main characters, doesn't mean every show has that luxury. I mean, just look at the quality drop in Showtime's "Homeland" once they killed off Brody.

I loved the early part of the episode, when Daisy recruited Yo-Yo, Joey and Lincoln to go save Coulson and the rest of her team. Leading to a pretty awesome rescue mission. The rest of the episode was based around the team trying to figure out who Hive infected. Part of his power base allows Hive to infect other Inhumans with a mind control agent. Of course, its Daisy who gets it and she is now under the influence of Hive. Can I please ask why? What's the point of doing the whole S.H.I.E.L.D. agent turns bad storyline again? When they did it in season one, off the heals of "Captain America: Winter Solider" that was a shock. That was rousing storytelling. But in season two they had another inside man storyline that ended up half-assed. I know that this is a show about a spy agency, but that doesn't mean you can keep recycling the same plots over and over again. You can still make a compelling and entertaining spy show without doing the same thing each season. This is Marvel for crying out loud.

Yet, for some reason, the show hardly acknowledges that. They've been teasing The Secret Warriors all season. Then after one bad mission, they disband? Is that really supposed to be good storytelling? Compelling storytelling? The Secret Warriors would be an awesome way to keep the show going, but they apparently want nothing to do with it. The show also likes killing off Marvel characters for no good reason. I wouldn't care as much if they gave us some break out original characters. Besides May, Fritz and Jemma, that hasn't happened. 

There was a lot about tonight's episode that left me cold. I think this show might be getting a little too ahead of itself. Or its aware of its ratings problem and is now trying to pull out all the stops. That's never a good sign. What gave you the green light for a third season in the first place was the rich storytelling of the second season. Stick to that, rich storytelling. Then maybe people will keep tuning in. Doing the same thing over and over while getting rid of great characters and equally great potential storylines? Not such a good plan.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hush Review

Hush Review
As the slasher movie has molded into our pop culture, there are certain norms that have asserted themselves. There is an individual or small group of people in a house. The house is usually secluded. There is a masked killer after them. Very few slasher movies break from that mold. They may have tweaked the sub-genre to a degree, but it usually follows in those same footsteps. Why not? The formula has proven to do well, so why completely break from it?

"Hush" may seem like a gimmick as I describe it. There is a writer named Maddie (Kate Siegel) who down on her luck. If she doesn't get another big writing hit, she may have to abandon her work as a writer for good. So she barricades herself in her house in the woods. No visible neighbors around. Just a house buried in the woods. She plans to spend the quiet evening working on her book. Until she attacked by a masked killer who is ready to up his body count. Oh, and one more thing. Maddie is deaf. There is a moment in ''Hush" where a woman runs to find refuge in Maddie's house. Maddie doesn't hear the woman's screams, and she stabbed to death by the masked killer (John Gallagher Jr.). The masked killer easily drags the body away, looks into Maddie's house, knocks on the glass several times. Nothing. 

Like I said, you all probably think "gimmick," but the honest truth is that "Hush" is actually pretty good. What makes it an engaging horror film is that...finally...the characters are smart. All the characters are smart. Maddie is a smart women, and puts up an unexpected fight against her attacker. Which is pretty good for a person who is deaf. This isn't a case of stupid screenwriting, every idea and move Maddie makes is realistic and plausible. This movie doesn't try to cut corners, its told straight, which I appreciated very much. The killer is also very smart though, which rises the stakes quite a bit in the movie. Even when a family friend comes to check on Maddie, he's not the typical read shirt we find in these movies because someone needs to die. Its so refreshing  to see a horror movies where human beings actually behave like human beings.

The work done by Kate Siegel should be heavily applauded. Its amazing how she creates a character without the ability to speak. There are subtitles so we can understand her sign language. But she is able to create an entire character based on looks and movements. John Gallagher Jr, who was so good in last month's "10 Cloverfield Lane," does a very good job portraying a snarky adversary. Because he's so well written, Gallagher Jr. is given several prosperous opportunities to really let loose as the character and he genuinely soars. Its hard to make a convincing movie with such a small cast, but this pair of actors makes it look effortless.

The only thing I could have asked for was that it was more scary. There aren't too many things that I would even call mildly eerie. For a movie about a deaf woman, and for a movie that goes out of its way to bring the audience into the main characters point-of-view, it does very little to scare and shock its audience. Heck, I would have given the movie some merit if it had just thrown in a "boo" scare or two. But there is so much good here, that "Hush" is worth your time and attention.

FINAL GRADE: B

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Jungle Book Review

The Jungle Book Review
I have been puzzled by Disney's need to make live-action recreations of all of their animated classics. Its like a surge of remakes we didn't ask for. So far, these live-action retelling of Disney's greatest hits has been a mixed bag at best. "Cinderella" was a good movie, not outstanding, but definitely good. "Alice in Wonderland" was completely unneeded. I can't remember who made the two 2012 Snow White movies, but they ranged from horrible to mediocre. We still have several of these coming in the future. My expectations for "The Jungle Book" were pretty low. Despite being a big fan of director Jon Favreau and really enjoying the cast. Its always okay to proceed with caution.

"The Jungle Book" is magic, though.

Its the best live-action Disney movie yet.

What makes "The Jungle Book" soar above all the rest is that it does the best job of updating this story, while also holding onto some of the sweetness of the original material. It features something special for the whole family. Your little ones won't end up having nightmares, but they will be thrilled by the adventure of it all. You'll will be internally cheering right next to them. Its a pitch perfect example of using cutting-edge technology to bring animals to life, and matching the perfect voices to bring them further to life. A bear with Bill Murray's voice singing "Bear Necessities" is worth the price of admission all by itself. Or maybe its Christopher Walken's voice matching King Louie so eloquently. 

Another reason why this is the best live action Disney movie is because you are going to find very difficult to figure out a favorite part of the movie. You will feel hypnotized by Kaa (voiced by Scarlet Johansson) as she tries to eat little Mowgli (Neel Sethi). You will be absorbed by Shere Kahn (voiced by Idris Elba) and all of his vile antics. You will be blown away by the water truce scene and seeing all the heavily realistic animals all together. You will be thrilled by the final encounter of Mowgli and Shere Kahn. You will love all the Mowgli and Baloo scenes and how Baloo gets Mowgli to fetch him a lot of honey. This entire movie feels like a dream come to life, a moving, breathing, vibrant dream and its all engaging.

Even though there are giants bringing life through voice, the real treasure is Mowgli. In order for this adaptation to flourish, they had to get Mowgli right and I am happy to report that Favreau did that with ease. Neel Sethi gives an absolutely dazzling performance as the man-cub. He's witty, funny, daring and courageous and Sethi makes it all look effortless. It also proves why whitewashing roles simply doesn't work. Neel Sethi looks like Mowgli, like somebody took the animated character and brought him to life. He easily is settled into this world of green and animals, and it all feels authentic. It feels real, this all feels like a fully-mobile place. This simply would not feel like "The Jungle Book" had it been a white child, or a child of another decent. I can find this story much more believable because the Mowgli inhabiting this world is believable. 

I don't know much about the production of this movie, but this place looks like it was shot in a real jungle. I know there is no way that could have happened with the CGI animals, and I am sure there were a tremendous amount of green screens used, but it all feels like a real place. I love the blending of cutting edge special effects and what can be done behind a computer these days. This could possibly be a early contender for the awards season next year.

Make no mistake about it, "The Jungle Book" is a great movie. The greatest of the Disney live-action bunch. If the studio continues to make their live action renditions at this caliber, then we are in for several big events in the future.

FINAL GRADE: A

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Birth of A Nation Trailer

This pasted January, there was movie that became a Sundance sensation. Something that buzzing from the annual film festival. A movie that cleverly subverts the title of an old movie that came out in 1915. The movie I am talking about is called "The Birth of A Nation." It tells the story of Nat Turner, a slave who orchestrated a slave rebellion in the heart of the 1800's south. The movie hit such a nerve at this years Sundance that Fox Searchlight payed a pretty penny for this to get released in theaters this October.

People are going to say that Searchlight payed the big bucks out of the OscarsSoWhite controversy. People are predicting an Oscar Best Picture win already. I don't care about all of that, I am just so enthralled by the trailer I saw today. Its easily the best trailer of the year so far. Great editing, great set-up, great use of music. Pretty much great everything. Nate Parker will star as Nat Turner and he also wrote and directed the movie. From what I've read, he poured his heart and soul and everything he had into making this movie. Why? Because he really wanted to tell the story of Nat Turner. Its pretty clear that award season was not on Parker's mind when he made this, and I think that's important to point out. This is something that is driven by passion, not Oscar bait. To me, it shows.





Yep. Best trailer of the year so far. October can get here any minute now.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Godzilla: Resurgence

Well, in the same year that we get "Independence Day: Resurgence" we would also in face, get "Godzilla Resurgence." This is being released in Japan this summer. But since our foreign market for movies is better than ever, hopefully we can get to see this on American shores sometime in the near future. They filmed a old-school style Godzilla movie.

Yep. This is a guy in a suit.

Check it out.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doctor Strange Trailer


This isn't the first time I have discussed "Doctor Strange" on this site, but I am happy to finally see some footage of the upcoming superhero movie. 

Yes, folks. That is correct. This is a superhero movie, it takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Its just not going to look like any superhero movie Marvel has presented to us yet. There has been a sense of realism to most of the movies Marvel has made so far. I am so excited to finally see something that embraces the strange. Pun completely intended.

This movie is basically going to be the journey of a guy from New York who becomes a very powerful version of Harry Potter. We are going to see some cool magic and cool dimensions. We are going to discover the very cosmic fabric that is the Marvel Universe. I can't wait. 

It looks beautiful.

Like "Inception" with superheroes.

Who else is in? 



TV REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (EPISODE SIXTEEN, SEASON 3)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

EPISODE SIXTEEN, SEASON THREE- "PARADISE LOST"
Hive calls the inner circle of HYDRA together. S.H.I.E.L.D. is hot on the trail of Gideon Malick and HYDRA. Daisy Johnson finds out a shocking revelation about Lincoln. Lots of stuff went down on tonight's episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." There was a lot to like and some stuff that was a little weird.

Hive made it clear that he plans to be the leader of HYDRA. He made it known to Gideon that he has him by the balls. If anybody was expecting Gideon's daughter Stephanie to become the Madame Hydra in this universe, well those theories got shot down quick. Hive killed Stephanie rather quickly tonight. The episode wrapped around a series of flashbacks to the early days of Gideon rising in HYDRA. Gideon had a brother named Nate, and they firmly believed in the Inhuman god trapped on the planet Maveth. The brothers participated in the ceremonies choosing somebody to try and bring back Hive. The brothers made a pact to never go to Maveth, but since Hive has the ability to absorb the life force out of people to keep his life going, Gideon took back his oath and his brother went to Maveth. Gideon never told his daughter, so Hive told her for him.

How did Nate go to Maveth? Well, that's never fully explained. It has something to do with a Survivor-style drawing of rocks. If you have a black rock, your good to stay home. If you draw a white rock, you go to Maveth. The men are given rocks to put into the bag, I think at least. This part of the story moves rather quickly, and if you blink, you may miss a detail. Its sad because this is really important. Because Hive has a grudge against Gideon because he basically through his brother under the bus by not throwing his colored rock into a pond. At least, that is what we are made to believe. Its hard to tell. Its also hardly explained why Hive feels the need to get revenge on Gideon if Hive isn't Nate, he just has Nate's memories. To gain his control? I am not quite sure.

We also find out that Hive is most definitely the Hive we know from the comics, but we don't get a good look at his face. But he does have the tentacles.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to find out everything they can about Ward and how he resurfaced. Coulson knows he killed him on Maveth, yet Ward is alive and well. The team captures Giyera, which leads to fight between May and Giyera. Which, let me tell you, was the highlight of the episode. Sadly, it doesn't help. Giyera takes control of the Quinjet and successfully lands it in the hands of HYDRA. Coulson, Mack, May, Fritz and Jemma all get captured.

Meanwhile, Daisy and Lincoln go to talk to an Australian who has some special information about Hive, which may help S.H.I.E.L.D. later on. Apparently this Australian knows Lincoln. He and Lincoln went to the Inhuman haven from last season, and the Australian ended up not being an Inhuman. But he remembers Gordon and Daisy's mother and the Afterlife. He also lets it slip about Lincoln's past. Apparently, he had a bad past with alcohol. So I guess we will get the "Demon In The Bottle" storyline, just it won't star Tony Stark, but Lincoln Campbell. All jokes aside, it was pretty awesome when Daisy and Lincoln decide to assemble the Secret Warriors to go save Coulson's team from HYDRA. I kind of hate how this show has been teasing the Secret Warriors the way "Game of Thrones" teases things, but next week should be awesome.

I liked the fight between May and Giyera. Seeing Daniel Whitehall again in a flashback was cool, but Gideon's past was handled kind of sloppily. 

What did everyone else think?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Hollywood Grapevine

Hollywood Grapevine
You all may hate me for this, but tonight's look at movie-related top stories will revolve around Marvel. Lots of news today.

Star-Lord and Thor confirmed for "Infinity War."
We still don't know a whole lot about what is coming our way for the two-part "Infinity War" movie that will cap everything the MCU has been doing since 2008 (except Thanos), but it was confirmed that director duo Joe and Anthony Russo will be working with sixty-eight different characters in the movies. While not many have been confirmed or unconfirmed, two big heroes were made official today. They are fan favorites. All I can say is expect both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt to live in all of their upcoming movies. Star-Lord and Thor have been confirmed for "Infinity Wars!" I can't wait to learn more about who is in and who is out, and I hope we get more information soon!

SOURCE:
http://bloggershawn89.blogspot.com/2016/04/kong-skull-island-featurette.html

 In speaking of Thor...

Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok
Tessa Thompson, who recently starred in "Dear White People," "Creed," and "Selma" will appear in the third film in the "Thor" franchise. She will be a "kind of superhero" and new love interest for Thor. That last part is not really surprising, Natalie Portman has wanted out of the "Thor" franchise since the second movie, so I am guessing Marvel finally set the Academy Award winning actress free. No matter, its still under wraps who Thompson will be playing, but expect her character in future films as well.

SOURCE:
http://www.comicbookresources.com/article/thor-ragnarok-casts-creeds-tessa-thompson

Netflix's "The Defenders" starts shooting later this year
At a Netflix event in Paris today, actor Charlie Cox confirmed that "The Defenders" will start shooting later this year. "The Defenders" will be a mini-series that accumulates all four of Netflix's Marvel series, ("Daredevil," "Jessica Jones," "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist," respectively). The mini-series will star Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and Mike Colter as Luke Cage. It was confirmed a few weeks back that "Game of Thrones" star Finn Jones will play Iron Fist for the Netflix series as well as "The Defenders" mini-series. The show will take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sharing continuity with the popular film franchise.

Cox confirmed that he has no idea what the storyline will be like, but they are shooting for an end-of-the-year start date. I fucking can't wait to lay eyes on this mini-Avengers extravaganza! We will see the first seasons for "Luke Cage" and "Iron Fist" as well as the second season of "Jessica Jones" before the mini-series. No news if we will see a third "Daredevil" season yet.

SOURCE:
 http://comicbook.com/marvel/2016/04/11/daredevils-charlie-cox-announces-the-defenders-filming-date/

A pretty big day for Marvel fans. I have also heard that the first trailer for "Doctor Strange" will premiere sometime tomorrow and that the actress cast for "Captain Marvel" will be announced at this years' San Diego Comic Con! Impressive, can't wait!

What say you, Marvel fans?

Kong: Skull Island Featurette

MTV gave us some details on the upcoming "Kong: Skull Island" movie coming in March 2017. I have liked a lot of "King Kong" related stuff. I like the classic 1930's movie as well as Peter Jackson's 2005 remake. Leave it to nobody but Peter Jackson to make one hell of a remake. I think Jackson's movie was so good that I don't really understand the need to make this. But it has Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, John C. Reilly, and Tom Wilkinson. With a cast that good, I think I can ride on a little faith. The featurette presented below certainly caught my interest. Check it out.


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them Trailer

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is an interesting idea for a movie.

In "Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone," it was a textbook Harry Potter needed for one of his classes during his first year at Hogwarts. I can't remember if the book showed up in the movie or not. It was merely mentioned in the book itself. In 2001, J.K. Rowling actually wrote a book of the same name under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, which was less than 200 pages. I never read the 2001 book, I only ever read the Harry Potter series. Its not something I'd expect to see being made into a movie.

But it is.

I guess in this world of shared universes, I shouldn't be surprised that Warner Brothers is pulling all the stops to capitalize on all their properties. Its pretty apparent that this trailer is relying heavily on nostalgia in order to sell it. The iconic Harry Potter score is in the trailer, and a huge host of recognizable spells from the movies are on display. Alas, I found myself enjoying the trailer. I really like Eddie Redmayne, who will be playing Newt Scamander in this movie. This movie will take place in the USA, which seems fresh. I also like that I spotted Colin Ferrell in the trailer. This looks fun, and I hope it relies more on fun than nostalgia.

David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies is in the director's chair for this movie. So I hope that gives you good feelings as well!

  


Captain America: Civil War Clip


I haven't watched the MTV Movie Awards in years. Simply because their calendar year went off and became weird. They also lost all credibility when "Twilight" started winning Best Picture. Come on, come the fuck on. Even the Academy never did anything THAT blasphemous.

Tonight, the MTV Movie Awards showed us an exclusive clip from the movie. We basically get to see some of Team Cap kick ass and take names against some bad guys. I can't really tell how this gels with the greater story being told, but I am more ready than I ever have been. I can't wait for this. I get pumped more and more each day!



Suicide Squad Trailer 2


Okay Warner Brothers, you have one more chance this year to make me care about your DC Extended Universe.

But honestly, I think David Ayer will be a little bit more successful in his efforts. At least I hope so, I have loved every bit of marketing for "Suicide Squad" so far. This trailer is no different. Not only do we get more great shots of Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. I got to say, if "Suicide Squad" becomes a hit this August, Margot Robbie will become a full-fledged movie star. Here's to hoping that happens, because it looks like Robbie's Harley Quinn is one of those moments where the character magically walked out of the comic books. We will possibly look back and say Margot Robbie was born to play the role, like Robert Downey Jr. to Iron Man or Mickey Rourke to Marv.

I loved that the trailer pushed some of the other characters to the forefront this trailer. Like Jai Courtney's Captain Boomerange, or Jay Hernandez's El Diablo. I also liked Will Smith in this trailer, I like him more and more as the trailers come out. What I thought would be the lowest point of the movie could be one of the highlights.

Oh, and Jared Leto's Mr. J? Holy shit.

I think it could end up being a stroke of genius introducing the new Joker in a non-Batman film. I am glad Leto didn't merely impersonate what Heath Ledger did. Just as Ledger didn't impersonate what Jack Nicholson did. This is going to be a rendition of the Clown Prince of Crime that will belong totally to Leto, and I can't wait to see it.

On the other hand, I have a lot of questions. Especially since the bad taste left from "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is still in my mouth. So Batman kills in this universe without thinking twice, so why is The Joker even alive? The Wikipedia page for "Batman vs. Superman" said that Batman operated for two decades before retiring. So that would explain all the colorful supervillains in this movie. But when you actually sit down to watch "Batman vs. Superman" there is no evidence of those two decades of Batman fighting crime. He seems just as new as Superman. Which means "Suicide Squad" makes zero sense as a movie.

You can ridicule the Marvel model all you want, and I have personally wondered how much creative freedom directors making Marvel movies have when they connect to the greater MCU. But one thing about Kevin Feige is that his movies flow better. DC is trying something different, their directors aren't comparing notes when they make the DC movies. So the tones and styles are very different from each other. That will either be a home run or a huge mistake by the time "Justice League" comes out, because I am having a hard time imagining Leto's Joker sharing a scene with Eisenberg's Lex Luthor.

But hey, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let's just hope this one sticks the landing. It certainly looks like it will.



Hardcore Henry Review

Hardcore Henry Review
An action movie where the audience sees the entire story play out in front of the heroes eyes. Hey, let's be honest, its not something we see everyday. Its certainly never been done on the scale presented in "Hardcore Henry." I was curious about a lot of things before walking into the theater yesterday. The main thing I was curious about was how could the filmmakers make the audience care about a movie that literally looks and feels like somebody playing a video game? Its happened in movies before, movies that never were told from the point-of-view of the main character. Too many times in the past, many movies have felt like a character getting to various checkpoints and defeating enemies, and the enemies get worse and more powerful as the movie moves forward. I love playing video games, but I am not fond of watching people play for hours on end. That gets boring after a while, so how could a movie told from the point-of-view of the hero counter that feeling?

Honestly, whether it was intentional or not, "Hardcore Henry" really does feel like a video game in lots of aspects. There is a moment at the end of the movie when our hero is about to have one last showdown with the Big Bad and his goons, and after a massive explosion, a first aide kit conveniently lands next to our hero. I am sure the idea of a video game was on director Ilya Naishuller's mind as he made this movie. I am sure some people will dismiss the movie as being too gamey. But for me, I enjoyed "Hardcore Henry." What makes the movie good is the wonderful cast of characters, who make their screen time count. Also, the sense of realism that plagues itself over the many action scenes throughout the film. The action is close, and feels urgent, feels real, and will most likely make you cringe. This isn't a bunch of digital avatars fighting each other, these are actors and that sense of realism helped the movie. It may lean a little too heavily on the mechanics of a video game, but it was still a slick and fun ride all the way through.

We see the entire movie through the eyes of Henry. Henry was not played by one actor. Actually, what blew my mind was that ten different actors and stuntmen played Henry. It never once feels like more than one person is playing Henry at the time. Even the films director and actor Andrei Dementiev (who plays Slick Dmitry later in the movie) play Henry at one point. Henry is woken up at the beginning of the movie, missing a leg and an arm. He can't speak and he has no memories of how he got here. All he knows is that a scientist is putting a robotic leg and arm on him. He has charger keeping him alive and that the scientist is his wife (Haley Bennett). Soon, a group of armed men led by Akan (Danila Kozlovsky) wants the state-of-the-art technology keeping Henry alive, and he will kidnap Henry's wife in order to do it. Akan has powerful telekinetic powers and he easily bests Henry in a fight. Soon, Henry finds himself bruised and bloodied and his wife is kidnapped.

Then, Jimmy appears. Jimmy is played by Sharlto Copley and at first you won't get his character. Jimmy has several appearances in the movie, no two alike. He has several different personalities in the movie too. Even though we see Jimmy die several times in the movie, he somehow comes back. But don't fret, there is an explanation to why Jimmy keeps coming back. "Hardcore Henry" isn't a movie that invents concepts and themes as it goes along, its a full fledged action picture. Jimmy has his own reasons for being against Akan and he plans to help Henry any way he can. Sharlto Copley has been putting together an impressive filmography since 2009, and he just starting to showcase just how powerful a performer he truly is.

Akan is a magnificent creep of a villain, and I give Danila Kozlovsky huge credit for bringing Akan to a slimy life. He constantly taunts Henry. He constantly parades Henry's wife in front of him, every chance he gets, violating her with glee. I am a little disappointed that we never get an explanation for why Akan has telekinesis. But there is no doubt that he is a powerful adversary in this movie, and he is brought to great life by Danila Kozlovsky. I didn't know the name at all before I saw this, and now I hope to see more of him in the future.

There is a brief appearance by Tim Roth that is minimal but effective. The actors all do very good work. They make this matter. I am curious to see what others make of the storytelling itself. Because it does feel in the vein of watching somebody play a video game. Those who get woozy from the shaky cam may want to be wary of this one. But, if found footage movies are so popular, I don't see how one couldn't like "Hardcore Henry." The characters are much more realized that your average found footage stock. Its also a much better ride.

"Hardcore Henry" relies heavily on a particular gimmick. How well you respond to that gimmick will decide whether or not you like this movie or not. It certainly worked for me, even though I think they could have streamlined it a little bit better. I don't think this will be a movie that reinvents the action genre. However, its certainly something that should come up in conversation on the genre in the future.

FINAL GRADE: B+

The Results For The Second Annual Heroes vs. Villains March Madness Bracket

Its been another successful year of voting. Its been another long fought battle. Its been a fun month of voting, debating, dissecting and considering the merits of this new batch of heroes and villains.  The final two were Batman, hailing from our Movie Hero bracket, and Don Draper who came from our TV Villains bracket. They both faced stiff competition all month long. Batman in particular was the champion last year and had a lot to prove. Don Draper was a newcomer this year, and proved his worth from beating last year's TV Villain Final Four representative Walter White to make the Final Four. Then, in an amazing upset of voting, defeated Darth Vader. There has been rigorous voting all week. The results are in. The winner of the Heroes vs. Villains II March Madness is...


Yep. Batman is now a two-time Heroes vs. Villains champion. He defeated Don Draper by taking 89% of the voting, easily defeating Don Draper. Batman came into this year's bracket in the number one seed, something he earned by being our reining champion last year. He swiftly defeated Elsa in the first round. Then casually destroyed Han Solo in the second round of voting. He then went up against Legolas Greenleaf in the third round, squaring the elf out of the competition. Then finally made it to the Final Four after defeating John McClane. In the Final Four, Batman went up against Mr. Spock, and defeated him to defend his title against Don Draper, the villain representing this year's bracket.

Good job, Bat-fans. Thanks for voting.

I hope you all had a good time this year, and it is starting to show that March is becoming a staple month for my blog. That is all because of you guys, so thanks again for participating. 

And yes...

Heroes vs. Villains will return...




Thursday, April 7, 2016

#Horror Review

#Horror Review
After all the found footage and torture porn, we have arrived to it at last in the pantheon of horror films. The tweenie horror film. I don't know what I was expecting when I sat down to watch "#Horror." But now looking at it in retrospect, I guess I should not have been surprised. "#Horror" is a movie for entitled teens who are addicted to their cell phones and social media. Its a movie about them, and for a great deal of its running time, it focuses on a group of stuck-up, girls who are apart of some social media game that instigates cyberbullying. One night, they are all together and they slowly get killed one by one. The thing is, the killings are at the very end of the movie. As in the last few minutes. The movie before is an excruciating annoying sludge of movie, that feels more like an endurance test rather than entertainment.

I don't mean it features content similar to "The Human Centipede" or "Cannibal Holocaust." I mean its a vile journey of a movie. Not on a gore or physical level, on a character development level. This cyberbullying game we see the girls play is preposterous and its style in which is presented is an assault on all five of your senses. There are stretches, long, overdrawn stretches of movie where we see these girls play this game, as in ridiculing each other is somehow cool. Then we see them go right back to being friends, well not all of them. Someone apparently crosses the line and gets kicked out of the party. Even though it makes zero sense. The girls have been so horrible to each other that I don't see how there is a line in the first place. Especially since the girls say the exact same insults to the same girls later in the movie.

I am sure hardcore horror fans are saying "Well, horror movies have been a comment against destructive behavior since the beginning of the genre. This is just a comment on cyberbullying." Nope. No, its not. Maybe it wanted to be, but how is it saying that cyberbullying is bad? Because the girls are so extreme? This isn't a case of a killer lurking in the shadows killing after an appalling example of bullying happens, this is literally an hour and fifteen minutes of horrible girls doing horrible things to each other, then the killings start as if they are some kind of after-thought. There is no deeper meaning to this, its all surface value. 

Timothy Hutton and Chloe Sevigny are in this, but I haven't a clue why. I can't tell how they couldn't smell the stink of this screenplay before their agents plopped it into their laps. But I guess everybody needs to eat. Their roles are so hammy that they hardly feel like characters. The girls are so bad in this that I honestly don't feel like wasting time looking up their names. They should wear that as a badge of honor. I don't see  how any of them will ever appear in another motion picture ever.

I am sure the teenage crowd will discover this and think its edgy and cool. But there is nothing cool about this. The only redeeming quality this movie has is a scene with the song "Doses and Mimosas" by Cherub playing. But when the best part of a horror movie is a thirty second clip of a song, something has gone horribly wrong.

FINAL GRADE: D-

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer!


I loved "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

But I know just as many people who felt that it was nothing more than a remake of "A New Hope." While I kind of understand that mentality, I would respectfully disagree. I bring this up, because I would be hard-pressed to see if anybody can find the inspiration for "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." The first of three anthology movies that will come out each year we don't get another main episode in the "Star Wars" saga.

I have been looking forward to these anthology movies the most. Because, its exciting to me to briefly step away from the Skywalker Family. Its going to be cool to explore other stories in this universe, to discover new storylines, to expand the universe in ways that the main saga really can't. Its going to be really cool to see something where the sky is literally the limit. Telling from the first trailer, it looks like the filmmakers are diving head first into that mentality. We know "Rogue One" will take place sometime between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope." But really that's it, and I have to say I was floored by what I saw.

This barely feels like a normal "Star Wars" movie, and I love that. This feels a little more urgent and a little more adult. Although, I wouldn't call this a "dark" movie, just something that feels isolated from the other "Star Wars" fair. Also, who is that actress playing Mon Mothma? Because it literally looks like somebody went back in time and recruited Caroline Blakiston to play the character again, even though that's impossible.

December is  going to be an exciting month of each year for the foreseeable future, and I hope this movie rocks our socks as much as we anticipate!



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Allegiant Review

Allegiant Review
Want the short of it?



This entire series is a poor man's "Hunger Games." This is a series of movies based on a young adult series. It features a strong female lead. It takes place in a dystopian future. There is a power struggle in this world created after whatever destroyed the world, and the strong female lead is the key to salvation. It all sounds familiar. The problem I have with these "Divergent" movies is they never took the time to really explain their story. I get that the people created different ruling factions to govern the new world, and that people got to choose what faction they wanted and could be guided by a test. If somebody took the test and saw that they had traits in all the factions, that would deem them divergent. There is some jumble about the government not being able to control Divergents, but why are Divergents really threats? Because the bad guys needed a motivation. I have talked about how this franchise was built on a poor foundation, and it is. Everything is so poorly explained that I have to go on the internet and read up on some notes before I watch these movies. I never had to do that watching "The Hunger Games" or "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" because those movies did a good job of showing the audience the stakes, telling a good story and something that was easy to follow. "Divergent" and "Insurgent" make very little sense, and so does "Allegiant."

Some people may claim otherwise, but Shailene Woodley and Theo James are bad actors. In Shailene's case, she has always been a bad actor. I only know James from these movies, and he's not a good actor. Your results may vary but when they try to proclaim any kind of emotion on the spectrum, I cringe or giggle. I have given these two twerps three movies to convince me that anything they are doing in this movie matters, or that I should be invested in this story. But I continue not to be. I am blown away that weird, poorly-created story can make such great actors like Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Maggie Q, Zoe Kravitz and Jeff Daniels look like amateurs. But when you are working from a script this silly, how can you make the page believable? You may also disagree with this, but what made "The Hunger Games" good to watch is because Jennifer Lawrence created a profound conviction in her character. I believed everything she did, I don't believe anything that Woodley has done over the course of these movies. There is a moment early in the movie when Tris, Woodley's character, watches one of her friends get killed. There is barely any emotion to scene at all. Llama's could have done a better job.

The only new thing we learn in these movies is that the idea of these power factions and these "Divergents" were a freaking experiment. The most basic gimmick they could come up with. This is really what these movies have been building up to? Just finding out that "Divergents" pretty much came out of a test tube? That is quite underwhelming. While nothing original happens in "The Hunger Games," the writing style and the creative choices made created something that felt fresh, even if it really wasn't. Everything is so basic in "Allegiant" that it feels like a movie you'd see on the SyFy channel.

Sadly, we have one more chapter in this series of movies. Ugh. I'd ask who goes to see these, but then I'd wonder about "Twilight" too.

If you are already on-board with this series, then you've probably already seen this. So, if there is anybody wondering about this series, I'd warn you off. You've seen better. Trust me.

FINAL GRADE: D-