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Welcome to the Punch

I don't really understand why Welcome to the Punch was so poorly received, unless avid fans of the genre were expecting something less stylised and more bloody. I think it's a near-perfect film. It's not necessarily blockbuster material, but the cast is great and the performances are excellent across the board. It strikes the right balance between emotion and action. The luminous, almost clinical landscapes of inner-city London and rural Iceland are striking, and there's plenty of light moments and really fun slow-motion action sequences with an abundance of blazing guns. Cheesy, but consciously so. Peter Mullan and Andrea Riseborough are both a pleasure to watch. Mark Strong's villain is sympathetic, and James McAvoy's detective curiously unsympathetic at times, so they somehow meet in the middle. The story pivots on a powerful scene in which they both farewell a loved one in a morgue, one after the other. The complex father/son dynamic they develop under duress is compelling. As gritty crime movies go (especially when shot largely at night and with a blue filter), this one has surprising warmth and humanity. I'm surprised to read revies that suggest it was full of meaningless, clichéd and "by-the-numbers" fight scenes, because I found it both moving, meaningful and rewarding.

Welcome to the Punch

It starts out very well, building up to what sounds like will be an epic finale where all is explained after many great twists that reveal themselves earlier on, but the ending is rather convoluted and ends so abruptly but other than that I liked the characters, they are first rate, Lewinsky is obsessed with catching his target, nothing will stop him and he'll put anybody aside, although I found it hard to find anything deep in Sternwood, although Strong's performance is great as this tough as nails criminal. James McAvoy isn't on top form though, he looks like he performed his whole role in his sleep, frankly he's seen better days. It's actually Andrea Riseborough that stands out the most as Sarah Hawks, another detective who works alongside Lewinsky, she genuinely feels like a detective, she's so good, and when her character dies you feel for her.

Characters and story aside, London is the real star here, the city has never looked so good. Director Eran Creevy inserts style and vivid neon lights wherever he can, not a single shot of London looks dull, and during the pulse pounding action scenes mixing slow motion explosions and gunfire against the backdrop of empty clubs and glossy streets is the ultimate mix to leave you astounded, there's no denying this movie looks stunning. It's got more action and a better pace than recent police drama The Sweeney, but The Sweeney wins on story and a better lead whereas Welcome to the Punch wins with visuals and action.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone looked great on the surface, because the idea of Steve Carell portraying a magician with Jim Carrey in a supporting role sounded too good to miss.

The film boasts a strong production design, and it's stylished in its cinematography and great costumes.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Steve Carell uses his natural comedic charm to make the titular Burt Wonderstone a real wonder, and he easily creates a character that is no challenge to connect to and sympathise for despite him going through the predicatable cliche of falling on hard times after uncovering his massive ego. He just lets his characterisation of Burt Wonderstone flow so organically which makes it work.

But the immense performance praise must be given to Jim Carrey, who is absolutely ultimate and he sells it perfectly in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. He is perfectly charismatic, so utterly hilarious and just an amazing screen presence. He is magical and goes back to his comedic charms which made him such a hit before becoming solely family-friendly comedy based, and so The Incredible Burt Wonderstone present an excellent mix of nostalgia and essentially a second coming for Jim Carrey. He manipulates his character immaculately and basically gives a performance with the charisma of Jesus Christ himself, which as he stated is the direction he took the character in. Jim Carrey is perfect in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and he steals the screen.

Olivia Wilde also works some great material in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and boasts a strong female character to match the male domination which Steve Carell presents. She conveys a strong level of determination, much like Jennifer Carpenter's performance as Debra Morgan in the TV series Dexter, and she achieves it without high emphasis on sex appeal, making it a charismatic and good performance to add to her resume.

Alan Arkin also uses some of his most charismatic abilities to perform as an aging magician well in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and he brings fine energy to the part.

Steve Buscemi also boasts a fine performance, using his comedic charisma well for his brief part and rendering him a great on-screen duo with Steve Carell.

Gilian Jacobs' brief cameo was also great because she pretty much plays what she's best at, that is a neurotic but sweet female character reminiscent of her famous role as Britta Perry in the hilarious show Community.

On the negative side, the pacing is too quick and leaves viewers with a story that is predictable, and so fast that it cuts too short for the viewer after the story has reached a point where things have turned around. The actual inspiration in this scene isn't powerful, and its really over too quick.

Essentially, the main issue is Don Scardino's direction which is too style-over-substance focused for him to come to the realisation that this scene doesn't befit the build up to it due to the poor tone of it, and particularly because its one of the most serious moments in the film yet is dumbed down to a cartoonish level. He applies a good style to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but the rest sits in the hands of the actors.
But nonetheless, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is a fun comedy with a fine cast which presents a new foray into over-the-top comedy for Jim Carrey after such a G rated period.

The Call

"The Call" is one of those movies that begins by making you think you're about to watch some trash, then unexpectedly becomes a semi-plausible thriller, then reverts back to trash. But that's not necessarily a bad thing; as any fan of "Law Abiding Citizen" or "The Boondock Saints" can tell you, there's good trash and there's bad trash. "The Call," for the most part anyway, falls into the former category. The movie has more than a few shortcomings, but I was entertained enough that I was able to overlook them.

The Call

Halle Berry stars as Jordan, a 9-1-1 call operator based in Los Angeles. At the start of the movie, she receives a call from a terrified teenage girl, who tells her that someone is breaking into her house. Jordan immediately sends a police unit but remains on the line with the caller, and due to an innocent mistake on her part, the girl is found by the intruder and abducted. Jordan is devastated, and when the girl turns up dead a day later, she leaves her position as an operator.

I've often thought that this job had to be one of the harder occupations to endure. In some instances, the operator is literally listening to people dying, and in circumstances like the one Jordan went through, how does one not get emotionally affected by it? People tell her it's not her fault or that she needs to let it go, but that's easier said than done. Six months later, while Jordan is now working as an instructor for future operators, she stresses that it's of the utmost importance to remain detached. She preaches this with conviction, but we can see the pain in her eyes as she knows how hard this is to accomplish; she herself is still haunted by that call six months prior.

Naturally, Jordan finds herself back in the field when a rookie operator gets a frantic call from a girl named Casey (Abigail Breslin) and doesn't know what to do. Jordan takes over and learns that Casey has been kidnapped and is calling from the back of her kidnapper's trunk. (I'm sure you're probably wondering how on earth she managed to hang onto her cell phone, but this really isn't as contrived as you might think. Not really, anyway.) Jordan is now tasked with keeping Casey calm and trying to pinpoint her position so that the police can be deployed.

This is the best stretch of the movie. The opening abduction sequence is well-done, but it feels a bit rote. But once Casey and her kidnapping enter the picture, the energy picks up and keeps accelerating until it reaches break-neck speed. The suspense is palpable and, apart from a couple idiotic moves by some would-be Good Samaritans (par for the course, for this kind of fare), the proceedings are actually rather believable. There are echoes of films such as "Red Eye" (2005) and "P2" (2007) here, two other films in which I felt the endangered heroine acted intelligently and reasonably (for the most part) and didn't make idiotic choices simply to extend the movie's running time. There are also unmistakable parrallels to "Cellular" (2004), which also centered around a kidnapping and a phone call to a stranger. These two films would actually make for great companion pieces.

Then the third act comes around, and admittedly, this is where things get a little sticky. Plausibility begins to drop and absurdity begins to come in droves, and the movie loses some of the unrelenting pace it had established with Casey's introduction. Now it is true that this junction does offer a bit of insight into Casey's kidnapper (Michael Eklund), and I can certainly appreciate the movie's efforts to flesh him out. It would've been all too easy to simply leave him as a flat, one dimensional plot device, so props to the filmmakers for actually attempting to make him a character. But a lot of what goes down is, for lack of a better word, silly, and I didn't like the conclusion at all. I can understand why they ended it the way they did; clearly they were trying to elicit cheers from the audience (a la the exploding shark in "Jaws"), but it just didn't feel right to me, and I didn't believe the characters would act this way. There are other ways to get a response from the audience. This one just doesn't work.

Nevertheless, "The Call" makes for some fun, if not a tad preposterous, entertainment. The white-knuckled middle portion of the movie works so well that its third act problems aren't really deal-breakers to me. It certainly helps that Berry and Breslin give it their all, developing a rapport even though they're barely on screen together. As an Oscar winner and nominee, you could say they're slumming it in material such as this, but that's really okay. Berry previously did this with "Gothika (2003)," and I rather enjoyed that one too. Sometimes you're just in the mood for some good trash.

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers Film Review - Audiences expecting another 'Project X' or '21 and Over' should not watch this film, as this is not your typical party movie and has been rather miss marketed. Spring breakers is incredibly unique in its style and its artistic beauty is admirable. Kronie uses his movie as a tool, helping his audience to understand how an MTV influenced generation has drastically diminished and mutilated the search for contentment; with nihilistic extremity. All of the characters live in a world drenched with pop-culture so unreal that its presiding deity is Britney Spears. The director's exploration is satirical, a concept the mainstream audiences are failing to understand.

Spring Breakers

Performance wise, the girls all do an adequate job but produce nothing noteworthy. In contrast, James Franco arguably gives the best performance of his career, it is clear how much he has invested into his character. The acting here is wonderful, successfully portraying an insane, narcissistic drug and arms dealer but still making you like him. Franco is able to create moments of darkness and make the audience feel uncomfortable, but also produce moments of sweetness and hilarity.

On an Aesthetic level, the film is spectacular. The lighting is gorgeous, adding to an already established feeling of darkness. The bright neon lights provide beautiful contrasts. The sound design and music from Clint Martinez (Drive) also compliments the brilliant cinematography. Each scene loops and overlaps in an exclusive style the director calls a "liquid narrative". Combinations of whispery voiceovers and vivid imagery is very Terrence Malick like. The repetition on motifs convey darker undertones as the movie continues: hands first convey tenderness, then bloodied threat; the mantra "Spring... breeeeak... foreeeva" sounds hypnotic, then horrible as the end approaches.

This movie has a consistent theme throughout, one that many people will overlook and therefore not enjoy the movie. It's supposed to be boring, the social commentary here is worth acknowledging. Even while our main characters are having a great time at a party, the film still feels dull. This is the point, it's not meant to enlist excitement. Feelings of uncomfortableness, disgust and sadness are welcomed.

My biggest criticisms of the movie find it 'stupidly entertaining but, somewhat knowingly, too crackers for catharsis, too troubling to titillate and too open-ended for closure' however, Spring breakers features depth and style making for a very particular , thought provoking experience.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Oz the Great and Powerful Film Review - Sam Raimi has returned and unfortunatly the creativty that he brought to The Evil Dead and the first two Spiderman films is almost non-existent here. I've been a fan of his films for a while, but the prequel to the original classic not only feels second rate by comparison, but even by it cannont even stand alone as its own indepdent film.

Oz the Great and Powerful

The plot follows OZ (James Franco), a young con man who gets swept away to a magical world. While there he meets a witch (Mila Kunis) and her sister who claims that he is the chosen one who will defet their evil sister a become the rightful king. Seeing an oppurtunity to make it rich, he forms a team of colorful characters to save the world.

One of the biggest problems with the film is the casting. I'm a big fan of Franco and Kunis, but by god are they mistcast. The role of Oz was meant for Robert Downey Jr. or Hugh Laurie who are masters of witty dialog and improve. Franco isn't terrible but he seems too laid back and unintelligent to be a believable con man. As for Kunis, she seems to have left all her personality at the door and could never believable play a heartbroken girl or a woman scorned. She just comes off as underdevloped.

There is some creativty and interesting ideas, like the china doll girl, but for the most part its an underwelming story with very little to recommend.

I'm So Excited!

I'm So Excited! Movie Review - Pedro Almodóvar has grown into one of the most iconic film directors of his generation. Celebrated at international film festivals and loved by critics and audiences alike, his courageous films have never shied away from controversial subjects. His work tends to be romantic on the surface, highly stylized and emotional, but it's often uniqually honest and forward with its motifs.

Almodóvar started directing full-length features in the early 80's. His forte was absurd, melodramatic comedy that was filled with influences and actors from the hidden nightlife of Madrid. Almodóvar spent his youth in the streets and secret clubs and his first movies both featured and starred people he met there. Transvestites, prostitutes and performers of different sort. The atmosphere in those early films of his is one of an alternate reality where taboos and inhibitions are extinct. I belong to the boring group of people who much prefer Almodóvar films from the turn of the millennium. Beautiful melodramas that combine social realism with exceptionally beautiful aesthetics and deep characterization. "Hable con ella" from 2002 is my all-time favorite movie. "La piel que habito" from 2011 was a psychological thriller that already moved away from the drama that had become the norm for the director genius. It was an adapted story, but its wild plotting carried some echoes from those absurd films of the 80's. "Los amantes pasajeros" is a very clear return by Almodóvar to his roots. The story creates its own reality of lost inhibitions by enclosing its characters into a plane that is going to crash. Different personalities collide as impending death loses tongues and morals.

I'm So Excited!

The film is my least favorite from the director since 1993's "Kika," the last comedy of the bunch before this one. There are eight movies between the two. But "Los amantes pasajeros" is still a great movie. The characters are vibrant, the comedy truly funny and the script packed with clever observations on human nature, society and culture. Underneath the farce there is a constant somber tone, it's as if a dead serious and plausible tale of facing death has just been filtered through a colorfully hilarious veil of extravagant show glitter. The feel of the film is much more sophisticated than one might expect; it's directed as a stylized drama despite its goofy premise. The airplane cabin truly becomes a world of its own, the space is used perfectly, in a beautiful and dynamic manner.

I'm still hoping to see more of that deep character drama Almodóvar excells in, but he has become such a wizard that he can make the most disinteresting farce imaginable into something uniquely entertaining and even a bit wise.

Emperor

Emperor Film Review - With a sort of documentary narrative, Emperor tells the story of the first days after the Japanese surrender in the WWII and the initial investigations on Emperor Hirohito concerning his participation in the start of the WWII. General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox) receives from the Supreme Commander General Douglas MacArthur the task to investigate and to decide in 10 days whether Emperor Hirohito should be trialed for war crimes. With a simple goal ahead of his leading character, the director Peter Weber starts the depiction of a war-torn Japan and the story delves into the cultural, political and historical specifics of Japan. While "meeting" different participants in the war-time Japanese government, General Fellers and the audience are revealed an intriguing picture on what happened before and during the war. Unfortunately, just as most of the programs on the above-mentioned special interest channels, Emperor never provokes, never asks inconvenient questions, never electrifies the audience.

Emperor

The fact that Peter Weber's delivery is as sharp-less as a cable TV documentary is easily forgiven, having in mind the topic,the engaging story-telling and the colorful presence of Tommy Lee Jones as General Douglas MacArthur. Unfortunately, the accompanying sub-plot is totally out of place and its presence is definitely surprising. The romantic flash-backs and the underlying search for General Feller's lost love, is absolutely out of its place in this movie. If the aim of the director was to further dramatize the story, the result is completely opposite. Every moment of flash-backs slows down the movie and distracts the audience from the investigative part of it.

Emperor is a movie with two faces. The historical one is definitely worth being seen, even if having in mind that it is more suitable for TV viewing; the other face is boring, slowly paced and it stands out as an unnecessary patchwork to the whole movie. Still, give it a try, if you are into historical dramas, there are definitely some good things to find in this movie.

Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down Movie Review - A neo-noir criminal thriller, Dead Man Down is almost a decent revenge story with solid cast, but uneven and weak plot. Benefitting from European movie-making influences, this movie is dark, down-to-earth and modern combination of action sequences, strange romance, revenge and last minute criminal twist. It never really achieves the level of becoming a memorable mid-level hit, but it is for sure a perfectly forgettable and mildly entertaining way to lose two hours on a lazy evening.

Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down is a personal revenge story, which gets complicated by unusual romance, unnecessary second revenge sub-plot line and improbable and unclear twists. Colin Farrell is Victor, an "undercover" member of a gang who is driven by his only desire to get his revenge for the death of his family and who is carefully planning every single step of his revenge. Things get complicated when Beatrice (Noomi Rapace) and her story intervene in Victor's life. Beatrice's own strive for revenge and unusual, but intriguing romance between her and Colin Farrell, ensure that Farrell's character gets distracted from his mission and the movie's first half is entertaining enough.

With the same taste for colors, darkness and limited space as in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director Niels Arden Oplev builds up very interesting initial premises. Unfortunately, where Dead Man Down flops is the unclear and far from being logical twists in the second half of the movie. Unlike the 2009 classic with Noomi Rapace, this delivery fails to match the standards for a criminal movie. The dedicated performances of Farrell and Rapace, supported by the smooth Terrance Howard and the manic Dominic Cooper, save the movie from being a disappointment and keep the audience intrigued until the end. Yet, without impressive final shoot-out or memorable climax, the movie finishes as one of the many criminal thrillers which are forgotten soon after being seen.

Dead Man Down may not be worth seeing it in the theater, but its cast and European-style direction are good enough to make it an ok home video entertainment. The fans of Rapace and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo might be disappointed, but if approached without high expectations this Colin Farrell centered neo-noir delivery is not that bad.

The Last Exorcism Part II

There are few occasions where sequels to successful and good movies work and there are some that don't. The Last Exorcism Part 2 is neither . . . this film goes completely off the spectrum and lands in a separate category on its own, that category is called 'absolutely atrocious'.

The Last Exorcism Part II

The Last Exorcism Part 2 parts from the interesting aspect of a documentary/found-footage style of filming and we follow Nell and her life after the events of the first film concluded. The first film left many questions unanswered and you would have thought that the film would go out of its way to answer all of those questions, but instead, not only does it not answer these questions, but it leaves you with so many more.

The film falls so easily into the typical horror movie style of having clichéd jump scares that are so telegraphed and predictable, clearly demented characters who are all part of the demonic cult, dumb people who are oblivious to the weird and evil stuff that happens around them . . . the list continues.

The film obviously wants us to sympathize with Nell (by the way, the actress deserves a lot better than this movie) and whilst it kind of succeeds in that aspect, you lose any sort of investment in her character due to the lazy script that has forced this laughable script, telegraphed plot lines that you see a mile coming, an ending that will leave you face palming with how rock stupid this movie is and coupled with shocking bad special effects - worse than the ones in Mama - everything about this movie reeks of amateurish movie making.

If you were going to make a sequel, pick it back up from the end of the first movie and find out what happened to the reverend - all I could keep thinking throughout this movie was 'What happened to the reverend? I want to know what happened to him - because all I kept thinking was that this film did not need to be made.

It should have been left at the end of the first movie and leave us to fill in the pieces for ourselves and let us come up with our own conclusion. That would have been way better that this excuse of a movie.

Stoker

Stoker Film Review - What is it about Hollywood that sucks dry the ingenuity of Asian filmmakers when they dare to venture on our shores? We've seen it far too often in the past, most recently to poor South Korean director Kim Ji-Woon who made the embarrassing action flick The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Park Chan-Wook is a different case altogether. The revered auteur behind the stylish, ultra-violent Vengeance Trilogy and the crazy, operatic vampire flick Thirst, Park's melodramatic flourishes are on full display. Unfortunately they're rendered hollow by a cold and lifeless script that lacks any mystery.

Stoker

Park has always had the benefit of co-writing his screenplays up to this point, but Stoker's script by ex-Prison Break star Wentworth Miller is like an amateur trying to emulate Hitchcock, specifically Shadow of a Doubt. He delivers every turn with the heavy hand of a loaded boxing glove, telegraphed from a mile away and landing with a dull thud. Without any true sense of dread or even a hint of dramatic weight, Park's garish displays come off as pretentious.

Mia Wasikowska proves to be the perfect choice to play India Stoker, a clever and prudish girl who fits the Victorian Gothic flavor of the film perfectly. She's a moody and sullen loner who "can hear things others can't", although why this is important is never fully realized. Born into wealth, she's thrown for a loop when her beloved father (Dermot Mulroney) is killed in a car accident. Her mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) barely seems to notice, and when her husband's brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) mysteriously turns up out of nowhere, it's clear she's more than a little interested.

It's clear right away that something's not right about Charlie, and Park dresses the film up with lots of obvious imagery to make sure we know. Crawling spiders everywhere is a dead giveaway, but not nearly as much as Charlie's "To Catch a Predator' perma-grin. Sure, he's charming and charismatic, but the dark stuff more than outweighs it. He never eats, has some weird infatuation with his dead brother's belt, and always seems to be nearby. India's Aunt (Jackie Weaver) shows up out of the clear blue, obviously worried about Charlie's presence. But she never gets to explain why, disappearing soon after. There seem to be a lot of people disappearing, yet nobody seems to care except for a local cop. Don't spend too much time worrying about his fate.

Subtlety is never this film's strong suit, and any mystery there is quickly paved over beneath a thick layer of stupidity. Devolving into campiness, we're expected to take serious one of the most hilarious masturbation scenes ever. Let's just say that violence and sex are inextricably linked here, and soon India isn't sure whether she finds Charlie's darker tendencies terrifying or really hot. For a while their psycho-sexual tête-à-tête is deeply intriguing and the question whether India's urges are learned or genetic is fascinating yet unexplored. In a way, it's the polar opposite of Park's prior films where violence is simply a necessity. There's a moral gray area here that the director is keener on presenting than the script is sturdy enough to allow.

Pulling out every visual trick in his considerable repertoire, Park defies our expectations at every turn, playing with unique camera angles, fade-ins, and one gloriously crafted sequence in which Nicole Kidman's flowing hair morphs into a field of wind-blown grass. It's a film that's impossible to look away from for fear of missing something special. Although it's not totally the director's fault, Stoker turns out to be a prime example of style winning out over substance.

Jack The Giant Slayer

Giant Absurdity! I am slightly repulsive with the title. The Giant Slayer. Alright folks, time to face the truth. Did Jack slay the giants in this film? Well probably two of them. But neither were slayed. It was all a dipstick stereotype and it is clear that Byran Singer (Superman Returns fame) was preposterous in filming. Nicholas Hoult and Evan McGregor were just like dolls facing the CGI giants, in their attempt to save the princess from being cooked. Where is the fun? Where is the energy? Loony in all aspects, enters this all absurd adventure film. The word "Slayer" means some power or some force with which killings are to be done. Singer should have named it as Giant Killer, instead of going harsh on the term.

Jack The Giant Slayer

If the third act (giants throwing fire trees, humans hitting fire arrows) could be given a passing grade, on the whole this film falls flat. McQuarrie's screenplay neither had energy nor wit to take it a positive sign. The giants who look somewhat irksome in their appeal should have tore the screen for a gigantic epic climax. But all it was a simple lame ending for a overwhelming premise it had. If there are brownie points in this film, that would be the visuals and the perfect use of CGI. It had predictability and the worst here is the plot which never seemed ending. At one point of time, I thought that the film has ended. But no, it was just a trailer to wait for the big one to open up. Indeed clever! Singer. You have saved the day for the good third act. But the rest 90 minutes! You better dose off there.

So this is a preposterous film (Just like the Hobbit) trying to be nice, just missed the mark by many inches. Giving it a passing grade would be harsh in term. But I would ask Singer to work hard if he plans for another adventure film.

21 & Over

21 & Over Review - I'm as surprised as anyone that I've given this movie the rating that I have. Granted the plot for this movie isn't unlike The Hangover or that Project X movie. However, unlike Project X at least, the film at least tries to inject some personality into the characters. Also rather than focusing on the strictly hedonistic aspects of the film, again unlike Project X, the film does try to at least look at how the friendship between these guys has sort of gone through the typical post-high school phase.

21 & Over

You stop talking, you start maturing, and when you get back together you find that you don't nearly have as much in common as you used to. So that's very easy to relate to as a man who is in his mid-20s. Anyway, the characters in the film do have personalities. While they are one dimensional and predictable, they do have personalities and I do think the cast does a more than admirable job considering this type of movie end up missing more than they hit. Not that I think this film is perfect, but I think the cast does elevate some of the material in this movie. But this means that there are also some misses, for example a lot of the racial humor in the film falls flat because it feels far more mean-spirited than satirical. For example a show like Arrested Development could get away with its characters being racist as they used the racism to point out how completely oblivious some of the members of the Bluth family were to basic human decency in the 21st century.

It made the characters unlikable because of it. In this movie the racial humor is used to make Miller an endearing and likable character. Personally I don't have a problem with racial humor if it is at least well-thought out and is used in a satirical manner, but I do have a problem with the 'OH YOU' type of racial humor, where it is treated like you would treat a child that got caught putting his hand in the cookie jar before dinner. You don't get mad, you just think it's adorable right? So that's the type of racial humor this movie uses. I'm probably making a huge deal out of nothing since it's not like the movie is constantly shitting on people of other races, just some lines here and there. Thankfully the actors are likable enough to overcome these weaknesses in the script. In a way, even if I did give the movie an average rating, I had fun watching it. It probably requires a certain mindset to get into it, and I was in a pretty good mood today, so that probably had something to do with why I liked the movie as much as I did. If I watched this movie ANY other day, I probably wouldn't like it as much. I don't think it's a movie I would recommend, but if you like this type of film then you'll like this. If your favorite movie is Taxi Driver of There Will Be Blood, then this movie will definitely NOT be to your liking.

To The Wonder

To The Wonder was a difficult movie to comprehend. Had I not read the summary in beforehand I probably would have understood it less than I do now. This movie doesn't tell you much, it is all about the beauty in the photography. Almost everything that is said is through voice overs in different languages: French, Spanish, English, Russian and Italian.

I usually have a hard time with movies where they speak languages that I don't naturally understand, but it wasn't a problem in this movie seeing as everything they said were more like lyricism, poems. It was all so poetic and it was easy to read the subtitles and understand what they were saying even when you might not necessarily understand the movie's wholeness.

To The Wonder

I loved how this movie was so beautiful and how it pretty much told you everything by just showing you moving images, but that can sometimes be a problem and I found it quite disturbing when it came to this movie. It's always annoying watching something and not being able to understand it. And in this case it was difficult to understand seeing as they jumped in time and forgot to show you things that they should have which just makes it all confusing.

It doesn't tell you how it all begins or how it ends or what happens in the middle, instead you have to decide for yourself. This movie should have told you more, it doesn't even tell you the characters names except in the credits and the relationships that they had with each other.

I can imagine this being quite a difficult movie to act in, and to direct. Seeing as everything is in slow motion and the actors didn't really have that much to say. And the director had to have been really sure of what he wanted to present to be able to develop such a beauty as he did in this movie. But beauty is all it really has going for it, and to be something that is worth seeing again and recommending to other people, it should have something more.

Snitch

Snitch caught my appeal when I heard that Dwayne Johnson have a fine performance. I mean hey, he does a decent job as an actor and makes some entertaining films, but one where the source of praise is around his performance is not one I would want to miss. Plus it features Susan Sarandon who is always a magical actress.

Snitch isn't a routine Dwayne Johnson fare. It makes the effort to incorporate in serious drama for him to work with, ranging from crime drama to father-son drama and ensuring he consistently works with all of them, as well as not setting him up as a bulking action hero which makes him a more realistic figure. It deals with the father-son theme from three different angles and does it well, ensuring that is has strong characters to work with.

Snitch

And Snitch educates audiences on the government's unfair treatment of first-time non-violent drug offenders through sympathetic characters, strong drama and a message at the end that reveals that they receive longer prison sentences on average than those convicted of rape or manslaughter. Snitch reveals the crimes of the law itself in its attempt to destroy the enemy of the drug war, yet how it becomes the enemy itself by exploiting its victims and it's criminals equally. Snitch works as a commentary on the unfair legal system and uses Dwayne Johnson as a front for that which is an intelligent move.

And Snitch is mostly entertaining. Granted it is a bit slow but it has good action at times and a sense of intensity when it needs to, and it never tries to be more than it is. It feels like an ambitious independent film, and it's a half-decent one. It's a character drama based on people that the real world takes advantage of and the good nature of a person that wouldn't stand for it, and the nature of another who wouldn't let his son fall at the hands of unfair law. Snitch has complicated characters, and that's more than you could expect from it.
The cinematography is consistently pretty good. I mean its a little shaky at times such as when the characters are on the fun of there is any quick source of movement, but it never damaged the visual experience and keeps things in perspective. The well paced editing also assists this and keeps Snitch as a decent visual experience which transcends the quality of the standard film of this calibre in modern day.

Snitch also has a decent script. Some of its words may pop up a bit much, but it consistently ensures that viewers understand the concepts it is exploring and the characters involved which prevents it from ever being too talkative or too unintelligent. Sometimes it puts up the facade of being a bit more intelligent than it is, but it does the job enough.

Dwayne Johnson is a fine lead. He constantly manages to maintain a level of determination as a person in Snitch without ever resorting to becoming a full fledged action hero or having to use intimidation as a tactic. His real skill comes from working with other actors, but he consistently stays strong on his own too. Dwayne Johnson proves to be developing as an actor in Snitch, and he holds the story together with his facial gestures and inner intensity.

Susan Sarandon who has clearly not lost any of her beauty or talent as an actress after 45 years of acting brings her skills down to the level of a simple crime drama with a simple cast, and she provides fine supporting work and confident line delivery which gives Dwayne Johnson plenty to work with.
It's interesting to see Dwayne Johnson and Susan Sarandon share the screen because as she is an incredible actress and he is what some would deem a rookie of an actor, yet they share an equal level of grip on the art in their scenes, it just goes to show how Dwayne Johnson has developed as an actor and how he can work with some of the most talented the world has to offer sufficiently.

Barry Pepper is really, really cool to see active again. I always respected him as a talented actor for his excellent work in films such as Saving Private Ryan and The Green Mile, and I never thought less of him for his Golden Raspberry award winning role in the film deemed by some to be the worst of all time, Battlefield Earth. To see him in Snitch, donning a beanie and a goatee commanding a drug busting crew with a strong line delivery and a powerful stare is a rush of nostalgia. He does a fine job and is a great screen presence, and he was pretty convincing even if my image of him is to see him donned in a prison warden or military uniform.

Rafi Gavron also did a great job in his small role when he experienced serious dramatic moments and worked with them naturally, as well as sharing a fine chemistry with Dwayne Johnson. He emitted a sense of fear which kept him strong.

Jon Bernthal also did a good job working at a similar strength to Dwayne Johnson in his role.

But the problem is that Snitch feels like half a film. It has a sense that it wants to be a Dwayne Johnson action piece but is revolved more around the crime drama. Yet it turns into a story about John Matthews taking the role of a transporter for a short period of time after more than an hour of him wondering what to do to help his son. Normally in a film there is a buildup that makes this kind of scene feel like a climax, but actually since the dramatic themes aren't completely effective it feels like it's all the buildup to one that doesn't happen. Normally in a film when this sort of dynamic happens there is a consequence of it that the character experiences and then there is further dynamics and drama from there. In Snitch this is the only serious moment to deal with its subject matter on a climactic level, and due to insufficient buildup audiences are likely to be left wanting more as I did.

And the main criticism with Snitch is that it muddles it's message. In the story, after Jason Collins is betrayed by his friend he refuses to become a snitch for the reason of not wanting to betray anyone. Instead, his father becomes one for him to attempt to get him out of prison. This has John Matthews allowing the police to use him after they used his son, and it becomes a risk to his life. While Snitch works as a statement about how becoming an informant is a dishonourable and life threatening situation that the law can out you in for its own benefit, it has John Matthews completely supporting the notion to the point that he becomes a figure praised as a hero. I mean he is, but he's a hero because the unjust law system forced him to be one. Director Ric Roman Waugh never touches on that or develops his characters so that they realise it, and so his inexperience as a director shows. For a rookie he did a decent job, but what he shows in Snitch is more promise as a director than skill as one, and if he is able to take advantage of his high concept and insightful messages next time then his later career will be more successful. And also he needs to work on not leaving a lot of the plot dynamics to implications, because I found myself having to make various assumptions about the plot and had to double check the plot online to be sure.

Overall Snitch is an ambitious move on behalf of Ric Roman Waugh. It's imperfect, it's flawed and it's slow too. But he shows promise and gives Dwayne Johnson a front to do strong dramatic work as an actor, as well as reminding us how talented Susan Sarandon and Barry Pepper are.

Dark Skies

Dark Skies Review - The ingredients are delivered without much style or flair, and as a result, the culmination of "Dark Skies" makes for a pretty bland dish. Director Scott Stewart is a talented at his craft--but he just hasn't created a completely satisfying yet. In all three instances "Priest" (2011), "Legion" (2012) and now "Dark Skies," the potential for a compelling story line and terror is there--but not achieved to satisfaction.

Dark Skies

In the Barrett household, something is seriously amiss. Is it that unemployed architect Daniel (Hamilton) is quietly panicked about finding a job while the mortgage bills pile up? That his marriage to Lacy (Keri Russell) is falling apart, turning their two sons (Dakota Goyo, Kadan Rockett) into stress cases? The wife is trying to pick up the financial slack of her laid-off architect husband (Josh Hamilton) by working as a real estate agent. Their two young sons start to notice odd things happening around the house. Things like snatching photos from frames--and eventually moving on in for their real goal--a child snatching. The audience has too much time to wonder why are the aliens here to bother playing tricks on this suburban family.

The biggest problem with "Dark Skies" is that Stewart can never quite decide what story he is telling - a slow-burn horror parable, or paranoid invasion flick? Whether to focus on this character or that one while struggling to string together scares. Regardless, the pacing is tedious and boring--and the action is almost non-existant. Though it is saved in part by the performances of Russell and Hamilton, with a effective supporting turn by J.K. Simmons. The clouded storytelling in "Dark Skies" keeps the film from becoming more than a bunch of disjointed moments, and it eventually settles for a ridiculous conclusion.

Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Planet Earth really as bad as I was expecting going in. When I, originally, saw the trailers to this film, I was reminded of Planet 51. Just the whole look and feel of the entire thing felt low-budget and it felt more like more of a TV pilot than anything else. I'd say the same thing for this movie, it looks and feels low-budget, sort of like a show you'd see on Nickelodeon. But, while I wouldn't say this movie is good, at all, it certainly surpassed almost every expectation, however low they were, that I had.

Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Planet Earth movie would never win awards for its originality, hilarity, or heart, but it at least has an energetic pace that certainly doesn't give you much time to think about how generic the entire movie really is. The film is certainly meant for kids, but at least it, somewhat, tries to make it tolerable for adults. There's also this weird namedropping thing they do with some of the workers of Area 51 where they'll be named after famous film directors.

An example of this would be one scene where two characters are named Peter and Jackson. They also namedrop Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, both by first names only, Christopher Nolan and George Lucas. It was, seriously, one of the weirdest things I've ever seen in a kids' movie. And I mean weird because what's the point?

Prove to the film nerds that you know a thing or two? It is funny, like the first time. But they keep reusing the "joke" and I don't really know what was the point. They were trying too hard to be cute and clever. Again, it worked the first time because it was unexpected. But doing it more than once feels like pandering to an audience that, most likely, wouldn't have been interested in your movie anyway. The cast is fine but, in most cases, unless it's a Pixar project or a high-end Dreamworks film, it always comes across as a way to make a paycheck and not really because they thought the project was genuinely interesting.

Ricky Gervais is definitely the highlight of this film, shame he didn't have more lines. The animation is fine for a movie that, clearly, didn't have the budget of a Pixar movie. But it does look, and feel, low-budget. Really, this is a generic, read: average, movie at best. I have to give them points for at least trying to make the movie watchable for adults, if not entertaining. But, at the same time, this really doesn't offer anything that good to begin with, so I just wish the script would've been a little better than it was, rather than being as predictable as it was. Still, it's better than what I was expecting.

Safe Haven

Safe Haven - This movie is like every other Nicholas Sparks movie out there, with a little bit of thrill thrown in. If you've seen any of the other movies based on Sparks' novels (Dear John, The Notebook, and The Lucky One to name a few), it'll be hard to find this movie any different until the last twenty minutes or so. Safe Haven is your typical romance movie with an attempt to be a thriller, along with a leading actress that makes the movie boring.

Safe Haven

The setting of Safe Haven is like every other Sparks movie. The movie takes place in a small town along a coast line. It's an old, run-down place that people only see because it's on their bus route, but has a pretty view right along the beach, The beach is an "important" factor in this movie, because the two characters need to have their special, romantic moment on the beach (like every other Nicholas Sparks movie).

The two main characters in this movie are Katie (Julianne Hough) and Alex (Josh Duhamel). Julianne Hough plays a character that is running away from her hometown because she apparently murdered what appears to be her husband. This has the audience expecting her to be an emotional wreck, but Hough plays a very boring, monotonic character. Katie was falling in love with Alex, but Hough made it hard to believe that. She looks at him and talks to him as if she has no clue who he is. There was no spark between Hough and Duhamel, and it seemed to be that way because of Hough's flat and boring performance.

Josh Duhamel did a great job with his role until the end of the movie. He was the perfect fit to play an attractive single father running a small town business, while also falling in love with the new girl in town. Near the end, though, when Alex finds out that Katie is wanted for murder, Duhamel ruins his performance. His reaction to the news that the woman he loves was wanted for murder was really underplayed. He was mad for a total of about 5 minutes in the movie, then instantly forgave her for lying about pretty much everything. He even chased her down right before she was about to leave town.

Like all Nicholas Sparks movies, Safe Haven has that one component that makes it a little bit different from the rest of the movies. Safe Haven has some originality because it has a little bit of thrill. The ending is slightly twisted and a bit surprising. This unanticipated twist is what made the movie better than terribly boring, but sadly it wasn't until the last 30 minutes of the movie that it got exciting.

Overall, this movie could have done bigger and better things with an actress besides Julianne Hough and a better ending performance from Josh Duhamel. The twisted ending did give the movie some spark, but it could have had a much better build up to make the beginning not quite as boring. Safe Haven is just another cheesy romance that every teenage girl loves.

Beautiful Creatures

I read Beautiful Creatures, as a book, back in September 2012. I found it intriguing, and fine, not great, but fine all the same. And I was very excited to see this film. I was even planning on seeing it open night but my plans changed, and I didn't see it till it came to Netflix, and traveled its way to my mailbox this June night. After previously viewing "The Host" and "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2" I was a little worried, watching this film, that it would turn into one of those films, which I definitely didn't want. After viewing the trailer back in September, I found myself irritated by the southern accents, which actually, when you watch the movie aren't that bad. Compared to the likes of Tom Hank's in "The Terminal" anyway.

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures film will do some harm to the book though. So I warn the book readers, who read the book to NOT view this film. It trails, deeply away from its source material, which made me mad of course. Well anyway, let's start with the dark, which include the character development, differences from the book, rushes the plot, and chemistry between the leads, flashback sequences, awkward moments, and the climax. This film feeds us little character development from anyone besides the two leads Ethan, and Lena. I mean I would have liked to see more screen-time for the character of Link (played by the excellent, Thomas Man) to develop. As well as the beautifully, sexy Ridley, to develop. Also Macon, Emily (whose story sadly was never concluded), Amma, and Aunt Del, and Larkin.

All those excellent, book characters came to the screen almost disappeared, really. Plenty of the book characters never even made it to the screen, being axed from the book. These excellent characters were given way less screen time then they needed and deserved. It's disappointing. As I have talked about before the film was almost completely different from the book. For starters half of the characters never made it to the film, Larkin, instead of being a dark caster, is a light caster, Ethan's dad appears not once in the film, Amma, is the librarian, Macon, is not an Incubus, he is but a caster. Plus, half of the humanity from the book and love scenes that show Lena and Ethan, together falling in love are absent. And the ending is almost completely redone. It's a big disappointment. This film rushes its plot along as if it had been running late for a very important date.

Instead of having Lena, and Ethan, slowly falling in love, they are rushed and fall for each other in days, it takes time, and it lost its cute romantic story, by rushing the love. I hated the flashback scenes, it just looked fake, something you see in a b rated documentary on the History channel. Ugg. This film includes a few un-necessary scenes. While I found the scene where Emma Thompson's character brings Alden's character brownies a powerfully acted scene, and creepy, I didn't find it necessary. The climax, oh the climax. The film, suggest threw out, that the choosing ceremony, for weather you'll be light or dark, seems to be a very edge of your seat scary thing, but what happens isn't what you had been waiting for threw out the film, or what the trailers suggest. I thought of Ridley's character, a complete badass, looking for a fight, but what we see at the end is a cowering mouse that runs away at the first sign of Lena, getting claimed. What the f***. Wow, like that's what I was waiting to see.

And the evil Sarafine seems to promise, that she isn't going down without a completely epic battle, to the death, with magic, like in Harry Potter you know? Well what we see is a little talk of what love is, pain of course, Sarafine says. Then she gets taken out of Emma Thompson's body and disappears. Completely disappointed with that. I would have, liked to see Ridley get her butt beat by Lena, then watch a 5 minute battle with Sarafine, before she dies. Well anyways onto the lighter side of the story... The light stuff include, the costumes, cast, acting, chemistry, sets, opening, special effects, and the music. The costumes. Oh the costumes are beautiful. They are well detailed, and very much pretty to look at. I love Ridley's costumes the most. They are sexy to look at and make you just wanna look at em, and pause the movie. Aunt Del's costumes are also festinating.

The cast is spot on. Young, and beautiful rising stars, Alice Englert, and Alden Ehrenreich are great as Lena and Ethan. Just how I pictured them looking. Viola Davis makes the perfect Amma. And Thomas Mann the best Link. The real other star studders and the third and fourth best cast (besides the leads) have got to be Emmy Rossum and Jeremy Irons. Emmy Rossum looks beautiful, and stunning as Ridley. And Jeremy makes the creepiest, shut in version of Macon possible. And of course Emma Thompson, Margo Martindale, and Zoey Deutch, are excellent too. The acting is good, not great but good. Emma Thompson has got to be the best out of the lot, on the acting part. She makes her evil character scary and creepy as well as a funny villain. She was probably the most into her role. Emmy Rossum also seemed to be having funny as the showy beautiful villain. She had style, and stole the screen. Alice Englert, and Alden Ehrenreich are excellent as the leads. They can pull of good chemistry with each other, and deepen their characters. The chemistry in this film is great as Alice and Alden, share greatly realistic looking attraction to each other. The settings were neat, and while they might be considered a rip off of Twilights location's I just don't think that way. The locations are beautiful. I love them.

The opening is good, it's introducing Ethan's narrative, and he, himself. It starts fleshing out his opinions. It started out slowly well the first five minutes. It was good. Just him. It works well. The special effects I hear were mostly practical. And they were pretty neat too. Like when Lena and Ethan were in the theater and the smoke started pouring in, and the screen turned into a battlefield and no one but Ethan and Lena can see it, well it's pretty cool. Plus, when the glass shattered in the classroom, which was pretty cool to watch. And knowing that the glass sequence was real made it neat to watch even more. The music in this film is great. I loved the trailers song as well as a few others that were pretty nice to listen too. Well all an all Beautiful Creatures, isn't beautiful. It's one of the better films of the year and definitely better than Twilight and The Host, it's still cheesy, and could have been made better.

Side Effects

Side Effects Review - The world will never be the same with the advent of prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical industry. They are now pervading everyday life but who knew that there could be a dangerous side towards the seemingly harmless pills we all take to cure ourselves of everyday illness. But the movie deals with those pills we take cure ourselves of the problems of the mind, ailments which cannot be cured by mere therapy. Soderberg evokes the paranoia and uncertainty that all psychiatric drugs induce in us with continuous intake and subsequent stagnation of the ailment. Surely there are people out there who will empathy towards Emily Taylor. But the plot gets twisted and then on you're captured in your seats till the confusion clears away.

Side Effects

The opening sequences of the film shows a blood littered apartment, and then cuts to a reality three months prior to the event. Emily is awaiting the release of her husband, Martin, who served four years in prison for insider trading. She is initially thrilled with his release but then it is revealed that she is suffering from several depression episodes and anxiety disorders. This is the main conflict in the film that drives the plot forward which produces different consequences and convolutions of the plot. The illnesses drive her to s suicide attempt which results in her getting admitted in the hospital. She is assigned a psychiatrist, John Banks, who analyses her case and confronts her with the facts, she is then under his therapy treatment and released on the condition she makes timely appointments with him. Emily is given the drugs, and she tries to go with her life as normally as possible but she is unable to do that with the side effects aggravating her condition. She and Martin have a hard time dealing with it. Banks realises that he must go to her previous psychiatrist, Victoria, to get a better understanding of the illnesses she possesses and she suggests giving her Abilixia, a fairly recently produced anti-anxiety drug , which apparently seems to make things better.

This is all the exposition that is required then we're thrown into the chaos of that night when blood is spilled. The drug has apparently caused Emily to sleepwalk and at one such moment of unconscious state, Martin comes to the apartment and he is stabbed four to five times with a sharp kitchen knife and then is bled to death while pleading to Emily to save him. This unexpected incident is what shapes how the plot moves into the final and subsequently all the characters with the elimination of Martin are involved in a complicated legal case which finds Emily to be not guilty uner the plea of insanity. John Banks life is turned around with this revelation and he is fired from all his engagements and left jobless. Strangely enough he finds loopholes in the whole episode that may suggest something sinister. We are now revealed that this was a brilliantly executed plan hatched by Emily and Victoria to acquire money our of clandestine insider trading methods. Banks goes on day and day out to find the truth which is eventually revealed and Emily, who was serving a three-month psychiatric institution sentence reveals the whole plot to him. He tricks both of them, who apparently turns out to lesbian lovers, into thinking that he'll save one of them at the expense of the other but he cunningly plays the game so that both of them are arrested and given justice.

In between all this there are sequences where there are conversations and subtexts where Steven points out that the whole industry is managed by corporations who are competing against each other and have profit and moneymaking as their bottomline instead of having the health of the customer as their priority. Psychiatrists are extensions of this plan and they're catapulted into this business of drugs where unfortunate patients are the victims of the industry. This is the condition that is prevailing in the modern scenario, this cannot be denied, but the side effects that are faced by the patients maybe exaggerated in the case of Martin's murder but still one cannot ignore the many others.

All the actors have done a terrific job of playing out their characters and Steven has emphasised on building up the tension even though the plot goes haywire and suddenly shifts gears towards perhaps an implausible scenario. But he has given emphasis only to these scenes which gives plot and character development and once again acting as his own cinematographer , he produces smooth and varying camera shots from different angular perspectives. The movie ends on a happy note where justice is served but also warns the viewers of the dangers on relying too much on the industry and its products and the inescapable fate that is the modern world of prescription drugs pervading over our daily lives.

A Good Day to Die Hard

A Good Day to Die Hard - One of the scenes in the entirety of the Die Hard franchise that has stuck with me over time is the plane crash from Die Hard 2. While the crash itself is pretty horrific to watch, it's made so by Bruce Willis' performance. As John McClane, he shows the absolute horror at the fact that he has just witnessed the death of more than a few people and feels, at least partially, responsible for the failure to stop it. In A Good Day To Die Hard, it doesn't take long for the first car chase to start, in which McClane is again, at least partially, responsible for the definite injury and, most likely, death of numerous innocent civilians. The difference this time is that he shows about as much concern for these people as the villains do: that being none. While this criticism is FAR (and please note the emphasis) from the worst thing about A Good Day To Die Hard, it begs the question that dogs this film for it's entirety: exactly when do you want me to start caring?

A Good Day to Die Hard

It's also a massive example of why the Die Hard franchise has fallen so far from grace. The style of this film, as well as that of Die Hard 4.0 is so far removed from that of the original trilogy that it's barely recognisable. A generic action film starring Bruce Willis has been made and, for marketing purposes, they make sure he's called John McClane, but what we are seeing is not John McClane. The McClane in the original films was a begrudging hero forced into the situations through circumstance. He didn't dive out of a window in the hope of a soft landing. He tied a hose around his waist to make sure he had a back-up plan in the event of there not being a soft landing. In the recent films, the circumstances may well be forced, but there's nothing remotely begrudging about McClane's attitude towards it. It would appear he has become the victim of a God complex.

What is the unfortunate situation this time? His son, Jack, has managed to get himself arrested in Russia for shooting someone in the head in a very busy nightclub. Sounds fair to me, but, of course, he's a McClane so he can't be a bad guy, as John finds out upon his arrival in Russia. McClane Junior is, as McClane Senior puts it, "the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey". After the usual friction and attempts to escape his father, Junior is horrified to realise that their volatile relationship must be rekindled as they attempt to secure a file which will have something on it about naughty Russians selling weapons, bombs and other items of unsavoury nature. That's all the film really needs, or rather thinks it needs, to create a compelling story. Once we get the introductions out of the way and Senior arrives in Russia, the plot can be explained in the following (relatively spoiler-free) way:

Car Chase
Dull Parental Bonding
Shoot Out
More Dull Parental Bonding
Another Shoot Out
Yet Another Session Of Dull Parental Bonding
Final Shoot Out
Do We Really Need More Dull Parental Bonding? Apparently So.

I hate to keep harping on about the original trilogy, but, let's face it, they didn't have much more plot than that and made it work by following the three key rules of this sort of film: exciting action, interesting characters and genuinely humorous comedy. Hell, move away from the Die Hard franchise: that's just the rules to a decent action film. Hardly brain surgery and to it's credit, A Good Day To Die Hard scores three out of three... if it's aim was to get them all wrong.

It's mainly the script's fault. Skip Woods isn't exactly the biggest name in Hollywood writers, but take a look at his CV and you'll see an endless stream of god-awfulness (Swordfish, Hitman, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) being broken by the film he did before this: The A-Team. I know not everyone liked The A-Team, but I personally really enjoyed it and found it to be genuinely hilarious in places, giving me hope that he would take this improvement and add it to Die Hard. He hasn't. It's painfully unfunny. The one-liners don't zing as much as collapse on the floor, gasping for breath as soon as they've left Bruce's mouth. Even worse are the new characters. McClane Junior is like what would happen when you pressed a button on a machine specifically designed to create action heroes. You could criticise Jai Courtney for being dull, but it's hard to see how anyone could do any better with a character that's got all the depth of a puddle in a heatwave. It's made worse by the villains. There's a number of them. Some arrive early, some arrive later. People rightfully complain about how bland Timothy Olyphant was in Die Hard 4.0. These guys make him look like Alan Rickman. The only one who demonstrates character does so by eating a carrot. I've no idea why and can only assume he's taken inspiration from Clive Owen in Shoot Em Up. In which case, get a better taste in films. His other method is by dancing. That most evil of activities. As for Bruce, well, phoning it in should cover that nicely.

Choice of director could be another direction to throw the blame in. It's hard to decide whether to blame John Moore himself or the person who decided he was suitable to direct this film. I will put my hands up right now and say that this is the only film of Moore's that I have actually seen bar Behind Enemy Lines in which someone had the brainwave to try out Owen Wilson as an action star. As a result, I will try not to judge Moore on his previous output, but let's not feign ignorance to the fact that none of it has been particularly well received, begging the question of why he was allowed to get his hands on a franchise that's so well regarded and was also so in need of another decent addition. One more bad film and the Die Hard franchise goes from being arguably the best action series of all time to one with only a 50% success rate. A less successful director is often a sign of producers ensuring that they get someone who they can boss around. To his credit, Moore doesn't strike me as someone who will allow that to happen. An admirable quality that may be, I just wish he'd made a better film.

A Good Day To Die Hard is dumb. I should have been writing that it's dumb fun, but it isn't. It's dumb tedium. At about an hour and 40 minutes, it's the shortest film in the franchise by around half an hour and everything that I've written above should show how just how glad I am that that half hour is not there. I was going to write that this is a good day to let this franchise die, but I have this horrible feeling that I'm stealing that from another review. It's also a futile plea. Go check Bruce's IMDB page and you will see Die Hardest listed for 2015. I strongly doubt anyone working on that film is going to read this review, but on the oft chance, please find a way to bring Die Hard back to it's roots before it's too late and you ruin a franchise that I, and many others, adore. I know that John McTiernan's in jail at the moment and, yes, his last two films may have been Basic and Rollerball, but he comes out in April and I honestly believe that getting him back would be good for this franchise. 20th Century Fox: make it happen.

2/10

P.S. If you want a real laugh from this film, check out the extras, as one of the crew claims that this film's car chase will be up there in quality with The French Connection, Bullitt and Ronin. In. Your. Dreams.

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons - The films biggest flaw is its extremely inconsistent tone. Normally this isn't something I'd gripe about in a film, since such a thing can often make a film more realistic (life sure as hell has an inconsistent tone) but here it feels like Stephen Chow just didn't know what type of movie he wanted to make. The comedy and lighthearted tone clash greatly with some genuinely unpleasant moments and real horror in a manner so jarring it took away from the experience for me. There's no problem showing the dangers our hero must face, it's still an action film in addition to a comedy after all, but something like dragging out the death of a young girl just feels over the line in this type of film. Additionally, once again in a Chow film, the romance feels very weird and unnatural, and presents a weak point in the film.

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons

Still, when it settles down and figures out what it wants to do, it's pretty damn good. It's an interesting spin on the Journey to the West story, and it was a lot of fun seeing a live action demon hunter (something usually restricted to anime). The action sequences are all extremely well put together, and wildly creative. The film has a bit of an identity crisis of comedy, horror, and action; but when it settles into action it's a helluva' fun ride. Certainly not Chow's best, and there were some parts that I really didn't like, but it's interesting to see him try something a little different, and it's still mostly successful in its attempts.

I Give It a Year

I Give It a Year Review - Another gamble on buying a movie that I haven't seen, and it turned out to be a tennar extremely well spent. I Give It A Year is a romantic comedy with a twist, in fact it's a reverse/anti-comedy that starts with the wedding straight away instead of ending with it, and ends with a shock that you don't see coming.

I Give It a Year

Any comedies that are based on weddings are always hilarious, well to me it seems that way, and yet again this is another wedding comedy that dishes out the dysfunctional families, immensely awkward best man speeches and a whole host of hilarious set pieces, this is up there with Bridesmaids, A Few Best Men and other classic weddings comedies.

I Give It a Year keeps away from cliches and predictability, and it keeps you guessing which of the two will give in first and end their relationship. The cast are outstanding, each of them sharp in their comedic timings and all featuring character traits that are laugh out loud, but best of all is Olivia Colman who seriously turns the crude and outrageousness up to crazy levels as an ignorant, dismissive and aggressive marriage-guidance counsellor, she steals every scene.

The story's structure isn't like other comedies, it flips from different times of Nat and Josh's relationship, and then jumps back to them in the company of Colman's guidance office. I'll admit that the ending does feel rushed, as if the writers were desperate to tie up the love triangles, but from this speedy ending the pace continues to roll along nicely, and it's great to have a happy ending in a rom-com that actually for once, delivers a nice twist and changes the conventions of this genre. This is pure brilliance in British comedy, it's filled with deadpan, sarcastic and crude humour and the cast are extremely talented, I love it, definitely worth watching over and over again.

Identity Thief

Identity Thief! It sure does bring out the awareness, about your identities being stolen. When I first saw the trailer back in January I thought this was going to be very funny, and while it was funny, it's not that funny. Melissa McCarthy didn't look like Melissa, which was neat. I was disappointed at how the film failed to make the best of its actors, and ideas. The film doesn't really give out that many good jokes. Well anyway let's start off this review with the negatives, which include the jokes, script, sub-plot, supporting cast, miss - use of actors, and dragging.

Identity Thief

This film is just not funny. You'd think that with Melissa McCarthy, break through actress from Bridesmaid, could make this film a truly funny film, which was said to be proven when the very funny trailer premiered, well most of the sole jokes were in the trailer. Jason Bateman is a wooden stick, that if used right could be a comedic relief, but most of the time he wasn't, and he appeared as a thin, anti-funny person. I am sad to admit this but this is just not funny, and should have been funnier, and could a been too. The script started out decent but started to get bland as soon as we meet Marisol and Julian. It kinda gets boring and insulting as well. Nothing really works in the middle.

We have an idiot tracker who kidnaps the fat lady, whose real name we don't know till the end, but everyone just calls her Diana. What we receive is a pretty gloomy, middle with very little jokes, except for one moment in which Diana sings tunes from songs in a car. The sub - plot with the tracker, and the two people going after Diana. It's pretty dumb, and boring, and I really wished to fast forward threw those parts as the characters are not that important to the film, and they appear pretty randomly threw out the movie. The supporting cast, really don't help the movie and the worst examples include Jon Favreau as the UN - necessary and UN - funny boss of Jason Bateman's character. Jon, just didn't belong in the film, he should stick to his Elf and Iron Man roles. And Robert Patrick as the bounty hunter, well he's just plain annoying. I hated the actor, and his acting, and I hated his screen time. This film miss uses its cast. Melissa McCarthy, is given very little funny dialogue, and Jason Bateman isn't made fun of enough. John Cho is an excellent cast member not seen enough at the beginning!

This film drags a lot, during the middle section of this film. The film can't come to decide what to do and often bores while trying to decide what to do with its self. The positives for this film include the leads, make up, message, music, and the plot. The leads are excellent! Jason Bateman is the hardworking, family man, whose identity is stolen, and Melissa McCarthy is the tough and funky identity thief. Melissa McCarthy is very funny and energetic in her role, and while she doesn't share much comedy with Jason Bateman, she still is able to pull off one or two, and Jason Bateman's character is a truly good dude, and a person who provides for his family whose life turns upside down.

The makeup is excellent, and Melissa looks very - not her actually, and she looks instead like Diana. Very detailed her and make up, and she looks colorful and ugly. The film's message is a big deal. The message is this, don't trust anyone. And that you can lose your job, most of your money, be warranted for jail, and have no car. So the message, while spread out wacky like is still strong and legit in a stupid way. The music is funky and fun to hear. It is original and just lively. The plot is original, well sort of; it has the same formulaic, capture and road trip kind of deal with it but it also is supported by having a crazy lady and a guy who goes to get his Identity back. It's a plot I hadn't heard of before watching this. All an All this film is few in jokes that work, and drags but Melissa is funny, and the music fun, making this not so much un enjoyable.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Film Review - Having seen the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, I must confess that I really had a lot of surprising admiration for the amount of ambition and elaborative content of the previous movie. Not only was it great in terms of visuals, but also I really loved how well the actors got into their roles and how cleverly it updated an otherwise odd, yet idealistic children's book. The setup still remains odd, but the movies still do well for what they have to work with. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 serves as a direct sequel to the surprisingly fun predecessor, but sadly falls into territory that feels all too familiar.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Taking place directly after the events of the first film with a little back story of Flint Lockwood's childhood inspiration, Lockwood and his friends get the brilliant idea of setting up their own laboratory to help invent for those around them. Upon proceeding to help the town of Swallow County, Lockwood's childhood icon, Chester V acknowledges his skills with science and decides to recruit him into his corporation to help put them to use. When Flint becomes saddened that he didn't succeed upon his first invention for the company Chester V informs him about the current status of Shallow County. Under the belief that the new foodamals pose a threat to the rest of the world, Flint and his group of friends accept the offer to return to their hometown and put a stop to the supposed menace. Though, there does appear to be more on the mind of Chester V than what seems.

The plot does seem to mirror Pixar's "Up'' a little too closely. Having to deal with childhood idols that appear to be one thing, only to end up not being all that they seem. "Up" did have somewhat of a surprise factor going for it using such a device, "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" just rushes into the story arc at the very moment of the introduction of the character. Hence, making it feel more rushed in comparison. Much of the movie gives away its stance by blowing through animated movie clichés and creating set pieces and scenarios that feel put in the movie for pop cultural relativity.

Much of the environment of the foodamals feels taken from "Jurassic Park" and certain endangerments of the heroes seem to follow "Predator" more closely. Having been done before in many other movies of this caliber, much of the layouts aren't anything audiences haven't seen before. That being said, I still really admire this movie's animation. Much like the first movie, the animation is still very energetic and tries every attempt at verbal and physical humor it can. I still love the timing of this animation and how energized it is. Some of the jokes in this movie work and did get a laugh out of me.

Another good thing is that the original cast of actors reprise their roles from the previous movie and still deliver breakthrough performances. James Caan as Mr. Lockwood still gives his character a lot of likability and the talents of Anna Farris and Will Forte still provide Flint and Sam with the same amount of charming energy from the predecessor. Mr. T sadly doesn't return for Earl Devereaux and has been replaced with Terry Crews. His performance feels more like his President Camacho character from "Idiocracy", which did seem a little forced considering how Mr. T always presents his characters using his persona.

"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" does have some likability, though its layouts and humor don't quite match the quality of the first. Which, feels as if the creators were running out of ideas in terms of what could keep the audience entertained. This movie does manage to entertain to some degree and I do recommend it for anybody who has seen and enjoyed the first. My only advice is just to try not to go in expecting anything remarkably groundbreaking.

Baggage Claim

Baggage Claim Film Review - David E. Talbert is back. This time I don't know if I want him to be back. David created of a great piece of comedy work , First Sunday. This is not in the same class. To me for a few different reason. As a film buff I will watch anything . This I want to see all people be represented equally. Before I go anymore lets go back to film class, and talk about a few terms.

Baggage Claim

Sambo: refers to black men that were considered very happy, usually laughing, lazy, irresponsible, or carefree. This depiction of black people was displayed in films of the early 20th century.

Mammy: dark skin, a heavyset frame and large bust, and overall matronly appearance, complete with an apron around her waist and a kerchief on her head. She is overweight and dressed in gaudy clothing, as well as genial, churchgoing, and spiritual. She is compliant in the face of white authority.

Sapphire: This is an undesirable depiction in which black women berate black males in their lives with cruel words and exaggerated body language. Media often show the wisecracking, emasculating woman with her hands on her hips and her head thrown back as she lets everyone know she is in charge (Yarborough & Bennett, 2000). The character is a control-agent for the African-American male character, whose dishonesty provides her with an opportunity to emasculate him with her smart, insulting mouth

Jezebelle: a light-skinned, slender girl with long straight hair and small features. She more closely resembled the European ideal for beauty than any pre-existing images.immensely attractive to males. The creation of the hyper-sexual seductress Jezebelle served to absolve white males of responsibility in the sexual abuse.

Mandingo This stereotypical concept was invented by white slave owners who promoted the notion that male African slaves were animalistic and bestial in nature asserting.

Now we have that out of the way I can talk about this movie using the above terms with out stopping.

Montana (Paula Patton), our Jezebelle wants to know what she wants in life. she does not want to " fly solo any more. She meets a Mandingo and thinks that he is the one. With this movie we don't even get a plot or what she is going to do into the first 25 minutes of the movie. she finds out what she wants to do with her life after she finds out she has been lied to about what has went on. Then we never come back to this situation at all in the movie. I will not say what it will give too much away. With help from the "New school" Sterotype the Sassy Gay man, Sam ( This stereo type now is color blind in movies) and the Gail Best (Jill Scott) our Mammy. With the help of Sam he starts a circus, filled with sambas and jiggaboos! to help find Montana the love of her life. Also Montana is getting pressure by her mother Catherine ( the Sapphire) to find a man. Yes we have seen this movie before!

I am not going to say that this movie is bad nor good. don't get me wrong it is entertaining. I will admit it I liked looking at Jill scott, Paula Patton, and La LA. but there were things as a student of great film that I just say that I can't get over. one thing I noticed with the hair and make up. it is over done you can see right away they are really trying to make Montana the jezebel more then she alway is. I think the make up artist were told what to do on this one. also out support Helpers that help out sam along the way were funny yet all Jiggaboos. I know the girls from all walks of life want to see this one. but I will say this they made Trey Songz the Sambo! this is also out first holiday movie for this year so guys I know you may not like this type of movie but the girls are going to want to go. there are lots of Black on black poking fun jokes I did not find to funny I will not place them here.

to wrap it al up lets say this way this movie looses the following for me. One grade for the Sterotyping. It looses one grade for being about 7 minutes too long. also a Half grade for word rove and makeup. my final grade is a C-. its a fun movie. its great to watch at home it has laughs. but as a film buff I found myself looking at this movie as a step back. I know a lot of people are over this now with the new generation not seeing these things. I can't help it. when film greats such as Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Ridley Scott, Antoine Fuqua, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, have fought to get rid of this in Hollywood. oh one thing you will notice. the airline is the same airline that was in Jackie Brown. that I will give away, cause I don't care!

Thanks for Sharing

Thanks for Sharing Film Review - Remember when sex addiction was something of a joke? Or at the very least it was the pariah of the "addiction" family, taken less seriously than alcohol or drugs and generally considered an excuse conjured up by the promiscuous to explain their behavior. Well that's no longer the case thanks to specialists defining it as a legitimate illness and honest dramatic portrayals like Michael Fassbender's in Shame. Stuart Blumberg's Thanks for Sharing wants us to take sexual addiction seriously, as well, but as it attempts to balance humor, a pair of potential romances, and insight on the disease, it turns out to be an enjoyable, easily accessible romantic comedy and nothing more.

Thanks for Sharing

The serio-comic film follows the various interpersonal relationships of sex addicts living in New York City, probably the worst place to try and escape the constant visual stimuli. Mark Ruffalo gives a charming, soulful performance as Adam, a 12-step veteran living like a hermit after five years of sexual "sobriety". Adam's no TV no Internet existence is a source of humor for his sponsor, Mike (Tim Robbins), who has his own problems to deal with. Mike's past promiscuous escapades have soured his wife (Joely Richardson) and possibly helped turn his son (Patrick Fugit) into a drug abuser. While their two stories could probably float an entire film separately, other subplots intercede and even dominate for long stretches. The main one involves Neil (Josh Gad), a doctor forced into the self-help program after his compulsive behavior threatens his job. He quickly grows attached to Dede (Alecia "Pink" Moore), a rockin' hairstylist addicted to bad men and drugs as much as she is sex.

With so much going on, nothing quite gets the attention it deserves, and Blumberg is forced to make concessions of expediency. That includes the central romantic relationship between Adam and Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow), a sexy breast cancer survivor and health nut who conveniently has an aversion to dating addicts. Of course that means his first stab at love in five years will start off with a lie, as he stays mum on his sobriety. Too much of what goes on between the two amounts to rom-com fluff and anything deeper than that brushed aside. For instance, Adam struggles to make the connection between sex and genuine love, having spent his life viewing it as the means of fulfilling a primal need.

Ruffalo gets to play a variation of his Bruce Banner character from The Avengers, bottling up his emotions and refusing to let others crack his calm exterior for fear of the worst. It's the sort of sensitive, thoughtful character Ruffalo can easily settle into. Paltrow, while delightful as a whole, has to play a character that frankly doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Shifting like the wind depending the plot's needs, Phoebe goes from alluring, to understanding, to wildly insensitive at a whim. First of all, it doesn't make sense that she seems completely oblivious to Adam's plight after he finally reveals the truth, considering her past experience with addicts. Then her reaction to the news isn't to try and help him begin a new phase of his life, but to strip down and shake her butt in his face seductively. Most guys would never complain about being in Adam's situation, but most guys also aren't going through what he is. It's the equivalent of Phoebe dangling an open bottle of Jack Daniels in front of an alcoholic. Phoebe seems too much like a plot device than a real person, and we're never given a reason to root for their relationship to succeed.

Unfortunately there's not much insight into the illness offered up beyond trite platitudes and slogans, with the hard work of maintaining sobriety chronicled in montages or left out altogether. Blumberg seems to be celebrating the close-knit community and camaraderie that helps sufferers break their dependence on sex, but we only really see it in the budding friendship between Neil and Dede. Initially resistant to the program, Neil hits rock bottom and has his "come to Jesus" moment, attracting Dede who admires his showing of honesty. Since their sponsors are preoccupied with their own lives, Neil and Dede begin to lean on one another for support, forming a bond of mutual respect with a person of the opposite sex for the first time in their lives. Gad, a gifted comedian only beginning to make strides as a dramatic actor, endures some humiliating physical gags that don't add much. But the chemistry he finds with edgy pop rocker Pink is the film's true beating heart. In her first major screen role she doesn't appear the least bit overwhelmed, nailing the most film's most poignant scene during a group confessional.

As writer of The Kids Are All Right, Blumberg helped advance our notions of the American family, but Thanks For Sharing feels a few years out of date. What few points it wants to make are generally accepted now when they would have been revelatory before. Thanks for Sharing has its charms, but it's both too shallow and too busy, and not all that perceptive.
 
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