Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Top 10 Movies of 2014

2014 was such an incredible year for movies that I had a hard time limiting my list to just 10. But I've done my best. As in previous years, I'll start at number 10 and work my way to number one, giving some brief thoughts on each.

10. Birdman
  • A well made, ambitious movie made by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. Mirroring his own career, Michael Keaton gives an award worthy performance as Riggan Thomas, a washed up actor best known for playing a superhero 20 years ago. He's trying to make a comeback by directing, writing, and acting in a Broadway play. Made to look like it was entirely filmed in one long take.
9. Chef
  • A sweet, charming little movie starring Jon Favreau (who also directed) as a chef who is fired from his fancy restaurant job. At his ex wife's suggestion, he starts up a food truck and takes it around the country in an effort to regain his passion for cooking. Along the way he reconnects with his young son. Due to the massive amounts of food porn, I strongly suggest you don't watch this on an empty stomach.
8. Gone Girl
  • One of the best thrillers I've seen in years! Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunn, a husband whose wife Amy (Rosamund Pike, who I hope will be nominated for Best Actress) disappears under mysterious circumstances. Is Nick guilty or innocent? Director David Fincher makes you think it could go either way, with an ending that you'll never see coming.
7. Interstellar
  • Being such a huge Christopher Nolan fan, it should come as no surprise that Interstellar is on my list. The movie is visually stunning yes, but what I loved the most is at the heart of it is this beautiful story about the relationship between a father and daughter.
6. Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Once again Marvel hits it out of the park with this really fun space opera. Who would've thought that a movie featuring a talking raccoon could actually work? Let alone be the highest grossing (domestic) movie of the year so far.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Probably my favorite Marvel movie since The Avengers. Not only is there some great action sequences, but a well written story as well. I can't wait to see where they go next with this. The reason I'm ranking this higher than Guardians of the Galaxy is because I felt this movie had a much stronger villain.
4. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Just give Andy Serkis a damn Oscar already! He as well as the other actors performing with the help of motion capture do an incredible job bringing the apes to life. Featuring some groundbreaking special effects as well as an emotional story, this movie has something for everyone.
3. Mockingjay: Part One
  •  While very different from the first two movies, Mockingjay: Part One is still a well made movie that gives you glimpses of the rebellion and a lot of political talk. Does a nice job of setting things up for Part Two. Featuring some emotional, realistic performances by the entire cast.
2. The Imitation Game
  • Another incredible movie that I saw at the film festival this year. Based on the true story of Alan Turning, a genius mathematician who in World War 2 was able to crack the German Enigma code. Benedict Cumberbatch gives a powerful performance as Turning. He really puts so much effort into his role, right down to his mannerisms. He's definitely my top pic for Best Actor this year. But that's a topic for another post.
1. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • It was a close call between this and The Imitation Game. Because I'm such a huge LOTR/Hobbit fan, I just had to put this final film in the trilogy (and sadly the last Middle Earth movie we'll probably ever see) at number one. Kept me on the edge of my seat with its jaw dropping battle sequences and also had me sobbing at times it was so emotional. Well done Peter Jackson!

Honorable Mentions:
Because there were so many great movies this year, here are a few that didn't quite make my list. Not because I didn't like them as much, I just simply ran out of room.
  • The Fault In Our Stars
  • Wild
  • Foxcatcher
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • The Lego Movie

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (IMAX 3D)

It's really no surprise that the final installment of The Hobbit Trilogy was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. It's so sad to see this movie come to an end, especially since it looks like this will be the last time we ever see Middle Earth. Despite what some critics are saying, I thought The Battle of the Five Armies was amazing.

The movie takes place minutes after the events of Desolation of Smaug. Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch) has attacked Laketown and is eventually defeated. But problems for Bilbo (Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage) and company are far from over as an army of Orcs and Wargs make their way towards Erebor. This leads to an all out war where Dwarfs, Humans, and Elves must work together to defeat them.

Director Peter Jackson once again does a great job here. But boy does he like to fuck with people's emotions. Luckily I remembered to bring tissues this time. Boy did I need them. I guess I just get too attached to fictional characters. I apologize to anyone who happened to be in the same theater as me and could hear me sobbing uncontrollably. I tried to be as quiet about it as I could.

Battle of the Five Armies is easily the best of the three. It's pretty much non stop action but there's also a lot of heart. The movie is nearly two and a half hours long (which is short for a Middle Earth movie) but the time seemed to fly by with some of the most jaw dropping battle sequences I've seen in years.

The cast that they put together was incredible. There's Martin Freeman of course. He makes a perfect Bilbo. There's scenes (one in particular) where his character just breaks down emotionally and boy does he pull it off. Some actors might've played this way over the top but he didn't. It was very genuine and heartfelt.

For me, the actor who stood out the most was Richard Armitage. For a good part of the movie you watch Thorin as he descends into madness due to the "dragon sickness". He's not a nice guy. In fact, he's an asshole at points. But at the same time you kind of feel sorry for him and can understand how he got to be this way.

I can't write this review without talking about one of my favorite characters- Kili (played by the very charming Aidan Turner). I know I'm probably in the minority, but I loved his subplot with Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). Was it necessary? No. But I still thought it was sweet and the two of them had good chemistry.

If you do decide to go see this, I highly recommend the IMAX 3D version. You feel like you're right there on the battlefield. The 3D was actually decent. It wasn't the in your face, things flying out at you kind of 3D but instead it was more subtle. It was also nice to see them get the whole higher frame rate thing right this time. It didn't bother my eyes at all they way it did with the second movie. Maybe I'm just getting use to it.

I really, REALLY wanted to give this movie a perfect rating. The only thing that's stopping me is the fact that Peter Jackson decided to completely change a major scene towards the end. I had a feeling he would so I'm not surprised. I'm not saying I didn't like the scene. I'm far from being a book purist. I understand any time you turn a book into a movie there's going to be some changes. But this was one moment that I felt should've been left the way it was written.

Overall, there's something in this movie for everyone. Thank you Peter Jackson for making six incredible movies which I will watch and remember for years to come.

My Rating: 9.5/10

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mockingjay: Part One

WARNING: There might be some slight spoilers in this review. They'll definitely be MAJOR spoilers if you haven't already seen Catching Fire.

Going into this movie, I was extremely nervous. Having read all three books, Mockingjay was my least favorite. Thankfully the movie version (so far) was amazing.

Mockingjay takes place just days after the events of Catching Fire. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and company find themselves in the (long thought to be destroyed) District 13 after the Capitol wiped out District 12 in response to her actions in the 75th Hunger Games. She meets the President of District 13- Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), who wants Katniss to become the symbol of the revolution... the Mockingjay. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Director Francis Lawrence is back and once again I must thank him for not using shaky cam. Here, he really improves upon the book. The books are entirely told from Katniss's point of view which is fine but doesn't exactly translate well to the screen. So what he's done with the Mockingjay movie is show you, in addition to what's going on with Katniss, the events in the Capitol with President Snow as well as the rebellion in the Districts. You really feel like you're there going through these horrific events along with the rest of the citizens. I also loved the whole look of District 13. It was pretty much exactly how I pictured it while reading the book. If I had anything "negative" to say about the movie it would be that at times it was filmed way too dark. I understand what the director was doing (a majority of the movie takes place in District 13, an underground community) but in certain scenes it was hard to tell what was going on.

The cast has always been incredible and they seem to be getting better with each passing film. Jennifer Lawrence has quickly become one of my favorite actresses. I can't imagine anyone else playing Katniss. You believe her in this as someone suffering from major PTSD who reluctantly becomes the face of the rebellion.

Josh Hutcherson really isn't in the movie all that much- his character Peeta was captured by the Capitol at the end of Catching Fire and is now being tortured and used as a weapon in order to demoralize Katniss. But when he is in a scene it's absolutely heartbreaking to watch him deteriorate both physically and mentally.

Gale (Liam Hemsworth) now has a significantly larger role than he did in the first two movies. Liam was very good. However, there were just a few moments where I felt his dialog was a little cringe worthy.

I also loved seeing Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) again. They're two of my favorite characters in the series. Haymitch provides some much needed humor. Not that there's a whole lot of that here.

I'm sure some of you are curious as to what changes they made from the book. It's been a while since I've read it, but from what I remember, Francis Lawrence has done a very good job being as faithful to the book as he possibly can. Of course, there are a few differences which I've already mentioned. There's also some other changes that I felt were a welcome addition. Sorry, I won't spoil those for you.

James Newton Howard is back as the composer and once again he provides us with a beautiful, haunting score featuring slightly different versions of music we've heard in the previous movies as well as new material. If I can ever get iTunes to work for me again I'll definitely be adding this score to my iPod.

I think some people (especially ones who have only seen the movies) will be put off by the fact that this is a VERY different movie than the first two. There's no Hunger Games. There's a few action sequences but it's mostly political talk, getting glimpses of the revolution, and setting things up for part two. Even though I'm not crazy about the trend (with the exception of the last Harry Potter), I can see why they split Mockingjay into two movies. Could it have been done in one? Sure. But I'm glad they're taking their time and not rushing through it.

So how does Mockingjay: Part One compare to the first two movies? Well... I liked it better than Hunger Games, but not quite as much as Catching Fire. Still, it was a great movie and I'm really looking forward to part two.

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Interstellar (IMAX)

I've been looking forward to this movie ever since it first came out. Christopher Nolan is one of my all time favorite directors. I've seen just about every one of his movies. Interstellar is, by far, his most ambitious movie to date. I'm happy to say that, overall, he succeeded.

The movie takes place some time in the not so distant future. Earth is dying and looks like one big dust bowl. They never really tell you how it got that way which I was okay with. I don't need everything spelled out for me. It tells the story of former NASA pilot Cooper/Coop (Matthew McConaughey) who's now a widowed father working as a farmer. He's recruited to pilot a ship called Endurance in order to, along with explorers Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), and Romilly (David Gyasi), find another planet that can sustain life.

Interstellar is a movie that is meant to be seen on an IMAX screen. The cinematography and visual effects are beautiful and jaw dropping. Seeing it in IMAX really made me feel like I was on the Endurance and exploring all these new planets.

It's a big, epic science fiction movie, but at the heart of it Christopher Nolan has told an intimate story about the relationship between a father and daughter. That was definitely my favorite thing about this. Matthew McConaughey is amazing in his role. You really feel the pain, determination, and anguish that his character is going through. It helps that he's also a father in real life. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm so happy that his career is finally going in the right direction. He is truly an incredible actor.

However, as much as I wanted this movie to be perfect, it does have a few flaws. I felt like the editing could've been a little tighter in spots. That being said, even though the movie is almost three hours long, I was never bored.

The other thing was, and this really isn't a big complaint, the last 20-30 minutes had me thinking, "Okay Nolan, I have no problem suspending my disbelief but you're really pushing it here." I wish I could elaborate further but then I would be spoiling too much.

Interstellar is one of those movies that people are either going to love or hate with very few in between. I really hope you all give it a chance. It's an incredible experience that you rarely get at a movie theater these days. I can't wait to see what Christopher Nolan does next.

My Rating: 9/10

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Film Columbia 2014

Each year the Chatham Film Club (which I am a proud member of) put on an amazing film festival. This year was no different. I saw so many wonderful movies and got to know a lot of really nice people, several of  whom I see at the Sunday matinees the film club does every other week. I ended up seeing 12 movies over the course of 5 days. By the end I was exhausted but it was worth it.

As I've done in previous years, I'm not going to do long, detailed reviews like I would normally do. One, because most of these movies have yet to be released to the public and I don't think it would be fair to spoil them. And two, I just don't have the time or the energy. So I've decided to do a quick summary of my thoughts and a rating for each. Hope you enjoy :)

The Imitation Game:
What a movie to start with on opening night! Benedict Cumberbatch gives the performance of his career as mathematician Alan Turning, who helped crack the German Enigma code during World War 2. Very touching and moving. Complete with a beautiful musical score by Alexandre Desplat. I have a feeling this will do very well come award season. My Rating: 10/10

Low Down:
Standard story about jazz pianist Joe Albany, told from the perspective of his daughter Amy. Based on a true story. Good performances by John Hawkes and Elle Fanning. Peter Dinklage is sadly wasted here though. The editing was very odd. Also, I wasn't crazy about the overall look of the film. My Rating: 6/10

Goodbye to Language 3D:
What a pretentious piece of shit! Jean-Luc Godard is this world class director but he certainly doesn't show it here. I'm a pretty open minded person but I just didn't get it. Completely incoherent. I never thought it would happen but this movie takes the title from Clash of the Titans as the worst 3D I've ever seen. I seriously thought there was something wrong with my vision until I got to talking to some people afterward and they said the same thing. The only reason I'm not giving this is a zero is because there were a few pretty images scattered throughout. My Rating: 3/10

This movie pretty much mirrors the career of Michael Keaton. He plays a washed up actor who's most famous for playing a superhero over 20 years ago. He's now trying to make a comeback by writing, directing, and starring in a Broadway play. There are quite a few Oscar worthy performances here. I like how director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu made the whole movie feel like one long take. He took a lot of risks and they paid off. The movie was a little odd at times but that's not necessarily a bad thing. My Rating: 8.5/10

Soul of a Banquet:
Lovely little documentary about Cecila Chiang- a woman who introduced America to authentic Chinease food. Make sure you don't watch this on an empty stomach because there's massive amounts of food porn here. My Rating: 7/10

Powerful and well made movie based on the true story of Mark Schultz. Both he and his brother Dave were Olympic wrestlers who formed an interesting relationship with wealthy sponsor John du Pont. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo put so much work into these characters. Everything from the way they walked, talked, and even their mannerisms were so much like the real brothers. Of course, the one who really stood out was Steve Carrell. Let's face it, he'd be the last person in the world you'd think of to play du Pont. But he pulls it off brilliantly. My Rating: 9/10

Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsallem:
Riveting drama set in Israel where it's almost impossible for a woman to get a divorce- the husband must agree to it. Vivian had been separated from her husband Elisha for years but he refuses to grant her request for a divorce. Takes place almost entirely in a courtroom. As you watch these meetings take place you can't help but feel frustrated. All this poor woman wants is her freedom. Very powerful performance by Ronit Elkabetz (who was also one of the directors of the movie) as Viviane. The supporting cast was great as well. My Rating: 9/10

Two Days, One Night:
Marion Cotillard stars in this raw, realistic drama as Sandra, who is being laid off from her job because most of her co-workers have opted for a bonus instead. She has one weekend to try and change their minds. While not Marion Cotillard's best performance, it's still worth watching. My Rating: 7.5/10

Mr. Turner:
The Saturday night surprise movie. Well, surprise... this was one of the dullest movies I've seen in a long time. The movie is about the last 25 years (which is about as long as this movie felt) in the life of British painter JMW Turner. I enjoy period dramas as much as anyone, but director Mike Leigh made this so difficult to watch with his style over substance and deafening musical score. Timothy Spall is a good actor but even he couldn't save this mess. The only reason my rating isn't lower is because the movie didn't make me angry like Goodbye to Language. I was just bored. Plus I was able to catch up on some sleep. My Rating: 4/10

Happy Valley:
A documentary about the Jerry Sandusky scandal that focuses mainly on the community's reaction and the aftermath. There's also several interviews including Jerry Sandusky's adopted son Matt, who was one of the victims. Even though I knew a lot of the information already, it was still interesting. My Rating: 7.5/10

Reese Witherspoon gives another Oscar worthy performance as Cheryl Strayed who, after a tragedy occurs in her life, decides to hike 1,100 miles. Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who gave us last years Dallas Buyers Club. My Rating: 8.5/10

The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus:
This musical special was originally filmed in 1968. Features some great music by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Jethro Tull, and many more. An interesting choice to close out the festival. My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Fuck! Sorry, but that was all that was going through my head as I walked out of the theater. I don't mean that the movie was bad. Quite the opposite- Fury was a very good movie. But it was so depressing that I immediately went to the bar afterward and had a drink.

Fury takes place in April 1945. World War 2 is just about over. While the Allies are making their final push through Europe, army sergeant Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) commands a tank with his crew- Boyd "Bible" Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Trini "Gordo" Garcia (Michael Pena), Grady "Coon-Ass" Travis, and the inexperienced Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman). They're outnumbered and outgunned as they attempt to strike deep in the heart of Nazi Germany.

I like that director David Ayer didn't shy away from the brutality of war. I strongly suggest watching this movie on an empty stomach. It's incredibly graphic and violent. I swear every few minutes there was blood spewing out, limbs being torn off, and people on fire. There's even a guy who gets his face literally blown off. It's nearly two and a half hours of non stop action with very little room to breathe.

Each actor, I felt, did an outstanding job. Brad Pitt it goes without saying. I've rarely seen him give a bad performance. The person who really surprised me was Shia LaBeouf. When he's not going bat shit crazy he can actually be a decent actor. I hope he does more movies like this in the future. And Logan Lerman I'm starting to take as a serious actor. His character annoyed me a bit at first being such a dumb ass who could get everyone killed. But the more I thought about it the more I felt sorry for him. He's a guy who's very young and never even seen the inside of a tank. Suddenly he's thrust into this world.

My biggest problem with Fury is the lack of character development. You get very little information about the characters background. I get what David Ayer was trying to do but it still would have been nice to know more.

I've been comparing Fury to 12 Years a Slave in the sense that it's a good movie, but you'll only be able to watch it once. But unlike Fury, with 12 Years a Slave I felt emotionally attached to the characters and was sobbing by the end. Here I was sad and depressed but never really teared up that much.

Still, I think Fury is a movie that everyone should see. Just be sure to have plenty of comedies on hand for afterward.

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dracula Untold

Dammit! I was so excited for this movie. It had so much potential. Luckily while it wasn't great, it wasn't awful either.

Dracula Untold tells the story of Lord Vlad (Luke Evans), once known as Vlad the Impaler. He's now trying to live a peaceful life ruling over Transylvania with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and young son Ingeras (played by the forgotten Stark child Rickon. I can't remember his actual name). One day a Turkish Sulton named Mehmed (Dominic Cooper who I know can act but in this he's a pretty forgettable villain) arrives and demands a thousand boys for his army, including Vlad's son. Desperate to protect his family and kingdom, he goes to the Master Vampire (Charles Dance aka Tywin Lannister) who gives him all of his strength and abilities. With this he'll be able to single handily destroy the entire Turkish army. But he only has three days to do it. If he can resist human blood for those three days then he'll return to being human. If he can't, he'll remain a vampire forever. Think of it as a twisted, reverse Little Mermaid but with vampires.

Let me just start off by saying what I did like about the movie. Luke Evans... wow!! I can't imagine anyone else playing this role. He's just so charismatic and you can tell he really gave it his all. I completely bought him as this troubled man who has done some horrific things in the past but is trying to redeem himself and will do anything for his family.

If you're going into this expecting a horror movie then you might be a little disappointed. There are some horror elements sure, but I considered it more of a superhero origin story.

I also liked the look of the vampires. It's so nice to see the more traditional version of them again and not ones that sparkle. That's always a plus. But speaking of the visuals, while some moments looked good overall they were pretty terrible. I read somewhere that the movie's budget was $70 million. I don't know where the hell all that money went.

Certain scenes and dialog were so cringe worthy that at times I had to either look away from the screen or laugh out loud. Sometimes both. One scene in particular that stood out that was especially bad. All I'll say is it was almost exactly like a certain scene in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Believe me you'll know it when you see it.

I was thinking about taking off another point for the ending. I won't spoil it obviously but once that scene was over and the credits rolled I felt like shouting, "Oh fuck you!" But I'm feeling generous at the moment and I like Luke Evans so that's why I'm giving it as high of a rating as I am.

I know it seems like I'm knocking Dracula Untold a lot and that I didn't like it. I'm so conflicted about this movie. Parts of it I really enjoyed and others parts I thought were terrible. But not for one second do I regret seeing it. If you're into these types of movies check it out. I just wouldn't rush out to see it or anything.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Gone Girl

Gone Girl proves what I have been saying all along- David Fincher is a top notch director who deserves to have his name up there with the other greats in Hollywood. Wow! I knew that this movie would be good but I had no idea just how good.

Gone Girl is based on a 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the screenplay. I haven't read the book yet but from what I've heard it's a pretty faithful adaptation. The story is about a married couple named Nick and Amy Dunne (Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike). On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing under mysterious circumstances. Nick displays some odd behavior and is of course the main suspect. The media goes crazy. Is Nick guilty or innocent? The way he's portrayed makes you think it could go either way at first. Just when you think you might have it all figured out, the movie takes some surprising twists and turns. I just love a good mystery/thriller.

Everyone in this movie was perfectly cast and gave unbelievable performances. I'm so happy Ben Affleck's career is going in the right direction now. His portrayal of Nick, from his emotions or lack of them right down to his facial expressions, leaves you wondering if he really did do it.

Rosamund Pike I think stands a very good chance of getting nominated for an Oscar. Her performance as Amy just blew me away. I wish I could tell you why but then I would be giving away some major spoilers.

But the person that surprised me the most was Tyler Perry. Who knew he could actually act? He plays Tanner Bolt, Nick's lawyer (think Johnnie Cochran). He could have easily played this character as over the top but he was very subtle and even humorous at times. You know that David Fincher is an amazing director when he can get a good acting performance out of Tyler Perry. They should give him the Best Director Oscar based on that fact alone.

Speaking of humor, there's surprisingly a decent amount of it spread throughout. The trailers are a little misleading when it comes to that. It never felt forced though.

Visually this movie is very dark which obviously fits with the tone. It goes well with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' hauntingly beautiful score. It's very much a David Fincher movie in that sense. But it's also a lot different than his previous work.

It feels like I've given out this rating a lot this year but Gone Girl definitely deserves this. I can't really think of any flaws. It's two and a half hours long but I was never bored. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I have a feeling it's going to be nominated for a lot of awards this year. At least I hope it is.

My Rating: 10/10

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Equalizer

I've been looking forward to seeing this for weeks. I'm a huge Denzel Washington fan and will watch almost anything that he's in. Once again, I was not disappointed.

The Equalizer is about a man named Robert McCall (Denzel Washington). I think he use to be some sort of special agent but I'm not sure. The movie never really goes into specifics about it. He's now trying to lead a quiet life working at a Home Depot knockoff during the day and hanging out at a local diner at night drinking tea and reading books. He befriends a young prostitute named Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is being controlled by men who work for the Russian mob. One night Teri is badly beaten. Robert decides to help her and use his skill set to take down these men.

Denzel is not only one of the greatest action stars out there, but one of the greatest actors period. While this may not be my favorite performance of his, he's still amazing and a total bad ass. Why do all of these villains keep fucking with him? They should know by now that it's not going to end well for them. I also liked all of the mystery behind his character. I kept wondering, who the hell is this guy? How did he learn to do all of these things?

As far as the main villain, Teddy, is concerned I thought Marton Csokas did a decent enough job playing him. It's just that the character was so generic and after awhile he doesn't seem all that threatening.

The Equalizer is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who had previously directed Denzel in Training Day. I felt his style and look for the film worked well. There were several slo motion scenes that normally feel cheesy to me but here they actually worked. The action scenes were a blast to watch even if they did seem absurd after awhile. I'm convinced that Denzel's character wasn't human. It really is one of those movies where you have to throw logic out the window.

Even though I was never really bored, I felt the movie did drag a little at first. The run time was well over two hours and it didn't need to be. They could have easily cut a good twenty to thirty minutes.

Despite a couple of flaws, I still enjoyed watching this. It's a really fun action movie. I hope it does well at the box office.

My Rating: 8/10

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Maze Runner (IMAX)

I had completely forgotten that The Maze Runner was coming out this week until a friend of mine texted me and asked if I wanted to go see it. I had seen the trailer a few times and it seemed interesting. Indeed it was. In fact I'd say the movie was pretty good.

The Maze Runner is (of course) based on the first of three YA books written by James Dasher. It's about a boy named Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) who wakes up in an elevator not knowing who he is or how he got there. The elevator brings him up to a community of boys who are all trapped in a maze. They must work together in order to try and find a way out.

This is the first major film for director Wes Ball. He hads previously directed a couple of short films. Considering all this, I think he does a good job creating this terrifying world and making you feel like you're a part of it. There were a few moments where the movie looked a little too dark and it was hard to see what was going on. Maybe that was on purpose who knows. Also, he did use shaky cam which you guys know I'm not a fan of. Luckily he kept it to a minimum so it didn't bother me as much.

The cast is mostly made up of unknown actors, at least, unknown to me anyway. The only person I recognized (being a huge Game of Thrones fan) was Thomas Brodie-Sangster. They were very beleiveable and portrayed each charcter's personality well. I'm glad they used unkowns since then while you watch it you actually think of them as those characters and not major movie stars.

The visual effects were well done. It wasn't so obvious that it was green screen. I especially liked the look of the grievers. The best way I can describe them is spiders on steroids. Very scary.

Seeing it in IMAX, I felt, doesn't reall add much to the experience. For a movie like this you would think it would. I'm sure it looks just fine on a regular screen. Save yourself the extra money.

My biggest issue with the movie was the ending. Without giving too much away, the whole big reveal as to why they were in the maze left me really confused. Maybe I would understand it more if I had read the books. I'm sure they'll explain it more in the next movie.

As for YA movies, The Maze Runner is one of the better ones out there. For me it was better than Divergent but not nearly as good as The Hunger Games. It's worth seeing in theaters.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, September 14, 2014

No Good Deed

Finally! A new release that's actually worth seeing. Being such a huge Idris Elba fan, I knew I had to go opening night. I saw the trailer a few weeks ago and I honestly thought this would be complete shit (however I knew Idris would be great). Boy was I wrong!

No Good Deed is about a convicted murderer named Colin Evans (Idris Elba), who escapes after being denied parole. He then goes to the home of Terri (Taraji P. Henson), a mother with two young children, after his car goes off the road. He claims that he needs to use her phone to call a tow truck. She lets him and eventually invites him into her house. While this whole scene was playing out, I felt like screaming at the screen, "You dumb bitch! What the hell are you thinking?!?" Although I admit, if Idris Elba showed up on my doorstep I'd probably invite him in too. Anyway, Terri soon realizes her mistake as Colin begins to terrorize her and her family. I wish I could tell you more, but then I would be giving too much away.

The movie is directed by Sam Miller. He had previously directed some episodes of Luther, which explains Idris Elba's involvement in this. What I love about what he did here was he really set the tone and made it feel creepy. Everything from the way the movie was filmed, edited, and even the music had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen next. It reminded me very much of those thriller movies I grew up watching in the 90's. The movie is not without its flaws of course. There are a couple of typical cliches that are common in movies like this as well as some laughably bad moments. But it was nothing that took me out of the movie for very long.

Idris Elba... wow!! I'll admit it was a little weird seeing him play a villain at first. But after a few minutes I got use to it and was amazed at his brilliant performance. The man can do anything. He could sit in front of a camera for two hours doing absolutely nothing and I'd pay money to see it. Here he plays the part of a charming psychopath very well.

From what I've heard, the press screenings for No Good Deed were canceled due to the studio not wanting the big twist at the end to be leaked. All I'll say about the twist is while I don't think it was as amazing as some have claimed (I kind of had a feeling where it was all going early on), it was still a great moment and had everyone in the theater I was in gasping.

While I can see why some people may not like it, I think No Good Deed has something for everyone. I highly recommend it if you're a fan of thrillers or of Idris Elba.

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Hundred Foot Journey

Wow, this really is a shitty time of year for movies.With no big new releases this week I decided to go see The Hundred Foot Journey. I did this for two reasons- first, I've already seen just about every decent movie that's out right now. Second, I happen to be a huge fan of Helen Mirren and will watch anything she's in. To be honest, she was the only really good thing about this. The rest of the movie was just okay.

The Hundred Foot Journey is based on the novel by Richard C. Morais. It tells the story of a talented cook named Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) and his family who move from India to France after a terrible tragedy. They open up an Indian restaurant directly across the street from a famous French eatery run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). A heated rivalry is formed.

The movie is directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Oh how I wish he had made me care about these characters, but I didn't (with the exception of Madame Mallory. There were a few nice moments spread throughout but there were other moments where I found myself bored. It's sad because I know this guy is a decent director. He directed a charming little movie called Chocolat, which I absolutely love.

I will give a lot of credit to the cinematographer. All of the imagery was very nice to look at.

The food featured in this movie looked good enough. But if we're going to talk about food porn, I definitely preferred the meals featured in Chef. It's not a knock on The Hundred Foot Journey. I've just never been into French or Indian food.

Compared to a lot of movies being released now, The Hundred Foot Journey isn't bad. But it's not great either. If you're a fan of the book or of Helen Mirren, check it out. However, wait and rent it from the Redbox.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, September 1, 2014


After hearing so many good things about it, I finally decided to go see Chef. I can see why so many people like it. Wow! What a great movie.

Chef stars Jon Favreau (who also directed, produced, and wrote the script for this movie). He plays Carl Casper- a man whose family life is going downhill. He's also frustrated with his job creatively as an acclaimed chef. One day, a food critic gives him a less than kind review and he just goes off on him. He loses his job after the video of his rant goes viral. At the suggestion of his ex wife Inez (Sofia Vergara) he starts up a food truck in the hopes to rediscover his passion for food and life. Carl, along with his son Percy (Emjay Anthony, a talented young actor who I hope we see more of in the future) and friend Martin (John Leguizamo) take the food truck across the country. Not only does he serve up delicious food along the way, but he develops a closer relationship with his son.

Just to warn you, DO NOT see this on an empty stomach. The food that's shown in the movie looks so good and will make you hungry. It's the ultimate in food porn.

Aside from the great food, I think what I liked the most about Chef was the growing relationship between Carl and Percy. Carl has clearly made a lot of mistakes in his life and hasn't been the best father. But he's working hard to make things right. And you have Percy who just wants to spend more time with his Dad and get to know him better. It's really sweet. Jon Favreau and Emjay Anthony worked really well together.

I loved the soundtrack as well. I thought each song fit well with the tone of the movie.

If you're looking to see a really sweet, funny, and charming movie then Chef is the one for you. It's another near perfect movie that has a very good chance of making my top ten list. The only reason I'm not giving it a ten is because there were a few (and only a few) moments towards the beginning where I felt the movie dragged a bit. Still, I had a fun time watching it and I think you will too. I really hope Jon Favreau continues to make more movies like this.

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Giver

The Giver is one of those books that's required reading in school. Although back when I was in school I don't think that was one of the books we read. For years Hollywood has tried to turn this 1993 Louis Lowry into a movie and now they've finally done it. Unfortunately it's just... okay. Don't get me wrong, while I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either.

The Giver takes place in a futuristic society where everything is seemingly perfect. There's no war, suffering, or pain. Everyone seems to be happy with their place in life. When Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) is 17 he's chosen to be the society's Receiver of Memories. He begins training with a man called The Giver (Jeff Bridges). Jonas learns all about the truths of the world- including war and suffering but also about love and beauty. Confronted with all this, Jonas must make some hard choices about his future.

One of the things I did enjoy about the movie was the visuals. Most of it is in black and white with a couple of scenes in color spread throughout. It was really creative and fit well with the story they were trying to tell.

For me though, the best part was Jeff Bridges. I thought he gave a really good performance. Given that the movie was so so, I kind of feel bad for him since this seemed like his passion project. In addition to playing the title character, he also served as one of the movies producers. Meryl Streep is in this as the Chief Elder of the society. She's good, but it's far from her best role. The rest of the cast, I felt, was terrible.

Also, the musical score was pretty. But other than the things I just mentioned, there was nothing about this movie that made me walk out thinking "Wow! That was amazing." Maybe because I've seen this premise before only done a lot better.

The Giver was one of those movies that had a lot of potential. Is it worth paying the money to see it in theaters? Not really. If you're a fan of the book and are curious to see how it turned out, wait until it comes to the Redbox. Better yet watch it when it's on tv.

My Rating: 6/10

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (IMAX 3D)

Any time a Marvel movie comes out I have to go see it. Guardians of the Galaxy was no exception. I've been excited for this movie since the moment I saw the first trailer. I'm happy to say that it more than exceeded my expectations. I had such a great time watching this!

Guardians of the Galaxy tells the story of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who steals a mysterious orb that is desired by the villain known as Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace). In order to stop Ronan and save the galaxy, he teams up with Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, who only says three words in various tones throughout the movie- "I am Groot."), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Drax (Dave Bautista).

This movie is very much Marvel's comedy. A comedic space opera some would call it. The humor was definitely one of the best parts of the movie for me. I could not stop laughing the whole time.

The director of Guardians of the Galaxy is James Gunn, who previously directed a segment in the god awful (and that's putting it mildly) Movie 43. Thankfully he redeems himself here. You could tell that he actually cared and was trying to deliver a fun summer blockbuster. I would definitely say he succeeded.

I also thought the casting was excellent. Chris Pratt ended up surprising me with his performance and now I can't imagine anyone else playing the role. But lets face it, the real star of the movie here is Rocket Raccoon. While Bradley Cooper, who I'm a fan of, may have been an odd choice, I think he nailed it. His character was my favorite. A combination of bad ass and hysterical.

I really liked Vin Diesel as Groot as well. Not many actors could pull off a character  who only speaks the same three words over and over again, but she sure does. I thought the rest of the cast did a good job as well.

Whoever was in charge of the soundtrack, I applaud you. Each song fit perfectly. It was also fun listening to a lot of the music I grew up listening to again.

As far as the 3D goes, it was kind of hit or miss for me. During certain scenes it worked well but in other scenes it wasn't even noticeable. The movie did look pretty good on an IMAX screen though so if you see it that way it's worth the extra money. Really, no matter what format you choose to see it in it's going to look good.

This should go without saying but- STAY TIL AFTER THE CREDITS! You would think after all these Marvel movies we've had people would know this by now. While it may not have been my favorite post credits scene I still thought it was fun and worth sticking around for.

Originally I had planned on giving this movie a perfect rating. But I got to thinking about the last Marvel movie I saw- The Winter Soldier (I'm not counting The Amazing Spider-Man 2), which I have a 9.5/10. I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy just as much, for different reasons. However, I thought The Winter Soldier had a much stronger villain. Not that Lee Pace didn't do a good job here as Ronan, he did. It's more of a personal preference.

During Comic Con this year it was announced that they are already planning on moving ahead with Guardians of the Galaxy 2, which will also be directed by James Gunn. I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go with this franchise. If it's anything like this movie, it'll be really good.

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy

The first Purge was a surprise hit last year- having earned $89 million on a 3 million dollar budget. What's not a surprise is that they decided to make a sequel. Most of the time a sequel is rarely as good as the original, but I must say, I really enjoyed Anarchy. Even more than the first movie. It wasn't great by any means, but I still found the whole thing interesting.

The basic premise is pretty much the same as the first movie. So you don't really need to see the first in order to see Anarchy (but I think you should anyway). It takes place in American in the not so distant future. A new government has been formed and has decided that on one night a year, all crime is legal for a 12 hour period (including murder). All police services are suspended and the hospitals are closed during this time as well.

What's different about Anarchy is that, unlike the first, it's not confined to one house. It actually expands and explores this universe. That's what makes it better in my opinion.

The story here follows five characters- a police Sergeant (Frank Grillo) who's out for revenge on the man who killed his son, a mother and daughter named Eva and Cali (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul), and a married couple- Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez), who's car breaks down minutes before the Purge is about to start. Circumstances bring them together as they try to survive the night.

I like that director James DeMonaco (who also directed the first Purge) too the time to develop these characters somewhat and made you give a shit about them. Most of them anyway. This is something that doesn't happen to often in movies like this.

I also thought the actors did a decent job, especially Frank Grillo. He's quite the leading man and is a complete bad ass in this.

As I said before though, Anarchy is good but it isn't great. My main problem is that it's loaded with cliches and very predictable. There were several times where I sat there thinking, "Okay, this is about to happen..." and sure enough, it did. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching it. I was certainly never bored.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn't tell you to rush out and see it or anything, but definitely check it out at some point.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (3D)

SPOILER ALERT: While there really aren't any spoilers for this movie, there are a few for 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I strongly suggest you watch it before you see Dawn. Mainly because it's amazing but also because you'll probably be confused about certain plot points.

I was beginning to have my doubts, but we finally have a well made, intelligent summer blockbuster in the form of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I knew this movie would be good but I had no idea just how good. Wow!

Dawn takes places ten years after the events of Rise. The Simian flu that started towards the end of the first movie has now wiped out most of humanity. Meanwhile, Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads a flourishing community of apes in the woods near San Francisco. He encounters a group of human survivors, led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke). The reach a fragile peace, but tensions rise between both groups that will push them to the brink of war.

Dawn is directed by Matt Reeves, whose previous work includes Cloverfield and Let Me In. He does an amazing job here. You can tell he really cares about this franchise. He puts so much effort into every little detail and delivers a movie that not only has some amazing action sequences, but a big emotional impact as well.

I also have to give a lot of credit to the visual effects team for all of their hard work. Not once while I was watching this movie did I think anything looked fake. Everything looked so real, especially the apes. It's amazing how far technology has come along even in the last few years. I've always been a huge fan of motion capture. Through the use of this technique you're able to see the actors every facial expression and emotion translated onto the screen.

Speaking of motion capture and actors, Andy Serkis gave another amazing performance. I've said it before and I will continue to say it- this man deserves an Oscar. I don't care what the Academy says- motion capture IS real acting. Just because you don't see his actual self on the screen does not mean he wasn't really in the movie. Check out some of the behind the scenes videos on YouTube and you'll see he performed in each and every one of the scenes his character was in.

I also thought the actors who played the human survivors did a good job as well. Especially Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman. Just so you know, Gary Oldman's character really isn't in this movie as much as the trailers led you to believe.

I ended up seeing this in 3D and I must say it was worth the extra money. The 3D was pretty good overall. Maybe it wasn't as in your face as other movies and was more subtle, but it was still effective.

I honestly can't think of anything wrong with this movie. It's one of the best I've seen this year and has a very good chance of making my top ten list. I highly recommend you see this if you get a chance.

So how does Dawn compare to Rise? I think it's just as good if not better. Matt Reeves is also directing the next installment and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

My Rating: 10/10

Friday, July 4, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

Oh Scott Derrickson, why did you do this? Why, why, why? He did so well with Sinister- a movie that I really enjoyed and consider to be one of the better horror movies to come out in recent years. Now he goes and releases this crap. To be fair, it's not the worst horror/thriller movie I've ever seen. But it's not great either.

I'm just going to warn you know- this review WILL have some spoilers. I normally try not to do that but for this I don't care. I'm sure most of you won't see it anyway. At the theater I went to, aside from my friend and I, there were only about seven or eight people there. Including a couple who brought a young child. The little girl couldn't have been more than three or four. At least she was well behaved (unlike some guys sitting behind us who wouldn't shut up at first, causing us to change seats) and mostly slept in her Dad's arms the whole time. It just drives me crazy when parents bring their kids to R rated movies. Especially ones like this. But that's a rant for another day.

Deliver Us From Evil is one of those movies that is "inspired by true events". Which really means, "Look, some of this actually happened. But mostly we made this shit up." It's based on a book written by Ralph Sarchie, who recounts his time as a NYPD officer and some of the strange cases he worked on. In this movie, Ralph is played by Austrailian actor Eric Bana (Munich, Star Trek 2009). Ralph is a police officer (married, with a young daughter) in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx. He and his partner Butler (played by Joel McHale. I kid you not.) investigate a series of crimes that are discovered to be connected by a demonic possession. Ralph, a skeptic with a lot of personal issues, eventually teams up with an unconventional priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) to try and stop this evil before it's too late.

I wish there was more to the plot but there's not. It's your standard horror/thriller that you've seen a million times before. There's nothing new here.

I'll start off talking about what I did like. I thought the actors did a decent job. Mainly, Eric Bana and Edgar Ramierz. The two of them looked like they were really trying. Which couldn't have been easy considering what they had to work with.

The movie actually started out strong for me. I thought the whole investigation aspect was really interesting. But then as the movie went along things got crazier and gorier. Just to warn you, there's several disturbing image (even ones involving animals). I like craziness and gore as much as the next person but this was too much. By the end it was so over the top that we laughed at how bad it was.

I also didn't care for the way Scott Derrickson shot the film. For one thing, he used that god awful shaky cam. Another is some of the scenes seemed almost blurry. I know he shot them that way on purpose and I get what he was trying to do, but it made me think something was wrong with my vision for a second. Not fun. He also dragged things out way too long. The movie was about two hours total but it felt like ten. Especially the exorcism scene at the end. I wanted to scream, "For the love of god! Just get the demon out of this guy already and be done with it!"

I obviously wouldn't recommend you see this in theaters. At least I had a free movie pass so I didn't waste any money on this. Deliver Us From Evil is okay if you want to get together with some friends, rent it from the Redbox, and have a few drinks. But that's about it. Hopefully Scott Derrickson's next movie will be better.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

At first, I had no idea what movie I wanted to see this weekend. All I knew was there was no way in hell I was going to sit through another Transformers movie. Having a root canal done would be more fun. Anyway, I finally decided to see How to Train Your Dragon 2 since it looked really good and I've already seen most of the other movies that are out in theaters right now. It's getting a lot of positive reviews and I can see why.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 takes place five years after the events of the first film. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of wild dragons and a mysterious Dragon Rider who ends up being Hiccup's long presumed dead mother Valka (Cate Blanchett). Soon they find themselves in a battle to change the future of both humans and dragons.

What you'll notice right away is just how gorgeous the animation is, especially during the flying sequences. I also loved how much detail they put into the look of the dragons as well as the human characters. This is the perfect movie to see in 3D. Unfortunately, the theater I went to was only showing it in 3D for the early matinees. So I ended up at a 2D showing. Don't worry though. If you see it in 2D I can assure you it still looks good.

The story itself has a few more mature themes which was interesting to see. It's one of those movies that both kids and adults can enjoy.

The only thing I didn't like (and this really isn't a big complaint) was that the movie went by way too fast. I was in and out of the theater in less than two hours, and that included all the trailers they showed before it. I wish they had slowed down a bit and taken their time with certain scenes.

Overall, this is one of the better movies out right now. Is it as good as the first movie? Honestly, yes and no. Still, go see it if you get a chance. You won't regret it.

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, June 14, 2014

22 Jump Street

I'm usually not crazy about the idea of remakes. Hollywood seems to have run out of original ideas years ago. So when the 21 Jump Street movie came out 2 years ago, I didn't see it in theaters. But then I cam across it on TV and thought, "Wow! This is really funny." So now that they've released 22 Jump Street, I made sure to see it on opening night. I'm glad I did see it since it was hilarious! After seeing The Fault in Our Stars last week, I was in desperate need of a comedy.

22 Jump Street has essentially the same plot as the first movie. Only this time instead of going undercover in high school, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) are going to college.

What I love about what directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who also directed 21 Jump Street as well as The Lego Movie, another movie which I really enjoyed) have done here is that they don't pretend that this movie is serious or award worthy. It's very much self aware. They make fun of themselves, the original TV show, and even the previous movie. For me, that's what made this so funny and clever. Be sure to stay for the credits. Without giving too much away, it's a brilliant sequence with some surprise cameos.

Another thing I loved about this was Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. Looking at the two of them you think, "How the hell is this going to work?" But it does! They have great chemistry and you can tell they're friends in real life. They looked like they were having a blast while filming. I would love it if they made more movies together. Maybe 23 Jump Street? We can only hope.

Look, 22 Jump Street is not a perfect movie. A few, and only a few, of the jokes fall flat but so what? I had a great time watching this and I think you will too. I'd say it's the funniest movie I've seen this year. If you liked the first movie then you'll LOVE this one.

My Rating: 8.5/10

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

Let me start off this review by saying thank god for waterproof mascara! I haven't cried this much over a movie in a long time. Wow! Words can't even begin to describe just how amazing The Fault in Our Stars is. I'll do my best though.

The movie is based on a popular YA book written by John Green. I haven't read it yet so I apologize if I mess anything up. From what I've heard though, it's a pretty faithful adaptation. Hazel is a 16 year old cancer patient who's pretty much forced by her parents (Laura Dern & Sam Trammell) to attend a cancer support group. There she meets Gus (Ansel Elgort) an amputee whose cancer is in remission. He's very charming, funny, and (despite everything that's happened to him) has a great outlook. They start spending more and more time together and eventually fall in love.

Director Josh Boone does an outstanding job bringing this story to life. Yes it's a romantic drama but, unlike most movies that fall into this category these days, the dialog never felt cheesy and the scenes weren't sappy. It was really sweet yet heartbreaking at the same time. It felt real. They never shyed away from the fact that these two are both dealing with a terminal illness and that their time together will probably be short. I was such a mess throughout the whole movie, as was everyone else in the theater. You could hear all the sniffles. Thankfully there's quite a bit of humor spread throughout. There'd be times where I'd be sobbing uncontrollably and then they tossed something funny in so I was doing this weird combination of crying and laughing.

Another thing I give the director a lot of credit for is getting such powerful performances out of the actors, especially Shailene and Ansel. The two of them actually played brother and sister in Divergent so it was a little odd at first but you quickly forget about that and you really believe they're a couple.

I thought the soundtrack was really nice and fit well with the movie.

I honestly can't think of a single flaw this movie has. It's one of my favorites this year so far. I highly recommend it, but make sure you bring tissues.

Nicholas Sparks movies take note- this is how you do a romantic drama!

My Rating: 10/10

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Maleficent (IMAX 3D)

I think it's great that they've been doing a lot of fairy tale retellings lately. I've always loved the idea. Even though most people hated it, I enjoyed Snow White & the Huntsman (although I'm sure a lot of that has to do with Chris Hemsworth hehe). So when I heard they were doing Maleficent and had casted Angelina Jolie I was very excited. Now that I've finally seen it I must say that while I enjoyed parts of it, there were other parts where I felt really let down.

We all know the story of Sleeping Beauty, so I really don't have to talk about the plot too much. This time, as you've probably heard, it's told from the point of view of the "villain" Maleficent (Angelina Jolie). What I really loved about this movie was they gave her an interesting back story that explains how she became the Maleficent that we all know. Unfortunately this all occurs in the first half. The second half had a lot of issues for me. Not that it was completely terrible, I just didn't care for it. Especially towards the very end.


All I'll say is they totally ripped off the Frozen ending. There was even a moment where they ripped off Die Hard. I couldn't help but laugh.


I will give director Robert Stromberg a lot of credit though. Considering this was his first time directing I think he did a good job. His previous experience with movies was mainly in visual effects. That to me was one of Maleficent's greatest strengths. The whole movie looked stunning. Especially the fairy world.

That being said, you would think a movie like this would look great in IMAX and/or 3D. Sadly that's not the case. The 3D is hardly noticeable overall and seeing it on an IMAX screen doesn't add much to the experience. If you plan on seeing this in theaters, 2D is the way to go. Save yourself the extra money.

Angelina Jolie was amazing as Maleficent. She really captured the character well and I can't imagine anyone else playing the role. The rest of the actors, including Elle Fanning as Princess Aurora, aren't really fleshed out well. Which is understandable given that this movie is mainly told from Maleficent's point of view. It still would've been nice to see though. I thought Sharlto Copley (who I think is a great actor and was really good as the villain in Elysium) as King Stefan was way too over the top.

Overall, there were some good things and not so good things about Maleficent. Is it worth seeing? Sure why not. And if there are any parents out there that want to take their kids to see it go right ahead. It's certainly a lot better than most of the crap aimed towards kids these days.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, May 24, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Finally this franchise is heading in the right direction! Boy has my opinion of X-Men changed after seeing Days of Future Past. Really, it began with 2011's First Class. I'm not counting that Wolverine movie that came out last year because, while it wasn't terrible, the only thing I remember about it was I got to see Hugh Jackman's ass. Not that I'm complaining of course ;) And just so you know, you get to see it again in this movie. Must be in his contract or something.

Sorry. Got a little side tracked for a moment. Anyway, Days of Future Past opens up in this really cool looking apocalyptic world 50 years after the events of First Class. Things aren't going so well for both the mutants and the humans (and that's putting it mildly). In order to change things they send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to the 70's (about 10 years after First Class) in an effort to stop an event they believe started this all. The rest of the movie goes back and forth between both time lines and the editing for this was well done which I was happy about. I've seen lots of movies where they attempted to do the same thing and they just failed miserably.

The cast they put together was incredible. Many characters from First Class as well as the previous X-Men movies appears in this and they all gave outstanding performances. I don't have time to talk about all of them, but some of my favorites were: Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), young Professor X (James McAvoy), young Magneto (Michael Fassbender), and Dr. Bolivan Trask (played by the great Peter Dinklage). Of course it goes without saying that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen were brilliant as older Professor X and Magneto. Why these two aren't in even more movies I'll never know.

The whole movie is dark and emotional but with a nice amount of humor in it as well. I wasn't going to talk about this scene for fear of spoiling everyone but since there was a glimpse of it in the trailer I'd say it's fair game. I just loved the moment where older Professor X is talking to the younger version of himself. I got chills watching it. It just goes to show you how great Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy are. The beautiful musical score by John Ottman makes this scene as well as the rest of the movie even more powerful.

For those of you who are worried that you might be missing out on something by seeing this movie in 2D instead of 3D I can assure you you're not. I saw this in 2D and it looks really good in that format.

One thing I'd like to give people a heads up on- if you go into this having not seen the previous movies, you're probably going to be really confused. I strongly suggest you at least watch First Class before going to see this.

And yes, there is a scene at the end of the credits so be sure to stick around for that. I think it may be setting things up for the next movie but I could be wrong. It's still really cool though.

I've heard some people claim that Days of Future Past is better than The Dark Knight. I definitely wouldn't go that far, but this is still one of my favorite movie of the year. This movie is the very definition of a summer blockbuster. Go see it. I promise you won't be disappointed.

My Rating: 9/10

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I'll be honest with you, I've never really been into the whole Godzilla thing. Sure, I watched some of the old movies when I was a kid (I like to pretend the 1998 movie doesn't exist) but that's about it. When I saw the trailer for this I thought, "This is either going to be really good or really bad." Sadly it's mostly the last one.

There's no plot of course. It's just Godzilla vs. other monsters. At least that's what they want you to think. You barely see Godzilla in this and when you do it's mostly a few quick shots. I get what director Gareth Edwards was trying to do but he didn't execute it very well.

I never thought a Godzilla movie could be boring, but this one was. At least for the first hour and a half or so. They tried to add all this drama crap and it just didn't work. Normally in a movie I want to see an actual story and character development but this is a Godzilla movie dammit- I paid to see him kick some ass!

What's really sad is they got some amazing actors to be in this- Bryan Cranston, Juilette Binoche, Sally Hawkins, Ken Wantanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and many more. What a waste of talent, especially Bryan Cranston. If you're like me and the main reason you want to see this movie is because of him then you'll be disappointed. He's only in it for a total of about 30 minutes towards the beginning.

The ONLY thing that saved this movie for me (aside from Bryan Cranston who can do no wrong) and is preventing me from giving it a much lower rating is the last 30 minutes. All I'll say is that sequence was just so bad ass and looked amazing. Why couldn't the rest of the movie be like that?

I saw this in 2D and I think if you must see this in theaters that's the way to go. I couldn't see how it would benefit from 3D plus the movie is dark enough without it.

I wouldn't really suggest paying to see this. You just just buy a ticket for another movie and sneak into Godzilla during the last 30 minutes. Not that I would ever do something like that ;)

My Rating: 6/10

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (IMAX 3D)

WARNING: There will probably be a few spoilers in this review. Nothing too major, just thought I would give you the heads up.

I know I'm probably in the minority, but I actually liked the first Amazing Spider-Man movie. Sure it wasn't award worthy, but I really enjoyed the story. I have to say that I enjoyed this one too, despite it having some MAJOR flaws (even more than the first movie). But more on that in a bit.

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield, who I still prefer over Toby McGuire) is still trying to juggle his life as Spider-Man while maintaining his relationship with Gwen (Emma Stone), even though at the end of the first movie he had promised her father that he would stay away from her. He's also trying to deal with Oscorp and some new villains- Electro (Jamie Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan), and Rhino (Paul Giamatti). Well, mainly it's Electro. The Green Goblin doesn't appear until towards the end. And Rhino may as well have not been in it. All the footage of Rhino in the trailers, that's pretty much it. His total screen time is about five minutes tops. They should have just saved him for the next one.

I think Andrew Garfield was even better this time around. I really liked his version of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. And his scenes with Emma Stone were really sweet. The two of them have great chemistry. However, their dialog in those scenes was so bad that I couldn't help but roll my eyes. It's not really their fault though. I blame the writers.

Another actor who I really enjoyed in this was Jamie Foxx as Max Dillon/Electro. You could tell he was really trying and having a blast while filming. Even though he does become a villain, I actually felt sorry for his character and could kind of understand why he was doing some of the things he was doing. Major credit to the visual effects team for making Electro look so bad ass.

The same can't really be said for Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborne/Green Goblin. I'm not saying he was terrible or anything (I actually like him as an actor and have enjoyed some of his previous movies), he just wouldn't have been my choice for the role.

The director is Marc Webb, who also directed the first movie. I thought this movie was pretty good up until the last third. This is what I was referring to before when I said major flaws. There's too much slo mo and the whole thing is just all over the place. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise decent movie.

The movie looks amazing on an IMAX screen. The 3D was kind of hit or miss. Some scenes, like Spider-Man swinging around the city, looked cool while other scenes it was either unnoticeable or cheap looking. Overall though if you decide to see this in 3D you wouldn't really be wasting your money.

One more thing that I'm sure people are curious about- yes, there IS a scene in the middle of the credits. However...


It has nothing to do with setting up the third movie. It's actually a teaser for the new X-Men movie that's being released in a few weeks. My first thought was, "What the hell is this doing in here?". From what I understand, it was all part of a deal to get Marc Webb out of his contract with Fox so that he could direct this movie. So if you didn't/aren't planning to stick around for the credits don't worry- you're not missing much.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is far from perfect, but it's still fun. I had a good time watching it and am looking forward to the next one.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Other Woman

I'm not ashamed to admit that I enjoy a good chick flick every once in awhile. The key word here is good. Lets face it, most movies in this genre have been complete shit the last few years. The only reason I wanted to see The Other Woman was because Jamie Lannister (I guess I should call him by his real name- Nikolaj Coster-Walau) is in it. So after leaving the theater I was surprised that I actually liked it.

The plot is pretty simple and predictable. Infact, if you do go see this, be prepared for every cliche in the book. Carly (Cameron Diaz) seems to have found the perfect guy in Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Walau). He's charming, successful, and romantic. Then she discovers that he's married. She accidently meets his wife Kate (Leslie Mann) and the two oddly enough become friends. They also find out that he's been cheating on both of them with the much younger Amber (Kate Upton). All three of them team up to plot revenge.

The movie is directed by Nick Cassavetes. He also directed one of my favorite romantic movies- The Notebook. Here he does a decent enough job. A lot of the comedic moments were pretty funny. Maybe not laugh so much your stomach hurts funny, but I still had a good time. I could have done without some of the gross out humor though. I'm not against it. Hell, I like The Hangover. It just wasn't needed here.

Also, the cinematography seemed a little... off. I'm not sure how else to describe it. Some scenes looked good while others not so much.

What I really enjoyed were most of the performances. Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, and Kate Upton looked like they were having a lot of fun together. Nikolaj was great as always. He really seems to have the whole charming asshole role down pat. The only actress, and I use that term VERY loosely in this case, was Nicki Minaj. Why was she even in this? Her voice was so annoying that I practically cringed in my seat every time she spoke. Luckily her role is very small and she only has about five minutes worth of screen time.

Lets face it, The Other Woman isn't going to be winning any awards. But as far as chick flicks go, it isn't that bad. I had fun watching it. Ladies, if you're looking for something fun to do on a girls night out, by all means go see this.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I first saw a trailer for The Grand Budapest Hotel several months ago. It actually looked really funny and a bit odd (but that isn't always a bad thing). Plus it stars Ralph Fiennes whom I've always been a huge fan of. So now I've finally had a chance to see this. For once the trailer didn't lie- this movie was really enjoyable.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is directed by Wes Anderson. Some of of his previous movies include Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It tells the story of a legendary concierge named M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), who runs a famous European hotel, and Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori)- a lobby boy who becomes his most trusted confidant.

One of the things I noticed right away is how clever the dialog is. Major credit to the writing team- We Anderson and Hugo Guinness. I wish I could write dialog half as good as this.

They managed to put together an amazing cast. Ralph Fiennes hits it out of the park once again. I can't imagine anyone else playing the role. He's charming and funny. His comedic timing is just perfect. I especially loved his scenes with Tony Revolori. The two of them played off each other really well. You could tell they had a blast filming this.

The rest of the cast includes F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, and many more. According to IMDB this movie had a cast of 100. There are a few actors who make cameo appearances that I would love to talk about but I don't want to ruin the surprise.

My only issue with the casting is they got F. Murray Abraham to play an older Zero. Don't get me wrong he played the part very well, but he doesn't look much like Tony Revolori. It's a bit distracting at first.

I did laugh a lot throughout the movie (although Wes Anderson's humor may not be for everyone) but there's also a few dark moments which may take people by surprise. I like how Wes Anderson was able to blend the two together.

The movie isn't exactly flawless. Even though it's run time is only an hour and forty minutes, it really seemed to drag at times. I was surprised when I walked out of the theater and checked the time on my phone that it was still fairly early. It seemed a lot later.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a well acted movie that I think many can enjoy if given a chance. Especially those who are fans of any of the actors in this or if you're really into quirky, indy British comedies/dramas.

My Rating: 8/10

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (IMAX 3D)

Holy shit this movie was amazing!! That pretty much sums up my experience watching The Winter Soldier. It was one of the best movies Marvel has put out to date, and that's saying a lot. It's certainly a million times better than the first Captain America movie. Not that I didn't like that one. I didn't hate it or anything, it was just okay in my opinion.

Anyway, The Winter Soldier takes place after the events of The Avengers. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) is still struggling to adjust to the modern world. Now there's a new threat that he must deal with- a mysterious Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). Captain America is joined by Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie). Of course, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is in this as well.

The movie is directed by Anthony & Joe Russo. Their previous work up until this point has mainly been in TV. They do an amazing job here. The action/fight scenes were well shot and choreographed. I love how this movie is pretty much non stop action the whole time. It really kept me on the edge of my seat. There's also a lot of funny moments throughout which was nice to see. There's something for everyone here.

It was announced that Anthony & Joe Russo would be back to direct Captain America 3. I think that's a smart move since Winter Soldier was so good. I'm really looking forward to seeing where they go with this franchise.

I'll admit, Chris Evans wouldn't have been my first choice to play Captain America. But now after seeing both Captain America movies plus The Avengers, I can't imagine anyone else playing the role.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury... what can I already say that hasn't already been said a million times? The guy is a total badass.

I thought Anthony Mackie gave a good performance as Falcon. I loved the look of his costume. Can't wait to see where the go with his character in Captain America 3.

Someone who really surprised me was Sebastian Stan as the Winter Soldier. His character has very few lines, but that doesn't matter. The way he was able to act mostly with his eyes was incredible. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction for Marvel in terms of their villains. Lets face it, with the exception of Loki, Marvel villains have always been pretty weak.

I think Winter Soldier is a flawless movie with the exception of one tiny thing- the 3D isn't that noticeable except for a few scenes. It's not completely terrible nor does it take away from the movie itself, but it's not great either. Which is sad because the movie looks amazing in IMAX. Unfortunately the only way you can see it in IMAX is in 3D. I still think it's worth the extra money though. But no matter which format you see it in, you'll have a great time.

I really shouldn't have to say this anymore but I will- stay through the credits! There's two scenes- one in the middle of the credits and one at the very end. All I'll say is that they were both great and set things up nicely for future Marvel movies.

Winter Soldier is hands down the best movie I've seen in 2014 so far (I'm not counting Frozen since even though I just saw it a few weeks ago, it was still technically released in 2013). I never even noticed the well over two hour run time. I could have easily sat there for another two hours. It's so well made and action packed and fun that I might just have to go see it again next week.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a massive nerdgasm I need to recover from :)

My Rating: 9.5/10

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah (IMAX)

WARNING: There may be some slight spoilers in this review. I don't really consider them spoilers, but some people might. 

Being such a huge Russell Crowe fan, I'll watch just about any movie he's in. This is no exception. And while this isn't my favorite movie of his, I can honestly say that Noah is still pretty decent.

There's really no point in going into details about the plot since most of us are familiar with the story- Noah (Russell Crowe) is chosen by God, who is referred to in this movie as "The Creator", to build an arc, save the animals, etc. in order to survive the apocalypse so the world can start over new.

Make no mistake though, this is NOT the version of Noah's Arc that most of us heard when we were kids. Director Darren Aronofsky takes several liberties, which I was okay with for the most part. Although there were several acid trip like moments that I could have done without. I wasn't really surprised given Darren's previous work, included Black Swan which I liked.

Despite the odd moments I mentioned, the visuals were one of my favorite things about this. Everything looked stunning, especially in IMAX. If you're planning on seeing this in theaters and have one in your area, IMAX is definitely the way to go.

The acting was outstanding. Russell Crowe was brilliant it goes without saying. But someone who really stood out to me was Emma Watson. She is becoming a great young actress, which I already knew being a Harry Potter fan. I always had a feeling that of the three main actors from that franchise, she would be the most successful.

Jennifer Connelly is also in this and while she does a good job, there's really not much for her character to do.

Anthony Hopkins plays Noah's grandfather. Despite having only about 10 (maybe 15) minutes of screen time, he makes the most of it.

This movie is not for everyone. It starts off kind of slow and even has a few things that will make you go, "Umm, what?" For example, there's talking rock giants. I kid you not. They neglected to mention those in the trailer.

Also, without giving too much away, there's several moments toward the end that took me out of the movie for a moment and made me REALLY angry (and forced me to lower my rating). Luckily it redeems itself.

Despite it's nearly two and a half hour run time, I was never bored. Noah is one of those movies that may not be perfect, but I think you should give it a chance.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Divergent (IMAX)

With The Hunger Games coming to a close soon, people are looking for the next big YA franchise. They failed with Mortal Instruments. They failed with Beautiful Creatures. So now Lionsgate has bought the rights to Veronica Roth's Divergent trilogy, the first one being released this weekend. So how was the movie? Well... it's better than both Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures. Not that that's saying much.

I haven't read the books yet. However, I read a plot summary of the whole trilogy on Wikipedia so I have a basic idea of what happens.

Divergent takes place in a futuristic Chicago where society is divided into five factions- Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligence), Dauntless (bravery), Candor (honesty), and Amity (peaceful). During their teen years, people take a test to determine what faction they should belong to. They can choose to remain in the faction they were born into or they can transfer to another. But if they choose to transfer, they can never go back.

Sixteen year old Beatrice 'Tris' Prior (Shailene Woodley) was born into Abnegation but never quite fit in. Much to the surprise of her family, Tris chooses to transfer to Dauntless. She's also hiding something from everyone- her test revealed that she's actually Divergent, which means she doesn't fit in to just one faction. Divergents are considered a threat to society because they can't be controlled. Tris tries to fit into Dauntless, undergoing rigorous training and tests. One of her instructors is the mysterious Four (Theo James). Yes, that's actually what his character is called. To be fair they do explain the meaning behind the name later on. During all this, there's also a rising conflict that threatens to tear this so called "peaceful" society apart.

The movie is directed by Neil Burger, who's previous work includes Limitless and The Illusionist. One of the things I liked about what he did was that he took the time to explain the whole factions idea. The whole reasoning behind why they want the society this way is a bit confusing, but at least he tried. It's not really his fault anyway. I think the author of the books is to blame.

What I didn't like about the movie was, with the exception of a few scenes, how cheap everything looked. Not just the visual effects but the costumes, sets, etc. They supposedly had an 80 million dollar budget. What the hell did they do with all that money?

I'm usually a big fan of music scores, but I just didn't like the one for this. It was really cheesy at times, especially during the so called romantic scenes.

The acting was decent enough. Shailene Woodley and Theo James were pretty good as Tris and Four ,although they wouldn't have been my first choice. Their dialog was terrible and predictable though. Kate Winslet is in this, for all of about fifteen minutes, as Jeanine- the leader of the society and the story's main villain. She's way too good of an actress to be in a movie like this.

Don't even bother seeing this in IMAX since it doesn't add anything to the experience. If you really want to see this in theaters (although I strongly suggest you just wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu Ray) save yourself some money and see it on a regular screen.

I have a feeling Divergent will do well at the box office. Certainly enough for them to officially green light the two sequels. Which I'll admit, I'll probably watch. But I'm sorry, there's no way this is going to be the next Hunger Games. With Hunger Games I remember walking out of the theater going "Wow that was amazing! I can't wait to watch it again." I just didn't get that with Divergent. It had some interesting ideas but it was not well executed.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I know, I know. I'm super late seeing this. I figured now was as good a time as any since none of the new releases this week looked good. I'm so happy I went since Frozen is such a cute movie.

Frozen tells the story of two sisters- Else (voiced by Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell). Elsa is now Queen of the kingdom of Arendelle. She also has been keeping a secret- she has the power to create ice and snow. They never really explain why she has these powers other than to say she was born that way. You kinda just have to go with it. On the day of her coronation, a combination of all the emotions she's bottled up and an argument with Anna causes her to accidentally trap Arendelle in eternal winter (sort of the way it feels here in New York right now). Fearing she's become a monster, Elsa runs away. It's up to Anna to find her and try to figure out a way to save the kingdom. She's aided in her journey by  mountain man Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a funny magical snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad).

Major props to directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee as well as the animation department for bringing this story to life. The animation is gorgeous. The story is sweet and clever and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

One of the many things I like about Frozen is while the whole romance aspect is there, it's not the main focus of the movie. It's really about the relationship between two sisters.

Of course, I can't write this review and not mention the amazing soundtrack. Every song is really catchy, especially Let it Go. There's no way you can hear it and not get it stuck in your head for days. Is it overplayed? Definitely. I mean, I'm a preschool teacher and I hear that song about a million times a day. It's still a great song though.

I normally don't hand out too many perfect ratings, but I can't honestly think of a single flaw in this movie. Frozen reminds me so much of the Disney movies I grew up with- The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, etc. It seems like Disney may finally be heading back in the right direction.

My Rating: 10/10

Saturday, March 8, 2014

300: Rise of an Empire (IMAX 3D)

It's been years since I've watched the original movie so forgive me if I mess up any information.

300: Rise of an Empire is one of those movies that I wasn't too sure about. From the trailers it looked decent enough. And I liked the original. But trailers as you know can be misleading. However, since it was the only decent movie coming out this week I decided to give it a chance. I'm glad I did since it actually ended up being a decent movie.

The movie is interesting in the sense that it's not really a sequel . It's more of a prequel as well as a midquel (most of the events take place at the same time as 300). It's not until near the end that it becomes an actual sequel. It was interesting they went that route.

The story features some of the original cast as well as new characters. It's basic premise is a Greek general named Themistakles (played by Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton) leads forces against a Persian invasion, which is technically being lead by a man turned god Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro). However, the real mastermind behind the invasion is a woman named Artemisa (Eva Green) who has her own reason for seeking revenge against the Greeks. Queen Gorgo (played once again by the great Lena Headey) appears as well, although her role is fairly small (but still important).

The movie is directed by Noam Murro. Zack Snyder (who directed 300) was originally suppose to direct but he was too busy working on Man of Steel. He still served as a producer though. It certainly felt like one of his films with all the ridiculous slow mo and over the top CGI blood.But I came into this movie expecting that.

I thought the battle sequences were well done, even if they were silly for the most part. I enjoyed seeing them played out. I really liked how most of the fighting too place on the water too. It looked awesome considering the movie was pretty much shot using green screen.

Speaking of visuals, I highly recommend seeing this in IMAX 3D. The whole movie really benefits from an IMAX screen. You really feel like you're in some of those battles. The 3D was surprisingly good.

I almost forgot to mention the acting. Not that anyone is going to win any awards for these performances, but I thought they all did a good job considering the kind of movie this is. I especially loved Eva Green in this. She was a total bad ass. I'd love to see her do more of these kinds of roles.

The only thing that's keeping me from giving this movie a higher rating is the sex scene. It was just so awkward and dumb. Several people in the theater, myself included, were laughing as it played out. I don't understand what the point of it was. To show off Eva Green's boobs maybe? Who knows.

Despite this, Rise of an Empire was a decent movie. It's visually stunning. It's over the top. But damn if I didn't have a great time watching. Is it as "good" as 300? Probably not. But it comes close.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, March 2, 2014


Sorry for the short review. I'm still trying to get over a bad cold and just didn't feel like writing too much. I promise next weeks review will be better.

I had totally forgotten that this movie was coming out until a few days ago. Liam Neeson kicking ass for two hours? Sign me up!

Yes, Non-Stop is pretty much the same movie Liam has been making over and over again these last few years. Only this time it takes place on a plane. He plays a US air marshal named Bill Marks. He's on a transatlantic flight when all of a sudden he receives a series of text messages that say if he doesn't wire $150 million into an account then someone on the plane will die every 20 minutes. Obviously someone on the plane sent the messages so it's a race against time as Bill tries to find out who is behind all this and save the day.

Liam Neeson is probably one of my favorite actors. He can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. And while this is far from his best role, it's still pretty good. You don't get a heck of a lot about his character's back story, but you get enough information so you're not completely confused.

The director Jaume Collet-Serra (who directed Liam a few years ago in Unknown, which was decent but nothing to rave about) does a lot of showing rather than telling. I love how he shot the movie, which made you feel like you were seeing things from Bill's perspective and how he observes the people around him. I thought it was pretty creative.

The only other character that they try to develop is Jen, played by the great Julianne Moore. She's a passenger who befriends Bill and helps him solve the mystery.

The fight sequences were the best part of the movie for me, even if they did get a little silly by the end. Still, I had a lot of fun and it kept me on the edge of my seat.

The movie gets major points taken off though for the ending. When you finally get to the big reveal, it makes you go "That's it??". Such a letdown on what was otherwise a decent movie.

If you're into movies like this, I'd say give it a try. Especially if you're a Liam Neeson fan. However, I wouldn't rush out to see it or anything.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Damn you Kit Harington! Making me sit through this piece of shit movie. The things I'm forced to do because I'm a big Game of Thrones fan.

Seriously though, Pompeii was bad. But it's so bad that it's hilariously good.

There really is no point in explaining the plot since there isn't much of one. But just so you're not completely lost- Kit Harington (Jon Snow from Game of Thrones) stars as Milo, a slave turned gladiator who falls in love with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Cassia is being forced to marry the evil Roman Senator Corvus (Kiefer Sutherland). Milo is in a race against time to save Cassia as Pompeii is being destroyed around them.

That's pretty much it other than some long, drawn out action sequences complete with slow mo. I mean, I knew what I was getting myself into but still. And I'm not surprised that this movie was so bad given that it's directed by Paul WS Anderson (who also directed those shitty Resident Evil movies). He wouldn't know how to tell a story if his life depended on it. I like dumb, silly action movies as much as the next person. I'm a huge fan of the Fast & the Furious franchise. But the difference between those movies and Pompeii is that in Fast & the Furious, I actually cared about the characters. Dammit, would it have killed Paul WS Anderson to at least try? It's like he didn't give a shit. And whoever did the editing should be shot. The movie went from scene to scene so quickly that I didn't know what the hell was going on half the time. They certainly didn't bother explaining anything.

Thank god I saw this in 2D. A lot of the scenes were so dark you could barely see anything. I can only imagine how dark it would be in 3D.

I feel kind of bad for knocking the movie so much. I'm trying to think of some positive things to say. Umm... Kit Harington looks really hot as always. Despite how bad this was, he at least tried. I think he did the best he could with what he had to work with. The music score was okay, even if it did sound like every other score for this type of movie. Oh, and I had enough points on my Regal card for a free movie pass so I didn't have to pay to see this. That's always a plus. And despite everything I've said, I had a great time sitting there and making fun of it all. There's people getting burned alive and having their throats cut and I couldn't stop laughing at how cheesy it was.

Obviously I can't really recommend Pompeii to anyone other than Game of Thrones fans who are curious to see how Kit does (he's much better off sticking to the show). Even then, wait until it comes to the Redbox. Everyone else, save your money and watch the epicness that is Gladiator. It's a million times better.

I'm going to be VERY generous with my rating. If it weren't for Kit I would have rated it much lower.

My Rating: 5/10