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