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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Cute Love Story Detracted By Hasty Developed Past, 26 April 2015

Ever wonder what its like not to age? I know I have, but I never can grasp all the factors that come about with immortality, especially in terms of love and relationships. Well my friends, we have the good fortune to get movies to give us a glimpse, and this weekend it is in the form of the Age of Adaline. This romantic drama has some potential to be an interesting romance story, but one must heed caution when watching trailers. So let's get started on this review shall we.

When I said interesting, I really meant it, as Age of Adaline is a unique story that centers on immortality. Our heroine doesn't drink some mystical potion, or undergoes some futuristic operation, but is somehow mutated by a rogue lightning bolt striking the river. All of this is explained in the first 10 minutes, in a hasty montage that sums up her life, which while time efficient left me a little robbed. I didn't want them to take forever, but a gradual build up of her life pre accident would have given this tale some more depth. Oh well it means we get to the romance aspect of the story faster. This film's relationships were a bit awkward for me, and a bit hastily developed at first. Her main romance goes nowhere due to fear, and only a few cute dates give us any hope something will happen. But then movie magic hits like lightning and expedites the romance to warp speed.

Regardless of how fast we get to it though, the romance in this movie is not the greatest. Sure it has its cute moments, emphasizing creativity and thoughtfulness in dating, with a little historical twist in it. There is some heartfelt, overemotional dialogue thrown in to feign love, but this movie didn't sell me in their relationship. However, Adaline's past runs interference into the relationship, and takes precedence over her life at hand. Fortunately what love we did see was not portrayed as superficial sex that many modern movies like to show.

The movie's main focus instead is about living life and pushing past your fears, especially ones addressing the concept of life. Age of Adaline has some really depressing moments and left me feeling down in the dumps. Many of the problems she flees from may get in your head, but do provide some good food for thought and philosophical discussions. Yet you will see some overdramatic, spanned out plot lines in this movie that start to grow stale.

Story aside, the editing of this movie is decent. Despite the 100 minute running tme, they still had some issues in terms of pacing and extra scenes. I felt the film cuts through a lot of Adaline's history, choosing to relive her moments via hastily done flashbacks and narrator monologues. Other times it drags on an issue, moving like molasses down a hill to get to the conclusion. As for extra scenes, well a few morbid parts could have been snipped out of the final cut, or at least replaced with some happier moments in the grand scheme of things. Despite all the extra fluff, one consistency is the camera work, which captures the emotion of our characters to illicit the intended response. Each age is well designed, makeup, costumes, and scenery all well combined to bring the world to life.

However the acting may be the component that this movie relies on the most. Blake Lovely, I'm sorry, Lively was indeed a beautiful addition to this movie in both acting and physical qualities. She carried a pristine poise that mimicked the personalities of the attitudes back then, and yet she was somehow humble. Lively shed a good amount of tears in this installment and put her somber emotions to good use, though I do wish they had given her character a broader emotional spectrum. Her beauty helps complete the picture and the outfits her wardrobe department designed will distract many from her monotone character. As for the other actors they do their parts well, but they are primarily supportive roles surrounding Adaline's story. Michiel Huisman does the job of a persistent romantic well. He's got that nice guys charm and humor that makes him likable, but he is a bit of a bore in terms of romantic interests. His backstory is flatter than a sheet of paper, and his struggles are practically absent in this tale, overshadowed by another relationship stuck in Adaline's head. As for Ford, his acting is just as strong as ever, but his role was limited in this tale, again constantly interrupted by chaotic slew of Adaline's mess.

Age of Adaline is a good drama that has a nice change of pace from the sea of mundane plots this genre has recently taken. Adaline's journey is interesting and emotional, but the romance aspect fell through for me. In addition the tale wasn't the most exciting thing, and combined with a depressing plot, was not a fun trip for me this weekend. Is it worth a trip to theater? Can't say it was, but might be good for a girl's night out soiree. My scores for Age of Adaline are:

Drama/Romance: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.5

8 out of 37 people found the following review useful:
Could have taken A Segway right to TV movie, 17 April 2015

Many times when I hear a sequel is coming, I cringe in fear at the horrors that studios may churn out. Often many follow ups to a film series pale in comparison to the original, many times being a poor movie overall. Today I hesitantly returned to the theater to see what actor Kevin James had in store for me in the form of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. I can't say I had my hopes up high for this movie, but you never know what surprises may be in store. So let's get started shall we?

The first adventure of Blart was a cute, wholesome adventure that was good for some stupid laughs and the notion that anyone can get a happy ending. Unfortunately, they couldn't leave it there and thought it would be good to send our aspiring cop back into action to hopefully entertain the crowd. Despite my wishes for fun comedy, Paul Blart 2 fails to deliver the same enjoyment the first one did. Most of the jokes are rehashes, many poking at James' weight and his clumsiness when it comes to chasing down the bad guys. Blart's obsessions with Segways have lost their appeal, his over- exaggerated stunts just looking stupid and more ridiculous with each pull. Crushing people with his weight is also crosses into the stupid zone, especially when he lays on a woman and wiggles on top of them trying to knock them out. I would have to say the worse things though are Blart's rambles about justice, honor, and trying to prove he is a tough guy. His monologues go on and on with much of his dialog being extremely simplistic or drawn out that left me rolling my eyes more so than laughing. I can't lie that I did laugh at a few jokes and antics, mainly the window ramming scene and a few well- timed limericks. As a whole though this movie lost what made the last one fun.

Storywise there was not much improvement. Mall Cop 2 starts out quite sad, and again ridiculous, as Blart's world is turned upside down twice in terms of family and love. To escape the depression he heads to Vegas for a convention that will hopefully recognize him for his heroism from the first film, which took six years prior to this movie. Once there the story breaks down to three things: Paul trying to stop the bad guys, Paul learning to let go of his daughter, and Paul trying to find himself. The first aspect is rather pathetic, the bad guys are there to steal art for a client, going through little struggle to acquire their precious cargo. In truth, I found these bad guys more boobs than threats, the main guy lacking any real bite with his bleach blonde hair and different colored eyes. Blart's whole ordeal against them was too easy, and much more diluted than I had hoped to see. The second tale is probably the best part of the movie. Maya (Raini Rodriguez) is about to go to college, leaving her dad alone and without support. Paul must learn the hard lesson of letting go, something I too struggle with, to allow all parties involved to live a better life. While cheesy as it is in this movie, the morale is sweet and helps bring some of the nostalgic charm. The final story of Paul finding himself is not quite as strong. His struggles of accepting himself start out sweet, but quickly fall back to funny as another joke or gag takes place. There are a few exceptions to the rules where Blart makes a motivational speech, or defends the geeks and mocked. Much of this story though has little sustenance and gets hastily wrapped up near the end of this fortunately short movie.

As for acting, James seems to have a lot of fun with this role, immersing himself in the Mall Cop with a heart as big as his body. James seems like a guy who loves to make people laugh and smile, and the younger audience members love his antics. His delivery of some of his lines is spot on, using his voice to really emphasize the puns and small wit the dialog has. What really made me laugh were his facial expressions though. Somehow James just has to look a certain way and I will crack up, maybe it is due to his chubby cheeks or maybe I'm just weird. Either way James can still bring out some funny moments. On the sweet side, he still has that cuddly teddy bear attitude that we all fell in love with during King of Queens. He is a lovable lug who is willing to take verbal abuse to do what is right, and he gets points for playing the underdog role I relate to so well. However, there is no award winning performance, outside a Kid's Choice Awards, for this role as it is still the same part he always plays. The other cast do their roles okay, but James is the soul of this movie so I won't go into details on them.

Paul Blart 2 is a movie I describe as could have gone directly to TV. The humor has been reduced to something only young and young at heart will like, and the story can't back up the rather bland comedy. I still applaud James for his commitment to roles, but not even the big man can save the drab this film is. You can guess that this movie is not recommended for a theater visit, unless you are looking for something to take your kids too. Wait for it to come on basic cable, and save your money for Avengers 2 in the next few weeks.

Paul Blart 2 gets:

Action/Comedy: 5.5 Movie Overall: 4.0

Unfriended (2014)
9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Interesting, Modern Twist, but Still Disliked, 17 April 2015

The age of technology! It is a wonderful time where the Internet allows so much to be shared with a push of a button. The media shared can bring lots of happiness, or quickly become a portal terror just like the theme of today's movie review Unfriended. From the trailers you might expect:

1. Found footage bologna we've grown accustom too 2. A simplistic plot with more drama than actual story 3. Gruesome kills that will chill you to the bone 4. Acting that is simple

So what do you get? When it comes to found footage films, we have come to expect erratic, dizzying shots of our cast running from some unknown entity. Often we get more headaches than information, leading to frustration and lackluster films. Unfriended is told through the web camera of Blaire (Shelly Hennig), as she skypes, messages, and texts her beloved troop of friends. Being on the computer, the film was limited to mostly stationary footage of Blaire multitasking between instant messaging and video chatting. Many audience members I feel will relate and appreciate the portrayal of teenagers juggling communication with other websites, as the group participates in cheesy exchanges of humorous dialog. That is until the terror starts and the social media becomes an instrument of torture that shrewdly forces our group to confess. Now I can appreciate the ingenuity of using computers and the relevance, but this movie sometimes took this angle a little too far. One particular annoying part was watching Blaire try to phrase her messages, constantly retyping the same message and hesitating to press send. A good lesson indeed for the teenage population, but I didn't need to see this five times in the movie.

With the interesting camera angle, perhaps the story had some quality to it. Unfriended does have a unique twist, cleverly manipulating the internet to develop the characters and dish out the terror. The biggest strength of this movie is the mystery of the hacker, the suspense of who will uncover the secret keeping me interested in the tale. Unfortunately it still suffers from the predictable Slasher formula starting with the convenient timing that all of their parents aren't home, on a school night. A majority of the plot is based on uncovering their "Mean Girl" like secrets, horrible, and typical, high school antics that are old hat. It does add further depth to the characters, perhaps even adding some relatable qualities that high school students may latch on to. I however couldn't stop laughing at how stupid these kids were and the mistakes they kept compounding. I wish I could say the revelation at the end made up for some of the lackluster elements, but the ending didn't deliver the satisfaction I looked for, and quite honestly seemed like a cheap write off.

Let's get to the kills you are most likely seeking from the trailer. Unfriended manages to think outside the box in terms of spilling blood, using mundane objects as the means for death. Two deaths in particular are disturbing, the web came giving you enough of the carnage to piece things together without dropping into extreme torture territory. I will admit many of these deaths are ridiculous, overdramatic messes that made some of the audience howl with laughter. Yet I can't help but applaud their integration of the murder devices into a casual conversation, with the exception of one or two that were obvious foreshadows to their demise. I can't say much more, or I might ruin this quality, but keep your eyes peeled. Oh well, at least the deaths are fairly "justified" by the mysterious hacker's actions.

Acting wise, the cast does a good job capturing the stereotypical teenager role. They capture the emotional spectrum of their characters, from shallow minded gossip to the fear and terror of uncertain death. The dialog is definitely "realistic", but my friend and I agree that all the petty arguing and screaming got old. We did however enjoy the mannerisms of CAPS LOCK and emoticons being used in the movie to mimic the current cyber chat trends. While the acting is okay, the limited characters were not ones I could grasp onto. They all were annoying idiots, whose cruelty and selfishness were over the top, taking away any sympathy I might have felt. Perhaps a good character might have helped balance the bad, but this movie held no moral spectrum other than teenagers being teenagers. Either way the acting is fine for the characters given, and some of the characters (who aren't teens) were really cute.

Unfriended is not the best horror movie by a long shot, but it has taken an interesting tangent from the normal thriller movie. Teenager and young adults alike will find relevance in the modern technology used, but others may find this more of a comedy than a horror. This rather loud and obnoxious tale fails to deliver on a lot of other levels, and I can't really recommend this one for a theater visit. Perhaps a Redbox rental is in your future for this one, otherwise let the intended audience tell you how it is.

My scores for Unfriended are:

Horror/Thriller: 6.0 Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0

10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Half A Good Romance Tale, Yet One of The Better Sparks, 10 April 2015

Every year we get another Nicholas Sparks movie. These movies try to emphasize " true love", but are usually simplistic mushy plots, where eye candy fills the screen. Well this weekend I dive into the dark, surround sound trenches to review his latest installment, The Longest Ride. Out of annoyance, I quickly lowered my expectations at what was in store. What is in store? Read on to find out.

Most know what to expect from Sparks, a good-looking boy and girl meet up and magically start a romance. One of our characters is the perfect specimen of looks, sensitivity, and romance that drives the ideal romance, until it goes to pot for some reason eventually working out in the end. This is only partially the case, the tale of Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood) act out following the typical Sparks plot. The beautiful people form another ideal couple that women idealize where chiseled abs, a handsome face are complemented by incredible feats of consideration and sincerity. Naturally I rolled my eyes at the drastically overplayed perfection, but there were many enchanted by the stereotypical romance he painted. A "nice" distraction that spices things up are the hot scenes, which you can guess involve sex. This movie sex ,starts with another shower scene filled with plenty of butts, and evolves to her riding the bull after he rides the animal of the same name. Some may find it hot, but I found it shallow, pointless, and a waste screen time.

You might think that there are some surprise twists in this half of the story, something that makes you say OH MY GOD. Sophia and Luke's tale unfortunately has little to shock you, foreshadowing revealing all that is to come in the tale, with the only mystery about when it would happen. I can't deny this was one of my favorite endings, but it took a bit to get to the ending.

However, there is a saving grace for this film and that is the second story of Ira and Ruth. The tale of the 1940's relationship could have been a movie by itself, truly showing a developing relationship and the troubles they face. This was the type of relationship I like to see, emphasizing care and compassion for the one you want to share your life with it. The gifts were heartfelt, a tribute to the love they truly felt only to be undermined by the struggles they faced. It was real, and an example of the type of relationship I pray many actually get instead of the shallower loves seen in most movies. This relationship was obviously to show how much love has changed, the comparison illustrating the differences between real and superficial love. Obviously this was the meant to drive Sophia and Luke's relationship and overcome their few challenges, but it was the more engaging and emotional of the tales.

Despite the great morals, sweet romance, and good looks though what else does this movie have in store. In terms of positives, the beautiful settings of North Carolina will take your breath away and offer you a taste of the country life. I also felt the camera work and sound editing did a nice job combining their talents to bring out the emotional spectrum. Many times the music was more emotional than the actual acting, the orchestra work nearly bringing a few tears to this reviewer's eyes. The acting is also decent, especially in terms of the young Ira and Rose (Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin) who really brought their characters to life. I felt great chemistry between these two, almost as if they were really in love and a married couple, something I normally don't say.

As for negatives, I've already mentioned a few. First off is that the tale is predictable and still follow closely to the Spark's formula. I know to expect it, but that doesn't mean I can't dock the score for unoriginality, which this movie is. In addition the movie was a little too long for me. Again the editing needs to work on what is necessary. I'll go ahead and say that a 2 hour Spark's romance is not necessary. There was not enough drive to carry my attention for the whole time, and half of the scenes, especially with her sorority life, could have been left to the director's cut.

The Longest Ride is definitely not the perfect film, and in the end is another Nicholas Spark's novel come to life. Yet I can say it is one of my favorite tales of this author, but only due to the first half of the film. I would have liked to have seen more integration of the two tales, but I was pleased with the balance overall. Is it worth a trip to the theater? Not really, but it is a decent romance film definitely good for a RedBox rent. The recommended audience are those that love Nicholas Sparks, want to see romance, or are just looking to stare at beautiful people.

My Scores are: Drama/Romance: 7.5-8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Furious Excitement! A Tale of Brotherhood, 3 April 2015

Fast and the Furious is a series that we have all fallen in love with. Ever since 2001 when the series came out, we have been exposed to beautiful cars, hot extras, and plenty of crime and punishment amidst their colorful cast. This weekend we jump into the seventh, yes seventh, installment to see if we get the same thrills and chills that we love. For the virgins of the series, and those who've seen the trailers, here is what you might expect: • High speed thrills and action • Beautiful women seen from all angles • Jason Statham being Jason Statham • A conclusion to Paul Walker's legendary role

Fans of the series know that this movie is all about coordinated plans that often involve beautiful cars performing unbelievable stunts. Well that trend continues with at least three lengthy sequences dedicated to showing off expensive cars being pushed to their limits. Fans will be pumping their fists in joy as Dom and the crew take their beauties across the world, country hopping as they fight off terrorism partnered with vendetta. In glorious high definition, alongside stable camera work, adrenaline junkies like myself will be more than happy with the exciting battles this movie has. While some of the situations are ridiculous, and a bit conventional, they are incredible displays of the glorious work special effects can craft.

In addition to the excitement, the directing team did a good job adding some additional character to the scenes. Furious 7 has plenty of laughs, especially in the brotherly exchange between Taj (Ludicrous) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson). I myself laughed the hardest at Gibson's scenes, where his stunts and dialog, combined with the delivery, were enough to relieve the tension. The action also held suspense, mainly due to the built relationship between the cast of this series. That dynamic, along with the wonder of who will make it, keeps you engaged in the battles, both the necessary and unnecessary battles. Unlike some other action movies, Furious 7 sometimes takes a little too much liberty for making an action sequence. A few of the scenes were a bit overdramatic, some of the fights quick write-ins to allow for cameos and character involvement.

Speaking of cameos, you can expect a lot of filler shots centered on the feminine figure. Guys will love seeing the curves of many beautiful ladies, most getting close enough to touch the derrieres they are shaking. The tight outfits and bountiful bosoms, or missiles as Roman calls them, will make many a man or boy, drool in delight at the gorgeous women before us. This brings me to another point, that Furious 7's editing could have used a little work. While the movie was exciting, there were plenty of scenes that could have been trimmed, or left out to shorten the run time and make a more conducive movie.

Now I mentioned how the relationship between the stars is a big part of this series, but what about newcomer Jason Statham. No surprise, the action star has little to say, and what he does comes out the same grunting mess he always does. Primarily he talks with his fists, or cars in this case, as the stunt man goes to work on his vendetta plan. I can say Statham still has some moves up his sleeve, but this role was not my favorite of his repertoire. He still had the threatening gaze, but his character lacked the finesse and skills I normally enjoy seeing. Much of his stunts were overexaggerated antics, painting him invincible instead of deadly. Fans of him will have no problem accepting this, but there were a lot of stretches with his character that I didn't quite enjoy in the grand scheme of things. The man is still good, don't get me wrong, but I think I enjoy his Expendable work more than the brother with an attitude.

Finally the tribute to Paul Walker; the man who started this series concluded his performance in a great manner. Walker's tale has heart, soul, and bite in this "final" installment. I felt I got good closure for the character Bryan O'Connor, getting to see the true man in the calm and collected warrior. Sure it wasn't the greatest backstory, but decent when blended with his action. The ending in particular gave me goosebumps, and captures the essence of the actors' relationships and the brotherhood they shared. Although not anything what I expected, I bow my head in honor of the action star.

To sum everything up… Furious 7 is an awesome sequel that ranks high on my F&F list. Action wise it is one of the more exciting, and helps tie up the tales of almost all our characters. Is it truly over? I don't know; there is a lot of open ground to cover for a possible sequel. However, it brings the same excitement you like in the ridiculous world we've fallen in love with. Despite the plot conventionalities, disproportionate acting, and interesting editing choices, the movie is one of the better ones I have seen in a long time. Go see it in theaters, for the special effects, the engaging chemistry, and to close out the series.

My scores for Furious 7 are: Action/Crime/Thriller: 8.5 Movie Overall: 7.5-8.0

Home (2015/II)
15 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Home of the Adorable, Kid Friendly, Fun, 27 March 2015

When you think of Jim Parsons what comes to mind? Most likely it is Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang theory, as this character become one with the young actor. This weekend, Mr. Parsons has lent his voice talents to the latest animated movie entitled Home that is sure to be a delight for your young ones. This tale is about an alien named Oh (Jim Parsons), who is united with a human girl named Tip (Rihanna) while running from his people. What adventures will ensue in this latest computer generated quest? Read on to find out.

If I had to sum up this movie in one word it would be adorable. Names like Oh, Tip, and Pig are just the surface of the theme of this movie. In what is sure to be the next wave of plush animals, Home contains colorful, cute characters with big eyes, adorable smiles, and cherubic designs. Little kids will love the explosion of rather bright colors in a world that looks very similar to something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Many in my audience loved the Boovs, the aliens essentially walking mood rings that changed from purple to various colors depending on their emotion at the time. Others loved the fat cat named Pig, whose curly tail and rotund form had little girls pining to own a "Pig" of their own, poor parents.

Yet despite the adorable presentation, Home surprisingly has a good emotional spectrum spread in the short 94 minute run time. A majority of the movie is indeed silly fun, where Oh's childish antics and experimentation with Earth objects had both young and young at heart laughing. Eating urinal cakes, potty humor, and slapstick stumbles had everyone, including myself, laughing at the fun this movie was. For the more adult humor group, there aren't too many hidden jokes in this film (i.e. Shrek), but there are some clever puns and references in the tale that I think will get a chuckle out of you. Fun aside, Home also has a combination of happiness, sadness and love. Happiness is the dominant emotion of the movie, and the cast promotes a positive message of hope, kindness, and fun that kept me smiling. Those feelings were occasionally extinguished when the sadder moments hit. In particular when Oh was shunned by his society, despite his good intentions, I could feel my heart breaking at the relatable situations Oh and I share. Fortunately an awkward guy like m loved seeing he and Tip promoting friendship, and promoting the concepts of truth, loyalty, and kindness to have a successful friendship. Sure there were moments this tale got preachy, but the theatrical magic helped taper the cheesiness down, while still keeping the lesson. All of these great qualities would be nothing though without the voice acting to bring these digital characters to life. Parsons in particular steals the show, integrating Sheldon in both mannerisms and vocal context into Oh. The little alien has all the qualities of our physics genius, and brings plenty of the familiar laughs we fell in love with years ago. Rihanna on the other hand was… okay. The songstress's voice sounded too out of place on a young girl. She didn't have Parsons' finesse and thus didn't bring the edge others brought to the movie. Oh well, they got some plot elements and a soundtrack from her involvement, the latter adding a little extra to the film.. As for Steve Martin, his voice fit well for an egotistical leader, and had a nice delivery to make me laugh, though his character's creative use of mundane objects was funnier. The final things to report are the animation and story. Home's design team did a great job with their work. Characters flowed, lights flashed in a sea of color, and the world was a beautiful, albeit cartoony, piece of work. The story though is very formulaic though, lacking little twist or surprise that I was hoping to see. The tale is definitely designed with kids in mind, and what little suspense that exists is not that thrilling, but more humorous. Home is a great family movie that I feel most audiences will enjoy. The cute characters, colorful world, and fun adventure are all elements I feel will rope your little ones in and the great animation will keep them locked on the screen. While the story is not the most engaging, and they rely heavily on Parsons to make the movie, Home is just a movie to have a good time with. I recommend catching this movie in theaters in the near future, especially for a family night out.

My scores are:

Animation/Adventure/Comedy: 8.0 Movie Overall: 7.5

Get Hard (2015)
16 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Get Hard Tries Too Hard To Be Funny, 27 March 2015

It seems like comedies are trying just about anything to get a laugh these days, scraping the bottom of the barrel for potential plots. As a result we get movies like Unfinished Business, Ride Along, and now Get Hard. To help breathe some life into the ridiculous tale the trailers show, the casting department has roped comedic legends Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell to help pull in some box office bucks. From the trailers you might expect: • A comedy about stereotypical prison motifs • Strong racist jokes that most likely know no bounds • Crappy plot that is usual of both of these actors • Same old comedy styles of the actors

So what do you get?

I can report the first two points are the strongest themes of this movie. The plot for those who don't know is about Will Ferrell's character James being arrested for embezzling and fraud. The eccentric and arrogant millionaire has 30 days to get his affairs in order, which involves learning to survive in prison by local car washer Darnell (Kevin Hart). Already you might be cringing, but I admit some of the prison humor is creative, in particular the prison setup itself. I laughed more at the setting itself than the actual jokes, due to the simplistic setup and irony of James' staff being the wardens. Unfortunately the jokes weren't as entertaining, most of the scenes were shown in the trailers and those that weren't, focused on the same joke themes of sex, sex, and a little prison fighting. Coat all of these jokes with curse-laden frosting and you get a mediocre comedy whose only break comes from Ferrell's ridiculous rants. For your information, the prison riot scene has some intense strobe light action, which may precipitate seizures. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

How do they attempt to keep the prison jokes fresh? By adding every racial profile and stereotype joke you can think of. Get Hard spares no expense to poke fun at our perspectives of folks that end up in prison. Over the 100 minutes, you'll get pummeled with mannerisms and lingo that are often associated with African thug life, including Ferrell trying on his "black face" as he calls it. They even threw in a few thug track lists to help seal the deal, some of the songs I do like. I chuckled at a few of these jokes, particular at Hart's little impressions he plays so well, however like the prison jokes these too became stale, losing their comedic edge. Most of the jokes will be taken okay, but like always they occasionally overstep their boundaries with their jokes, perhaps starting another boycott for racial slurs. So here I warn that if you are easily offense by color jokes, you should skip this movie.

To my surprise the plot actually wasn't half bad in this film. Get Hard has some a decent foundation for the jokes to hold anchor to mainly in the form of shaping James from pompous wuss into street champion. However there is a cute tale of brotherhood that adds some depth to otherwise one-dimensional characters and gives a little something else to the film, though not as good as Wedding Ringer. Yet it still is shallow and simplistic, and doesn't have the emotional kick I would have liked to see.

Acting wise there isn't much unique about this performance. Hart takes a step back towards his roots with a few shouting rants interspersed with his typical F bomb dialog. Fortunately he hasn't returned all the way back, managing to dial down his craziness with some clever lines and good comedic timing. This allowed me to once again enjoy his comedy without wanting to punch his face in or rip my ears off, a positive thing indeed.. I can't say the same for Ferrell though. Somehow the hairy, homely looking white guy gets a hot woman and other than money I can't figure out why? Babes aside though, Ferrell is still the pompous, overconfident boob he always plays in his movies. He still carries his lines with that air of superiority, though in this installment he frequently degrades into a whiney, pathetic baby. I felt he tried to hard in this movie, forcing his lines on me instead of perfecting the delivery like he used to do. Much of his lines were in that high pitched whisper from Elf, only without the over-energetic emphasis that Buddy had so long ago.

If you haven't guessed it yet, I did not enjoy this movie as much I had hoped. Get Hard is indeed another simplistic comedy, where one is bombarded by endless jokes and derogative laughs. Sure it is fun at first, but most of the funny parts were shown in the trailers, and without the course language. Yet for those who love the comedians' work, you'll most likely laugh your heads off with the racial profanities and prison slapstick. You'll enjoy it even more if you are drunk. Overall the choice is yours, but I recommend saving your money and catching this movie on RedBox in a few months. Believe me you can wait.

My scores are:

Comedy: 6.0 Movie Overall: 5.0

The Gunman (2015)
26 out of 56 people found the following review useful:
Potential Not Reached: The Gunman Is Realistic, but Boring, 21 March 2015

When you hear a movie titled the Gunman what do you think of? For me I think of a few scenarios that come to mind: an action pack shoot em up movie, something on the lines of James Bond, or following down the rogue agent Bourne pathway. So I can't help but say I was excited for this movie this weekend, especially with Sean Penn leading the cast. With few trailers to give me insight, I eagerly headed to my local theater to give this film a try.

Unfortunately the movie did not go down the expected path, and even worse it took the wrong direction for this reviewer. For those uncertain of the plot, Gunman is about a sniper named Terrier who is targeted for assassination by an unknown group. In order to save himself and his loved ones, he must dig deep into a convoluted scheme that may related back to an incident. I know sounds awesome right, if old hat, but Gunman held some promise of action mixed in with good old fashioned spying.

Not the case my friends. Gunman is actually a snooze fest, being one of the first movies to make me nap in almost half a year. It starts with the pace of the movie, not necessarily too slow, but just enough that you start to lose interest. For me, it wasn't that the plot was boring, but the details they tried to lay out for us were very convoluted, many details ambiguous and confusing in their presentation. May of the scenes involved him obsessing over his former love, which after a few arguments and an unnecessary sex scene, started to grow staler than month old bread. Now don't get me wrong, convoluted plots can be a good thing, but they require a good presentation that keeps one engaged in the movie. And this film did not do it for me.

Perhaps I could have been entertained more if the action had lived up to my, I'll admit, high expectations. The opening shot scene was nothing special, but the following skirmish held some promise for excitement down the line. And in truth, two or three battles brought the flash in the pot, bang in your ear entertainment that I so crave. Despite being an elite shooter, Terrier didn't have perfect accuracy, and had to pull some creative stunts to take down his killers, who by the way could actually hit him. Taking away our hero's invincibility was a smart move, but some battles get led down the wrong path, or are a repeat of an earlier fight. Kills are graphic, the camera not shying away from someone's head getting a new hole, as torrents of red litter the ground. If you are up for this kind of stuff, then by all means stop reading this review and head down to the theater. Looking back over the movie though, I can't say the action was as on point or exciting as I had hoped, nor as fast as these scenes sometime need to be.

Helping save this movie from complete failure was the acting. Sean Penn as Terrier was good. The actor was able to transition across the emotional spectrum, being a relief worker with a little troublemaker streak to an angry killer on the loose. Penn has always had a talent for playing well developed characters, and while annoying as this role is, he still plays it well. Jasmine Trica as Annie was a decent addition to the cast, though I must say her character could have been much stronger than they made her. Trica's main talent involved huffing, puffing, and crying as people died. Her dialog was too shallow for me and they threw her as nothing but an object for Terrier to protect. Javier Barden brings his Hispanic background back to the screen, but his role was very short and unfortunately very sad as a love obsessed, drunk who loses his min. Not my favorite role, but again he does okay. As for Idris Elba, he is hardly in the film for fifteen minutes, really only to bring some "coded" advice and a means to end the movie. No offense Elba, but had you been tailing Penn for the whole movie, I might have boosted your score.

Special effects wise the editing worked for me in this movie. Stable camera angles and detailed fighting helped bring the action to life. The battlefields that became the stage for our fights were also beautiful, crafted or located in a variety of settings. Some were cool like a mansion, and others were ridiculous, like at a matador arena. Nevertheless we had an epic soundtrack to add some slight touches of excitement to the mix, as well as high definition pings, twacks, and booms to nearly deafen your ears. Unfortunately the team's cuts of the footage were nowhere near perfect for me, even though they were under the 2 hour mark. I don't know why they kept half of the dialog heavy scenes in, especially when they kept us going in circles. Oh what a waste of good film..

The Gunman is not the movie I expected it to be, and despite the assembled cast of actors, the potential is lost to fast production. With an overly ambiguous plot, and a pace that moves like a snail, the execution of this movie was below par. Those who are fans of extreme violence and profanity, as well as shots of poverty Africa are at home in this film, but otherwise skip this film for something better. A trip to the theater is not recommended from me, but we all know enough desire can make you see anything. Overall my scores for Gunman are:

Action/Crime/Drama: 6.5 Movie Overall: 5.5

Insurgent (2015)
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Diverging From the Book Relationships, A Decent Sequel, 21 March 2015

We start this weekend off with the latest novel turned movie that is supposedly the best seen in years. Yeah I've heard that line before, so naturally I've been sent to scope it out. As always, what might the trailers have you expect: • A movie that sticks close to the book • Action sequences that are exciting • Dramatic dialogue that will bring memorable quotes • Well edited shots and scenes.

So what did I get from this movie that the trailers made look so good.

1. When it comes to following the book, Insurgent only loosely captures the complex infrastructure the novel set up. Most of the important plot elements are portrayed, while neglecting some of the specifics. The real element this film leaves out is the involvement of the other characters, and the important relationships pertinent to the story. Many of the divergent faction appear briefly, throwing out a few lines before they blend into the background with the other gun-toting rebels. Fans of the series will be disappointed to find key players in this second tale reduced to mere backstory, effectively removing their influence in the tale. Many of the story elements lacked emotional depth, the big revelations and twists not that engaging for me. Also a few parts were ambiguous, left unanswered or unexplained that left me scratching my head. I think the main reason for this was because of the missing details from the story, many if included would have probably made for more excitement.

2. Another factor that failed for me was the action. The trailers called this tale action packed, with excitement in every moment. Big shock, this emphasis is a lie. When there are action moments they can be good, the train battle in the beginning was the kind of excitement I liked. However, most of the battles are brief skirmishes, with fake looking guns firing aimlessly as the bad guys surprisingly lack any skills. A few hand to hand combat moves helped relieve some of the mindless shooting, but not enough for me to agree with the promises the trailer made. What is the positive side of this? Well it means your preteens and young audience members won't have to worry about too much violence, always a plus in my book. I can also say that the action pretty much had a purpose in this movie too, rather than just putting the fight in for no reason. Thus, despite the action promised in the trailers, Insurgence did not provide the adrenaline rush I thought it would

3. Instead of action, the bulk of the movie is over dramatic dialog and lots of talking between two attractive actors. While the book does have a lot of drama, it at least gives enough drive and deception to keep you guessing at what will happen next. In the movie that wasn't the case. A lot of the tone was very flat, only diverging from bland when anger escaped in bouts of screaming. The exception to the rule would be the dialog between Tris and Jeanine, which has enough zest and ire that symbolizes their relationship. Again not the best emotion, as Tris continues to suppress her anger and guilt. Yeah there are a few sappy moments that might jerk some tears from you, but this movie was a bit too monotone for me. Luckily the dialog has some mix of planning and backstory to help dilute the rather lackluster emotion they seem to show.

4. One main strength of this movie is the editing involved bringing this world to life. The costumes and settings are a combination of computer generated images and detailed set work. I'm impressed with their work and found the integration of the actors in the movie both realistic and well animated. Sure a few of the scenes were obviously fake, the floating room in the trailer being one moment where CGI wasn't completely detailed. However, the superior technology and warfare were creatively visualized and portrayed from the book.. It is just unfortunate that more of the book could have been adapted, but then again this might have led to an incredibly long movie, or even worse a second part. I think audience members will feel apart of the dystopia that is this story, and will become immersed in the setting.

5. As a bonus point we'll quickly talk about the acting. Shailene Woodley leads the assemble in this tale and she does a decent job. She doesn't have as much emotion as her other roles, but her cries and screams are quite funny at times. Theo James as Four definitely brings eye candy to the role, as well as the rogue attitude that girls fall for. However, he too falls into one emotion, only breaking the mold when he has to get angry. Then there is Kate Winslet who played the superiority role to the letter. I hated her character, wanting to punch Jeanine in the face multiple times before the film was over. I found her a perfect casting for the role.

Overall this movie is okay, but it's deviation from the relationships in the novel left the film lacking in plot elements. While the dialog is great for drama lovers, and some big points are there, the lack of action, pace, and dramatic flare dulled the shine I hoped it would have. My opinion the first movie is better, but chances are you will still see this movie in theaters. Worth a trip to theater? I would say yes for the effects, but for quality better left to home watching.

My scores:

Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller: 7.0 Movie Overall: 6.0

14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Returning to Taken's Roots Makes For A Fun Flick, 14 March 2015

It's hard to remember time when Liam Neeson wasn't playing the loose canon agent role. But unfortunately with the way Hollywood works, it seems we are going to continue seeing this part for many years to come. His latest gung ho adventure is entitled Run All Night, a movie that snuck up on me until just last month. After seeing the trailers, quite a few times, here is what I, and maybe you, have come to expect: • Liam Neeson playing his typical role • Lots of exciting gunplay and action • A typical crime/drama plot of some sort

As always, my job is to do my best to inform you about what you get. So here we go.

1. If you haven't grown tired of Liam Neeson playing the fearless bad boy than chances are you won't be disappointed with this role. This time around he plays Jimmy, a hit man for his best friend Sean (Ed Harris) who runs a corrupt set of businesses that essentially cover the city. As always, his character has some traumatic past that has ripped away his emotions, with only one or two things to keep him tethered to his life. Neeson still brings that intense, smooth, isotonic tone to the big screen, seldom deviating from the voice that won so many in Taken. It's old hat by now, so don't expect too much difference other than he is not the hero in this tale.

2. Also carrying over is the typical action that Neeson is associated with these days. Now I admit this action is not consistent between films, but for the most part they follow a similar formula. Fortunately, director Jaume Collet-Serra decided to return to the action roots of Taken and learning to balance gunplay with plot. Fans will enjoy the epic stunts pulled off in this movie including a fast and furious car chase, strategic fleeing from an army of cops, and shoot outs spread throughout the entire New York city scape. While it is still amazing how accurate our hero is, the bad guys for once aren't completely incompetent when working a gun. Jimmy and his son (Joel Kinnaman) take a near brush with death once or twice in this film. With the lack of immortality that is usually bestowed to our heroes, the suspense of this movie kept me intrigued. Even better was the introduction of different types of thugs ranging from nameless henchmen to special grade professional killers (aka rapper Common). The thugs bring about their own set of skills that Jimmy has to fend off and brings some diversity to a series that is desperately needing it. What else does that mean for you? Lots of blood and close up shots of Jimmy taking down bad guys one body at a time.

3. The plot itself has the same structural framework of Neeson's character being pulled into some dark scheme that he has to shoot his way out of. The twist this time is a vendetta that is set up when Jimmy shoots his best friend's son, who was already in a lot of mess before the movie. A simplistic tale of protecting family and shooting bad guys follows, which should please many an action fan alike. The plot is balanced with just enough details to keep the action going, but not dragged out to ebb the adrenaline. Despite it being predictable, I must say that this movie is one of the better Neeson films in terms of character development. Sure there are some details that are skimped or left unanswered, and some plot elements are quite redundant and unnecessary. However, for the most part the information is kept in check and supportive for the whole movie and a decent action plot nonetheless.

4. I can say the sound and video editing are also well designed in this movie. The camera work, for the most part, is steady and stable, capturing all the glorious action for you to see. Fans may jump out of their seat, either in joy or fear, as the guns blare in glorious high definition, the bullets ricocheting off the numerous metallic walls. In addition, the editing team also did a great job finding shots that helped add a subtle taste of drama to the mix, once or twice attempting to fool you as to what would happen. The team also managed to do all this in a convenient 105 minutes, something that most movies fail to accomplish.

I could talk more about things like acting, but aside from Liam Neeson most aren't going to care about the assembled cast. So why don't we wrap this review up. Run All Night is a decent movie that brings the adrenaline of Taken rushing back to you. Neeson's typical character will lead you on an adventure that should please action junkies until Fast 7 arrives. While the story could use some more development in terms of characters, it is not the worst plot I've ever seen. Still fans of the Scottish actor's past films are not going to want to miss this movie as it stands high on my list of his movies. Worth a trip to the theater? For the special effects and movie magic, I have to say yes. However, you could probably get by watching Taken at home until the movie comes out on Netflix.

As always here are my scores:

Action/Crime/Drama: 7.5 Movie Overall: 7.0

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