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A new comedy classic has arrived in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's
masterful creation, This Is The End. The ultimate apocalypse movie with
too many celeb/pop culture references to count, this is a film that can
easily be considered the comedy of the year. Check out my full review.
James Franco is having a huge party at his place, and all his best buds are in attendance. Jay Baruchel is with his best bud Seth Rogen, but he's not big on the party scene and really isn't feeling much like staying. When the two take a trip to a store to blow off some steam, the apocalypse comes in terrifying fashion, complete with demons, rapture, hellfire, and sinkholes.
Going into the movie knowing very little about what to expect, I adored every moment of This Is The End. The direction is stellar and the music selection is comprised of tunes you won't soon be able to get out of your head. The six lead actors play off each other and every other actor to make an appearance in the film delivers, sometimes mocking themselves in highly memorable fashion.
For the first third of the film, Michael Cera kind of steals the show as a coked-out crazed version of himself, slapping around Rihanna and getting blown in Franco's bathroom. My favorite cameo comes by way of Channing Tatum, who clearly has a sense of a humor and has cemented my respect by appearing. There is also a certain boy band that cameos at the very end, bringing back a familiar 90's tune and ending the film on a high note.
More than the cameos, there is a ton to be said about the phenomenal performances from the six leads. It's difficult enough to maintain consistent character arcs, story, and one-liners with one two characters, let alone six. There is no clear stand-out among the group, as they all fight for the the title on more than one occasion. James Franco is super laid-back and obsessed with Seth Rogen. Jay Baruchel is best buds with Seth and has trouble trying to live with the rest of the crew. Craig Robinson tries to stay on everyone's good side. Seth Rogen is the same lovable character you'd imagine him to be in real life. Danny McBride is hated by everyone and causes a major rift amongst the others with his outlandish behavior, annoying none as much as he annoys James. Jonah Hill is overly nice to everyone around him and always sticking up for them. Throw these six people into one house with little food and water to spare during an apocalypse. What's the worst that can happen? Each actor seems to have a blast digging into each other and more than one joke is made at the expense of films they have done in the past.
This is a technically very well-made film as well as being solidly acted, and there are lines you will be quoting for days to come. I want to see it again, immediately. I still think I prefer the original title (Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse) but I'm totally okay with the new one as well, as it pretty accurately portrays the somber mood and gives you a hint of the darkly perfect comedy.
The horror elements of the movie are done very well and easily stay in sync with the comedy elements, which come fast and fresh. Once you hit the faux trailer for Pineapple Express 2, it's clear that This Is The End isn't slowing down any time soon. This is a movie to be remembered for years to come. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are my heroes. This Is The End is the best apocalyptic celebs-playing-themselves horror comedy you're ever likely to see.
It's been 7 years since Scary Movie 4 hit theaters to a pretty
impressive box office run, and Scary Movie 5 brings the series back in
a big fun way. If you loved the other four films (especially part 3)
you will definitely get a kick out of Scary Movie 5. This is a spoof
done right, written by David Zucker, the master of slapstick humor.
Sure, like any spoof movie there are tons and tons of jokes and some
miss the mark. However, Scary Movie 5 succeeds by sticking to its roots
and rebooting the entire series for new audiences and old fans alike.
The first thing you will probably notice is the rather unfortunate and upsetting lack of Anna Farris. Farris rose to stardom almost exclusively through the Scary Movie films at first, building her comedic repertoire along the way. At the time of filming, Farris was pregnant, so Ashley Tisdale fills Anna's shoes in a surprisingly fulfilling turn. Sure, she's no Cindy Campbell, but Jody is a character you can root for and Tisdale really does prove she has good comic timing. Unfortunately, there is also no Brenda (Regina Hall) or any of the other great characters to be found in the other sequels. For this film, it actually works this circumstance to its advantage, bringing back both Charlie Sheen and Simon Rex as relatives (again) but playing completely different character than their counterparts from the third and fourth installments. Some of the side characters bring the most laughs, from Molly Shannon as Heather to Tyler Posey as a hardcore Christian chilling at a cabin in the woods (long story.) The opening scene rivals the best ones in this series, and the scene fully concludes after the credits roll so stick around for a fun moment and obvious ode to the other four movies. Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen were absolutely perfect choices for the opening and I really missed them once they were gone. Also, I could watch Simon Rex do his awkward comedy schtick for hours and never get bored. Rock on, Dirt Nasty!
There are some really nitpicky issues to be found within this feature, but when you are watching a spoof film you really need to switch your brain off to have any fun. There are some odd dubbing issues as far as sound goes where it looks like the actor was saying something else, which most likely was a product of the numerous reshoots this movie underwent to remain more relevant. The Inception and 50 Shades of Grey spoofs kind of fall flat on their faces and bring the movie to a bit of a halt, but they are mere bumps in the road compared to the laughs to be found in the rest of the movie. I'm anxious to see an unrated version of this on DVD to see what was cut out or what footage/spoofs were excised completely from the final product.
If spoofs are your thing, there is plenty of hysterical moments to be found within Scary Movie 5, which actually takes chances and doesn't rehash the same material over and over again. This isn't your typical throwaway spoof. Though the ending could have used a bit of polishing (come to think of it, I've never been fully satisfied with an ending apart from the first), the final product is very watchable and has some decidedly off-the-wall moments. I can honestly say I loved Scary Movie 5, and if you're a fan of spoofs you will probably love it too.
The best in the series, in my opinion. After The Final Destination, I wasn't really sure what to expect but this was an excellent return to form for the series, boasting all the dread and suspense that this series is known for. Every performance in this one is gut-wrenching, that ending was thrilling and incredible on every level, and I think the story this time around held the most emotional weight. It's hard to tell who really steals the show more, D'Agosto or Fisher, because both of them are fantastic. Emma Bell is lovely as always. I hope this is the last film because if they end it here, they will be finishing up the series on a major high note. Not only was every death fantastic and unexpected, but the last ten minutes had me practically biting my fingernails in terror. One of the year's best sequels and all-around best features.
Evil Dead, simply put, is a new horror classic. It's a remake of the
memorable 80's time capsule The Evil Dead (a film which has actually
aged quite splendidly thanks to some impeccable filmmaking), but this
new film is a creature all by itself. Directed by Fede Alvarez and
featuring very little CGI (if any), Evil Dead is the horror movie by
which all modern horror films should will be looking up to years down
The most immediately distinguishing and intriguing characteristic about this new Evil Dead is how polished and neat the storyline is able to flow. These aren't just some people coming to hole themselves up in a cabin for awhile with no particular rhyme or reason other than that they just want to have a good time. David (Shiloh Fernandez) comes to the cabin to help kick his sister (Jane Levy) Mia's drug addiction with some of her closest friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas), and Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore). Her addiction is becoming a downward spiral and negatively affecting everyone around her. As a last effort, the group decides the best way to get Mia back to normal is to hole her up in the family cabin and not let her leave.
The movie takes its time to let us know the characters before bad things start going down, even though the opening scene kicks things off pretty deliciously as it marks the audience's first introduction to a deadite. From there, things don't kick into overdrive until Eric starts playing around with the flesh-covered book they recover in the basement. After this, really bad things start happening rapidly that lead to blood. Lots and lots of blood. To discuss what happens in further detail would be to divulge entirely too much information.
The directing is slick and stunning with some phenomenal camera-work and shots that rival anything you will find in the original movie. To compare Evil Dead to the original is unfair, though, because the original movie is a product of its time and the best possible movie it could have been at that time. Evil Dead is polished, precise, perfect down to the last scene of the movie which will stick with you long after the credits have rolled. The cast couldn't have been better, either, with Shiloh Fernandez and Jane Levy especially standing out as the brother and sister duo. Each of the five main roles contributes something significant to the flick and there isn't a single player involved that the movie could have done without. The new design of the Book of the Dead is flawless and creepy: while it might not be a face like the original, the skin on the cover and the pages within are still effectively chilling.
If you are a horror fan in any fashion, Evil Dead is the must-see movie of the year. At this point, I'd be shocked if any other horror movie this year comes close to matching the brilliance, brutality, and spectacle that is developed over the course of 91 minutes of terror. Evil Dead is a modern horror classic that you have to see to believe. Bring on the sequel!
As a movie, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is kind of a mess. There is
no denying that there is some fun to be found here, especially if
you're into the so-bad-it's-good genre. The cast is adequate and
visually, it is quite striking. If you're looking for something any
more substantial, I would suggest considerably lowering your
expectations. I caught the midnight show.
If you know the title, you can pretty much figure out the plot. We follow Abe Lincoln on a life- long journey after discovering that the creature who killed his mother was indeed a vampire. Along the way, he meets the love of his life and a fellow hunter who shows him the ropes.
So right off the bat: I wasn't expecting an Award-winning film here. I mean, do you go into a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and expect something extraordinary? Hell no. That said though, even with a premise as silly as this one you still have to find ways to make it work, ways to engage the audience beyond anything glimpsed here. For me personally, this movie just does not work when it needs to.
The casting isn't the problem; everyone is actually quite good including the big man himself, played by a dashing Benjamin Walker. I did have a big issue with the aging makeup, though not so much on Abe. Everyone around him is supposed to get older as the time passes, and yet no one looks to be aged within ten years of Abe. I can understand some minor discrepancies, but seriously? The makeup on Mary Elizabeth Winstead made her look about five years older. The visual look of the film also isn't the problem, even though the special effects are overly shoddy at times and can pull you right out of the movie. Overseen by Tim Burton, the cinematography looks great even when the special effects don't. The action scenes usually fall pretty flat for the most part and didn't really impress me much. The whole section where Abe hunts down his mother's killer made me practically keel over from laughter, it was so preposterous.
For me, the biggest problem lies in the script which relies quite a bit too much on the historical side of things without doing anything to really flesh out the characters. It also takes itself much, much too seriously for the movie's own good. Some dialogue and even entire situations don't make the slightest bit of sense. For instance, (minor spoiler here) it is established early on that one vampire cannot harm another vampire. So why, in one specific instance, does the very opposite of this established rule occur? There is no given explanation. There are all sorts of little plot holes, issues with the mythology, and logical impossibilities that definitely bothered me (how was Abe's hat able to hold the entire body weight of Mary without capsizing?), but there was quite a lot that I was willing to let slide.
The positives: An energetic Dominic Cooper. Benjamin Walker completely immerses himself in the role of Abe and is believable even when the situations aren't. The visually pleasing look of the film. Lots to laugh at, even when it's unintentional. The look of the vampires. The comical overuse of slow-motion.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter isn't your typical vampire movie and it certainly doesn't establish any of the mythology to an understandable extent. However, I laughed a lot. It was a fun throwaway movie and certainly could have been much worse. Hilarity ensues from the second the movie begins. If you're looking forward to this flick, I would wait to check it out on DVD. The 3D was absolutely terrible and there was nothing that popped out at all, unless you count a few specks of dust. / Rating: D+
I had the great pleasure of catching the midnight show for Magic Mike,
with an all-star cast including Channing Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matt
Bomer, Matthew McConaughey, and Joe Manganiello. I absolutely adored
the movie from start to finish, and even though it was about two hours
long, I still wanted more!
First thing's first: don't go in expecting nothing but stripping for two hours. Sure, Magic Mike is mainly about a group of strippers but it also intimately deals with the private lives of both Mike and Adam. It goes to darker places than I would have imagined and explores themes and ideas you wouldn't exactly expect from a stripper flick. I'm not trying to diminish any of the fun you will most likely have if you go to see Magic Mike this weekend, just adjust your expectations accordingly because the movie is equal parts drama and comedy.
Essentially, the plot deals with Magic Mike, a stripper who works for Dallas, who takes a young kid under his wing (Adam). The more comfortable Adam gets with the stripping game, the more his world spins out of control.
I absolutely loved the casting in this movie. Really though, whoever was in the casting department deserves an Oscar, because it's all perfect and brilliant. I couldn't have envisioned a better or more well-suited colorful cast of characters. While the minor characters (like Joe Manganiello's Big Dick Richie and Matt Bomer's Ken) aren't given a whole lot to do throughout the duration, they all still have shining little moments. I especially adored Bomer's swagger, which was pretty much unparalleled. Channing Tatum is absolutely epic in the movie, playing what is essentially an extension of himself and doing so quite well. McConaughey is also quite striking in what I'd consider to be a daring career move. I couldn't have imagined anyone else doing his role or performing it halfway as good as he does.
Director Steven Soderbergh does an overly competent job as director here, serving up equal parts heart and epic sexy strip scenes. The music and every scene where shirts are shed are downright memorable, and may serve as great DVD extras if extended sequences are made available. I know I'd certainly watch a full-length movie of all the stripper performances.
So, there is actually one small complaint that I had: the ending was way too abrupt. I'm all for ambiguity, but it seemed really sudden and somehow unfinished. Maybe it's just me being greedy and wanting a bit more specifics. I also kind of find Cody Horn quite annoying, but that is neither here nor there.
If you have nothing better to do this weekend and you're in to sexy beefcake-y guys, definitely check out Magic Mike. I loved everything from the costumes to the sets to the camera-work to the absolutely brilliant casting. Can they make a sequel or spin-off that's at least an hour of male stripper dancing This movie is as close to the perfect fantasy flick you're going to get. The DVD had better have extended musical scenes because it really should; how many more DVD's would they sell that way? I must see this movie again, and as soon as possible! / Rating: A+
It's October so you know what that means
a new installment in
everyone's favorite found footage horror franchise, Paranormal
Activity, of course! The fourth installment is another fun ride with
plenty of shocking surprises
Paranormal Activity 3 was a prequel, and Paranormal Activity 2 ended (in movie time) in 2006 so I was as surprised as anyone that in this installment they took things to 2011. It works wonders in giving some fresh take on the material, including a pretty flawless filming technique that actually works and isn't hammered over your head like some other found footage features. Plus, Katie returns in a surprising way and the advances in technology (including webchats) really make Paranormal 4 feel new.
Essentially, we follow teenager Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her boyfriend (Matt Shively) as a new kid who has moved in across the street with his mom starts to result in some weird occurrences in Alex's family home. The mysterious kid, named Robbie (Brady Allen), talks to an "invisible friend" and his story pulls the present situation into a relationship with the other three Paranormal films. To reveal anymore would be to rob the film of its surprises and scares (of which there are plenty.)
If you're seeing PA4 for the scares and jump moments, then there is plenty of bang for your buck. The scares come aplenty, and most of them are in large part to the webcams on the Macs littered throughout the movie. The Xbox 360 Kinect also contributes to one of the most scarring moments of all, and that ending wow is all I can say. It is super abrupt but it could mean big things for this franchise, especially if the fifth installment picks up right where this one ended.
The best part about this flick is that it continues to mysteriously build upon the mythology established in the other films while leaving the door open for more installments. We aren't given all of the answers here, just enough to satisfy. Just like previous installments, plenty of answers are given but many more questions surface. The acting is just fine as well: I mean, none of these actors are going for the Oscar or anything, but I particularly enjoyed Matt Shively as Alex's meddling boyfriend. He brought just enough tongue-in-cheek schtick to the movie and serves for some welcome comic relief.
If you're a fan of the Paranormal Activity franchise at all, then there is literally no possible reason why you shouldn't go check out this new installment. Newcomers will be totally lost and, like the Saw franchise before it, I would really recommend you check out the other three films before jumping into this one. Unlike the third installment, which you could basically see without viewing the first two due to the fact that it was a prequel, this one essentially demands that you see the other ones first.
Like the other movies, this one starts off with plenty of story and character development before the final act goes totally batshit. The ending (and the whole final twenty minutes or so, actually) is thickly infused with a sense of dread and tension and is the main reason this franchise is so loved by the horror community. I totally dug it!
Overall: Paranormal Activity 4 is a fun new installment in the franchise and thusly ends just as abruptly as the others. Be sure to stick around after the credits for a bizarre tease at a new, currently untitled Paranormal Activity spin-off. / Rating: A
I saw an advanced screening of 21 Jump Street this week, and it didn't disappoint. So many clever jokes in such a brisk runtime: you really won't want it to end. The best thing about this movie is that it doesn't insult the audience at all, and is completely showered with brilliant gags and phenomenal writing. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are a completely impeccable duo, and they really need to do more films together. Tatum's true calling is definitely comedy, and Jonah Hill shows off a different side from what we've seen. Dave Franco has been turning in scene- stealing supporting roles for years now, so it's nice to see him have a pretty meaty role in such a comedy. There is also a really bizarre but strangely effective cameo that had the entire audience clapping; the final act is a series of increasingly more hilarious situations that bring all the ideas to their highest peak. I really hope this movie receives the critical acclaim and audience attention it so rightly deserves, because it really is the best comedy of the year so far and it will be pretty much impossible to top it.
Hilarious from start to finish, The Sitter injected a much-needed R-rated comedy boost to the draggy awards season of December. Jonah Hill delivers another funny performance, but the real surprise for me was the shocking pro-gay message featuring one of the first kid-related gay story lines in a mainstream film. Max Records, the awesomely talented kid from Where the Wild Things Are, has no problem with the content and easily delivers a calculated performance. I guess I was so surprised because gay content is rarely dealt with so carefully in a Hollywood film marketed toward young adults, and I have to say I was really impressed. The kids make the movie all the better, and each of them is given a relatively well-developed backstory. The movie never sputters out, running at a perfect pace and hitting all the right punches. Even Sam Rockwell is awesome as a crazy could-be-gay drug dealer who chases the sitter and the children all across town. The Sitter is a movie I'd easily recommend and another fun treat from director David Gordon Green.
As flawless as anything from Stephenie Meyer is going to get. The makeup and special effects- work in this film were absolutely stunning, and Bella's transformation into a weak, powerless shell carrying a child inside her was magnificent. Once again, Taylor Lautner shows off his acting chops (he even has an intense crying scene this time!). Shockingly, the haircuts and costumes were the best out of all the films in this movie. Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) who normally looks absolutely ridiculous, manages to actually have decent hair for once. There are a few things that seem just as dumb on screen as they did on the page (Jacob imprints on Renesmee? The name Renesmee?), but for the most part, screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg works with Stephenie to craft something much better than was actually in the book. The birthing scene alone has a lot of power to it. The cinematography was great and, as always, I totally loved the soundtrack (which was kind of a mix of indie and pop/rock). I honestly don't feel there's any proper way they can make Part 2 cinematically pleasing, because the last half of Meyer's novel was an absolute trainwreck. Here's hoping that it's even halfway as good as this one.
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