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Sad ending to an overall great career of Wolverine
Hugh Jackman has been the face of Wolverine on the big screen since the first live action X-Men movie way back in 2000. Since then not only has he appeared as the character nine times on the big screen, but he has voiced the character twice in video games. No matter your opinion or my opinion of this movie, the fact will always remain that Hugh Jackman will always be remember as an excellent Wolverine. The following is my review of Logan.
Logan takes place in the future, and one of my biggest problems of this film was how they ignored a great deal of the past films, even films that were meant to set up future events, like in X-Men: Apocalypse. I understand wanting to strike while the iron is hot with a R rated comic book movie, and the character of Wolverine truly lends himself nicely to the R rating, but as a fan of the character overall, I wanted more. While the film doesn't completely skip over past events, there are too many plot points they did skip over. Director James Mangold, who also directed the previous Wolverine film(The Wolverine) even skips over plot details he had in that film. While I didn't care for the lapse in story, I thought the overall film was average, I cannot even deny that the action scenes directed by Mangold are stellar works of art for a comic book film. He utilizes the R rating perfectly, and truly brings out the character of Wolverine for the first time in this aspect.
Another great aspect of the film is the acting. Lead by Hugh Jackman in the title role, the supporting cast of Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier and Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23 make this one of the best all around best Marvel films in terms of acting. Even though my feelings about the story bring down my rating for this film, I want to emphasize that the action and acting in this film alone is worth the price of admission.
Marco Beltrami is the composer of the film, another highlight of the film. While he is known for composing many films that aren't considered good, no matter my opinion of this film, Beltrami delivers greatness in this score.
In closing, Logan in my opinion is a film that suffers from a bad story, a classic arch from the comics that was rushed into because of the success of Deadpool. Nearly every other area of the film delivers well enough to watch, maybe even more than once, but it doesn't delivery enough to make me give this a good rating or higher. Even though I give the film a mixed review, it is still worth the watch for the action scenes alone.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
Yeah, I'm thinking' I'm back.
John Wick is back for another all out action go around. If you enjoyed the first movie as most people did, this is without a doubt a must see right away. Very few sequels in general can get close to the original, but John Wick Chapter 2 may even exceed the first movie in my opinion. The following is my review of John Wick: Chapter 2.
Chad Stahelski is once again back to director this action packed sequel to his 2014 surprise hit both critically and box office wise. Stahelski really came out of nowhere with the success of the first film, as before that movie he was really only known for stunt work, even working with the star of these two films, Keanu Reeves on the Matrix films. The best parts of the first film are Stahelski's vision to make a true classic action film that not only featured amazing gun scenes, but also featured hand to hand combat scenes that were mind blowing. This sequel ramps up both of those areas in this film. The goal of an action sequel is to even more action packed, and surprisingly this film does that. The action is real, and very little CG is noticeable in the film. It is corny to say a film is packed with action from start to finish, but this film literally is. Stahelski proved three years ago he was capable of directing an all out action film, and now he has proved he can continue that great success with a sequel that delivers even more so than the original in many regards.
Derek Kolstad is back to write the John Wick sequel. Similar to director Chad Stahelski, Kolstad is pretty much an unknown, having only wrote low budget films starring Dolph Lundgren, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Steven Austin. The story however for the John Wick series is pretty easy to write, but there are some good one liners that needed to be placed perfectly in the film, and Kolstad does another excellent job there. So even though the plot is thin, the great acting and action take center stage of the thin plot.
Tyler Bates(John Wick, 300, and Guardians of the Galaxy) and Joel J. Richard(John Wick and The Bourne Identity) are back to compose the score for this action film. Both composers have an excellent track record, more so for Bates, but both of these guys already delivered a fantastic score in the film movie, and the score is just as memorable this time around. If you are someone like myself who appreciates a good score in the heated moments of the fight scenes, you will truly enjoy this.
Overall, John Wick: Chapter 2 is a must see action film, and a must see for those who really enjoyed the first film. The action is even more intense, and the scenes don't look fake like many films in this genre tend to these days. The cast is truly magnificent, and even though the downtime in the film seems like it drags a bit too much, the acting makes it worth the wait.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Iron Man Sucks
After a long hiatus of not reviewing movies, I am back, and it feels great. I will start things back up first with The Lego Batman movie, then tomorrow with John Wick: Chapter 2. So without further delaying, here is my review of The Lego Batman Movie.
2014 bought us one of the best animated films to date, The Lego Movie, and riding the success of that film comes this movie. To be honest The Lego Movie is one of my favorite films period in this decade. In comparison The Lego Batman movie is a well written movie in terms of comedy and action, but the story is not as well developed as the previous Lego movie. The other film was able to interject many adult points into the plot without overcomplicating things. The Lego Batman film is without a doubt a fantastic movie to watch with the entire family. It has nonstop laughs, pokes fun at comic book movies in general, and is never boring. This is surely a must watch movie.
Chris McKay is the director of this movie. McKay is known for having directed many episodes of the adult animated show, Robot Chicken. For a director on a show like that to make the big transition in terms of the extreme level of comedy from Robot Chicken to this film is very impressive. Some of the jokes do get close to raunchy, but never actually cross that line. There are a few actions scenes that are really impressive to watch, especially if you get to see this movie in IMAX. McKay as the director really delivers in this aspect. This is truly one of the best elements of the film, and director Chris McKay deserves credit here.
Probably my favorite part of the movie besides the fun actions scenes and the jokes was the amazing score from composer Lorne Balfe. Balfe is known for working on movies such as Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and Inception. While you can easily say the score here is more of another joke towards the comic book genre in general, it certainly fits this movie. As someone who really enjoys scores, I will be listening to this again and again.
In closing, this is truly the first great movie of the year, while the plot is thin compared to the previous Lego movie, it is well worth the price of admission. The extra money for IMAX is also worth it in my opinion, especially if you have the option of IMAX 3D. Animated movies seem to be the best bang for your buck for the 3D movies. This film is also great fun for the entire family, so taking your kids to this movie is certainly a must.
San Andreas (2015)
A Fantastic Disaster Film
When San Andreas was first announced I was super excited for the film. First and foremost about the disaster element of the film. I love the disaster sub-genre of films. Adding Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the lead only put icing on the cake. San Andreas turns out to be one exciting thrill ride from start to finish. It is not perfect in areas of acting and story, but the film is overall very fun to watch. The following is my review of San Andreas.
San Andreas was written by Carlton Cuse, Andre Fabrizio, and Jeremy Passmore. Cuse is more well known having worked on hit TV shows such as Lost and more recently Bates Motel. Fabrizio and Passmore worked on smaller projects together such as a film called Special, and a low budget action film starring Bruce Willis called The Prince. The story area is one area of the film that lacks, but disaster films like this aren't known for great overall stories. Even my favorite disaster films of the 70s were written loosely. The film follows Ray(The Rock) as he tries to save his family during this mega Earthquake. Frankly, that sums up the entire plot of the film. Nothing else to really tell. The film really delivers on special effects and overall amazing CG. That will be talked about more in the next paragraph. Even with a loose story, the characters connect well, even if they aren't that well developed overall. Cuse, Fabrizio, and Passmore write a story that moves things along, and frankly the story outside of being thin is not bad, and doesn't drag on.
The film was directed by Brad Peyton. Peyton directed another film with The Rock as the star called Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. The film is wonderfully shot, and for a thinner budget of about 100 million dollars, the CG is mostly enjoyable. Here and there it clearly looks absurd, but for the most part it was not noticeable. The action is the front and center piece of the film. With mega Earthquakes hitting California, the action picks up right out of the gate, not even 20 minutes into the film. Little buildup before that, and I'm glad they took that approach. Generally disaster movies that are made these days, which are rare, can cost 200 million or so to film. For them to make a film on a budget of 100 million dollars to look like this is impressive. Still has flaws in the CG, but overall this aspect was impressive. The acting department is lead by The Rock(Dwayne Johnson) and also stars Carla Gugino, Alexandra Daddario, and Ioan Gruffudd and Paul Giamatti in smaller roles. The actors overall are great. The Rock has never really delivered an amazing performance, but he has always leads an action film well. That is the case once again. Adding Cugino and Giamatti just helps out the overall acting aspect of the film. Peyton directs a fun filled action disaster film that most should enjoy.
The film was composed by Andrew Lockington. Lockington is known for scoring the Journey to the Center of the Earth films(The Rock stars in the second film), and also Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. The score for a disaster film is key, and in my opinion Lockington hit the ball out of the park. With many action scenes in the film it calls for a deeper score, but also low key material in more dramatic scenes. He adapts well over the course of the film, and his score adds amazing depth to this great film. Big thumbs up for the score of this film.
In closing, San Andreas is just one heck of a fun disaster movie. With the sub-genre basically dead recently, it was great seeing such an enjoyable film like this on the big screen again. I'm hoping it saves the sub-genre overall, but even if it doesn't, this is a film to fall back on. There is still hatred for disaster movies like this from some movie goers, but if you are a fan of those older disaster films, you should find some enjoyment out of this film. I would highly recommend that everyone see this in theaters.
You're Either Never Hungry or You Already Ate
Unfriended is another found footage type movie. Though it doesn't rely on camera footage moving around the entire movie. This film instead features a desktop look at a young girl and her friends as they are talking to each other online. Going into the film I was worried about too much of the found footage angle, but that aspect doesn't really bog down the film. While the film is certainly not great, it actually turns out to be a somewhat enjoyable movie overall. The following is my review of Unfriended.
The film was written by Nelson Greaves, who is really only known for writing two episodes of the TV show Sleepy Hollow. To be honest it doesn't take an award winning writer to come up with an idea such as the idea for this film. The plot is fairly simple. A group of young friends are online talking to each other in a video chat. Then this mysterious person comes into the chat along with the friends, and no one has any idea who it is. Mysterious things start to happen, and I won't get into much detail as there is a pretty good plot twist at the end of the film. The general plot is something different, and I enjoy it for the most part. Nothing great, but for the type of film it was I found it enjoyable. The cast of young no name actors also played out in the film very well, and at times make the film downright hilarious. Whether intentional or not. Greaves writes a fairly straight forward film that at times falls apart, but is overall a fun film to watch with other friends and laugh at the film for the entire run of the film.
The film was directed by Levan Gabriadze who is only directing his first major Hollywood film with Unfriended. Without much overall found footage moving around like a Paranormal Activity movie, his job wasn't to do that much. There are however some ridiculous kills in this movie, and they are shot nicely and add another layer of cheesiness to the film. As I mentioned above the acting is generally good for a film like this. All of the actors are names you wouldn't remember, and all of them are getting their first major role in this film. Even though they won't win any awards for their work, they tend to deliver some comical moments to the film that really make this a little more enjoyable. Gabriadze gets a thumbs up for his work on this film, and this is probably a film I will watch at least one more time down the road some time.
In closing, the film doesn't try too much, and in the end should surprise most on how enjoyable the film actually is. The film easily surprised me and kept my attention for the most part. The ending was kind of silly, but has a nice twist. Outside of that, this is a good cheesy horror film to watch with a group of friends and laugh at it for its hilarious moments. The film even offers up some hilarious moments to make the experience even better with a group of friends. While I cannot advise spending five or ten dollars to see this in theaters, waiting for a home video rental is the best option and should be seen when it becomes available in that format.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
I know you're good people. I know you mean well. But you just didn't think it through.
The Following Review WILL NOT Contain Spoilers!
Three years after the highly successful and great Avengers film that Joss Whedon and other masterminds brought us, we get the long awaited sequel. This film doesn't have the charm and originality of the first film. It instead tries to be too much like the first movie, and fails for the most part. The film often drags along uselessly with aspects of the story that are either underdeveloped or taken too far over the top. The film has some great elements though, and I still do not consider this a bad film. The following is my review of Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The film was written by Joss Whedon who also helped write the first Avengers film. The film adds some new characters like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver(characters we have all seen in the commercials and trailers by now). The rest of the team is already well established from the previous film, so knocking the character development on characters like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America makes no sense. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch both get rushed into the film with a back story that shows little emotion. The characters themselves fit well into the action around them nicely though. The movie is mainly well paced expect around the middle part of the film. Around this time we get left with the same tired moments of characters trying to connect with each other emotionally. I understand wanting this aspect of the story, but it drags on for a good twenty to thirty minutes for sure. Whedon is able to overall craft something somewhat interesting, but it feels too much like the first film. Some of the characters act too stupid as well over of the course of the film. Towards the end of the movie in the final battle this play out big time. Whedon tries something different, but it falls on its face because it misses other key aspects. Whedon can make excellent products, however this time he delivered something generally average.
Joss Whedon is the director as well, and he did direct the first Avengers film. The action scenes are one of the brightest areas of the film. We are introduce to his amazing talent right off the start in this sequel. Though there are lengthy slowdowns in the action later on in the film, and sometimes the action can be incoherent, however the action mostly flows nicely, and is very enjoyable. The ending of the film though feels too much like the first film, and this is another knock on Whedon. With some different characters it would have been nice to expand on the characters overall. That just doesn't happen. The acting is another bright spot for the most part. The only downside of the film in this aspect are the awful accents from Elizabeth Olsen(Scarlet Witch) and Aaron Taylor-Johnson(Quicksilver). Olsen outside of the awful accent delivers generally a great job of acting. Taylor-Johnson is as stale as ever in this film. Most know he isn't the best actor, and we see why yet again in this film. James Spader(Ultron) delivers a great performance voice acting in this film. Though his character is not exactly written great in the film. The rest of the Avengers are a joy to watch as they finally have a perfect chemistry after doing many of these films over the years. Whedon delivers mostly great action scenes that look nice even though they are CG, but misses the mark in key areas as well.
The film was scored by both Danny Elfman and Brian Tyler. Elfman came onto the production after Tyler has already done work on the film. Both of these composers have past experience in this genre of films. Tyler work on previous MCU films like Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, while Elfman has work on Batman(1989), Batman Returns, and more recently with Spider-Man 1 & 2. Their score here in generally okay, but nothing special. Both composers have amazing talent, but outside of a few pieces here and there, the score is lackluster. I thought for sure this would be one guaranteed great aspect of the film, but in my opinion it was just average.
In closing, Avengers: Age of Ultron is a mixed bag of emotions for me. I didn't hate the film, and liked a few aspects of the film. A few other aspects turned me off on this film though. The film is fun at times and fans of the superhero genre should watch this film right away, but I felt it was about at average, just above average at best. After the big success of the first Avengers film and how great that film was, I shouldn't have expected something on the same level. I really didn't, but in the end it fell even further than I thought it would. In the end I would still tell people to see this film at least once, even though I didn't love it.
I want to take a moment and talk about the IMAX version of this film. The film was not shot using IMAX or 3D cameras. Even though it was converted all the way around the 3D looks amazing as a great deal of the film is CG, and the IMAX adds some great depth that normal screens still don't have. The non CG 3D scenes aren't anything exciting though, and look bland on the screen. This isn't real 3D or real IMAX, but unless the tickets is extremely overpriced, I would say it is worth viewing on the larger scale IMAX screens.
Batman vs. Robin (2015)
I'm the Evening's Entertainment. Can I get a Volunteer from the Audience?
The DC Animated Universe continues with another Batman title that also features Damian Wayne(aka Robin). The previous Batman centered film was Son of Batman, and that film got some hate. I didn't hate that film, but I do admit it was not on par with some of the recent DC animated films. The same can be said of Batman vs Robin. The film is fun with some great voice acting, and so many amazing action scenes, but the story with the Court of Owls is just not as good as it could have been. The Following is my review of Batman vs Robin.
This story was written by J.M. DeMatteis based on the comic book from Grant Morrison and Scott Snyder. DeMatteis has only previously wrote TV series for the DC animated department. For example Justice League and Batman: The Brave and the Bold. I'm not that knowledgeable on The Court of the Owls, but after watching the special features on the Blu-Ray for this film, it sounds like an interesting idea. Those ideas do not play out that well in this film. I am not claiming the story is bad, it certainly is not, but after recent DC animated efforts like The Flashpoint Paradox, War, and Throne of Atlantis, this film is easily a step down in terms of story. The film is still worth a watch, but not really for the story. I enjoy what the Court of Owls could bring in the future, but on this effort, their story isn't much interesting.
The film was directed by DC Animated regular, Jay Oliva. Oliva is known for directing other DC Animated films such as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 & 2, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and Justice League: War. Oliva usually delivers top quality with the animated films he directs. The same can easily be said here. The animation looks fabulous, and the action scenes are wonderful to watch. The voice acting is once again an amazing aspect of the film. The stars of the film are Jason O'Mara(Batman) and Stuart Allan(Robin). Troy Baker, Kevin Conroy, Jeremy Sisto, and even Weird Al Yankovic. The talented voice actors have always seemed to work well together in these films, and the same can be said here. With the story of the film falling short, it is good to know that the action and the quality animation keeps our interest over the course of this eighty minute film. While it certainly is not up there with his recent works overall, this is still a worthy film to watch for comic book animated films.
The film was composed by Frederik Wiedmann. Wiedmann scored previous DC animated films such as Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, Son of Batman, and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Wiedmann's effort once again is nothing short of great. It is original and he often brings something different to each one of his scores that I have heard. It adds a great deal of depth to the film as well. Wiedmann does a fantastic job in this area of the film, and cannot wait to hear his work on upcoming DC projects.
Overall, even though the story is not as good as it could have been, with quality animation, great acting, and a great score, this effort is not to be missed. I'm sure most will find it not up to the level on previous works from DC, but the film is still enjoyable, and makes you excited for their next film.
I will also be going over the Blu-Ray special features as well. This home video release has brought back the Audio Commentary from the creators of the film. The audio commentary is covered by Mike Carlin the creative director, Jay Oliva the director of the film, and James Tucker the supervising producer for the DC animated films and TV shows. These audio commentaries are a good insight into the making of the overall film, and these guys have all done one of these in the past, so they know what to talk about. This commentary is loaded with funny and informative information. A must listen for any fan. The film also features two featurettes. The first is "The Mythic Court of Owls" which just goes over the back story of the Court of Owls and how it is similar to the Illuminati and the Freemasons. This featurette runs at 32 minutes long. The second and final featurette is "The Talons of the Owls". This is just more back story on the many Talons over the course of generations and what they all do. This featurette runs at 14 minutes. There is also an inside look at the next DC animated film, Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Which runs at 11 minutes. There are also 4 TV episodes from various DC animated shows. This runs total at 88 minutes. Even if you don't find the story all that well made, the bonus content on the Blu-Ray is well worth the price, especially if you can track down a copy of the Steelbook, which features amazing artwork.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Why Are You Always Hitting People?
The Incredible Hulk is the second of the six Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One films. Though many consider this film to be one of the worst Phase One films, I personally hold the opinion it is the best, and that includes taking into account The Avengers. This film was coming off of the 2003 Hulk from which was directed by Ang Lee. That might have played a factor in people hating this film, and not giving it a fair change, but I was always willing to give this film a fair shake. Thankfully, I did, and so should everyone out there. The following is my review of The Incredible Hulk.
The Incredible Hulk was written by Zak Penn. Before this film Penn already had writing credits for comic book movies. For example, X-Men 2 and X-Men: The Last Stand, and has since also wrote The Avengers. The story in this film sort of rushes past the back story that many probably wouldn't have enjoyed after the previous Hulk outing. Instead we get some flashbacks earlier in the film, and the characters build up the knowledge over the course of the film as well. Bruce Banner is in Brazil to start this film. He is hiding out from the US government, as they are actively hunting him down. He is still in contact with a professor from the states who wants to help Banner with his gamma radiation problems. Banner attempts to solve it with rare flower he comes across but no luck. After an accident at his job in Brazil, the US Government finally finds him, which in turn forces him back to the states. This is just a light rundown of the overall plot, and on this review I won't be spoiling anything. Even though the character development for some of the major characters isn't all that impressive, the overall story is great and a joy to see progress. Zak Penn does an excellent job on this film, and I see why he was asked back to write a bigger MCU film.
The film was directed by Louis Leterrier. Leterrier prior to this film had worked on films such as The Transporter 1 and 2. Since this film was released he worked on Clash of the Titans and Now You See Me. While I do generally enjoy the work Leterrier does on his films, this film still impresses me the most. There are so many action scenes in this film. Far more than the previous MCU film had(Iron Man). I would say of the last twenty five minutes or so of the movie, a good fifteen to twenty minutes of that was pure action. That can take a toll on a production, especially since CG has to be used when creating an action scene with a character like the Hulk. At times the CG can be awful, though most of the time it is generally at least good.
On the acting side of things, the film is lead by Edward Norton(Bruce Banner), and also stars William Hurt(General Ross), Tim Roth(Emil Blonsky), and Liv Tyler(Betty Ross). The film also features other amazing actors like Tim Blake Nelson in smaller roles. This film is very well acted across the board. Even though Edward Norton never returned to this character, he seemed to get along amazing with everyone on set and he clearly works well with the other actors. Also, in my opinion Edward Norton is the best Bruce Banner/Hulk that has been done on the big screen. That might be an unpopular opinion, but I stand by it. Overall. Leterrier does an excellent job, with only some minor issues in the CG department of the film. This is one director I do hope is invited back to do another MCU film.
The film was composed by Craig Armstrong. This was the first and only time Armstrong worked in the MCU. He has worked on other films such as World Trade Center, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and The Great Gatsby. After re-watching The Incredible Hulk once again, I find great shame that Armstrong was never asked back to compose another MCU film. In my opinion this is easily one of the best MCU scores, and I will go a step further and say one of the best comic book scores that I have ever heard. The depth it adds in the action scenes, and even the slower scenes in untouchable by many of the other MCU films. Hopefully as the years go on Armstrong will get more respect for this film. He greatly deserves it.
In closing, The Incredible Hulk is truly an amazing film to watch in this comic book sub-genre of films. The action hits early in the film and often throughout the film. The film also features impressive acting, and a truly wonderful score. While it seems the general opinion is that this is one of the worst of the MCU Phase One films, I personally have it as the best of the lot. No matter where you stand, I think the general audience will get some enjoyment out of watching it at least once.
I will be back to Review the next MCU film in the series, Iron Man 2.
Iron Man (2008)
Where It All Began
The Following Review Will Contain Spoilers!
Iron Man from the year 2008 marks the first film in a series of Marvel films. This series is now known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Is it the first universe on film? Of course not, but so far the people behind the scenes have crafted something amazing. Iron Man was the first piece in this puzzle. It was a big risk for Paramount at the time, but it payed off into something so big, that Disney had to buy it. The following is my review of Iron Man.
Iron Man was written by Matt Holloway, Art Marcum, Hawk Ostby, and Mark Fergus. Fergus and Ostby had actually worked together a few times in the past on some smaller films, and even the 2006 film Children of Men. Since Iron Man was made in 2008, they have worked together on Cowboys & Aliens. Holloway and Marcum also worked together on the 2008 comic book film Punisher: War Zone. A favorite of mine. So they all some good experience before coming on board with this film. Some better than others, but even still.
The story follows Tony Stark, a weapons dealer for the United States government. Tony is in the Middle East showing off his new Jericho missile. On his way back to base, his crew is attacked, and Tony is taken hostage. The terrorist leader who had him kidnapped wants Tony to build him one of these Jericho missiles. Tony turns this around to build his first Iron Man suit, and thus escapes back home. During his time in the middle East as a hostage, Tony has second thoughts on selling weapons that kill people. This is where the story really picks up. I don't want to give away the entire story, but the film features some great twists and turns. The villain of the film Obadiah Stane(Jeff Bridges) is still one of my favorite MCU(Marvel Cinematic Universe) villains. His character was written greatly, and Bridges was the perfect fit for the role. One of my major issues with the story, is what comes at the end. Again this will be a major spoiler. Tony Stark reveals at the end that he in fact is Iron Man to the public. I did not like this part, and would have liked it more had they gone the traditional route. Either way, the story ended up being amazing, and was a great start to this huge universe. The story writers here deserve big credit.
The film was directed by Jon Favreau. Favreau not only directed this film, but also came back to direct the sequel. He is also known for films like Elf, Zathura: A Space Adventure, and Cowboys & Aliens. The film is visually amazing. Though there are times that the CG looks cartoonish. The action scenes are fun, but this is not a big action blockbuster. For about the first forty five minutes or so, there is only light action. Even the final battle between Iron Man and Stane only lasts about five to seven minutes. The story and the characters really carry this film. Which leads me to this fabulous cast of actors. The film is lead by Robert Downey Jr., and co-stars Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Faran Tahir, and so many other actors in smaller roles. After having seen this movie many times since 2008, I still enjoy watching it for the amazing chemistry all the actors had together. Faveau delivered amazing action when the film called for it, it mostly looked nice, and he brought together this great cast of actors and had them make this great film.
The film was composed by Ramin Djawadi. He is now known for his amazing score on Pacific Rim. That score is still one of my favorites to this very day. This score however for Iron Man, well it just wasn't that great. It does add some nice depth to the overall film, but it is just a good score, and not a great one. Some may disagree with me on this aspect, but I stand by my opinion. Again, it wasn't bad, just not great as some of his other work.
In closing, this is just a fantastic start to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man is such a fun and entertaining film that the whole family could likely enjoy. The film has amazing acting, and a great story. There are some aspects to the story and I didn't care for, but nothing that hurts the film. Those wanting to get caught up on the MCU, this is where it all began, and this is a great beginning. It should not disappoint the average movie fan.
I will be back to Review the next MCU film in the series, The Incredible Hulk.
It Follows (2014)
Sexually Transmitted Ghost
It Follows is a low budget horror movie that has been getting major attention recently. Not just because of its impressive box office numbers in limited release, but also because some claim it is actually a great horror film. Originality does not necessarily mean quality. This film is a prime example of that. The story rambles on and is meaningless. The film is a giant waste of time, and more importantly, a waste of money. The following is my review of It Follows.
The film was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. This is his first major film. The story is pretty straight forward. A ghost haunts people who are given this being. The ghost is passed from one person to the next through the act of sexual intercourse. The story happens upon a young girl who gets this ghostly being after having sex with this guy she has been dating a few times. She then starts to freak out and starts seeing people that others do not. While the idea is good, the story overall doesn't explain much past the general outline of the film. The characters are weak and even more stupid than we expect in a horror film. Mitchell gets credit for being original, but outside of that originality, he brings us another really bad film that indie fans love to eat up. If he decides to stick to this genre for future films, I will give him another chance. I just hope it is better than this awful film.
As for the directing side of things, this is one of the brighter spots. The film looks really nice for being filmed on a small budget of two million dollars. Doesn't look cheap like you would see on a sci-fi channel film. Outside of this though, don't expect anything good from the film. The acting is of course downright awful. This is not an area I will attack the film on because horror movies generally have awful acting. The film is generally silly and would be a good film to poke fun at with a group of friends. If this was the goal of David Robert Mitchell, he succeeded big time. From his stupid story that explains nothing and only takes up your valuable time, to the random scenes in the film that make no sense at all, his efforts in both writing and directing aren't anything even average. The film simply looks good, that is clearly not enough to give him credit on, or enough to save this bad film.
The IMDb page for this film does not even mention a composer for the film. After some light digging, I was able to find out Rich Vreeland is the composer. He goes by the name of Disasterpeace for his music. Fitting, because the score for the film was indeed a disaster. The score as overly bombastic and very meaningless most of the time. I love scores, and really love scores for horror movies. At times you will find a hint of Halloween, and at other times Knight Rider. The composer was all over the place for this film. It adds nothing good to the film, and only hurts it. I won't trash all of the work Vreeland has done in his career, but in this case his work was simply awful.
In closing, the film was overly hyped because of its originality and because indie fans love eating garbage up like this. The honest truth is that this film is bad. It certainly isn't worth any price your local theater could be charging to see it. As I mention above, this might be a good film to watch with some friends as you can trash it and make some good jokes at its expense. Outside of that, this film is a clear pass for even the biggest horror fans.
Furious Seven (2015)
Airbags? Who Needs Airbags?
The Fast and Furious franchise is racing into theaters once again. This time we are brought the 7th film in this massive franchise, that only gets bigger and bigger with each new film. The series started way back in 2001 with Paul Walker and Vin Diesel as the major stars. After the tragic death of Paul Walker before this film finished filming, production was shut down and the film was reworked in order to deal with this lose. The film deals with his death perfectly, not killing him off, and giving him one heck of tribute. The following is my review of Furious 7.
The film is written by Chris Morgan who also wrote parts three through six of this franchise. So he is clearly not a newcomer to the franchise. The series has taken different routes over the course of its fourteen years on screen, and the same can be said here. Back when the series was first starting, the story focused a great deal on the car races. Gone are those days, and now are featured big and absolutely absurd action scenes that just happen involve cars. The stories of course have changed, and some agree for the better. We still have the heist angles that were brought into play over the last few films, and this has really helped the franchise. The story isn't perfect in this film, and some of the characters are not written that well. Even car enthusiasts will be scratching their heads sometimes during this movie. This is a series that hasn't really been popular for its fabulous story work though. The film is written good enough for this series, and one has to hope Morgan comes back for the eighth film(if there is one).
This Fast and Furious film was directed by James Wan. Wan is well known in the horror genre for directing classics likes Saw, Insidious, and The Conjuring. Even though doing an action movie on this scale is far away from where he normally directs films, Wan does a good job overall. This film has more action scenes than probably any other film in the franchise. I found myself noticing that some of the bigger action scenes were lasting near or longer than ten minutes. Which is a great deal for a Hollywood action movie these days. The action scenes use tons of CG, and while most of the time it is good, there are some scenes that look laughably bad. The acting department has never been an area where this series has been great. Though the cast that has been together for many years now work so very well together, which is what makes this team great. With some amazing action scenes, not all looking great, and even some completely over the top you will ask yourself did they need to go this far, most watching this film will get a joy out of James Wan's work. I don't think Wan should quit his regular work directing horror movies, but seeing him in this genre from time to time would be nice.
The film was scored by Brian Tyler. Tyler is known for scoring some of the Marvel superhero movies recently, and Tyler has been composing for this franchise since part three. I'm not sure where others stand on this franchise in terms of score, but this one might take the cake. I loved the score in the big action scenes, and even when things were more subtle. Tyler is one of the better composers today, and this score proves that. If you love scores for action movies, this score adds a great deal of depth to the film.
In closing, this film was a blast to watch on the big screen. This is the last Fast and Furious film for Paul Walker, and features a great and emotional sendoff for his character. Even though the franchise will likely continue, we will all remember Paul Walker and cannot forget what he did for this franchise. Even if you find the film to be a let down compared to previous films, the action scenes are worth the price of admission. In terms of which version to pay for, I would say the IMAX version was fabulous, and well worth the extra five dollars. When the film gets those huge action scenes going, this is where IMAX excels with the bigger screen and far better sound. So my recommendation is you spend the extra few dollars and see this movie in IMAX.
R.I.P. Paul Walker
The Gunman (2015)
Sean Penn's Taken
Right off the bat I want to express that I do not believe this film is better or just as great as the first Taken film. I'm giving it a 8 out of 10 simply because I'm going to rate it at least a 7.5 out of 10, meaning I have to round up. Lets be honest, the first Taken movie didn't have a fabulous story, and neither does this. The action in this film though is very impress and kept me more than entertained for the nearly two hour run time. Since the director of the first Taken film directed this movie, you should know the action scenes will be great. They were, and I found myself loving this film. The following is my review of The Gunman.
The Gunman was written by Don MacPherson, with the screenplay by Pete Travis. The story is based on the novel "The Prone Gunman" written by Jean-Patrick Manchette. I have never read this novel, so that let sink in now. Don MacPherson is known for writing the 1998 Avengers film(a film that has nothing to do with the Marvel Avengers films). This is actually his first writing credit on a film since that Avengers film way back in 1998. The saving grace if you will has to be Pete Travis, who is well known for the cult hit Dredd which was released back in 2012. He also wrote Endgame and Vantage Point before that. The story itself follows Terrier(Sean Penn) who we first see on a mission to kill the a leader in the Congo. The film really starts cooking when years later his team in hunted down, but Terrier doesn't know by whom. He goes on a mission to find out as he was once already targeted. The story is fairly simple as you can tell from my easy breakdown of it. Though the story seems average at best, it actually works out very well since Sean Penn delivers an amazing performance. The film opens itself up for tons of great action scenes, and that is the reason most would even be interested in this movie. With some well written characters the story is solid, and an all around good effort.
The Gunman was directed by Pierre Morel, who as I mentioned in my opening paragraph directed the first Taken film, he also directed From Paris with Love, and did some work on the Transporter series. The guy knows how to direct some fabulous action scenes, and this is clearly the case in this film. While the story calls for some extra downtime over the course of the nearly two hour film, with the great cast of actors, this flies by nicely and adds a nice aspect to the film. The film stars Sean Penn with other actors like Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone, and Idris Elba popping in throughout the film as well. This is a Sean Penn film, and he really does carry the film. When the film switches back to the actions scenes, the film overall is flooded with some great action sequences and some brutal violence. The bigger action scenes look amazing with Morel behind the camera, and his experience really helps on this film. Morel and the amazing cast of actors do a fabulous job in this film, and is truly an excellent action movie.
The film was composed by Marco Beltrami, who is known for composing such films as Snowpiercer, The November Man, The Drop, and even composed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines way back in 2003. His effort on The Gunman is nothing short of great. I found myself really enjoying his overall work from start to finish, especially in the bigger action scenes. This will certainly be a score I listen to over again in the near future. Fans of Beltrami's work will not be disappointed, and leaves all fans wanting more.
In closing, The Gunman is a violent action film with amazing action scenes. My biggest complaint would be the story, though it is not bad given the type of film they set out to make, which is an action film similar to Taken. Action movie fans should for the most part enjoy this film, and I highly recommend you seeing this film in theaters. If you happen to be worried about the quality of the film, seeing it at a matinée showing would be your best best, but do not miss this film.
Don't laugh, I'm being cool.
Director/Writer Neill Blomkamp brings us another Sci-Fi thriller with his current outing called Chappie. While his previous two outings with District 9 and Elysium were good, Chappie simply doesn't live up to those previous films. The film is bogged down by a slow story that takes forever to developed, and characters that no one really cares about. The following is my review for Chappie.
As I just mentioned Neill Blomkamp is both the writer and director of this film, and the film was also written by Terri Tatchell. He directed District 9, Elysium, and is now attached to direct the next Alien film. Tatchell is known for writing on District 9 as well. This is about a futuristic police force that is all computerized drones, thus eliminating our current human police force. Deon Wilson(Dev Patel) is the creator of this line of police force, but wants something more. He takes an idea to his boss Michelle Bradley(Sigourney Weaver) about working on his new idea for giving a test robot human characteristics. She doesn't go for the idea, but Vincent Moore(Hugh Jackman) who is creating his own police drone is after Deon and his plans. Meanwhile a gang of criminals who need money to pay off their bad guy decide to steal a drone from Deon. They kidnap Deon and force him to build his current idea for a new robot. The gang has other ideas for his use though. They train him to be gangster if you will to help them pull off a big job. Vincent however is onto them and the story picks up from there, and I won't spoil it. The story on the surface looks good, which is why I wanted to see it, but the film doesn't play out that well. The film suffers from too much boredom in the overall story buildup, that when the story really starts kicking, it is very much lackluster. At the heart the story means well telling a story about how some feel about robots overall. Blomkamp doesn't strike gold like with his past works, and this film is certainly his worst as of now.
Neil Blomkamp directed the film as well which I mentioned above, and this is an area he excels more at during the course of the film. While his story is not good at all, the action scenes towards the end of the film look excellent. This film had a small budget, but those constraints don't really hurt the film in this department. The action is mainly to towards the end of the film, but there are some intense scenes, and the scenes look amazing as Blomkamp is well versed in making action Sci-fi films like this. The acting is generally good for the most part as well. Dev Patel and Hugh Jackman work very well together, really pulling that animosity off of each other. The gang members do a good job, but nothing groundbreaking. With some good directing and Blomkamp's good eye for acting, this department is one area of the film that is overall really good.
The film was composed by legendary composer Hans Zimmer. Zimmer is well known for his recent works such as The Dark Knight trilogy, 12 Years a Slave, and Interstellar. While all or most of those scores from the films I just mention are legendary scores we won't be forgetting, this score he crafted for Chappie is certainly another great addition to his works. Literally from the moment the film started Zimmer's score cranks up and takes you into the film. The depth he adds to his works are nothing short of amazing, and the same can be said here. Fans of a good score should appreciate this score, and this score is certainly going to be one of the best from 2015.
Overall the film is fairly average. I absolutely cannot advise anyone to spend money on this film at the theaters. If you enjoyed District 9 and Elysium, this should be a rental film for you if you already haven't seen it. While we get some great aspects to this film with the acting, directing and score, the bad story and how it plays out simply doesn't warrant anyone to spend ten or even five dollars on this film.
Run All Night (2015)
As long as you're coming after Michael, I'm coming after you.
Liam Neeson is back yet again with another action film. Some will claim this is another Taken film, and maybe he is cashing in big time on his success from that franchise, but the story in this film is much deeper overall than the recent Taken films, and the acting is absolutely amazing. With some great acting and a good story overall, Liam Neeson and the legendary Ed Harris deliver a must see film for any movie fan. The following is my review of Run All Night.
Run All Night was written by writer Brad Ingelsby who is very well known for his fabulous work on the 2013 film Out of the Furnace. I actually did not know that going into the film, after seeing he did write the film, I'm not surprised the characters were so greatly written. The story follows Mobster Shawn Maguire(Ed Harris) and his longtime friend and hit man Jimmy Conlon(Liam Neeson). These two have been friends for a great many years, even decades. Now that they are older and have children, things aren't exactly the same, more so for Jimmy. While Shawn is still very much close to his son Danny(Boyd Holbrook), Jimmy hasn't spoken to his son Mike(Joel Kinnaman) in several years. One night Mike has a big job as a limo driver, but the people he is driving around get into some dirt that makes Mike and Jimmy enemies with Shawn. Shawn promises to hunt Mike and Shawn down and kill them, and their family members because of the death of his son. The story is very rich in characters, and you actually care about them. While the film is nearly two hours, you honestly aren't looking at your watch at all. The film flows by perfectly because of the amazing writing by Brad Ingelsby. Overall, Ingelsby does another fabulous job of writing in this film, and his efforts on this film should not be overlooked.
The film was directed by Jaume Collet-Serra who is no stranger to working with Liam Neeson on action films. He previously worked with Neeson on Unknown and last years Non-Stop. The action in this film is not exactly a great deal, but easily much more than last years Non-Stop. There are some fabulous hand to hand combat action scenes, and even one heck on a chase scene. Though the chase scene can be convoluted because of some shaky cam work. Collett-Serra delivers this nice way of changing location in the film from scene to scene by zooming out of the current scene and showing a high rise city view, then slowly zooming in on the new location. While this clever way of changing might have been slightly overused, it was used perfectly and if something different. The acting was really another great aspect of the film, and when you have two legends like Ed Harris and Liam Neeson on the screen together, of course great things will happen. Neeson and Harris really play great off of each other, and you really believe the story as it plays out. The film also features great acting from Joel Kinnaman, Vincent D'Onofrio, and even Common fits in nicely with his small but important role in the film. With mostly great action and absolutely fabulous acting, Collett-Serra and Neeson have easily delivered another epic action film that will live on for many years to come.
The film was composed by composer Junkie XL who is well known for working with legendary composer Hans Zimmer. He recently scored films such as Divergent and 300: Rise of an Empire, and will be scoring next years Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The score XL delivers is nothing great nor something I would claim is memorable, but his work here easily adds some much needed depth in the bigger action scenes. There are some interesting things he does throughout the film, and this is easily a score I will be going back to listen to over and over for the next few weeks to see if it grows on me even more. Junkie XL doesn't deliver the greatest score to an action film, but the score is still very much top notch.
In closing, this is a very enjoyable film, which is certainly worth the price of admission. I personally spent almost ten dollars on this film and still feel I got my money's worth and then some. The replay value seems to be high with not only the great visuals from the directing angle, but also from the great performances from the actors. Fans of films in general should put this film on on your list to watch, certainly a must see film.
It's about Distraction. It's about Focus.
Focus is the newest Will Smith movie, and with his recent track record many moviegoers will likely stay away from this film. However, Focus is actually a fun film with many twists and turns. The acting is excellent, and the movie is an overall joy, though it is not perfect by any means. The following is my review of Focus.
The film was written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, who are known for writing such films as Bad Santa and I Love You Phillip Morris. The film follows master conman Nicky(Will Smith) as he plans on making some big money conning at an American Football event similar to the Super Bowl(the term Super Bowl nor any NFL trademarks are actually used in the film). Along the way to this big event he runs into Jess(Margot Robbie), and she desperately wants in on this big con job Nicky has planned. As I mentioned above this film has some excellent twists and turns, so I really don't want to get into deep details of the story. The film continues over the course of the next few years, ending with a really good climax. Ficarra and Requa deliver a good story, but it does have it's issues. For example some of the twists are so absurd that you wonder if they simply pulled them out while shooting the ending. It seems thrown together rather loosely. Without the proper buildup the film had, this film would have fallen at or below an average film. Overall though Ficarra and Requa do a good job on this film, and most should enjoy this story.
The film was also directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. Both of these directors worked in the past on films like I Love You Phillip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love. The film is not some big action film like many of the films Will Smith tends to do. Though it does interject some much needed comedy, and Smith is excellent at delivering this in that aspect. The film is shot wonderfully and looks amazing on the big scene, though I can't honestly say that there is a wow moment that makes this a must see in theaters. The acting is also another major aspect that this film excels at. Will Smith and Margot Robbie work fabulously together, and their chemistry only grows throughout the film. This is a good sign for their upcoming film they are working together on. Anyway, even the secondary actors like Brennan Brown, BD Wong, Gerald McRaney, and Adrian Martinez are such a joy to watch, and I would have to say BD Wong steals the show in his big scene of the film. So really watch out for that one. The directors really did a fabulous job with these talented actors, and they really deserve much credit in that aspect. Overall Ficarra and Requa do a fabulous job in the directing department, and really makes me look forward to their future outings as directors.
The film was composed by Nick Urata who worked with Glenn Ficarra and John Requa in the past on Crazy, Stupid, Love and more recently worked on the 2014 film Paddington. His work on this film is not that impressive at all. It seems like a go through the motions type of score. Urata's score doesn't add much depth at all to the film, and since I'm someone who really enjoys the score aspect of a film, this is a big disappointment here. I cannot honestly say the score was bad or awful, but it was average at best.
In closing, Focus is a fun film with an overall good story even if the story gets absurd at times. The film is shot great, and the acting is top of the line from all the stars of the film. Since I watched this film at a matinée showtime spending only five dollars, I would have to say it was well worth the money seeing this in theaters. If you aren't lucky enough to see this film for a cheap price, then the best thing to do is wait for home video where this film is a must own.
The Lazarus Effect (2015)
The Lazarus Effect is another Blumhouse Productions(Paranormal Activity) horror film that is below average. I'm a huge horror fan, but most of the newer horror films are generic garbage. This film continues that trend. The following is my review of The Lazarus Effect.
The film was written by Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater. Dawson is known for the 2008 horror film Shutter, while Slater is working on the 2015 superhero reboot of the Fantastic Four. The plot of the film is a rather nice idea, but the execution is terrible. The film never really knows what type of horror film it wants to be. We see the film jump in and out of horror sub-genres, and frankly that completely kills the mood of the film. The characters themselves are rather wooden and you don't care about them at all. Not only do you not care about the characters, some of the characters are so poorly written, you wonder if Dawson and Slater just threw trash at the wall hoping something would stick. Overall the effort from Dawson and Slater is very poor, and I'm worried about future projects both of these writers have lined up.
The film was directed by David Gelb who gets his first major directing job with this film after having done work on documentaries and short films. The film is shot fairly well, however Gelb is dealt an awful script that no one could fix. Some of the kills featured in this film look great, and is one of the very few upsides to the film. However, the overuse of jump scares is front and center in this film, which hurts many films in this genre. The acting is another bad aspect. The film stars Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass, Evan Peters, and Donald Glover. Horror films are known for bad acting, and I expected as much in this film, but even Wilde phones in this film. A better director may have been able to get a better overall performance from the cast. Overall Gelb delivers a dud as the director of the film, but should get a break since the script was so bad.
The film was composed by Sarah Schachner who is known for scoring some smaller films and more recently scoring the video game Assassin's Creed: Unity. I have to be honest here, the score was the best thing about this film. Usually in cheaper horror films like this you will get a score that is phoned in, but here Schachner delivers something that adds some actual depth to a shallow film. I really found myself enjoying the score towards the end of the film when the story was wrapping up. With this being the best aspect of the film, that is not a good thing, but at least someone on this production did a great job.
In closing, this is a very lazy horror film that was made on a cheap budget hoping to make some quick cash. Something Blumhouse Productions has been doing for years now. The redeeming qualities of this film aren't enough to make you spend any money on this mess of a film.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)
For my 100th review(thanks to everyone who reads my reviews, no matter if you like them or not) I will be taking a look at the sequel to one of the funniest movies of the past several years, Hot Tub Time Machine. While this film certainly doesn't live up to the first film, and even uses many of the funniest bits of the first film, this film is not a complete waste. The following is my review of Hot Tub Time Machine 2.
Josh Heald returns to write this sequel, which may have actually hurt this film. With actors leaving the film it may have been a good idea to add some other talented writers to the mix. As I said above the film is still slightly funny for most of the film, but so many of the funny bits from the first film are used over and over again in this film. The film itself is not a complete rehash of the first film and there is some original stuff here and there. I personally just found the film to be a step down in terms of story and in terms of laughs over the first film. Heald delivers a passable comedy that clearly will not live up to his efforts on the first film.
Steve Pink is back directing this comedy sequel. Pink does a great job of capturing the vision of the film that he wanted and the film in the directing area looks great. The film was made on a budget of about fifteen million dollars, and never does the film look cheaply made. With the script being barely passable and the story not being that interesting Steve Pink will likely be taking most of the blame, as well he probably should as he is the director. The first film was in my opinion made even better by two great stars in Crispin Glover and John Cusack. Their stories from the first film added so much depth and laughs to the overall film that this sequel cannot find. Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, and Clark Duke all do a good job, but you can tell something is missing. Pink does a good job in the directing area and the film looks good, but with some key characters from the first film not coming back, this film was probably set up for failure from the start.
In closing, this is a passable comedy, something to view if you want to waste a hour and a half of your life. The film is certainly not on the level of the first film, but offers up enough laughs to give it a shot. I just wouldn't spend a great deal of money on this film. The best bet here is to probably wait to rent the film for a couple dollars if you really want to see it. The film is easily worth a dollar or two in my opinion.
Wild Card (2015)
Knife and Spoon
Wild Card is another action film starring Jason Statham. While many are turned off when they hear his name, I think he is one of the best action stars today, and I cannot get enough of his films. This time Jason Statham stars in another remake. This time it is a remake of the 1986 Burt Reynolds film called Heat. I have in the past watched that film, and remembering it being a great film in my opinion. While this film is clearly not as good, it is a great fun action film to sit back and watch. The following is my review of Wild Card.
William Goldman is the writer of this film. He wrote the original novel that this and the original film were based on. Goldman also wrote the screenplay for the Burt Reynolds version back in 1986. Goldman is well know for such legendary works such as Marathon Man, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Misery. The story this time around compared to the original film is simply an updated version. You aren't going to get much of a difference, and there are a few scenes that are recreated from the original film. This film this time around is more of an action film for the star of the film, Jason Statham. The story is very interesting, and with some talented actors, the film excels overall in entertaining the viewer. I'm not really sure why the great William Goldman returned for this updated take on his original piece, but I personally feel the film was better because of it. Nothing award winning or original from Goldman this time around, but the story is still enjoyable.
The film was directed by Simon West. West is known for bigger films like Con Air and The Expednables 2. West even worked with Jason Statham on another remake. That remake was The Mechanic, Charles Bronson starred in the original. Simon West is a very talented action director as his filmography proves that much. The action scenes in this film, while there are a few, are very exciting to watch. There are three action sequences. One towards the begging setting up more of the plot, and two near the end. The final action scene is amazing, and this is where someone like Jason Statham really excels. The actions scenes look amazing and flow great. In some of the action West even uses slow motion to really bring everything out. I enjoy that aspect, and he didn't over use it. The acting is not bad. Statham is not a great actor or anything, but in roles like this he is great to watch. The film also stars great actors like Stanley Tucci, Anne Heche and Milo Ventimiglia. Simon West is a great action director, and any fan of his should watch this film.
Dario Marianelli is the composer of this film. He is known for scoring such films as V for Vendetta and more recently The Boxtrolls. I felt in this aspect of the film, it was a bit of a disappointment. Not a total failure by Marianelli, but just not to my liking. It never really adds depth to the film, so in my opinion the score was forgetful. I love a good score in cheesy action films like this, and if you do as well then you will be disappointed as well.
In closing, Simon West and Jason Statham offer up another great action film together. Hardcore fans of the original story and original film starring Burt Reynolds might have problems with this film, but even as a fan of the original movie I still found this take on it to be a fun action film. Not as good as the 1986 version, but still a fun ride. Since the film opened with only a small theatrical release, it shouldn't be hard to find this movie for cheap streaming online. In my opinion the five to seven dollars you pay to watch this film is well worth it.
The Boy Next Door (2015)
Brakes come extra on a Dodge
The Boy Next Door is a thriller simply meant to attract viewers with good looking people. This film is one giant cliché of the thriller genre, and frankly is one of the most boring theatrical experiences I have had in awhile. Outside of some good directing during the action scenes, this films has really nothing to offer. The following is my review of The Boy Next Door.
The Boy Next Door was written by Barbara Curry, who gets her first Hollywood break on this film. The story is fairly simple. Claire Peterson(Jennifer Lopez) is a high school teacher, right before the school year starts a new student moves in next door. He will be going to the school Claire teaches at. Well, the back story here is that Claire is having marriage problems with her husband, and she is lonely. Without going into too much detailed here, she falls for the student next door and when she wants to break it off with him, he goes insane. Not really much I'm missing. The story is paper thin, as expected in a film like this. The film very slow and nothing really keeps your interest over the course of the film. I was just bored watching this film. Overall, Curry does a below average job on this script, but to be fair, most were not expecting much anyway.
The film was directed by Rob Cohen. Cohen is well known for directing popular films such as The Fast and the Furious, XXX, and more recently he directed the Alex Cross film. For him to take a film on like this is not a big surprise as his career is not as big as it once was. He is also known for big action movies, and that doesn't happen much in this film. There are some bigger action scenes, but they are quick and there aren't many. The acting lead by actress Jennifer Lopez is another awful area. Lopez is not known to be a great actress, but you don't really buy what she is selling in her role. Cohen usually doesn't get great performances from his actors, but this was very bad in that aspect. While there aren't many action scenes, I must admit the ones in the film aren't badly shot. With Cohen's experience shooting those types of scenes, this is to be expected. So I will give the film at least some credit. Rob Cohen offers up another bust in his recent string of bad film, but one has to wonder why take a film on like that knowing it wasn't going to be good.
Nathan Barr and Randy Edelman are the composers of this film. Barr is known for scoring films like Grindhouse and Hostel, while Edelman is known for scoring films like XXX and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor(both directed by Rob Cohen). The overall score is depth less. The bigger areas of the score hit towards the end of the film when the action picks up. For a thriller a score is very important and can make a film better. I never felt anything from this score. It adds nothing, and in the end was a complete waste of some good talent.
In closing, we are left with a lifeless thriller of a film. There are some good aspects to the film, but nothing that saves it from the mess that it is. Most going into this film probably knew it was going to be a low budget film and not very good. Outside of looking at Jennifer Lopez for about a hour and a half, there is no reason to spend any money on this film.
What does a Mythical, Mystical Undersea World need with a Missile? And I so Dare you to Say that Five Times Fast.
The animated movie division of DC Comics under Warner Brothers is back with another great outing in their Justice League series. In this film Aquaman is the center point of the story as we see this new take on Aquaman's rise and becoming a member of The Justice League. The film is fun and just as good as the recent Justice League animated films. After watching this film, I still say The Flashpoint Paradox is better overall, but this is a great addition to the series. This review will not only go over my thoughts on the film, but my breakdown of the special features on the Blu-Ray version of the film. The following is my review for Justice League: Throne of Atlantis.
This new DC animated film was directed by Ethan Spaulding who recently directed two DC animated films in 2014(Son of Batman and Batman: Assault on Arkham). The film was written by Heath Corson(Justice League: War and Batman: Assault on Arkham) and Geoff Johns(Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Justice League: War). So Corson and Spaulding have made a great film in the past and their experience together shows off in the final product. The story works amazingly and the rise of Aquaman is a nice story to see here. Since I'm not big into the comics side of things, I cannot comment of previous version of Aquaman's story. Though I really enjoyed what the creators did on this film. They take a great approach and the story should connect well with everyone. The directing is another great area, and an area Spaulding has shown great work in the past. There are several big actions scenes and the animation looks great. The animation is the same as the previous DC animated films, a look I really enjoy. With a great director and great writers this is one fine animated film and one most DC animated movie fans should enjoy.
The lead voice actors are Matt Lanter(Aquaman), Jerry O'Connell(Superman), Jason O'Mara(Batman), Christopher Gorham(The Flash), Shemar Moore(Cyborg), Rosario Dawson(Wonder Woman), Nathan Fillion(Green Lantern), and many other great voice actors like Harry Lennix for example. In my opinion Nathan Fillion steals the show with Green Lantern with some great lines and fun action in the film. Most of these actors have worked previously in a DC animated film, so don't expect any wild changes. Lanter does a great job playing the popular Aquaman and hopefully they bring him back for future Justice League films.
Frederik Wiedmann is the composer of the film and previously scored Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox and Son of Batman, as well as the animated TV show from 2013 called Beware the Batman. Wiedmann delivers a fabulous score on this film. These animated films tend to deliver a great score for most of the films, but after watching this film I really enjoyed it more than recent efforts. His score is deep and leaves a great impression of the viewers after viewing the film, so overall Wiedmann did a fabulous job composing this film.
Now onto the Blu-Ray special features. The Blu-Ray edition offers up four featurettes, one of them being a look at the next DC animated film. Villains of the Deep is the first featurette and runs just over 11 minutes. The second featurette is a behind the scenes look at the process of scoring the film, and it runs at 30 minutes long. The third featurette is the 2014 NY-Comic Con panel about this film, and it runs at just over 26 minutes. The final featurette is the sneak peak of the next DC animated film, Batman vs Robin, and this runs at 10 minutes. The other special features are a look at a bonus scene that was deleted, and this runs at 4 minutes. Finally there are some filler episode from DC animated shows, for example Justice League: Unlimited. These four episodes run at 84 minutes. So in total we are left with more than 4 hours of special features. Even with all that content I'm still disappointment because there was no audio commentary, which is my favorite feature. Even without it some of the featurettes are exciting to watch and gives a good background on the film and its process.
In closing, the film itself is very much a fun film that most DC animated fans should enjoy. The Blu-Ray special features aren't as good as they have been in the past, but it still delivers some interesting looks at the film process.
American Sniper (2014)
I'm willing to meet my Creator and answer for every shot that I took.
Clint Eastwood brings us another great film. Eastwood is very well known and popular for playing many great characters as an actor, and now that he is older he has become one of the best directors. This is Eastwood's second film of 2014, with Jersey Boys being the first. To release one amazing film is something, but to make two films that are great to amazing is something special. Eastwood's war movie American Sniper is more than just the story of Chris Kyle, it is a war story that shows the efforts of fighting and killing people in war. The following is my review of American Sniper.
The film was written by Jason Hall who wrote the film based on the book written by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen, and James Defelice. Hall is known for recently writing a film called Paranoia. This film is a horse of a different color compare to his previous work, but he tells an excellent story here. Not only does the story follow Chris Kyle(Bradley Cooper) during his four tours of service, but it also gives an insight into Kyle's background growing up and his family life while he was serving. This part of the story is where the film slightly drops off in my opinion. As the film goes back to when Kyle was younger, in my opinion the story moves too quickly over his life when he was younger and right before he joined the Seals. Usually you see a story needs to be trimmed, but in this case it should have added more. In the lead up to watching this film I heard so much about this film, from it being a pro war film to a propaganda piece. I can honestly say I never got that feel. The film simply shows what Kyle went threw as he was helping to fight a war. The film covers some anti wars aspects(although not in great detail), and really hammers home the effects war has not only the service people, but also their families. The story Hall delivers here for the big screen is a great work, and even if he wasn't able to go deeper into Kyle's story, we are still left with one amazingly written film.
Clint Eastwood is the director of this film as he is known for directing such great films such as Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, and Unforgiven. Eastwood always delivers a fabulous looking film that keeps you at the edge of your seat. He also brings out the best in his actors as he is also a fabulous actor. The film stars Bradley Cooper(Chris Kyle) and Sienna Miller(Taya Kyle) with some amazing acting from the secondary actors in the film. Cooper is really able to draw you into his character and greatly care about him over the course of the film. The film can be very emotional throughout the film and with Eastwood behind the camera that aspect takes a big step up. I personally thought that the film could have added some more detail in his younger life, but the film sticks well together and moves by amazingly. This film is not the least bit boring. Clint Eastwood has directed an amazing war film that drags you into the life of those serving and their families. This is a film that is surely not to be missed.
In closing, we are left with a powerful film that while doesn't completely tell everything about Kyle's life, it does show the pain and suffering our men and women go through as they serve for their country. The film delivers a powerful message and that should not be overlooked. This film might not be for the whole family, but even younger viewers in their teenage years should be able to watch this film even with the bad language and war violence. While I can't say this is my favorite film of 2014, it certainly is one of the best films of the year and should not be missed.
Taken 3 (2014)
Nearly seven years after the first film became a surprise hit, we are onto the second Taken sequel. While the story lines might be getting thinner, the fun and excitement is still there, for the most part. The film is certainly not the best of the series, but in my opinion it is a step up from Taken 2. The Following is my review of Taken 3.
Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen are both back for this sequel. Both of these writers also wrote the first and second films of this series. While no one is actually Taken in this film, all the characters we are use to seeing are back. This time around Bryan Mills(Liam Neeson) is accused of murdering his ex-wife, and of course he will not stop until he finds out who set him up. The story is actually pretty good and with some fabulous acting the down time early in the film moves by nicely. The film also features some nice plot twists that add an element that usually is not in these Taken films. While I must admit the ideas are getting old, the execution here is overall very good. Besson and Kaem do another good job of writing a Taken film.
The film was directed by Olivier Megaton, who also directed Taken 2. His shooting style of somewhat shaky camera nature is off putting though. The bigger action scenes with the car chases just don't look that well in motion, and this time around it seems they used some extra CG to scale down the budget. This makes for less beautiful action sequences. The hand to hand combat action scenes though are shot amazingly and are a big highlight of the film. As I mentioned above the film is slow in spots, but that slowdown is at the beginning of the film as they are building up the story. With fantastic actors like Liam Neeson, Forest Whitaker, Jon Gries, David Warshofsky, Leland Orser, and many others, the acting aspects of the film really hold the film together. Overall, Megaton does a good job on this film, but the bigger action sequences just don't look as well as they have in the past.
The film was composed by Nathaniel Mechaly who has scored all of the Taken films. His work in this film is actually very good. A nice step up from the score in the previous Taken film. When the action hits so does this score. It really draws you into the film in ways films in this general generally don't. The depth on this score by Mechaly is great and really a fun score all around.
In closing, this Taken film was billed as the final film of the franchise, but I highly doubt this series will end now. As long as there is money to be made, and as long as Liam Neeson wants to keep making them, they will likely keep milking this series. The film is not bad, and while it is not the best of the series and the ideas are getting worse, this film in my opinion is better than Taken 2. Fans of the series, like myself, will ignore the critics trashing this film and go see it anyway. Frankly, this is the best idea. The major critics always love trashing films like this, so their opinions are useless. The film is a good fun adventure and is well worth the price of admission.
Time's a-wasting. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock...
The 2012 Denzel Washington film Safe House is a film I have enjoyed watching a few times over the past couple years since its release. The film is action packed, with practical effects, and the acting for the most part is top notch. With Washington making so many great movies over the course of his career this film will get overlooked by many, which is a shame. I will be breaking down this film as well as the Blu-Ray special features. The following is my review of Safe House.
The film was written by David Guggenheim and his script was on the Black List for some time before it ever took off. This was his first major film and has since wrote the Nicolas Cage direct to home video movie Stolen. Thankfully it did get made as Guggenheim wrote a pretty good story. The film follows Matt Weston(Ryan Reynolds) as he is working at a CIA safe house. His job has normally been business as usual with nothing out of the ordinary going on. That is until one day former CIA agent Tobin Frost(Denzel Washington) pops back on the CIA radar. Frost is then transported to the safe house where Weston is working. Things eventually go north during Frost's interrogation when a terrorist group breaks into the safe house. Weston has to now protect Frost so that nothing happens to him. The story features some great story twists and turns that will keep your interest. So many of the films Washington does these days can be considered more of the same, but this film is very much different in terms of overall story. David Guggenhiem wrote a great story and one that will very much keep your attention.
The film was directed by Daniel Espinosa who made his major Hollywood debut with this film. He is currently working on one of the most anticipated films of 2015 called Child 44. Before this film I personally didn't know much about Espinosa, but after watching this film, I knew I was watching a great director at work. There are some very intense moments of action throughout the film. Most of the first half hour of the film has mid to high level action scenes. That really builds the momentum for the rest of the film. Not only are there some bigger action scenes like car chases for example, but there is also some intense hand to hand combat scenes. The action is done very well and is a great joy to watch. The acting is another area that is good overall. The film stars Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington in the lead roles with other great actors like Sam Shepard, Brendan Gleeson, Liam Cunningham, Rubén Blades, and Robert Patrick taking up some important secondary roles. An interesting fact is that Denzel Washington was actually waterboarded during this film. No stunt double on that scene. I don't say the movie has great overall acting because I've personally never been a huge fan of Ryan Reynolds. I don't think he is a bad actor, but I just find his style to be wooden or the same in every film. Espinosa for the most part is able to bring the entire cast together for a nice well rounded film from his directing to the acting performances. If you are a big action fan like myself, this is one film you surely shouldn't miss.
The film was scored by Ramin Djawadi who is known for scoring films like Iron Man and Pacific Rim(one of my favorite scores). While this film is much different compared to those two films I mentioned, his effect is still very good. Not great like on some of his other efforts, but his score adds some nice depth in the action scenes and in the build up to the end of the film. I would personally say the score is good, but not great, but those who like a good score won't be disappointed.
In closing, after having already watched this film a few times since its 2012 release, I must say that the film is still as fun as ever. The action scenes are amazing, and minus some less than perfect acting from Reynolds, this film is a must see film. Denzel Washington fans, like myself, shouldn't overlook this film especially with Washington making many great films lately. As I said this is a must see so do so as soon as you can. You won't regret it.
As I said above, I will also be going into the Blu-Ray special features as well. The Blu-Ray for this film features seven featurettes and runs for a total of about fifty minutes. So overall no bad at all for a film like this. The behind the scenes material really breaks down some of the bigger action scenes and combat scenes to show how they were filmed. This is great to see for special features fans like myself. Some other features break down the story and the CIA aspects and how the film makers really wanted to be authentic. This home video release is truly a good buy if you come across it at a good price below ten dollars. It is well worth adding to your collection.
Olympus Has Fallen (2013)
Get me some coffee. Half and half. Three sweet'n lows. In a real cup. Not one of those paper or Styrofoam things.
Olympus Has Fallen is an intense action thriller that will keep you interested from start to finish. With so much action and even some good acting, this film shouldn't fly over anyone's radar. The film suffers in only one major aspect, and that is the special effects. The CG is quite bad in this film. While this can distract some people over the course of a film, I'm the type of person who doesn't really get bothered by it all that much. The following is my review of Olympus Has Fallen.
The film was written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. Both of whom worked on the recent Expendable 3 film. Olympus Has Fallen was their first writing effort, and the effort was not bad in my opinion. The story follows Mike Banning, a former secret service agent, as he tries to stop the terrorist attack from happening. Since he was in the secret service he of course knows the White House, and is tasked with fighting off these terrorists to then save the President. The story is fairly simple, and up until the recent real life scares at the White House, I thought this idea was ludicrous. While it still might be after all, the writers do a well enough job to get us to buy into it.
The film was directed by one of the better directors of today, Antoine Fuqua who is well know for Training Day and the recent hit The Equalizer. There is so much action in this film, and this is an area where Fuqua really shines. About twenty minutes of the first forty is pure high octane action. While the action slows down after that, it still is a nice slow burn until the ending. With some nice tactical kills and amazing hand to hand combat action, there surely isn't anything boring about this film. The bigger action scenes have CG that looks pretty generic, and this could be a big turn off for some viewers. It is just not a few scenes either, there are many bad CG scenes in this film. Minus the bad CG in this film, director Antonie Fuqua does a fantastic job with this film.
The star of the film is Gerard Butler with a surrounding cast with such actors like Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Dylan McDermott, Cole Hauser and Angela Bassett. While there is nothing award winning in terms of acting in this film, the effort is very good. Butler is able to deliver a great performance as the hero of the film and we all know Morgan Freeman is always a joy to watch. In a movie like this, most people only come for the action, however in this film the acting is good as well.
The film was composed by Trevor Morris who is more known for scoring smaller action films. I enjoy his score on this film, but it is nothing special. It of course adds some nice depth to the overall feel of the film, but it is not an effort I will be remembering down the road.
Overall, if you are in the mood for a fun action film that is not really boring at all, this is the film for you. The only downside is some cheap CG used in the bigger action scenes. Other than that, this is a must see film for fans of the genre.
I will be going over the Blu-Ray special features as well. This home video release features 4 featurettes and a blooper real. I'm disappointed in the overall special features. The longest running feature on this release is only eleven minutes long. Most of the featurettes run at four minutes or less. I know the film wasn't suppose to be a giant success like it was, but well, it was, and the fact there still is not more special features is sad. The film is great and a must own, but watch how much you pay for it.
Invasion U.S.A. (1985)
If You Come Back in, I'll Hit You with So Many Rights You'll be Begging for a Left.
Invasion U.S.A. from 1985 is personally my all time favorite 1980s action movie. It has everything that someone who loves this genre wants. The film features action legends. The film features over the top action. And best of all, it features some great cheesy one liners delivered by the man himself, Chuck Norris. Not to mention it was made by the Cannon Group. Those who know 80s movies should know them. The plot is goofy, I must admit that, but 80s action movies always featured goofy plots. That is what makes them so great. The following is my review of Invasion U.S.A..
The story was written by James Bruner, Aaron Norris(brother of Chuck), and Chuck Norris. Bruner is known for having also wrote 80s films with Chuck Norris such as Missing in Action and The Delta Force. Aaron Norris however only had this effort under his belt for writing in the 1980s, and only three total movies. The story, if you can call it that, is pretty cheesy, but is fun as the actors and the action hold everything together. The plot follows Rostov(Richard Lynch) who leads a team of terrorists into America to try and invade it. However, he soon gets a rude awakening when his old enemy shows up(Hunter, played by Chuck Norris). So, with that basic plot outline, you get the idea. Hunter has to stop Rostov, and we all know the basics of the rest of it. As I said above, The film is fun because of the great acting and because of Chuck Norris. Personally, this is my favorite Chuck Norris movie, and the writers overall did a great job on molding together a good plot for this film.
The film was directed by 1980s directing legend, Joseph Zito. Zito is very well known for his 80s hits like The Prowler, Missing in Action, and of course Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. His vision as a director always kept me interested in his work. I loved how on a few of his works he would just end a movie. No need for that happy everyone comes together ending. He just ended the film abruptly. The film looks amazing as well. Cannon Films was very well known in the 80s for making cheap films very quickly. So for this film to look as good as any action movie from that time says a great deal about what Zito was able to do. There are some fun action scenes as well. Some that will even make you ask yourself did that just happened. The action in this film is shot amazingly, and Zito deserves so much credit for his amazing work on this film. While Zito never hit it big and his career was short, he left us with some great films, and this is my favorite.
The acting area has so many great names. Of course Chuck Norris is the lead and Richard Lynch is the main villain, but other actors like Alexander Zale, Billy Drago, Alex Colon, and Eddie Jones are in the film. If you want a fun film with some fun acting, this is the film for you. Sure Chuck Norris doesn't earn an Oscar here, but he plays the calm guy perfectly, as he always does. He also delivers those one liners perfectly. If you like that cheesy acting you see in 80s action movies like this, do not overlook this film.
Jay Chattaway was the composer of this film. He is known for scoring some Star Trek TV series as well as films like Silver Bullet and Missing in Action. The Cannon Group was known for taking cheap ways out when making a film, so they would cut corners in this area of film making. Often reusing scores. However, this film was an original score, that was used later on another Cannon film. The score is fun and adds some nice depth, but probably wouldn't make my list for top scores in a 80s action movie. Chattaway is a great composer and his work on this film is still very much enjoyable.
In closing, I truly love this film. I watch it as often as I can, and not only do I have it as my favorite action movie ever, I also have it as my favorite Christmas action movie. Yes, above Die Hard. So that is saying something. Of course this is only my opinion, and it is perfectly fine to disagree. Though you shouldn't overlook this film. If you get a chance to watch or buy this film, do it. Do not think nice. Sadly, this film still does not have a Blu-Ray release, so the DVD version is the way you have to go. Thankfully they are cheap at a used video store for around five dollars. So pick up this fun 80s action film, and I'm sure most will enjoy this film as well.