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7/10
Fiveeeeeeeeeeeeee...
13 September 2018
Laughed the hardest during the opening line of the 911 call. Good to see that the V humour is still alive and well.

I may have been pretty stoned watching this, but...

I was entertained. Funny enough stuff to watch while getting high surely. You'll never get that 90 minutes back... But lets face it, if you're watching this film, you weren't doing anything but getting stoned anyhow. Loser. (Chuckles.)

There was an appropriate amount of tongue in cheek to go with the demonology. My inner school boy was satisfied with all of the sexual jokes and various fart noises surely. In retrospect... I think they could have shown some more penises. No one but HBO shows off penises. This was a missed opportunity. (Holds straight face.)

Other than that?

I can tell they had a lot of fun making this. It translates to the film often.

I dig it.

Be cool to work on something like this.
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Skybound (2017)
6/10
BAM!!! All that and the kitchen sink!!!
15 June 2018
For a lower budget film this was a great little number.

It finally answers the burning question... "Just how much can possibly go wrong while taking a ride on a private plane with a few friends?"

The answer? EVERYTHING!!!

For an 80 minute escapade that takes place almost completely on a private airplane and only has 6 main characters... It shockingly moves at a pretty brisk pace and doesn't really leave you bored at any point.

None of the cast is well known, but they come together well enough to allow for a bigger idea to take hold as the film's premise... "What if there was some kind of event below shortly after takeoff? Something horrible."

The film creator's used a lot of classic odes to formula. Ancient God references, Christmas references, apocalypse references, biblical imagery (awesome shot with burning bison), even found a way to get the number 42 in there... lol. I enjoyed those subtle nods that found their way into the dialog or simply to the screen at some point.

Regarding character interactions, you'll find a few formula plots there as well, but I felt like there were story archs that were either unnecessary or should have been expanded on more. The 80 minute run time contributed to those missed opportunities... But ultimately, they did more right here than wrong. Even if some of the scenes like the "bullet removal / brother tiffs" felt a little unnecessary considering everyone's predicament, it does hit all the bases plot wise... Just not as well as it could have.

The soundtrack was a very traditional one that was technically on par, but felt somewhat predictable at times and never went out of its way to captivate me beyond established formula. The instrumentation was life like and believable... It took very few risks though. There were a lot of missed opportunities for gritty synths, swelling risers, and super chunky zimmer'esq hybridisation... But the score ultimately plays it safe, and much like the camera shots, the plot formulas, and the character interaction formulas... It is extremely polished, but lacks the kind of originality that would really benefit an experience like this.

The audio mix felt as if it could have been mastered quite a bit hotter unfortunately. Had a lot of incredible elements inside that audio stage, it was balanced, it just wasn't big. 5.1 effects could have been more present throughout as well. Sound design and foley seemed available, just not mixed as well as it could have been, for an action film? I expect my studio speakers to be pumped and raging. Perhaps it was the copy I was permitted to experience. If not?

I think the team would have benefitted from applying more audio dynamics to just about everything mix wise. I feel like the mix engineer, much like the composer, played it safe and went with a dynamic mix that wasn't mastered as well as it could have been. As such... the amount of horse power all the audio teams likely put into the film will likely never be showcased as well as it could have been.

It has all of the audio elements. Don't get me wrong... They are there. I can hear them... Just not like I'd have hoped to. They just aren't balanced and mastered like they could be. The 5.1 effects could have really done a lot more too. It is after all... an apocalyptic action film. But again... These are just preferences regarding the style of story we're talking about here.

The visual special effects were awesome for this kind of budget. A lot of great moments are sprinkled throughout and they do extremely well in visual presentation. I could tell I was looking at effects some of the time, but not all of it. I was extremely impressed with the burning bison shots. Awesome imagery.

They keep the plot moving and give the viewer's imagination a lot to work with. They pound you with a lot of awesome stuff in an incredibly short amount of time as well. Which was pretty shocking and a testament to how far digital tech has come.

Ultimately... even though the film misses a few opportunities for greatness, it does extremely well in holding my attention for its duration. It is polished, it is visually stunning, and the ideas that it forces you to toy with are fun.

Its pacing at times feels rushed, and there are certainly elements that felt like over kill, but ultimately... the film creators did more right than wrong here.

Its fun. It's not the Notebook... It's not Armageddon starring Bruce Willis either... It's just a pretty cool low budget action flick that was a lot of fun.

They beat the formula stick... Sure... But I see some pretty stellar film makers and industry professionals at work here. They've done extremely well regardless of my reservations for their audio department. (Chuckles.) I only wonder if the crew was rushed, if time tables were a problem, what could have been done if they "just had a tiny bit more in their budget." That's always how it goes too isn't it?

"Just half a million more!!!"

Regardless of any obstacles this film may have seen in production or budget, I think they did a stellar job whipping its final cut into shape, and think most people will enjoy this film regardless of script shortcomings or pacing.

I look forward to seeing this team do more awesome stuff in the future... Although in fairness, I would love to talk to their producer about potentially scoring & mixing their next film. I think their work deserves a slightly more aggressive approach to their octane "audio wise." They've got some killer scenes and ideas. Would be a shame not to see those ideas fully realised to their fullest potential.

Audio is half the experience... Best to treat it that way. Show it the love it deserves. Master that final cut up another 7 to 10 db. Balance that dialog with some compression and fatten it up a little. Get that sound design to pop with its many layers... Make me taste the hot metal ripping off the side of that plane and then bring up that gut wrenching musical cue as it happens. Ro'Sham'Bow me baby!!!

(Pauses.) I digress. Sorry... Music is my thing.

Yeah... anyhow, two thumbs up. Great work. Would love to meet its creators and pick their brain. Maybe help them whip their audio department relentlessly for a film or two. (Smiles.) That'd be fun.

N.Jones Producer
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Dark Matter (2015–2017)
10/10
Brilliant cast, awesome scripts, accompanied by some compelling music
26 August 2017
Hands down my favorite science fiction currently on television or in theaters. Covers all of the best possible story lines. Human vs human. Human vs Nature. Human vs Machine. Human vs Himself.

The scripts are simply awesome.

Throw in the memory loss? (Slow clap with a smile.) Stellar.

It just becomes a wonderful web of survival, ethical debate, and character development galore as this rabbit hole gets deeper and deeper.

Right up there with Firefly, BSG, and even some of the good old Trek episodes most of us grew up on.

I fear we've seen our last episode of Dark Matter unless the fan base pushes hard for renewal though. I look at the cost of those special effects and think about how hard it must be to pull together a show of such quality... the price tags associated with such things wiped out SGU. And that series??? Was brilliant too... Brilliant... and canceled by season 2.

Nah... I'll be sad to see this one go. It was like church for me.

I'm still grateful they made what they did. It was an incredible ride that I really appreciated experiencing.

The composer is brilliant too. Awesome tone and production value. His style blends classic Clouser with modern scoring and its simply angelic to my ears.

Never mind the amazing cast line up. I adore them all. From 1 to 6... and our lovable 7th, they each have won my heart over unconditionally, and a proverbial hole will need to be filled when they are gone.

Amazing show... Hope it gets renewed.

N
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Beta Test (I) (2016)
8/10
A lot of fun:) Do it!
26 December 2016
The actors & actresses aren't known names, but a few of them could be.

The script isn't the next Matrix, but the idea behind it is about as fun as it gets.

The action? Well… The action is the one thing that is hands down awesome. No corners get cut there. It's truly a worthy experience in the vein of some pretty classic 1990s action flicks (Blind Fury anyone? Come on… That's some premium B-Flick there!)

There's literally a lobby fight scene in Beta Test that actually holds the title for being the current "longest long take fight scene" on record. And yes… The camera work for it is fantastic (with quickly paced combat that is equally superb.)

One scene, all shot with a single camera… A lot of ass kicking… World record.

It was beautifully done. Indie film or not… That scene ruled like scenes from Equilibrium ruled.

The digital special effects won't be cutting edge in this experience, but they serve their purpose well enough to enjoy the idea at this film's core.

"Real life first person slave gaming."

Yes…

Feel free to re-read that.

"Real life first person slave gaming."

Sounds like a Black Mirror episode right?

Well… It could be.

You've heard of human trafficking right?

Well… This film's concept takes being kidnapped to the next level. The technological device used in this story literally shelves a person's ability to control their own body, and then puts it into the control of a gamer. The victim will be fully awake after the chip is installed, but they won't be able to speak unless "their player" tells them to, they can't even turn their own head without a controller swipe to make it happen.

When a person is chipped they're effectively helpless. Just a remote controlled human being at the mercy of their player.

The player of course gets to control & watch everything the avatar does through a TV in the comforts of their own home. All of the fun… None of the risks or consequences for their avatar's actions though.

As we'll find out, the main character Creed is one of many people that becomes a part of an elaborate plot ultimately controlled by… (Drum roll) You guessed it, an evil CEO with an appetite for anarchy.

Simple, yet oh so effective for moving our plot along right?

I must say though… When the fight scenes are as good as they are in this film, I honestly stop caring about tiny details like a deep plot. I'm in it for the bone crunches and the one liners.

I don't question the rationality of the protagonist anymore… I just accept that they need to be put down like a dog and move on.

Beta Test delivers that kind of action flawlessly too.

You really don't expect it either. I felt a bit sucker punched by the awesomeness of Beta Test's delivery (thanks to my naturally cynical disposition toward low budget indie films of course.)

The film was quite good, and most notably… I didn't feel a need to shove glass through my eyes 5 minutes into it.

It was fun. It kept a solid pace in its timing, managed to come off extremely polished, and didn't hold back on the "odes" to all of the things that gamers love.

Whether it be real time action or CGI sequences showcasing the excitement, Beta Test certainly caters to gamer culture with a slew of welcomed detours.

It's very Doom in its delivery at times, but not annoyingly so, and it does well keeping a good balance between live action and digital animation as the film unfolds. They don't beat the first person camera view to death either, it serves its purpose, and the live action scenes then offer a great counter balance to the CGI.

As a gamer, I found Beta Test to be quite enjoyable on my first and even second viewing, there's a lot of hidden laughs and obvious cultural zings to enjoy alike.

Beyond the gamer culture though, I actually still find myself chuckling at Creed's cheesy one liners as I think back on the many moments he finds the time to make silly comments. (He deserves some kind of medal. I blew a drink out of my nose while watching the bank heist segment.)

The only thing that makes this film cooler than it already is, is when the soundtrack turns out with unexpected nuggets of awesomeness like it does.

Julien-K's approach to the Ost was a great companion for this entertaining ride, their style of production ranges from grinding industrial to smooth cloak and dagger ambiances throughout the experience, and their contributions are truly worthy of noting in this ocean of "indie awesomeness" that appears to be coming our way.

Idk.. I guess I'm a hug dork, because I love this film. I think others will too.
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Good Kill (2014)
8/10
War ethics? Psychological effects of killing people through a screen? Well worth the detour...
8 April 2015
About 20 minutes in I started to really gravitate to the subject material. I didn't realize this was going to be a film that would capture my attention as much as it did.

The main story is about the drone operators in our armed services, and his life while doing a job that requires taking lives all too frequently. Its very interesting, watching the psychological stresses of "being a fly on the wall," much less a fly with the option to light your day up.

Basically, a drone operator's job consists of killing and spying on terrorists.

As a part of a drone team currently operating various military and CIA operations, the main characters live in Vegas, and pretty much do this from their local office just down the road from home.

So these "soldiers" don't tour like a normal soldier might. They're posted locally... And their jobs do not require travel with today's communication tech.

You see, They get into their car... Drive to an undisclosed military base (close by daily commute)... Walk into a trailer loaded with state of the art communications and drone equipment... Sit down at their station... And kill people on the other side of the planet through a monitor with super HD resolution. (Military tech blows your progressive scan out of the water, just saying.)

The job is far from a normal one...

"You punch out... You drive home to your picture perfect neighborhood, your picture perfect family, but the images stay with you... Your actions... Stay with you."

Hands down a great topic to base a film on. Really enjoying it thoroughly...

By 40 minutes into this film, every news report I've seen on drones, every public debate and moral argument about the accountability in drone strikes... It all shot to the front of my thoughts as John Stewart rants suddenly came into focus.

A worthy watch... Real eye opener to how easily these resources could be abused and miss used by our shadowy government structure.

Leaves so many ethical boundaries scathed by the existence of this truly "hands off" way of going to war... And the kicker?

We've been doing it for years.

Its no wonder America is so hated...

Great film. Does a wonderful job exploring the arguments from every side... And makes some great points that show how grey war and terrorism can become.

At what point does "fighting terrorism" cross that line? When do the protectors of freedom become another societies terrorist?

This all comes into question as the supervisors of the drone teams make it very clear to them that their mission is a "Pre-Emptive Strike" against terrorism.

It touches on so many conversations that would demand too much accountability... Yet, our continued actions literally propel a cycle of violence forward by becoming the "PreEmptive" strikers.

It does good making the viewer aware of the potential "other side" perspective on how American's operate. It does a better job showing the psychological effects on the drone pilots that are forced to follow questionably unethical orders... Day, after day, after day.

I gotta say... Its a dialog that needs to happen. I'm really pleased someone made this film. They pulled together an excellent presentation of the issue while entertaining me with solid performances and an occasionally moving script.

This is a great film for anyone who wants to learn about what our military is doing and how drone strikes work... It keeps you engaged once you're in, offers a fair amount of big moments to chew on, and ultimately weaves a great story. Dare I say, its as good as American Sniper... Just in different ways. You can tell the films are by two completely different teams. But thats not to say the stories aren't equally compelling in nature.

I have to say that beyond the movie... Its awesome to see Ethan Hawke in so many interesting roles over the last couple years.

Totally worth your time. Great film.
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Top Five (2014)
9/10
A wonderful departure from expectations
2 February 2015
I found this movie very real, a fantastic departure from the expectations many people may likely have, but a wonderful change of pace indeed.

Chris Rock plays Andre Alan, a comedian who has decided to start taking on more serious roles after a few lifestyle changes. On the weekend debut of his latest film, he's due to be wed to a mega superstar, and his agent insists on being interviewed by someone from the Times to get a bump in publicity.

The entire film takes place over a day. A day where a journalist played by Rosario Dawson gets to pick the brain of a "somewhat in transition" superstar comedian. Thing is, she isn't settling for the same old song and dance he's given to everyone else, and she wants Andre to give her something new... Something real.

The day proceeds as Rosario slowly chisels away at Chris's outer layers. There's the standard deflection and contempt for the industry he's made a living in at first, but as he warms up to Rosario's character, he begins to share insights into his crazy life often delivering a human authenticity to Chris's character.

Rosario in many ways challenges Chris to evaluate his position in the world, confront his fears as he presses forward, and consider the value of the people he chooses to surround himself with.

Sounds serious huh? It is but its not. They do a good job keeping everything light, and oddly, the drama is dealt with much like adults would with a few modest detours. Its a comedy... But it is very human in its presentation, often touching on issues like addiction, behaving badly, or the things we'll do while living in denial.

Those of you expecting slap stick humor, should likely not punish this movies' scores because you wanted something less mature, but instead consider the many lessons hiding in the dialog here...

I especially gravitated to the two main character's struggles with their addictions, and found the dialog there hit home on a few levels. I also related to Andre's desire to play serious roles and accomplish greater things after removing alcohol from his life.

But, as the day unfolds... It becomes obvious that some things are a choice, while others are not, which is equally intriguing as I watch these characters make decisions through out the day.

I found the experience refreshing, relatable at times, and ultimately well worth the watch.

A younger audience may not find as much value in this film, but for those of us who have been around for a while, and had time for a little self reflection over the years... This film will warm you in ways that likely weren't as intentional as I'd like them to be, but none the less, are very real to those who would see the value in a good heart to heart.

You can look forward to an all star line up, but have no misconceptions, this is a film where Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson drive the car.

Even if some of the names you wanted to see more of didn't have a lot of stage time, I found the pace was set very well, and the film as a whole played out nicely with one carefully placed surprise after another.

A splendid detour from the norm. Not for the typical internet troll looking for cheep thrills.

N
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Poker Night (I) (2014)
9/10
A wonderful trip down a dark alley:)
3 January 2015
I walked into this film knowing nothing about it and expecting absolutely nothing.

It was a wonderful and delicious surprise.

Lately wifey and I have been feasting on the first two seasons of Hannibal... So slipping into "Poker Night" was an extremely snug fit for our current mindset.

Its narrative felt very Fight Club, its presentation in ways reminded me of Boondock Saints, and its delivery kept me very engaged once I allowed the story to unfold.

The cast was top notch, the story itself was wonderfully crafted, and presents itself with a night at the poker table while detectives share horror stories with one another... As these detectives share in their experiences over an evening of poker (that takes place in the past), the main character is abducted (in the present) and has to figure a way out of being killed by a madman.

With a blending of "tales from the force" and an immediate threat... The story does well presenting "Past and Present" while running poker night in parallel with a plot of sadistic revelation through the eyes of a madman.

All of the side tales and mini stories go far to keep you interested in what comes next, dare I say, even as much as the main story currently unfolding does.

People giving this title a 1 out of 10 are obviously a little too pampered with their films (sign me up for your club of awesomeness please), and perhaps, bias to their own tastes for it. Primarily being... I felt this film had a strong script, it also had a great team, and the conclusion made "evil me" smile a bit as well.

This will most certainly be an overlooked film of 2014, but for what few of us enjoy a good story with some excellent twists and turns, this will certainly be a great detour to embark on and enjoy.

Best: N
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Gone Girl (2014)
10/10
Epic @#$%ing Win
12 December 2014
Gone Girl. Two words.

Epic win.

David Fincher just won Film Making.

Hands down awesome story, film, acting, soundtrack, everything.

Need a horror? Here. Need a suspenseful plot that blows your mind? Here. Need a LOVE story that you simply adore?

Yep... Here.

And no... This isn't a date night film, or is it?

The psychological seduction here was wonderful. You get to see the situation from several perspectives as the film progresses, and you can't stop second guessing what will happen next...

On occasion, even whats actually happening now.

My wife and I can't stop talking about this film. We're trying to watch the Daily Show after returning from the theater, and everything, literally everything is just tuned out after that film.

So much to talk about... So many spoilers. But I won't. I can't.

I'll simply say this film was fantastic. Just ride it out if it doesn't grab you in the first thirty minutes. By an hour in you'll be helpless to do anything but continue... And its sooooo tasty. Its such a delightful plate of betrayal, seduction, revenge, conspiracy, and humanity at its best and worst.

Unlike every other film that came out in 2014... This one will stay with me for far too many reasons.

The biggest being this could actually happen... Which makes it far more frightening and closer to home.

It also makes you think about how easily truth can be distorted... And more to the point, wonder what the average person is willing to do to get what they want from life.

(Smiles.)

10 out of 10. Amazing film... A perfectly crafted movie for people who love good movies.
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The Anomaly (2014)
8/10
A cool plot with a few twists and a little bit of Matrix Style Action.
27 November 2014
I'm seeing some mixed reviews on this so I'd thought I'd stop in and leave my two cents.

Firstly... The action gets good. There are moments that clearly were matrix inspired and were as cool as it comes.

Secondly... The mystery and watching the main character solve it was fantastic. The premise of waking up in random places with only 8 minutes to figure out why is a really cool one... Has a touch of Dark City if you would.

The acting was fair enough, the choreography was well done, and anyone ranking this lower than a 6 clearly has wayyyyy too high expectations for movies.

(Pats back.) "Get outside buddy. Take a walk once in a while. You don't have to hate something because it wasn't the best something ever."

Regardless... Its not Avatar 2... But.

Its worth a rent or a watch and is a great distraction for a Tuesday night.

Ultimately, this was not a bad movie at all...

Its great science fiction. So don't let a few bad reviews turn you off to a cool experience. You'll be missing out on some really great moments.

N
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8/10
An intelligent detour with the perfect touch of awkward
2 May 2013
British humor never really settled well with me.

But in this case...

Its intelligently written and hosts a wonderful selection of moments to shake your head at and smile.

The characters are diverse, the situations are plausible, and the cast does a great job entertaining with the passing of the film.

I was particularly entertained by a scene where Anna Feris had to cope with an awkward threesome. Great stuff.

Go for it. I was forced to smile and share on facebook being it was such an unexpected surprise.

It goes far to showcase the sometimes unpredictable situations our commitments and human nature tend to put us into.

N
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