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I would love to know what I seem to be missing so please, help me out. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated.
Honorable "8" mentions: The Dictator, Borat, 21 Jump Street, 500 Days of Summer, Drive, Ides of March and Adventureland.
Den of Thieves (2018)
A fun, well paced movie that isn't pretending to be something it's not
You can't enter a movie like this expecting some cinematic masterpiece. If you do so, you'll be obviously disappointed. Otherwise, it's a completely entertaining and fun ride through some surprisingly complex characters and an unexpectedly intricate game of cat and mouse.
There have been some comparisons of this movie to the movie Heat, and I think they may be somewhat warranted. OBVIOUSLY, this does not hold the gravitas of a mid-90's DeNiro/Pacino face-off, but plot structure, pacing, character development and the Los Angeles backdrop were all very familiar.
At the core, you have Pablo Schreiber, who is 1 or 2 decent movies away from being given a real shot at a career defining role. He led this film effortlessly and truly gives you a very raw sense of character. Gerard Butler plays Gerard Butler and convincingly so. The two square off for 140 minutes and it's surely fun to watch.
The 140 minute runtime seems to have garnered some attention from reviewers. Yeah, it's long, but it really doesn't feel that way. The pace of the film is stellar, and you never really feel any "look down at your phone" moments. The heist movie is often times full of overdone clichés and unconvincing "suspense" but for some reason this film was able to put a fresh twist on everything you see.
If you've seen a trailer for the film, you'll be very happy with it. I think this is a case of extremely good marketing and a trailer can make or break your audience's expectations for a film. From the trailer, you see a crew of goons led by some wannabe badass and a crew of cops trying to intimidate them and take them down. The trailer doesn't give you much of a glimpse at anything more than elementary storyline, which is why if you see this film, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Had more fun in a theater than I can remember in recent years.
Daisy Winters (2017)
A charming story that started off at a perfect pace and then seemed rushed in the end.
If you're reading the reviews for this movie, it only means you're a fan of obscure, lesser known films and you're wondering if you should give this one a chance. I say go for it.
I gave this movie an 8 because I think it exemplifies unique and pleasant storytelling but ends up rushing some of the later parts of the film. At only a 90 minute runtime, this easily could've been 110-120 in order to more deeply define certain relationships and aspects of the world of Daisy Winters.
The film starts out with a very charming and well written relationship between an 11 year old girl and her terminally ill mother. Brooke Shields does a masterful job in her role and ends up being one of the most likable characters in recent memory. There isn't much to be said about the film's actual plot without completely ruining it, but let's just say the movie's charm takes a drastic turn near the midway point with the exit of Brooke Shields.
Daisy is obviously the main character of the film, as the title would suggest, but I feel that the relationship between her and her mother was more in the spotlight than just her. And I think that's kind of the point. Their mother/daughter relationship was so drawing and enviable that once it disappears from the screen, you truly are left with a little bit of a disappointment. Again, that's probably the point.
Overall, there was a very elegant dance between the script and the actors, as we see a small ensemble of neighbors come together to communally care for a girl who's mother is dying. There is a certain exploration of themes here, and I think one of them that was most poignant was this idea of loss. Loss can be felt in millions of different ways by millions of different people. To see it from the eyes of an independent, confident and quirky 11 year old girl was a refreshing and welcome perspective.
The Mountain Between Us (2017)
Leaves something to be desired as the cold scenery infiltrates the script
No major spoilers, but marked it as such just in case.
I thought this movie was fine as is. It's not groundbreaking cinema, but it isn't a heap of trash either. I think the movie was definitely drawn out at parts and it seemed as if the cold atmosphere of the snowy mountains laid the foundation for the at-times cold relationship between our two only characters.
I gave the movie an 8 because I feel that it did the best it could with what it had. Backstories could have been developed more strongly which would have made the audience feel the connection between the two more efficiently. I felt that Idris Elba has yet again solidified himself as one of the most underrated gentlemen actors of our age. Someone needs to give this man a career defining role.
Other than that, you have two acting juggernauts who are prancing around a snowy mountainside just as delicately as they prance around an otherwise cold and unengaging script. In movies like this, dialogue is everything, and sadly, it felt lacking at times. There was an opportunity to give off Richard Linklater emotions with the movie and it just feel a bit flat.
Nothing to rush to your theater for, but not a waste of time.
Inherent Vice (2014)
Ridiculous amounts of praise for a train wreck of a film
There is nothing insightful about this film. This is not Taxi Driver, this is not Good Will Hunting, this is not any sort of intelligent.
The knock on this film is the confusing, too many character, twisty turn plot. I would disagree. The movie has a heavy amount of hard-to-follow dialogue, yes. The film has a ridiculous amount of characters that contribute to the plot, sure. There is an infinitely confusing story ache that takes on a new rising action seemingly every 5 minutes. There are resolutions, more problems, conflicts, climaxes, and more conflicts all happening at once.
The movie is, indeed jumbled up and a complete mess. Absolute train wreck. BUT, one film that I can remember being an absolute mess as well is The Usual Suspects. I'm sure pretty much everyone who ever watched that film was lost at one point, but the beauty of that film is how everything gets drawn together for a fitting ending.
Inherent Vice had a mediocre blend of comedy and suspenseful mystery, that lead to an ultimately disappointing ending. Having sat through The Usual Suspects and been rewarded with a great ending, I endured the ever too lengthy runtime of Inherent Vice in hopes of a mind-blowing ending...and nothing.
For a film that gets so jumbled, messy and twisty, there seems to be no over-arching resolution with a very weak ending. There was just too much going on and it seemed like the writers just needed to wrap it up after a couple hours. The "artistic" parts of this film are just lost within its exhaustive characters and erroneous plot structure. I hate to say it, but perhaps Paul Anderson jumped the shark with this one. Hopefully he comes back with something much better.
About Last Night (2014)
Expect it to be average and you'll like it.
Kevin Hart's level of comedy is one you either get or you don't get. If you don't get it, then you'll still like this film because he isn't really the central character. This movie is written as a romantic comedy, but I saw much more romantic than comedy, but was funny enough nonetheless.
Let's talk about what I liked. I liked Michael Ealy's effortless charm and his chemistry with actress Joy Bryant. I liked Regina Hall and Kevin Hart in their ridiculously dysfunctional relationship. I liked the directing, because in some scenes, the seemingly "awkward" or "different" camera angles that my girlfriend was complaining about were actually very artistic and well done. I liked the soundtrack as well.
The only off-putting feature of this movie is that Kevin Hart's acting seems almost nonexistent. The guy is just playing himself in every film. I seriously think the guy doesn't even know he's an actor.
If you watch his stand up specials, and then a few of his very early film appearances, he seems to incorporate a level of acting. Up until his film breakout in Think Like A Man, not too many people knew of him. Now, a household name, he reaps in the benefits of being a funny man.
Throughout the film, it actually just felt like Kevin Hart was just talking to a bunch of actors. Not often did I feel like I was watching a movie. Over time, through multiple viewings of Kevin Hart's works, it seems to get repetitive and unfunny.
A good movie for the romantic yet predictable story between Michael Ealy's character and Joy Bryant's.
That Awkward Moment (2014)
Puzzlingly low success for a surprisingly good film.
Did I laugh til I cried? No. Was I touched to the heart? No. Was it an early front runner for the Best Picture of 2014? No.
Was it a good movie? Yes, and you should go see it. The film started out with a charming tone and was pretty steadily enjoyable all the way through. There was a very nice blend of witty comedy with some more predictable yet successful humor.
As a mid-January release, this movie wasn't really made to amaze, just to entertain, and yeah, it did just that.
The three young leading men are on a very good track. It's good to have a film with these three men early on in their careers, because one day they will all be in the elite. Miles Teller's performances in The Spectacular Now was one that made me interested in seeing this one. Also, Zac Efron, who very quickly grew out of the Disney Boy shtick has a very bright future ahead of him. Michael B. Jordan, who gave a breakout performance in Fruitvale Station also had enough of the charm to bring in some emotionally driven plot material and make it funny.
The three men in the lead for this film carried it's somewhat average storyline all the way through, with an exceptionally surprising level of enjoyment provide for my theater full of at least 100+.
I can see why people hated it, but I loved it.
If you disliked this film, I totally see why. It was a bit slow at parts, yes. It was somewhat weak in acting here and there, yes. The violence might've been so prolonged that it was boring at times...yes.
But I liked this film very much. If you've seen the original, then you know the power of truly good character development and you know how difficult it was to see the ending of this film play out the way it does.
Spike Lee takes his version to a bit of a different level, while keeping very many of the same scenes and subject matter as the old one. One thing I do like to commend is the character developments. I really felt into the film, and the over-the-top violence didn't draw me out of the film as usual.
In all, the story is one that obviously has been done before, ergo the definition of a remake. But, I do think the way this one was done was a pleasant surprise. Many people who are huge fans of the original film will be divided by this remake, but I know I was very pleased with the end result.
We're the Millers (2013)
Will probably be regarded as a "so dumb but so funny" comedy.
There's nothing to it, if all you're looking for witty/clever/subtle/deep humor, and you hate sexual/stupid/slapsticky type humor...you will probably still like We're The Millers.
It's not a gold mine of comedy by any means, but it did the job it told us it would do: Make us laugh and give us a fun ride. They really brought together a dysfunctional family and did it in a way that allowed for some suspension of disbelief. A lot of comedies nowadays have those hit or miss scenes where you either laugh, or you just can't suspend your disbelief and you're sitting there like "Really? Really? She's gonna poop in the sink?" (guess the reference). We're The Millers is pretty much a compilation of those kinds of scenes that hit just the right tone to pull it off as funny, clever and it just kinda grows on you.
The "family" we see on screen for most of the surprisingly high 109 minute runtime is in a lot of ways funny, in some ways disgusting, and in a few ways charming. The film just works with the pairing of Sudeikis and Aniston, as we saw for a tiny bit in Horrible Bosses, which to me is one of the funniest movies in a long while. If you liked Wedding Crashers, or Hot Tub Time Machine, chances are you'll like this one, which was written by the 4 screenwriters who worked on those films. The 2 pairs of writers who have a history with comedy throw some subtle humor in the dialog which you probably won't get if you're not paying enough attention, which allows for every comedy lovers dream: To be laughing out loud, then hearing an ever so subtle joke causing you to laugh harder, then hearing another one and another and another. The film was consistently funny in a sense that when it got me, it REEALLLY got me.
Overall, the film is just a slight bit lovable, with characters you actually kinda like...not too common for a modern comedy. More so than the story, the laughs came interspersed well enough to where I can't complain because I did way more laughing than I expected. It wasn't "rolling on the floor" funny, but I did have some hearty laughs out loud.
Recommended to anyone who enjoyed the previous works by the screenwriters.
EDIT: I ended up seeing it a second time and tried to pay attention to all of the funny subtlety of one-liners and witty remarks by characters throughout, and I laughed very hard at quite a few things I didn't catch the first time. I liked it more the second time and raise my rating to an 8/10. Is truly a very funny film.
2 Guns (2013)
Not an average buddy cop type of film, but nothing too special
I had heard about this movie back before the main cast was attached and once I heard Marky Mark and Denzel were on board, I had to see it as soon as it came out. Lucky enough, my local theater had it 4 hours earlier than most so I caught an 8 p.m. showing with a heavily packed crowd who I laughed along with much more than I thought I would, but more about that later.
The movie had a little bit of The Departed in it in terms of plot and characters, and had little hints of comedic buddy cop films like Rush Hour. The plot itself was pretty well thought out with a few minor lazy elements but overall it made for an entertaining and very quick 109 minutes. Despite having somewhat predictable twists and turns, the way they play out in terms of result/consequence keep you guessing if only at least for a little bit, and it's those minor sequences of suspense or confusion that kept the movie interesting for me.
In terms of acting, of course Mark and Denzel bring it on and make for a believable pair of righteous men on a track they can't quite figure out. The introduction of so many different crews of people after our two main protagonists reminded me of Midnight Run. To the some of you who remember that film, if you liked that, I can tell you that many of it's elements are brought to surface in 2 Guns.
One thing to be noted is definitely the very pleasantly surprising amount of genuinely funny content throughout the movie. There are very frequent scenes of dialog that are written ever so smoothly, and along with the perfect delivery of our two seasoned veterans, they make for very realistic dialogs and conversations throughout.
Overall, the film was very well written with very immersing dialog, had great acting across the board, but fell somewhat flat with seemingly predictable twists and turns, and some scenes where suspending your disbelief is just too hard. But hey, it was great for what it was trying to be: A fun, entertaining, lightly suspenseful ride!
Fruitvale Station (2013)
Some of the most powerful character development I have ever seen.
This review will be short and to the point. This film is 90 minutes of what seems to be just the boring last day of 2008 in the life of a struggling Bay Area black man with financial issues, a daughter, and a girlfriend. Throughout the last day of the year, we see a man who on the outside is just a another guy, but I don't think he was.
We follow this man for about 75 minutes. 75 minutes of real, raw insight as to who this guy is. As we all know, the tragedy that took place those few years ago resulted in Oscar being wrongfully shot and killed. Now I don't know just how accurate these last day's events are, but I did a bit of reading and it turns out that the main plot points of the film are actually true, but you have to see it to understand just how much the movie makes you care about him. I wanted to know him, I wanted to lend him some money, I wanted to help him out and maybe babysit his daughter, I wanted to see him succeed. Just the way Oscar was portrayed, it was just so hard to see him come to his inevitable conclusion.
I am a 17 year old male, and I see at least 2 or 3 movies a week. I love movies, love them...and this one was the first time in a long time that brought me to tears. And it's even more bizarre because I *knew* he was gonna die, because...well Oscar Grant died! The director/writer Ryan Coogler is deserving of some very hefty credit for this film, because Oscar Grant is painted in such a bright light. The way he interacts with all the people in the film make you want to find him in real life and just be his friend! The way the film was written was so right. So perfectly written. I feel that not a single sentence was superfluous to the film. Every action, every word just added onto the tug on the viewers heartstrings to wish Oscar Grant was alive and well today. The movie just had some of the best character development I had ever seen.
You could be a complete racist, have hatred for any black people out there, or just not care about people in general, but if you see this movie, I can just about guarantee you that the heart and soul of Oscar Grant being portrayed on the big screen will make you care about him to a point where you will shatter at the climactic yet mysteriously shocking ending.
Even though I knew exactly how it happened, and had seen the footage of the shooting many times, I was just as broken as if I didn't know the ending. VERY fine filmmaking here.
Rest In Peace Oscar.
The To Do List (2013)
Never seen so many people walk out of a theater.
In short, this film was just ridiculously stupid and ever so stiffly written.
It is the first film I have ever walked out of. There were at least 7 or 8 couples who left the theater, along with a group of probably 10 people, and an immeasurable amount of people who started playing on their phones. I'm sure I was followed by a few more people as well.
Before you discard my review because I didn't watch the end, I did stay for about 80 out of the 105 minutes and just didn't care enough to stay.
The film has a highly overdone premise, yet I hoped it would take a somewhat original take on it with this "to-do list" idea. Wrong. The movie had the most stiff dialog that was just so full of overly crude and unrealistic give and take between characters that it made me feel like I was watching some sort of amateur movie made by a sex-crazed film student.
Before you write me off as a prude who just picked the wrong film, I'll tell you that I'm not. I watch and enjoy many modern comedies but this one was just so bland and stupid. The depiction of the main character was confused and poor. The main character didn't allow for as much humor to pervade the film as it could have and that is the fault of the writer. It's almost like Mrs. Bill Hader (writer and director) didn't know what to do to add in humor so she threw in her husband for a little bit of weak and lame slapstick/stupidity humor.
An obvious comparison of this film would be the American Pie films, which share in the same sort of over-the-top sexual content/humor. I enjoyed those way more than this film simply because they were funny and had characters you actually liked. The stiffness of the characters in this movie were at the fault of the writer, no one else. Rachel Bilson and Clark Gregg, in the little screen time they had, made a legit effort to bring realism into their characters and allowed for a couple short chuckles.
It seems that this film is getting some good reviews here on IMDb, and that's okay, I'm not trying to ruin Maggie Carey's career or anything. I'm just telling it like I saw it, and I respect the positive reviews, but for me I just didn't catch the funny parts in such an awkwardly progressing story about a girl who completes sexual actions with others as part of a to-do list.
Overall, the film was an unsophisticated, unrealistic, overly explicit and awkward dramatization of teenage sexuality. The only reason I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 is because of some of the supporting characters who had somewhat attractive performances and saved some of the more awkward scenes.
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (2013)
Kevin Hart delivers as usual with a little extra
Unlike my other favorite comedian, Louis C.K., Kevin Hart is somewhat of a formulaic comedian. While that is absolutely not a bad thing at all, it is to be noted that a bulk of his material comes from 3 main topics, all of which he expands on so amazingly well:
1. He will dissect common relationship problems that most everyone can relate to
2. He will state a certain trait of his character and tell a story as to why he became that way
3. He will state a somewhat uncommon fear of his and tell a story about the origin of that fear
After watching all of his previous stand ups, it did begin to get somewhat predictable because of it's overly unbelievable nature. This is not to say that I wasn't laughing like crazy throughout all of them.
When I heard about this special being theatrically released I knew I was going to see on opening night. Not much is to be said about anything other than the fact that the whole theater was roaring with laughter for 90% of the time.
Now back to the formula; Kevin did adhere to it here and there, but I think the reason everyone enjoyed this so much was because he threw in a mix of tiny little 2-3 minute segments that had really nothing to do with anything and it just worked. He veered off a bit from talking about himself or about relationships and he just started talking about people in general and the way we are with one another.
In general, I think this was his best one yet. I think his formula is one of the more advanced and genuinely true ways to intrigue people. Even though it is a comedy special, and you don't quite know exactly how much of it is true or false, Kevin Hart has a great way of connecting through to the audience on a more personal level through the way he talks about himself and his relationships.
He is comedic genius and will one day be legendary.
The Heat (2013)
Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy's apology for "Bridesmaids"
I didn't like Bridesmaids very much at all. I thought it was lame, unfunny, tasteless and one of the most over-hyped films ever.
The Heat, however, delivered me twice the amount of laughs that Bridesmaids wished it had. The pairing of Bullock and McCarthy was something I really wasn't sure would work until I took note of just how much time the writers took making sure you know exactly who these characters are. They were made so believable by the performances given by Bullock and McCarthy, to a point where I really think Melissa McCarthy is THAT foul-mouthed and crude.
The dialog at times was gratuitously profane, resulting in infrequent disinterest in the actual dialog spoken, which I'm sure drew me away from a couple jokes that I might've missed. Other than that, like very many adult comedies, some of the jokes are somewhat shallow, with some explicit crude humor that is almost universally funny, and then some jokes that are funny because of what we know about the people on screen.
One certain look, or a head shake, or a shoulder shrug made me laugh a few times simply because I was so into the characters I was watching, which is something I can't say for any comedies in recent history other than Horrible Bosses.
The plot, of course, was going to have it's twists and turns, and ended up being just as entertaining as a real cop/thriller film.
There was very much about this film that wasn't perfect, of course. There were a multitude of jokes that fell flat throughout my crowded theater, and some that created such a roar that I'm sure I missed some other joke.
Overall, I liked it, and with the sequel The Heat 2 having been announced, I'll admit that I wouldn't mind seeing these two characters on screen again. Even though we all know the past history with comedy sequels, this is one I won't be too skeptical about.
The Spectacular Now (2013)
I am so glad I caught a screening of this film because I will definitely be seeing it again after it's wide release.
From the writers of 500 Days of Summer, which we all know wasn't just your average love story, comes a seemingly average love story in The Spectacular Now. But it isn't very average, and that's the beauty of it. The story observed here carries a genuine believability to it that allows a gushy teenage girl who searches for the perfect love story to be able to relate to the film in a way that isn't as unrealistic as some other popular romance films.
That's just what romantic films are right? Another relationship you wish you had? Not exactly the case here. Don't get me wrong, that is what this film is, but it really is much more than that. This film not only portrays an enviable romantic relationship between boy and girl, but also a relationship between man and life, man and the world, man and the now, and that's what allows it to be so powerful.
The acting across the board is great. I have found that movies like this that have relatively undiscovered actors and actresses as the lead roles allow for a good connection from the audience to the story, especially when the story is a good one like it is here.
Live in the now, because there's no way to know you're in the good ole' days until you've left them. And yes, I did steal that from The Office.
EDIT: Saw it a second time with a Q&A with Miles Teller after the film. Got to talk to him about 21 & Over real quick and he ended up talking a lot about how The Spectacular Now was somewhat rushed, shot in only 25 days and the most of the actors had met only minutes before shooting some intimate, emotional scenes such as the scenes with Sutter and his mother and father. Apparently the first words Kyle Chandler ever said to Miles were in character with the camera rolling. Also, *possible spoiler* but apparently the scene with Sutter and Amy's first bond moment at the party by the pond was a 5 minute rolling shot with the camera man holding a simple 35mm walking backwards, and at the end of the scene the camera man fell and they kept the "arsty" shaky shot of the sky in the film.
He was a really cool guy and was very humble and just pretty normal. Told me that filming 21 & Over was a "sh*t fest" and I said "must've been fun though!" he laughed and said "a fun, fun sh*t fest bro."
Really cool guy.
The Bling Ring (2013)
Classic case of weak directing ruining a potentially strong story.
Remember back when you were in school and you had to write a 15 page paper? Remember how you'd finish organizing and writing all your information only to see you've written just 11 pages. Remember how you would go back and just kinda fluff the paper and put in some fluff words and sentences that are super redundant?
That is what this film is. 15 pages = The 90 minute runtime, and 11 pages = The 15 or 20 minutes that this film could have been condensed into.
Now, I am a fan of Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation and The Virgin Suicides, and even her less popular work like Marie Antoinette. But her use of artsy and dull shots that linger...and linger...and linger in this film just didn't work. This film had a great premise, and when I first heard that a film was being made about the "Bling Ring", I was very excited to see how they would be portrayed.
All we saw was some fame obsessed teens doing cocaine and smoking weed while inside of big houses, all the while stealing money and clothes. Occasionally they went out and bought more clothes with the money they stole. There wasn't even any cinematic techniques involving sophistication, or generation of interest. There was really almost no climax, and the film was somewhat like a simple narrative of whats happening, with no REAL story involved. Yes, I know this was based on real life, but I'm sure Miss Coppola could have written in some more juicy scenes that would create interest and grip the audience. I do understand her style and what she did, but that slow pace and the lingering visuals just didn't fit the given subject matter because a film with this premise could have been very upbeat and intense, yet it was drawn out just too much.
It seems as if Sofia Coppola was relying on the skimpy outfits and attractive faces of Emma Watson, Taissa Farmiga and Claire Julien to generate a male audience, while using the "famous lifestyle" for the girls who can almost relate to the characters on screen who, after all, are backed by real people. I, a male, wasn't attracted by either, but by the fact that I was very interested to see whether or not the occurrences were going to be portrayed in a positive or negative light, and I was disappointed to see that it was basically neutral!
The way the annoying, fame obsessed, teenagers were portrayed in this film was somewhat weak, only because the actors were given one of the weakest scripts I had ever seen! I thoroughly understand that Miss Coppola was trying to portray the annoying teenage dialog of our day, but really? Reeeaaaalllly? The actors are not to blame, as the dialog was just stiffly written and impossible to make seem natural.
Emma Watson, I think, did a great job with her portrayal of the real life Nicki who is actually named Alexis Neiers. If you watch some of her interviews and see the way she really talks and how stupid she really seems, you'll know that Emma didn't do anything over-the-top, or any overly annoying acting. Also, Taissa Farmiga stood out as the strongest actress in the group, although her screen time was cut a bit short. I hope she follows in her sister's footsteps with more and more roles.
Overall, not a good one for Sofia Coppola.
5/10, and the one thing that saved it from a 4 was the fact that Emma Watson is gorgeous.
The Purge (2013)
A fairly decent film...if you end it at about the 70 minute mark.
I'll keep this review short and simple. To get straight to the point, I will admit that after you get past the obviously ridiculous main premise of something like The Purge actually existing, you can let the film hook you in. It gives you an interesting hour or so of not too scary, but still a bit dark and disturbing violence and thrill, with a side of horror and terror.
After the home invasion and actual terrorizing of the family got a little old, you start to wonder.."wait a minute, these bad guys just wanted the man who entered this innocent family's home..who are they?!"
The ending is among the laziest, weakest, and most poorly conceived/written endings in all the horror films I've watched. I won't spoil all of it for you, but it really is just so lazy.
NONE of your questions get answered. Who the heck are these creepy bad guys? What do they want with the mysterious black man who sought refuge in the family's home? Who was the guy anyway?
One thing I will comment positively on is Rhys Wakefield's performance as the creepy, mysterious bad guy who was so eerily similar to Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not putting them in the same category, but I will say that his portrayal was strong, dark and disturbing, and gave the film a bit of enjoyability.
After Earth (2013)
An actually good sci-fi flick. This is coming from someone who hates sci-fi.
I'll tell you right off the bat, I just don't like sci-fi at all. It's just one of those love it or hate it genres and it's just stupid to me. Futuristic little capsules that contain like...everything, and futuristic weaponry and futuristic clothing, and all that...just doesn't interest me. But, I have a lot of time on my hands so I gave it a try.
I walked into this film late, after 2 previews had been shown, the Saturday of its release to find the theater with no more than 30 people in it. I was pretty shocked that it wasn't crowded and began to worry that it was another mindless, confusing, over the top type of sci-fi thriller.
That said, the first 20 minutes of the film did give me that impression, and I was starting to become a bit uninterested. After the first 20 minutes or so, the film variates from average sci-fi type things like spacecrafts and other planets and weird looking living quarters to a more adventure story with a young cadet aspiring to save himself and his wounded father. This digression from a sci-fi driven film to dialog and emotion driven film with some cool action/adventure sequences came as a quite pleasant surprise to me.
The film became a study of the relationship between father and son, between man and mind, between mind and fear. This film had some legitimate depth to it, involving the idea of fear, and overcoming fear and overcoming your past transgressions and failures, as a father, or as a son. Overall, it was very surprising to me how much I enjoyed a "sci-fi" film, although much of it wasn't as full of sci-fi as other recent films of this same ilk. If you like sci-fi and a bit of character and emotional struggle, you'll love this film. If you don't like sci-fi at all, like me, maybe give it a chance and you'll uncover the hidden depth of the story and come to like it.
A solid, enjoyable film, not because of the genre, but because of the dramatic relationships and the pervading theme of: "Danger is real. Fear is a choice."
Nobody Walks (2012)
A film that just didn't seem to go anywhere.
You know when someone is telling you a story and you're kinda into it, wondering when it's gonna get good, and then they just stop talking? And you're just like "uhh, you're done?"
That is what this film is. Not gonna lie, I was above averagely interested in the plot, and was interested in the film mainly because I wanted to see one of my favorite actors try to play someone other than Jim Halpert. It may take John Krasinski a bit of work to be able to drop his "Jim" persona, of which I didn't see much in this film, so good job there.
I would like to commend the young actress who took on this film and turned it into something that wasn't a complete waste of time. I would never be interested in watching this film again, but I won't say it was an offense to the film world.
Overall, just skip it. You don't get any insight into life, you don't come away with anything, you don't really care about the characters, but if you have or had a life that was plagued with promiscuity, you might be able to relate, but also may be repulsed by some of the characters.
The Office: Finale (2013)
A fitting ending to what should have been a perfect last season.
We all know the show sort of jumped the shark when Michael left, but I think it regained some sort of interest with the Jim and Pam storyline, and maybe even turned off some faithful viewers. I think the ending that answers all the questions on who's going where and with who and why.
When Michael came back, he was reintroduced in a perfect manner with the classic line we all know he owns.
The Jim and Pam storyline ended satisfyingly, but somewhat predictably.
I just think Toby's life was the only one that didn't end up happier than it was before haha, and maybe that was fittingly so.
Yes, even though it is basically a black family version of Meet the Parents, it was still a decent film.
Before you write this off as another Tyler Perry black people film, or a rip off of Meet the Parents, read this review.
I have seen multiple Tyler Perry films, and at the beginning, they were okay, but as we all know, they got old, and fast. This movie is indeed produced by him, but was not written or directed by him, so his name being on it does not mean it is anything like his "Madea" series, or his other films. I am not really a fan of Tyler Perry, but I did enjoy this film. I am not promising that you will, but don't write it off just because you are not a fan of the "black family" genre of comedy that Tyler Perry is credited to have popularized.
I believe the reason I enjoyed this film is because of Craig Robinson. I have always enjoyed his scenes in The Office, and I was very pleased to see his character become somewhat of a main character on the show. When I heard of this film, I was sure it was going to be Meet The Parents: Black Family Edition, but I wanted to see it because of Craig nonetheless. I wasn't wrong, but I wasn't completely right. This film is basically the same thing as Meet The Parents, but it definitely does have a few unexpected turns. The reason they are "unexpected" is because I had a pre-conceived idea of how the film will play out, because of my love for Meet The Parents. I seriously watch that movie every few months. This film deviates from it's 13 year elder in a variety of ways, but mainly in its plot twists, which allow for quite a few laughs. The awkward scenes, and the situational humor are quite reminiscent.
Enough comparison, now lets get down to the actual movie. Throughout the film, there are humorous sequences that carry just enough realism that they come off as quite funny. I'll admit, I didn't think I'd laugh nearly as much as I did. Although a good portion of the humor stemmed from either sexual or "black" dialog, it never went over the top.
Of course, like 99% of comedies (with the exception of Horrible Bosses) there are times where you just don't get the humor, and it comes off lame. Sure, there are lame parts, and some jokes fell flat, but overall I was very surprised with the charming humor and witty screenplay, allowing for a likable protagonist, for whom nothing seems to be going right.
Go ahead, give it a view and don't assume it's another lame Tyler Perry or black family film, because unlike the ratings on IMDb, I actually enjoyed this film.
The Great Gatsby (2013)
An intriguing story re-told again with attention to mystery. 8/10
I know a lot of the other reviewers will compare this film to the older one and also the book, so if you're interested in a comparison, stop reading here. I want to review this film as a movie that tells a story, like every other film. I don't want to review this as a film that tried to beat its preceding film adaptation.
I myself have read the book and have always been so intrigued with the character of Gatsby, and when I heard a few years back that he would be portrayed on the big screen by DiCaprio, I couldn't wait. The character carries such a mystery about him that was delivered so excellently by Leonardo DiCaprio, and made it so fun to watch. It was almost like I didn't know what the ending was because I was so immersed in 1920s New York, and in the lifestyle of The Great Gatsby.
The film itself, as a film, was awesome! The visuals and soundtrack were captivating and lavish. The acting was great overall, as you can trust these actors to deliver.
I read somewhere on IMDb (message board or another reviewer, I can't remember) that Leonardo wasn't a good fit for the role of Gatsby. I think this statement couldn't be more wrong. If you have read the book, you must have some idea about the depth of Gatsby's character, the depth of his mind, his desires. The false smiles, the phony handshakes, the uneasiness in being in public, the way Jay Gatsby conducts himself in front of Daisy, and in pursuit of her. All these things are delivered so well by DiCaprio. His nerve, his frustration, his determination...all so eloquently portrayed. But most of all, his passion, and as Nick Carraway, our narrator so emphatically reminds us, his hope. The character development of Jay Gatsby, and the development of all those surrounding him gives us such a deep look at the relationships of such a diverse category of people.
The storyline is obviously interesting: A man realizes his new neighbor is a mysterious, and incredibly wealthy man. Like how awesome is that? Throughout the whole film, as the relationships between all the few main characters become deeper and deeper, and the questions become answered, you just can't help but feel so into the characters' lives. Great writing for the characters, great directing, great great great acting.
Overall, this is just a great film. If you go into the theater thinking "oh this'll suck compared to Robert Redford" or "I bet the book is way better", you're setting yourself up for a bad 143 minutes. Don't be so close minded and try to view it as just another film that tells a fictional story, and a great one at that.
The Joneses (2009)
A somewhat dark film with a hidden depth
First of all, let me just say that it's pretty hard to talk about this film without spoilers, so I checked the "may contain spoilers" box, just in case.
This is a pretty weird type of film. In the first 20 minutes, we are given a pretty simple situation in which a pretty cool, rich family is living life in their new neighborhood. As the story progresses, we learn that the family is definitely not what they seem.
As we become more in depth with the characters, a somewhat dark love story is observed. The priorities of a businesswoman is shown to be something other than her own happiness, and it is her pursuit of success that drives the story further, intriguing a man, with whom she is pretending to be married. The central characters create a dynamic of predictable mysteriousness. I know that may be a paradox, but if you watch it, you'll know what I mean.
That being said, the film is not totally predictable. It touches upon themes of promiscuity, homosexuality, individuality, and even suicide. Overall, this movie is far from perfect, but is a fun little story that kept me interested all the way through. One notable aspect of this film is the depth it carries in terms of understanding oneself, and deciding whether or not to change for someone else. Not especially deep, but I'm glad I didn't waste my time. A solid film.
The Big Wedding (2013)
Overshadowed by Pain & Gain. Was a solid film.
The potential was definitely not reached in this film. The script had some lightly sophisticated humor but didn't include as much wit as it could have been successful with. It was a pretty light R rated film, carrying a few sexual jokes and scenes, and a few F bombs. Much of the humor was based on sexual dialog, which might've been okay but it didn't carry any depth, and just had somewhat lame sex jokes.
By no means was this a BAD movie, it really wasn't, but it could have been much better. The all-star cast did have some nice on screen chemistry and I liked the charm and wit brought on by the great young actors, namely Topher Grace. (I might be biased because I loved That 70s Show.)
I feel like the release of this film was very overshadowed by Pain & Gain, and the marketing and promotion of THIS movie was no where near enough.
One thing this film did get right was the trailer. It revealed just enough for you to be intrigued, yet not feel like you know the whole film, so if you think the trailer revealed the whole movie, go ahead and see it and you might be pleasantly surprised. It wasn't bad, but wasn't anything special.
Scary Movie 5 (2013)
I almost regret not walking out of the theater.
The era of spoof and parody is dead.
Let me start off by saying that I knew this film was going to be horrible from the start. I had read reviews and knew it was bad, but being so infatuated with film and theater, I actually wanted to see the movie to diagnose exactly what made it so horrible. (Insult me if you must, but I have a lot of free time on my hands and I love all kinds of movies.)
I'm not gonna lie, I went into the theater with the hope that on some slight chance, I would enjoy the film. Wrong. The movie was so boring and tasteless that I was actually distracted with my phone for some parts during the film, which is of the utmost rarity for me.
The horrible acting and line delivery dried this film out so much that I don't know where to begin. Ashley Tisdale was definitely not as good as Anna Faris was, and obviously, everyone will compare the two. I hate to admit it, but Mac Miller, Snoop Dogg, and Katt Williams all could have made audiences laugh with the material they were given, but were just too dry.
Admittedly, there were some very rare parts of the movie that had a somewhat witty humor to it, but it was only once or twice, and weak at that. The rest of the stupid slapstick humor was just so lame and dragging. Slapstick humor should stay within the PG level of humor for the kids.
On that note, the movie had overly crude, and just STUPID sexual humor that was just stupid and weak. Even hard R teenage sex comedies are more sophisticated than this. I laughed maybe one time, and it wasn't even a laugh. I kinda exhaled sharply while smiling.
Overall, there was almost no sophisticated or witty humor, horrid acting, and it was all just plain bad. So yes, the reviews are correct, it was horrible. The only reason I give it a 3 instead of a 1 was because hundreds and hundreds of people put months and months of work into an 85 minute piece of what they thought was art, and giving a movie a 1 or maybe a 2 is too disrespectful to the art that is film. (But then again, this movie is pretty disrespectful to the art that is film as well.)
Spoken Word (2009)
Not a bad film.
This movie has no reviews, and I stumbled upon it in my ratings list, and remembered how good it was. I know probably no human soul will read this as this film was released at only a few small film festivals. I caught this movie at the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival and was pleasantly surprised.
I saw it 4 years ago and I still remember enough about it to write a review. The film dealt with a re-entrance to the world of drugs by an aspiring artist. The film carried a deep message as to what comes along with the addiction of drugs, and how it cannot save you from the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Not only does it not save you from the problems, but it makes them worse.
I remember walking out of the theater, a mere 12 year old (give or take), shaken by the emotional content of this film including it's depiction of drug addiction.