The chance to see a director switch gears and focus on something far separated from their previous work can be exciting. As a Tim Burton fan, I do not fault him for making a lot of films that seem right up his alley. That the recent output has not been as compelling as the films in his past is unfortunate, but now we have Big Eyes, which reteams Burton with the writers of Ed Wood, arguably Tim Burton’s best feature film. The resulting product is a smaller scale, more personal story than anything Burton has been involved with in quite some time, featuring two strong, lead performances. It is not an over-the-top fantasy, but a drama that delves into the worth of one’s identity.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies is the film both fans of The Hobbit franchise have been anxiously waiting for and the moviegoers that do not care too much about the saga and just want it to finally come to an end. However, to me it’s so much more. Whether you read the books or not, I haven’t, The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies is nothing more than the Revenge of the Sith of the Lord of the Rings series. I think y’all know what I mean when I say that. No matter how you slice it the events of this film we’re here to discuss today had to fit together like bookends to the trilogy that came before it. When it comes to movies like this that can be both a blessing and a curse. While this one is nothing more than a two-hour action romp, and when you are talking these films that’s nothing but a good thing, there’s also inherent problems within this one too. Read on… Continue reading ‘The Hobbit The Battle of the Five Armies Finally All Sign A Peace Treaty (Movie Review)’
I am a fan of seeing live standup comedy. Something I have observed in that setting is what people can get away with. Something about the standup environment allows comedians and audiences (within reason) to joke and laugh about things they would otherwise consider too much of a taboo. With Top Five, Chris Rock has written, directed, and starred in a really funny movie that works within that sort of standup environment. It has the sense of a talented comedian and filmmaker working to make an act that would fit in that standup setting blown up into a motion picture production, without losing the edge. Rock has crafted a witty, satirical script that blends showbiz living, various comedic topics, some romance, and drama together quite effectively. It shows how Chris Rock has not only maintained his edge, but continues to grow as an actor and filmmaker, which I feel great about saying.
Former flames, big time real estate moguls, something called the Golden Fang, and of course, lots of drugs; it looks like Doc might be getting in over his head. Following There Will Be Blood and The Master it is nice to see writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson lighten up with Inherent Vice, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s comedic detective novel of the same name, which places Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role of a private investigator looking into a missing person’s case. While there certainly is a lot of plotting that develops, the film puts itself in the intriguing position of not really using that as a focus. True to Anderson’s style, the film is much happier to explore the world and characters deposited into it, making for a bizarre, yet very entertaining feature.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic. There is no way around that. Regardless of my thoughts on the film as a whole, director Ridley Scott has made a film that is grand in scale, fully realized in its depiction of an ancient time, and littered with extras, sets, props, and obvious visual effects in an effort to tell the story of Moses in ancient Egypt. Unfortunately, despite clear effort being put forth, the film is lacking in much emotional heft and, despite its runtime, the film feels rushed in execution, based on the straightforward telling of the narrative. It did not end up feeling like a drag, given the way the grand theatricality matched up with the fairly rote storytelling, but at the same time, Exodus does not capture the weight of this story in the way I am sure many would have hoped.
The Babadook sits high on the list, as far as 2014 horror films go. Produced on a small budget, working with a limited cast, using some creativity, and creating some already iconic imagery, this is a film that gets away with treading familiar ground, because the approach is so effective. Working as both a psychological thriller and a children’s bedtime story gone horribly wrong, this Australian horror film is chillingly effective and completely worth seeking out, given that it sadly sits without a proper large scale theatrical release, while crap like Ouija makes far more money than it should.
I find there to be a comfortable understanding in films about characters that go on journeys to find themselves. Regardless of the reason and whether or not the story is based on a real person, I can expect to see a certain kind of arc play out. We will learn what we need to learn about this character, watch them progress, hit various blocks in their path (physically and mentally), and eventually come to some sort of emotional catharsis. Sure, that sums up a lot of movies in general, but these kinds of movies are hardly subtle, yet often quite fulfilling. Maybe it is just due to having such a singular focus when it comes to this kind of story, but I certainly find myself quite invested in them. It also helps when such strong work is on display, which brings me to my thoughts on the rather excellent film Wild.
There is a point in Horrible Bosses 2 where a character is asked what took place and his response is that he is unsure, because the three lead characters were yammering too much for him to be certain. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis have great chemistry, no doubt about it. Their banter, which features each performer playing up the key aspect of their comedic personas that make them enjoyable to watch for many, is key to maintaining a level of energy for a film that was not really needed. I liked Horrible Bosses okay, but a sequel seemed like overkill. Now I have seen it and while the concept is pretty thin, enough is done to make it fairly enjoyable. With that in mind, the way it leans hard on some weirdly uncomfortable jokes keeps it from being one I really need to see twice.
We have all had our share of “horrible bosses” haven’t we? Maybe we don’t care to admit it, but I believe I’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have their own horrible boss story. Let’s look at example from a chapter in my own life. In my current position and prior place of employment I am/had been looked upon in very high regards. However, two jobs ago, I felt like I could never do anything right to please the man. Nothing was ever good enough and in return I was constantly bullied, picked upon and insulted almost every day despite everyone else in the company seemingly loving my work and support. It just goes to show you there are such things as “horrible bosses” in life and having said that this personal prologue serves as a nice segue into the movie we’re all gathered here today to discuss, introducing Horrible Bosses 2. Continue reading ‘The Guys Ironically Become ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ (Movie Review)’
In my belief, most salesmen, prophets, religious establishments and even motivational speakers will tell you life is full of second chances. And like the fictional character of Jordan Chase in Season 5 of Showtime’s Dexter, if you want something badly enough in life, you just have to “Take It.” Quite honestly, I have always lived my life by a single golden rule, learn from your mistakes. Grow from them. And of course, hopefully never make the same mistake(s) twice. That’s why after talking to a fellow reviewer yesterday about a mistake I recently made in life, I’m ready to come clean and admit I was wrong. I was wrong to initially award Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar a film score of 3.5 out of 5. If George Lucas can tinker with the Star Wars saga as much as his 70-year-old heart desires, I think that warrants me the chance at redemption here. Continue reading ‘Interstellar: Having Thrice-Taken The Rocket Ride (Movie Review)’
Here is another critic-proof blockbuster that happens to be an entry in a series I very much enjoy. With movies that not only have a massive amount of hype, but are also a part of an ongoing franchise, there really is not much to lose when writing about them. I am not going to focus on the obvious financial success this film will have, but it stands to reason that any opinion I have on the film could only affect me personally, if, say, my views went on to be trashed by mega supporters or the opposite. With that in mind, it pleases me to not only be positive towards the first half of a two-part finale, but find it serving as a strong follow-up to what many consider to be the series high point. Mockingjay Part 1 may abandon one major series staple, but it continues to stands its ground as a well-realized film featuring a female protagonist’s role in a major rebellion.
Circumstances surrounding a film can often impact the thoughts one has, when attempting to review/critique it. Obviously a film should stand on its own, but certain aspects always have an effect on one’s perception. I say this because it would be difficult not to talk about Rosewater without mentioning writer/director Jon Stewart’s role in all of this. He made the film, so obviously he has plenty of involvement, but the fact that his role was a minor factor in why the story that led to this film exists (however inconsequential The Daily Show may really be in all of this) is an interesting factor to consider. Keeping that in mind, based on the quality of this directorial debut from Stewart, I would say he found a way to be very respectful to his subject, in an effort to make a compelling drama that may not be what one would expect, when it comes to watching a film put together by the host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
So I didn’t laugh all that much. It is irritating to have to be on the defensive for an opinion of a film that really does not need critical weight to determine if someone wants to see it or not. If I was not writing film reviews, I would have still no doubt seen Dumb and Dumber To, because I like the first one, I like the actors, I like the Farrelly Brothers, and I would be happy to embrace my curiosity on this thing. As it turns out, I did not like this movie. It is a mix of dialing up the antics and raunchiness, as any comedy sequel would be prone to do, while also relying on rehashes of what was believed to make the first film work. This results in a film that is a little meaner (odd for the generally sweet Farrellys) and lot less funny. Sure it is subjective and I have no shame in saying that I laughed a good few times, but overall, it mostly fell flat.
How grim is too grim and when does it just start becoming a little humorous? Earlier this year we had a novel idea for a film in the form of A Million Ways to Die in the West. That film did not work for me overall, but the idea of making a western film that put emphasis on how terrible a time it could really be was a funny one. Tommy Lee Jones’ second directorial effort, The Homesman, based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout, is a film that sits in grim territory, but pushes things so far that it becomes a strange sort of dark comedy. The film has a large cast of great actors, but they all provide merely decent to good performances. Hilary Swank stands out, but that makes sense, given that she does most of the heavy-lifting, with strong support from Jones to back her up. Really, the film seems confused by how sprawling it could be versus how effectively poignant it may be if the film felt a bit more consistent. The good news is, this film is far too interesting to write off.
I honestly cannot believe it’s been twenty years since Dumb and Dumber almost made me piss my pants from laughter when I first saw it in the theater. I still remember it like it was only yesterday. My friend Bryan and I ventured out on opening night in Ohio to see this one theatrically and I remember the Ex-Lax related scene fondly because that was the one and only time I ever saw people in a theater literally fall out of their chairs laughing. I’ve seen people jump out of their chairs while scared out of their wits during a horror film, but I had never before then seen anyone fall out of their chairs and roll down the declining aisle cracking up. The Hangover is probably the closest I have ever come to seeing that ever happen again. It was close, but no cigar. Continue reading ‘‘Dumb and Dumber To’ Takes Us Down To Many Familiar Rodes (Movie Review)’
It is funny when you have next to no reaction to a film, despite easily acknowledging so many great things about it. Foxcatcher is incredibly well acted, effectively directed in a chilling sort of manner as a sort of powder keg of tension, and likely worthy of even more praise, when one considers the level of detail brought to the film’s time period and setting. With that all in mind, while pivotal moments had a desired effect, I walked away only caring so much for the film. It tells the true story of a group of individuals that seemed to be boiled down to some basic elements, which left me feeling like I watched a film that I did not really need to see. Of course, given the built-in praise that came from its reception at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, I certainly wanted to see it, but now having done so, again, the film just didn’t leave me with much.
Remember Bolt? Disney’s computer animated feature about a dog that believed it had superpowers, given that he was the star of a TV series. I enjoyed that film for what it was, as it had a warm spirit and lots of humor. That in mind, it always felt like Disney taking a film like Toy Story and turning it into something a lot less complex. Big Hero 6 feels like Disney’s attempt to reconstruct Pixar’s The Incredibles into a much more traditional superhero film (with lots of Disney-style emotional content), complete with a young, orphaned hero, the means to put a team of high-tech crime-fighters together, and a masked villain with a dastardly plan in mind. What really makes this film work though is the sense of wonder, fun, and enjoyment to be had in its execution, which is largely embodied by one of Disney’s best new sidekick characters, Baymax. Predictability aside, a large, marshmallow-like robot, and the colorful adventure he is a part of, will easily be plenty of fun for a wide audience.
So today’s history lesson focuses on Disney’s acquisition of Marvel Entertainment way back in 2009. Honestly, I can’t believe it has been that long, but I digress because I’m making money off their acquisition regardless in my stock portfolio. However, getting back to our history lesson, back then Disney wanted something new and exciting so CEO Bob Iger encouraged his company to explore all of Marvel’s properties, even the unknown ones, to find the next big thing. The idea was to pick an obscure title out of the bunch so Disney would have the freedom they needed to come up with their own version of the idea. And that ladies and gentlemen is how this next big thing we are gathered here to discuss was discovered. Of course I’m talking about Big Hero 6, which we should just get this over already to clear anyone who had this question about this “Marvel” film being produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, it is not part of the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is set in its own standalone universe and I am A-OK with that. So let’s stop stalling in order to make this opening paragraph more robust and impressive and let’s get to talking some Big Hero 6! Continue reading ‘‘Feast’ Your Eyes on ‘Big Hero 6’and Their Big Hearts (Movie Review)’