I suppose it comes to no surprise that the soundtrack to Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning-jukebox musical-turned movie, is a good one. Bringing on many involved with the original show led to some solid vocal performances that really let the scenes featuring The Four Seasons and others show off their singing abilities. I only wish the rest of the film had the kind of spark that made me enjoy scenes of songs that I have heard plenty of times before being performed. It was nice to see director Clint Eastwood head in a different direction for the kind of film he wanted to make, but unfortunately his old school talents did not really assist bringing this old school group onto the big screen.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
The Signal is the kind of movie I want to support, despite finding some issues with it. It is an original science fiction story with mysterious aspects that unfold as the film goes along in ways that I found consistently engaging. The film ends up biting off a bit more than it can chew, but there is clear ambition in the filmmaking that I was happy to admire. I would not quite say that the style is placed over the substance, as it amounts more to needing to evolve as a screenwriter and a director, but I really dug what William Eubank was going for with this film.
The boys are back, but not up to a whole lot that is new. Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum made good the first time around, as their unlikely pairing made for an even more unlikely success with their comedic take on the 80s undercover cop series, 21 Jump Street. Now we have the sequel, fittingly named 22 Jump Street, which follows our heroes to an undercover assignment, where they must pose as college students, but things do not feel all that different from the first assignment/film. The jokes are there, the chemistry is still strong, and the self-awareness of being a sequel is fun and all, but I did not walk away having that same level of enthusiasm that I had for the first go around.
It is amazing how things work sometimes. How To Train Your Dragon gets credit for being a sleeper success, as many were not thrilled by the marketing, but it ended up making big bucks and spawning a whole franchise (sequels, TV shows, etc.). I was actually quite intrigued by the trailers for the first film and the amazing reviews set my hopes even higher, yet I was only just okay with the first installment, despite its mature story and fantastic sense of filmmaking within the bounds of an animated feature. Now we have How to Train Your Dragon 2, which I found to be immensely entertaining and satisfying on pretty much every level. This is a film that capitalizes on what made the first film work and completely expands upon the world introduced to us the first time around in an effort to make a truly worthwhile sequel that could satisfy nearly anyone.
It should be no surprise to anyone that the dynamic duo, hilarious tag team of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, are back on the big screen reprising their respective roles from 2012 in the appropriately titled 22 Jump Street (I’ll expand upon that more down below). I last talked about 21 Jump Street in my Blu-ray review over here in 2012 and I’m happy to report that I still have not seen a single episode from the original television series, but I’ve studied enough pop culture and seen enough comedies to pick up on references here and there. I’m smart like that. However, make no mistake. I wasn’t looking forward to this one very much. Like the sequel to the original Hangover film I had my doubts and wondered if this second outing would simply be a cash grab with the same story, etc. set in a different locale. Even if it was, I’d probably laugh, but I’m a movie critic and I want more. I deserve more. Hear me roar! So the question that really matters is did I get what I was looking for? Oh yeah! I got that and so much more! Continue reading ‘Jump Across the Street to ’22 Jump Street’ For a Jumping Good Time! (Movie Review)’
While I tend to be a very impatient fellow who’s always wanting something else as fast as it can be handed to me, there are some things worth the wait. There are such things as the perfect film. Lightning can surely strike the same place twice. And for those reasons and so many more, that’s why were gathered here today. We’re here today to discuss my favorite film of 2014 thus far, How To Train Your Dragon 2. Quite frankly, I don’t care if I ruin the rest of the review by bestowing my feelings upon you this early within. How To Train Your Dragon 2 was about as perfect as they come in my opinion, a film the whole family (young and old) can rally behind and truly enjoy. The filmmakers broke the mold when they crafted the first one in 2010 and this second one is “the Holy Grail” or The Empire Strikes Back of which all sequels should strive to live up to. It really doesn’t get any simpler than this. Now that the origin story was told some four years ago, there’s a whole new world to explore within How To Train Your Dragon 2 and let me assure you, the stakes have never been higher. Continue reading ‘Fly High And Soar Through The Heavens With ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2′ (Movie Review)’
At this point, Tom Cruise does not need to be defended for doing what he is good at. The guy works incredibly hard to make movies that entertain audiences, fully committing to roles that may not require him to break out of a certain character type, but that’s why he’ s a movie star and not a character actor. Clearly he saw something in the script for All You Need Is Kill (now titled Edge of Tomorrow) that he felt would go well with the other sci-fi films in his filmography, because this did not look like an easy movie to make, yet it continues to add credence to his status as a huge sci-fi geek (I mean the dude actually believes in aliens). Edge of Tomorrow is inventive, witty, fun, and many levels of awesome, all rolled up into one fine summer movie package. If that’s not what you want from a summer action movie, Tom Cruise surely isn’t the one to blame.
I’m not sure who it was, either Aaron or Gerard here, but I remember it like it was only yesterday (no pun to the subject matter of this film), when one of them recommended to the Why So Blu clan members that they needed to check out the trailer for Edge of Tomorrow. Come to think of it, Aaron probably had a leg up on us all last year with his coverage of three Warner Bros. titles here and of course his WonderCon writeup this past April here. And like usual, when I first watched the trailer I refuted that I would ever love it. I mean I loved Tom Cruise in Oblivion last year and I even loved a loophole time jumping flick like 2012’s Looper, but I sometimes get agitated and very antsy when I’m forced to watch the same thing transpire over and over only to get a little bit more info each time. However, like usual, popular consensus seems to always get under my skin and I seemingly can’t help being swayed by it. Continue reading ‘Re-Live Each Day “On The Edge Of Your Seat” With ‘Edge of Tomorrow’’
Actors can make all the difference in films that only have so much going for them, based on either the screenplay or the way a film handles convention in general. The Fault In Our Stars is a film that deals with two young adults with cancer, who happen to fall in love with each other. There is obviously more to it than that, which is what I assume made the original novel, by John Green, so compelling to its large fan base (note: I have not read this novel), but that is the one sentence way to describe the film. Keeping that in mind, while not doing much to be all that innovative, the strong cast was enough for me to accept the story being told, as many of the right notes are hit to make it a film that certainly tugs at the heartstrings, but does not try to pride itself on having that effect.
On the surface, placing audiences inside the head of one of the more memorable Disney villains of all time seems like a pretty interesting idea. Add to that a casting choice that has rarely seemed any less perfect and you have a high concept Disney film with built in appeal from multiple standpoints. I only wish the film actually delivered more fun to go along with its premise. Maleficent no doubt delivers on the visual noise one would expect from a big budget, live-action fantasy film and Angelina Jolie’s return to the big screen, in front of the camera for the first time in 4 years, is certainly the most worthwhile aspect of the film, but for a film with so much to look at, there was not enough going on to keep it engaging.
The surprising thing about Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is how devoted to the genre it actually is. While I can only think of so many western comedies offhand, there are plenty of ways to turn the genre on its head and have a lot of fun with it. MacFarlane is happy to dive into that well, but while making fun of the genre, he appears to really respect it. The issue then becomes how to make a film that looks like a western and sounds like a western into a film that is entertaining for the audiences showing up, based on the goodwill created by Ted or Family Guy. Unfortunately, while MacFarlane is known for his comedic abilities, the laughs are not nearly strong enough to go along with a film that admirably spends its time on recreating the feel of a western, while rooting itself in character.
‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Erases The Sting of Many Bad Memories and Replaces With Amnesia (Movie Review)
Although I cannot claim to be a huge X-Men fanboy, I went into this past Tuesday night’s press screening of X-Men: Days of Future Past with a gusto of glee and optimism, not to mention excitement, after being so let down by the mediocre Godzilla last week. And why not? The past two films, The Wolverine and First Class, were actually really quite good after series stinkers such as The Last Stand and Origins: Wolverine. So I thought why not take all that negative energy exhausted from my disappointment over Godzilla (although Curtis Bloodworth and countless others will disagree with my sentiments there) and spin it into something positive by strolling into Days of Future Past (henceforth abbreviated as DOFP throughout the rest of this review) with a big a$$ smile on my face. You know, now that I think about it, that begs to question. What movie isn’t good with a little Michael Fassbender action in it, huh? Alright, let’s be serious. We are gathered here today to talk about the time traveling comic book film, DOFP, and by golly it’s about “time” I stop wasting your present and start talking about your future, that is the movie you’ll be attending this weekend. Continue reading ‘‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Erases The Sting of Many Bad Memories and Replaces With Amnesia (Movie Review)’
How do you bring everyone together? That is the question returning X-Men director Bryan Singer must have been set on answering in his attempt to not only combine the casts from nearly every previous X-Men film, but find a way to satisfy everyone with what is basically the biggest X-Men film ever. The results are fairly strong, as Singer manages to get past the overwhelming nature of having an incredibly large cast, two timelines, and providing emotional resonance in a film that is almost completely made up of forward plot momentum, expositional dialogue, and mutant action. Fans of the franchise should be mostly pleased, as it takes one of the iconic comic storylines and uses the cinematic versions of established (and some new) characters to truly deliver an exciting spectacle. Overcrowding is pushed aside in favor of eradicating previous story elements to make a focused and gratifying X-Men film, even if that means risking continuity coherence for the most devoted of fans, as well as some casual viewers.
It is great to see a movie like this treated with a level of respect. While Godzilla can be boiled down to a giant monster causing a rampage in a city, the fact that the film (as well as its marketing) has a level of restraint in how to actually depict the sort of chaos that comes with this sort of film territory is impressive. This new Godzilla movie has a lot more in common with a disaster movie than a science fiction/adventure story, but it respects the legacy of the 60-year old franchise. The film is incredibly satisfying in the way it confidently builds up to huge reveals, maintains a level of pacing fitting of the more memorable summer blockbusters, puts a great deal of faith in letting the atmosphere enthrall its audience into the story, and still be a lot of fun to watch. While the human-based drama leaves something to be desired, this is easily the most enjoyable Godzilla film since 1989’s Godzilla vs. Biollante.
Watching someone attempt to control chaos can be a very exciting thing. Fittingly enough, in recent years, I have now watched two major Batman villains attempt it. Obviously Heath Ledger did his best to wreak havoc on the fictional Gotham City, only to be nearly outdone later by Tom Hardy’s Bane, but now Hardy is attempting to control a far less grandiose form of chaos: the destruction of his own life. Locke is a wonderfully gripping drama about a man attempting to remain calm and coherent in the midst of his entire life falling apart. Set in what amounts to a singular location with only the physical presence of one actor, it is not just control on the part of the character, but the filmmaking in general that makes this film so compelling, despite its minimalist nature.
If you were asked where would Hollywood be without another reboot of the famous Japanese film monster, Godzilla, how would you answer? I guess if someone asked me that, my initial response would be probably making another attempt at Freddy Krueger. But since things didn’t fair all too well for the slasher’s last go around, I would gladly have Godzilla back any day, that is until they reimagine Michael Myers. However, as usual, I digress. Strolling into this past Monday night’s press screening, despite the few negative reviews I had read, I was actually looking forward to seeing the big green guy stomping around like nobody’s business on the giant IMAX screen. After all, American audiences haven’t had any Godzilla sightings since Roland Emmerich’s take in 1998. Wouldn’t you say it’s kind of about time to welcome back our monstrous friend? I think so! I’m a big fan of the recent collaborations between Legendary Pictures (minus Jack the Giant Slayer) and Warner Bros. so why not? Let the good times…um…smash! Continue reading ‘Godzilla’s Bark Is Worse Than Its Bite (Movie Review)’
It is easy to see the main issue with Million Dollar Arm, as it is all over the poster. I like Jon Hamm, I look forward to seeing what he does, once Mad Men ends and he can really delve into some much better film roles, which he is more than able to handle, but his character is not the interesting part of this story adapted from reality. Still, we follow this sports agent in a film that takes the Disney sports movie formula (which has worked many times before) and applies it to this “Jerry Maguire heads to India” story. Unfortunately, while there are commendable elements, the film has little desire to really delve into the more interesting material involving the two kids with the million dollar arms.
It does not take a whole lot for a film to win me over if it has a lot of charm. Get the right cast and allow them to have fun that is evident in the film and I will be happy to sit back and enjoy what has been put in front of me. Swingers is a favorite movie of mine because, despite the shagginess of the production, it has great cast interplay to go along with the depiction of nightlife in LA. Jon Favreau wrote and co-produced Swingers back in 1996 and has since gone on to direct much bigger movies like Iron Man and Elf. Chef takes him back to his indie roots. Working with a small budget and a simple concept, he has managed to take what he’s learned from his bigger movies and combine that very effectively with what he was able to do in his earlier films like Swingers and Made. The result is an incredibly charming film, with a great cast, a nice father/son story, and some terrific images of food to gaze upon.