The big question, when it comes to remaking classic horror films, is, “why?” What is the purpose of taking a popular film and giving it another try? Money is one of the easy answers, but what else? Carrie seems like a film that does not exactly lend itself to being remade; as the story’s basic structure holds up today. With that, sure, let’s take away the fact that the original, Academy Award-nominated film from 1976 still plays well enough today. I guess one could argue that having a redo opens up the story to a new generation of viewers. That is all well and good, but I am not so sure this new version of Carrie overall knows what makes the original film so effective. Making it more frustrating is how there actually is a good hunk of movie within this new iteration of the old Stephen King story. At least Prom was fun while it lasted.
Archive for the 'Movie Reviews' Category
It’s a well-known fact that the world’s highest mountain peak is Mount Everest. But within the mountaineering community, it isn’t necessarily the most notable claim to fame to conquer its summit. Mount Everest has had some 3,000 people successfully reach its peak, but to the northwest between Pakistan and China, lies K2— the second highest mountain just 784 feet shy of Everest. With less than 300 successful summit attempts and a 20% higher death toll amongst its climbers compared to Everest, climbing K2 has proven to be one of the most difficult and deadliest mountains in the world. The Summit uses interviews, footage and photography shot by the climbers, and reenactments in an attempt to recreate the deadliest and most controversial day in K2 history.
Continue reading ‘Climbing Up is the Easy Part– K2’s The Summit (Movie Review)’
While assembling a dream team of 80s/90s action stars in The Expendables films may not have panned out to be something as epic as I would have wanted, Escape Plan more or less captures the sense of fun that I like out of these sorts of films. It may have to do with limiting the cast to two iconic action heroes. There may also be something to be said for the restraint seen on the amount of action they actually have to perform. Really though, it must come down to the fact that I really haven’t seen these guys play in a film like this before. Escape Plan is a very silly movie, full of cheesy dialogue, and plays into a lot of clichés, but at least the premise never stopped being interesting and the film remained fun throughout.
It can be a challenge to express why certain dramas work on a viewer more than others. A film like 12 Years A Slave, which is based on the true life chronicle of man kidnapped and forced into slavery, could function on a level that dwells purely on misery and offers little beyond sadness for the viewer to walk away with, but it is much more effective than that. 12 Years A Slave is a truly gripping story that most certainly serves as an unflinching look at a horrible period of a man’s life, within a time period where injustice against man may have been at its peak in America, but does so with a mood that seems to distinguish itself from other period dramas. It may have to do with the filmmakers behind this feature, the emotional rawness of the performances, or other factors, but the film sets a high-water mark for torturous odysseys portrayed on film, such as this, set during an awful time like slavery.
It is almost funny how long I put off actually writing a review for The Fifth Estate, the Bill Condon-directed film, which adapts two different books that focus on the news-leaking website WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange. The delay is not because I had a lot to consider, after seeing the film. It is actually quite the opposite. The Fifth Estate left me feeling with almost nothing, as the film is all over the place in presentation, one-sided in its overall viewpoint, and stands more as a shell containing a great performance from stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl, which would break apart quite easily without them. It is unfortunate, as I believe there could have been a way to make this story more interesting, especially given the talent involved.
I have a lot to say about Machete Kills, the latest Mexploitation film from director Robert Rodriguez. A lot of it may be negative, as the film, overall, tries too hard, despite having plenty of ideas and a wonderful ensemble cast, consisting of anyone who apparently had a free weekend at some point to come film with Rodriguez and his crew down at his studio. With that said, for whatever reason, I still know right now that I will easily see Machete Kills Again, when it eventually hits theaters. It is a strange thought to know that I am in the bag for the next installment of a series that seems to be getting worse, but I guess that just must be the power that Danny Trejo has over me.
There are many great moments in Captain Phillips, the drama that recreates the true story of a hijacking of a container vessel by Somali pirates that took place in 2009, based on the memoir of Captain Richard Phillips. One moment that comes to mind is a look that Tom Hanks gives during an early part of the film. It is a simple acknowledgment of something pivotal that is happening to his ship, but he finds exactly the right way to do this with just an expression on his face. This is an actor who has been working for over 30 years and still finds new ways to impress me. It could come down to the familiarity with ‘Tom Hanks the actor’, but he is able to say so much with a glance that it truly makes it all worthwhile when a film as good as Captain Phillips is manages to be anchored by very fine performance.
Machete Kills represents everything that’s wrong with Hollywood, sexploitation, extreme gore, bad dialogue, ridiculous plot and action sequences…you name it. But why do I love it so much?! Because it’s so much God d@mn fun! That’s why! If you can’t let go and have a fun time with a Machete flick, then you’re a robot! Loosen up. Let go of everything that makes sense in life. It’s perfectly acceptable to rip someone’s intestines out, jump out the window with them in tow and swing from them to the below building floor. Totally realistic! Right? Wrong! But who the hell cares?! This is Machete and this is the Austin’s prodigal son, Señor Robert Rodriguez. If you can’t respect that harmonious blend, then I have no reason to deal with you anymore. Move along. I’m sure there’s a Muppets review or two here on the site for you to look at. However, for everyone that’s serious in having a “grindhouse” of a good time, stick around…this one’s going to be fun, nonsensical and everything irrational as we discuss the second film in the planned trilogy, Machete Kills. Hold onto you inners, here we go! Continue reading ‘‘Machete Kills’ & Gets Laid Doing So…Again! (Movie Review)’
All The Boys Love Mandy Lane can now be finally seen by all. The first thing to really say is ‘Mandy Lane’ is an effective horror feature that trades in true originality for solid horror craftsmanship. There is a lot one can unpack in explaining the history behind how this film made back in 2006 is just now being released, but I see no need to really do so. The best I can do in this regard is stating how great a double feature of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane and You’re Next would be, as far as ‘good horror movies with troubled distribution history’ go. There may have been a delay, but the film certainly stands on its own as far as being a solid entry in the genre.
Gravity is an answer to what film can be all about. It charts a journey for a character, while presenting it in a most spectacular fashion. The amount of work that must have went into carefully crafting every aspect of this film, from the story to the tiniest visual detail that rears its head, is practically implausible for me to think about. This is a film that took years to develop, film, and release, but is such a triumph in almost every way that the wait was most definitely worth it. Every now and then there will be a film that I greatly anticipate for reasons beyond just expectation of an entertaining experience. Gravity more than met that level of expectation.
Runner Runner is the kind of trashy B-movie that doesn’t aspires to build a whole lot of expectation for the viewer. It simply wants to be seen as watchable. The film is harmless in what it presents, but it is a shame that no one really seems to care how effective this film turned out overall. It has a mix of good actors and good-looking locations, but the screenplay is so bland and paint-by-numbers that the sense of urgency in a film that literally has people hounded by crocodiles feels completely missing. There is an interesting idea to explore in the world of online gambling and how they are run by offshore companies, but Runner Runner fails to find it.
It’s extremely difficult to walk into a movie like this when there’s so much hype and garnered praise surrounding it. I mean, it has to be good, right? Well, that’s the exact sentiment and question I carried with me into Tuesday evening’s screening of Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity shown to all of us in 3-D IMAX. It just had to be epic! And so what?! Even if it sucked, how could you refuse this screening? It’s a space feature presented in 3-D IMAX! You can’t refuse that! No sane person can. It at least has to look breathtaking and gorgeous. However, with all the so very much positive praise and acclaim this picture has been receiving, I was willing to gamble on the fact that my Tuesday evening was going to be filled with something very stellar. And to think…this all began with my first introduction to the flick this past July at Comic-Con in beautiful San Diego at the “EW – The Visionaries” panel (see my coverage here). So before I start talking about Gravity I would like to lead in with this quote from James Cameron and let it brew while we travel farther in. “I think it’s the best space photography ever done, I think it’s the best space film ever done, and it’s the movie I’ve been hungry to see for an awful long time.” Continue reading ‘Let Go And Lose Yourself In ‘Gravity’ (Movie Review)’
Up until a few months ago, I never heard of this film. Then a star’s name in the billing credits caught my eye and that’s all it took. Hook…line…and sinker! Yeah, baby! That’s right! My Gemma’s in the house again and it’s time to get this party started! So needless to say when I received the press invite to this one on Wednesday night, there wasn’t even a second of hesitation. Anything lingering on my calendar, as far as I am concerned, can wait. Gemma needs my love and support. This movie can suck for all I care, but as long as Gemma looks good in it, you already have my money…if i was a paying customer. But let’s talk about that. Is Gemma Arterton and her newest flick worth the price of admission? And oh yeah…did I mention Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake also star in this one? I guess you can say there’s a star in this for every one. So let’s take a closer look and see if you’ll be prone to “run” away from Runner, Runner or stick around for me. Shoes all laced up? Good! Let’s hit the ground running… Continue reading ‘Gemma, Gemma! Err…I Mean ‘Runner, Runner’ (Movie Review)’
Just so I can get this out of the way, A.C.O.D. stands for ‘Adult Children of Divorce’. That actually makes the title of the movie sound less important than it is, but it will be tough to predict how often I plan on calling back to the full title of this movie. Regardless, as both a fan of the ensemble comedic cast in A.C.O.D. and an actual A.C.O.D. (though I’m working on the ‘Adult’ part), I had a lot of fun with this film. There is a lot of humor found in the exaggerated situations that this film puts its characters in, but still has a core sense of truth in its comedy. It is not the most laugh out loud comedy of the year, but I did enjoy where a lot of these laughs were coming from, as the film had some fun material to work with.
Four years ago I was delighted to walk out of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with a giant grin on my face. I went into that film not knowing what to expect and was overjoyed to find that it was this wonderful animated comedy, complete with great imagination, animation, a sense of irreverence that fits of the style of humor The Muppets have exhibited in their show and films, with the way it balances the jokes for people of all ages. ‘Cloudy’ has since stood as one of my favorite animated comedies of the past several years. Now we have the sequel, which has the task of following up something that I hold quite high esteem. It is very fortunate that this sequel lives up to its predecessor, as it finds away to be creative in a new way, while continuing to maintain the same level of comedic spirit.
First thing first, while this heavy metal concert film shares its title with the name of one of Metallica’s albums, the actual song, “Through the Never” does not appear in this film. It does not matter much, because that is not the band’s best song and film features an awesome greatest hits collection for any fan of this hard rocking group, as they perform in front of legions of fans on an epic stage. It also happens to have a side story depicting a surreal, apocalyptic adventure. This is certainly different than most rock concert movies, as it does little to shed light on the actual band and serves as more of an extended music video. For the most part, this works. Through the Never will play best for fans, but those seeking a loud concert film with the IMAX 3D seal of approval should be pretty happy with what they get.
As if Joseph Gordon-Levitt has not done enough to rank as one of my favorite young actors (Brick, Looper, 50/50, etc.), he has now gone and written, directed, and starred in his first feature film. Having the story surround a real ‘Don Juan’ who also has a porn addiction is a bit of an interesting choice for one’s first film, but given that the last sex addiction-related film I saw was Steve McQueen’s Shame, a great film with a great performance from Michael Fassbender that I will likely never watch again, Don Jon gets points for being very entertaining and genuine in its approach. There are certainly aspects of the film that show where Gordon-Levitt can improve upon his future career as a filmmaker, but as far as a first feature goes, Don Jon is mostly breezy fun matched with NSFW content.
Baggage Claim has come from a long line of romantic comedies featuring impossibly beautiful women with problems finding love. It is annoying to have to say something like, “take my words with a grain of salt, as this is not my preferred genre,” but it is true. Baggage Claim is definitely a film that is made for an audience that is into these kinds of clichéd romantic comedies, which feature attractive casts and the bare minimum requirements to develop a premise that slightly differs from those that came before it. One can throw the “hypocrite” label at me all they want, when I recommend a horror movie that feels ever so similar to another one and does not do a whole lot new, but what can I say? Some movies just do not work for me, especially when I have examples of similar ones that do. Baggage Claim may work as easy entertainment for some, but there is very little here that had me legitimately enjoying the film.
It’s not secret that I’m a big fan of the Step Up franchise. No those movies are not going to win any awards for the acting or writing, but then again, that’s not what you watch them for. It’s the dancing that these films are built around that is jaw-dropping, inspiring, and if nothing else, entertaining as hell. With Step Up 5 a year away, what was I ever to do to get my dance fix at the movie theater?
Prisoners does such a great job at providing many spooky possibilities for what could have happened to two innocent, little girls that it is a shame the ending does not quite pack more of a wallop. While certainly a dark and heavy kidnapping drama to get through, it is only able to accomplish so much before reaching a final act that settles for more conventional tactics. The film is very well acted by its two leading men, filled with other great actors doing fine work, and great to look at overall, making it the kind of adult-skewing feature that can garner a lot of attention, as it takes all those elements and works it into compelling subject matter. Prisoners is overlong and not a shining example of its genre, but it presents other interesting ideas, strong performances, and an overall tone that certainly makes it watchable, no matter how dark.