Archive for the 'Movies' Category

19
Jul
14

Stolen, Mud

Stolen

“THIS IS MY ACTING FACE!”

Did you like Commando? Did you like Taken? If so, then why not watch Stolen? It’s exactly the same movie as the others. Nicolas Cage plays a man whose daughter is kidnapped, and he must race against the clock to save her. Stolen is about as low-budget, straight-to-video as a movie can get. The film blew its wad getting Cage to star, and he acts alongside a lot of shoddy nobodies. Cage plays a bank robber who goes to jail after a botched job to steal $10 million. Once he is released, his former partner kidnaps his daughter, holding her hostage for the $10 million he feels he is owed. What follows next is a 90-minute traipse through New Orleans while Cage tracks down his former partner by any means necessary. The FBI are hot on Cage’s trail for no reason in particular other than he used to be a bad guy. Apparently, the FBI have nothing better to do like catching wanted criminals or protecting the U.S. from terrorists. Nope, let’s chase a guy who has already served out his sentence because he’s probably up to no good. The movie gets increasingly more ridiculous as Cage attempts to find his daughter. It reaches self-parody at one point when Cage is arrested and placed in an FBI vehicle, and moments later the vehicle crashes, flipping end over end, followed by Cage getting out of the car, talking on his cell phone with the kidnapper. At this point the movie has realized it is a giant piece of shit, so it might as well be as ridiculous as possible. In the movie’s favor, Cage doesn’t phone it in. He always invests 100% of himself in every movie, regardless of how bad it is. At least the guy has a work ethic.
Verdict: Shitty
Mud

“Don’t worry, ladies, my shirt WILL come off.”

After being mired in shitty romantic comedies for years, Matthew McConaughey decided to fire his agent so he could land roles in good movies. Mud is one such movie. McConaughey plays the titular Mud, a mysterious guy on a remote island in the south. He’s living in a boat that has somehow gotten lodged in a tree. One day he is discovered by a pair of teenage boys. There’s something shady about him, and that makes the boys want to know more about him. He wants to get in touch with his ex-girlfriend who is in town, but he can’t do it himself. Is he a criminal? Who is after him? The cops? The mafia? Definitely, there is more than meets the eye to this character. But the point of the movie isn’t really Mud at all. It’s the teenage boy played by Tye Sheridan. He’s the main character. He has a troubled home life, and he uses the discovery of Mud as a means of escaping a very shitty situation. Mud becomes a surrogate father to him. It’s kind of hard to describe this movie without giving away all the best parts. You’ll just have to take my word for it, that this is a movie well worth your time. It features rich characters, an intriguing backstory, and wonderful acting. Not only does McConaughey turn in a great performance, so does Sheridan. This movie really has it all. It’s the kind of film mainstream Hollywood wishes they could make. Be sure to check this one out.
Verdict: Good
05
Jul
14

Sandra Bullock in Space Made Me Shit My Pants

Gravity poster

I’m a little slow at getting around to new movies. I just don’t see the point in wasting $10 to see an overwrought, cliche piece of shit at the first-run theater. So, Mrs. Brik and I almost always wait to see stuff in the second-run theater. We spend a hell of a lot less money, and if the movie turns out to be shitty, it doesn’t feel like much of a loss. Gravity, like so many others, was a movie we waited to see in the second-run theater. That was a mistake. It was well worth the full admission price. I wish I had seen it sooner.

Gravity is less of a film and more of an event. It’s a massive spectacle that keeps you glued to the screen. You get completely lost in it. The typical things you expect in a film, like music, sound effects, character development, are thrown out the window. Gravity is like no other film before it. It is so different than other movies, you can’t judge it in the typical fashion. You don’t watch Gravity, you experience it.

Continue reading ‘Sandra Bullock in Space Made Me Shit My Pants’

21
Jun
14

Edge of Tom Cruise

Live. Die. Repeat. Live. Die. Repeat. Live. Die. Repeat. You get the idea.

Edge of Tomorrow is the newest vanity project from Tom Cruise. It’s based on the bizarrely titled Japanese novel All You Need is Kill. With a Scientologist lead actor, a sci-fi premise, Japanese source material, and a less than stellar trailer, this had all the makings of a disaster. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a disaster. Even more surprising, Edge of Tomorrow was pretty damn good.

I can’t say how faithful the film is to the source material, but it doesn’t really matter. The movie needs to be able to stand on its own in order to be successful. Fortunately, the story put forth by the filmmakers was compelling. Cruise plays Major William Cage, the military’s slimy PR guy who has never once stepped on the battlefield. He’s a weasel, for sure, and Cruise plays him with a smarmy attitude. We immediately dislike him, and we should, since he’s such a jerk. Cruise actually plays against type here, as a cowardly weakling who isn’t immediately the savior of the human race. His playing against type is a huge advantage for the movie, because if he played his usual hero-type, the movie would have fallen flat on its face.

Continue reading ‘Edge of Tom Cruise’

13
Jun
14

X-Men: Dayz of Futurez Pazt

Cool poster, X-dudes.

The newest X-Men film combines the casts of the original trilogy and the prequel film, X-Men: First Class. Wolverine’s consciousness is sent back in time from the distant future to 1973 where he must help Professor X and Magneto stop an event that will ultimately lead to the genocide of all mutants. I watched the original trilogy as a lead-in to this movie, mostly because I hadn’t seen them in ages, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be totally lost without a recap. Fortunately, you don’t really need to have seen the previous movies to enjoy Days of Future Past.
With that being said, I would still recommend watching First Class and the original trilogy just to get a sense of who the characters are, and to better understand their relationships and what drives them. Days of Future Past can be viewed as a standalone, and it holds up surprisingly well, but for maximum enjoyment, you’ll want to be versed in as much X-Men movie knowledge as possible.
First, the good.
1.) The movie is tightly plotted, and the story moves along at a good pace. While there are plenty of moments for dialog and reflection amongst the characters, there is never a dull moment.
2.) The acting is top-notch, with good performances on both sides of the temporal schism. All the older actors like Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Hugh Jackman fit comfortably into their well worn characters. McKellan is, sadly, given very little to do in this film, and it seems like a waste of his talents. But hey, he’s a part of this franchise and he and Stewart are SUPER BEST FRIENDS, so he might as well be in it. The younger actors turn in better performances, and James McAvoy, whom I usually find to be mediocre, actually surprised me. Professor X’s grief is dramatic and convincing. Of course, Michael F. Assbender is fantastic as the villainous Magneto. Jackman is present with both casts, and, once again, he is perfect as Wolverine.

Continue reading ‘X-Men: Dayz of Futurez Pazt’

24
May
14

X-Men Trilogy

X-Men

We love to wear black leather.

The first X-Men film is often credited with starting the resurgence of the superhero film genre, that is to say, treating the source material with respect and still crafting a great movie. I’d say it was Blade, two years earlier, but apparently I’m the only person who saw that one. Looking back on the original X-Men, it hasn’t aged well. Sure, there are many good points about it, but overall it’s pretty damn weak. The cast is probably the strongest aspect: Patrick Stewart looks like he came right off the pages of the comic as Professor X, Hugh Jackman is pitch-perfect as Wolverine, and Ian McKellan has the right amount of charm and menace to pull off Magneto. The rest of the cast also turns in good performances, like Sookie Stackhouse playing Rogue and Famke Janssen as Jean Grey.
The problems of the movie come with the story. There is a ton of groundwork to be laid, introducing the audience to the intricacies of the X-Men universe. Mutants are explained, anti-mutant governmental factions are explained, Professor X’s school is explained, Magneto and Professor X’s rift is explained, hell, the entire movie is a huge chunk of exposition. The story is told to the audience through the eyes of two newcomers, Rogue and Wolverine. While this was good to explain things, they spend too much time explaining. By the time everything is explained, the movie is in the final act. It almost seems like the setup to the X-Men movie rather than the actual movie itself. The plot, with Magneto trying to convert every human to a mutant is a little ridiculous, and seemingly not something you’d expect the first time out. It seems like this should have been used in a later story (like a subsequent film); it feels intangibly out of place here.
27
Apr
14

The Lego Movie

Hey, kids, be sure to buy all the toys!

Let’s just get this out of the way: The Lego Movie is not good. Everyone thinks it’s good, but it’s not. At best it’s average. People have become so blinded by the horrible garbage runoff that Hollywood incessantly churns out, that anything that isn’t remotely putrid is lauded as a masterpiece of cinema. That’s what happened with The Lego Movie. It wasn’t terrible, therefore, everyone thought it was amazing.
The Lego Movie starts out promising as it immediately critiques the homogenization of our culture, where everyone watches the same shitty TV show, drinks the same overpriced coffee, and listens to the same terrible pop music. “The Special” is the one person who will break the mold and revolutionize the Lego world. Unfortunately, this is where the film falls back in line with every trope you’ve seen before.

Continue reading ‘The Lego Movie’

19
Apr
14

The Big Gundown, Safe

The Big Gundown

“OK, Eastwood, this time I’m the star.”

Lee Van Cleef stars in this 1966 spaghetti western written and directed by Sergio Sollina. This is one of the more popular spaghetti westerns outside of the films made by Sergio Leone. Van Cleef plays a weird character, Corbett, who is a U.S. Senator and the best bounty hunter in the West. Um, what? I do like the idea of a Senator who isn’t afraid to take care of things on his own, but honestly, this idea makes no sense. Why the fuck would a Senator also moonlight as a bounty hunter? Isn’t he already busy enough in Washington? And shouldn’t he be there to do the job he was elected for? A more interesting movie might have featured Van Cleef playing a bounty hunter who tracked down politicians involved in illegal activities (i.e. all of them). Anyway, Van Cleef is tasked with capturing Mexican criminal Cuchillo, played by Thomas Milian. He tracks him across the U.S. and into Mexico. The events play out as a battle of one-upmanship with each character turning the tables on the other several times. There are a couple of memorable action scenes, and a fantastic soundtrack by the legendary Ennio Morricone. Van Cleef is great as ever, with a stoic, screen-filling presence, and a likeable ruthlessness about him. Milian holds his own, taking a more comical approach, and he becomes endearing as the bad guy. Near the end of the film, a greater threat rears it head and Van Cleef and Milian must join forces. The finale was pretty cool, but ended too abruptly for my tastes. Overall, this is a very good spaghetti western. The directing isn’t quite on par with that of Leone, but then again, Leone’s skill was unmatched. If you like the genre and haven’t seen this one, it is definitely worth checking out.
Verdict: Good
Safe

“Don’t worry Soon Yi, we’ll get you back to Woody Allen.”

Safe is a 2012 film starring Jason Statham as a former cage fighter who must protect a young Chinese girl from the mafia. Not only is Statham an ex-cage fighter, but he’s also an ex-cop. He’s probably also an ex-SAS operative and ex-MI-6 and ex-James Bond considering how skilled he is and how he never loses his cool. They piled on way too much for his character to be even remotely believable. Either ex-cage fighter or ex-cop would have been enough. Not both. The story is pretty basic: a Chinese girl who happens to be a math genius is kidnapped from the mainland and brought to the U.S. to work for Big Trouble in Little China’s Lo Pan. It’s not quite clear what they have her do, but they are really evil, so that’s enough for the audience to hate the bad guys (and wasn’t this plot already used in Bruce Willis’ movie Mercury Rising?). But wait! There’s more! The girl is kidnapped by the Russian Mafia because they want to exploit her, too! And then it turns out that the Chinese Triad and Russian Mafia are both in cahoots with the NYPD! ZOMG! There’s so many levels! It’s like Inception! My head practically exploded with all the ridiculous and unnecessary twists and turns in the story. The movie is basically about Statham protecting the girl and killing limitless bad guys in the process. They move from Point A to Point B, kill Triads or Mafiosos or dirty cops, rinse and repeat. In the end, Statham has to kill some random bad guy who doesn’t even show up until like 70 minutes into the 90 minute running time. How exactly was he supposed to be the final villain? There was no payoff whatsoever for the audience. I think that the most bizarre part of this movie is how the Russian Mafia and Chinese Triad run New York City. The cops are afraid of them, and they are a menace, gunning down innocent people in broad daylight. While I’m sure these guys are not to be trifled with in real life, I find it completely absurd to think that they have the manpower and resources to hold the entirety of New York City hostage. Give me a fucking break.
Verdict: Bad
12
Apr
14

Natural Born Killers – Oliver Stone Has No Talent and He Must Scream

Oh, so that’s what this movie is called.

In case you were wondering why people have a tendency to hate on Oliver Stone, just take a look at Natural Born Killers. It pretty much sums up everything the “auteur” director is about. He goes into full on pretentious cunt mode with this movie. He tries hard to make an “artistic film,” but it turns out to be the movie version of Taco Bell diarrhea. Stinky, wet, and cheap.

Did you ever see the old 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West? Half the time the scenes were filmed with the camera tilted to a 45 degree angle to make everything look all weird. Natural Born Killers is filmed like this for two fucking hours. I’m not sure if Stone was trying to evoke the old 60s Batman, but it sure looks like his audition tape to direct an episode. It becomes a chore to watch because you know he is doing it on purpose to be clever, but it comes off as stupid, and a lazy man’s way of making the movie “deep.”

Continue reading ‘Natural Born Killers – Oliver Stone Has No Talent and He Must Scream’

05
Apr
14

Identity Thief, The World’s End

Identify Thief

I hate this movie so much.

This is a classic, stupid, road-trip, piece-of-shit movie that Hollywood loves to produce and defecate on the masses every year. The set-up is as generic as possible. Jason Bateman plays an average, everyday schmuck who has his identity stolen by brash, morbidly obese Melissa McCarthy. She has stolen his identity, racked up huge credit card bills, and put him in trouble with his employer. He travels across the country to set things right. What happens next is a prolonged road-trip where he uses her to clear up all the problems with his employer. Of course, in typically cliche fashion, they learn from one another and becomes friends in the process. This story has been told a billion times before, and this movie brings nothing new to the table. The characters are completely bland and one-dimensional. McCarthy uses physical “comedy” to elicit laughs from the audience. She punches a lot of people in the balls and runs away. This, I think, is the primary gag in the movie. It is also a sad commentary on what this film is. It’s a punch in the balls to the audience. If you paid money to see this shit, you got punched in the balls. If you saw it for free on Netflix, you still got punched in the balls, because this movie sucked 111 minutes of your life away. Don’t waste your time with this stinky piece of shit.
Verdict: Shitty
The World’s End

British culture summarized in a single picture.

The World’s End is directed by Edgar Wright, starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and written by Wright and Pegg. It features the exploits of 6 childhood friends who return to their hometown to complete a famous pub crawl called “The Golden Mile.” The final pub on the crawl is the aptly named “World’s End.” The movie also forms the third act of the loose thematic “Cornetto Trilogy.” It’s one of those trilogies where none of the movies have anything in common except for the actors, director, and some thematic elements. I call bullshit on the fact they planned this as a trilogy. I bet they never had any consciousness of a trilogy back when they made the first or even second installments, but it only dawned on them when this movie went into production. In any case, the movie shows how different each of the 6 friends have become. Five of them have grown up, but one, Gary King played by Pegg, is still living life like he was 18 years old. He’s a drunk, a drug-addict, and an all-around loser. He revels in the nostalgia the pub crawl brings, while his other friends are wary of it. As the pub crawl goes on, the comedy becomes greater, and the characters warm up to each other. It seemed like things were really going to get deep, with serious character introspection, when the film throws a sudden curveball. It turns out that the town has been overrun by alien/bodysnatching robots. They started with this small town, and have plans for global domination. Only the 6 friends stand in their way. Things go balls-out crazy from this point forward. There are zany action scenes, chase sequences, killer robots, and heaping doses of comedy throughout the final act. The film turns itself into a commentary on our modern society and how everything has become homogenized (essentially all the pubs are identical) and how we have become like zombies, enslaved by our own technology. Zombies, hmm, yes, the alien robots are pretty much exactly like zombies. Which brings me to my biggest complaint about the film. The first film in the “Cornetto Trilogy,” Shaun of the Dead, was a spoof on zombie movies. The second, Hot Fuzz, was a spoof on cop movies. This film, sort of backtracks and does the zombie thing again. The town is overrun, the heroes are outnumbered, and slowly they are all turned into alien robots. They already did this before, and it seems like the filmmakers are spinning their wheels. The other problem was that the character depth we were just on the brink of experiencing was thrown away in favor of chases and fights. The characters do show growth by the end, but only in the most superficial ways (Gary quits drinking). To be perfectly honest, I greatly preferred the first half of the film. I want to see more of that, I want to see where those characters go in an organic way, without all the gimmickry of alien robots. Alas, we’ll never know. Overall, though, this was a fun movie. It was about something, had a deeper message, and had great action and comedy. Of the “Cornette Trilogy,” I’d say it’s my second favorite entry. Here’s how I would rank all three films:
Hot Fuzz > The World’s End > Shaun of the Dead
Verdict: Good
22
Mar
14

Veronica Mars: The Movie

A long time ago, we used to be friends.

If you’ve never seen the TV show Veronica Mars, then don’t make the movie your introduction. You won’t get it. Sure, you’ll be able to follow the story, but you’ll miss the inside jokes and you won’t appreciate the cameos from the various cast members. If you have seen Veronica Mars and are a fan, then chances are you’ve already seen the movie. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s about a teenage girl who moonlights as a private detective. She’s like the high school version of Philip Marlowe. And as ridiculous as the concept seemed, it somehow worked.
Mrs. Brik is a die-hard Veronica Mars fan. She used my hard-earned money to help fund the Kickstarter to get the movie made. I’m sure you know that story, how this is the largest fan-funded movie of all time. Veronica Mars fans are crazy and love them some Kristin Bell. They would jump at any chance to revisit the show.
The series had no sense of closure after it was unceremoniously cancelled in 2007 in favor of a Pussycat Dolls reality show. Great move, CW, way to go, how are the Pussycat Dolls doing these days? The movie was made not just to see our favorite characters again, but to provide a more appropriate conclusion to the series. So, how did it turn out? Continue reading ‘Veronica Mars: The Movie’



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