Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2015

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I never thought I would see the day that there would be a sequel to Return of the Jedi. Granted, Star Wars is too big a property to NOT make further films. But I had always predicted they would be new stories unrelated to the original trilogy. But the fact that Episode VII is including Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in significant roles (Harrison Ford, at least) is incredible, in my eyes. Much like any child, I grew up obsessing over Star Wars. In fact, Empire Strikes Back is my all-time favorite movie. Granted, up until a couple years ago, A New Hope was on top of the list. We were all burned by the prequels (sans Episode III [I still have fun with that one]), but I am cautiously optimistic about this one. When Episode I came out, I was still a kid and enjoyed it. Obviously, the older you get, the more you see decay in the prequels. Episode III may be my favorite of the prequels, but Episode I LOOKED the most like a Star Wars films. First off, it was the only Episode to be shot on film. So that's a world of difference right there. Secondly, it appeared to have a fuck-ton more sets than the latter entries. Therein lies the one attribute to Episode VII that I KNOW will soar: The sets. Abrams knows that sets are what made the previous Star Wars' believable. Hell, they built the Millennium Falcon full-scale AND functioning (sans the flight-ability, I guess).

Does having practical sets mean the film is going to be good? No. The film could turn out to be utter shit. But at least we'll have some practicality. And that is half of what the Star Wars legacy is about. As shallow as that may sound, it's true. Aside from the great characters and arcs delivered in the original trilogy, the sets and practical FX are what immersed you into that world a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

After the second trailer for The Force Awakens arrives with Avengers: Age of Ultron, I'm probably going to commit internet-suicide. Because the rumor-mill is already in full-rotation. If this was an indirect sequel with all-new characters, I would steer away from spoilers, but considering the fact that the Skywalker/Solo trio are in this, it's so fucking hard to avoid any spoilers I can get my hands on.

It'll also be interesting to see a Star Wars film with a sequence shot in IMAX. The 3D will look good, I'm sure. But I'm really curious about the IMAX sequence. From what I gathered, it's the sequence in the first trailer with the Tie Fighters and the Millennium Falcon. I just know that my initial viewing is going to be in good ole regular 2D. Reason being, I want to see it first the way I've seen the previous 6. The way I look at it, if it kicks ass, each viewing will only get better due to IMAX 3D.

Another plus, no George Lucas. Unlike most people, I don't have a distain towards the man. He almost literally crafted my childhood. And what he did with the Special Editions and prequels, I don't think he was malicious about it. I just think he's lazy and senile. Almost like an uncle you gotta' put into a home. He seems like a great guy. He appears to be very charitable and kind. But along the way, he lost his touch and creativity. It just so happens to be that his legacy needed an adult diaper because he shit all over it.

2. Blood Father

Chances are, you probably haven't heard about this film. Why? Because it's Mel Gibson's new movie. Unfortunately, the guy can't catch a break. The Beaver only got released to 500 theatres in 2011, Get The Gringo was straight to DirecTV in 2012, Machete Kills never really had a shot at being a hit due to being a sequel to a fake trailer, and The Expendables 3 leaked online, so that was the knife to that film's throat. This is apparently being released by Lionsgate this year. And my fingers are crossed that it'll be a theatrical one.

The film is essentially a Taken-esque story. Mel plays an ex-Hell's Angel, his daughter gets kidnapped by a drug cartel, and well, Mel does what he does best. Seeks revenge on the those who endanger his family. Is the story wholly original? Not at all. But what you need to remember is that before Taken, Gibson kinda' owned the revenge tale. Look at Mad Max, Lethal Weapon 2, Braveheart, Ransom, Payback, The Patriot, Edge of Darkness. So if you took Liam Neeson and his recent run-of-the-mill revenge actioners out of the equation, this is right up Gibson's alley.

What seems to set this apart from Mel's more recent previous films is his appearance. In this he appears to be tatted up, bulked up and sports a beard for a chunk of the movie. Okay, fucking rad. Dude deserves a fucking hit. Or at least a moderate one. Say it flops, at least give it a chance to flops. No limited release, no STV, no DirecTV-exclusive.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

The best possible news about this film came out this week. It's rated R. Rejoice. I would have bet $9 and a flat soda that this was going to be released theatrically as PG-13. But maybe the studio came to their senses knowing that A) Most teens aren't going to flock out to this. B) It's not the most recognizable franchise, so might as well appeal to the die-hard fans. C) It's called Mad Max, not Moderately Mad Max.

Tom Hardy is one of maybe... 5 actors working today that you truly believe is a badass. So to take over the reigns from Mel Gibson, I'm okay with that. It also doesn't hurt that he looks the fucking part. If you put Max from Road Warrior and Max from Fury Road side by side and said they were brothers, it would be totally believable.

The film itself looks damn cool. Though, it may be a tad too "stylish" for my liking, it looks like a lot of fun. Sans the fire tornado, the majority of the stunts and sequences look practical. We've had about 3 trailers already, and I still can't decipher a story. But then again, the only Mad Max film with an actual STORY is the first. Road Warrior (being my favorite) is pretty bare-bones, in terms of story. But at the same rate, Max's arc started and finished in the first film. In Road Warrior, he was essentially a mute drifter who you merely observed for half the film. That's the charm of the film. It's unconventional. And I'd rather not discuss Beyond Thunderdome. Going back to Fury Road, it just looks like an adrenaline-ride. And I'm okay with that. Give me blood, fire and fuel and I'll be alright.

4. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

In all honesty, this and Mad Max: Fury Road are neck-and-neck. I LOVED Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Before M:I-GP, I wasn't even that big a fan of the Mission: Impossible series. They were fun action films, but Ghost Protocol really fucking upped the ante. Then Mission: Impossible 5 got announced. It's going to take a lot to top Ghost Protocol, but the film still looks stellar nonetheless.

Unfortunately, it's not being directed by Brad Bird, who directed Ghost Protocol. Christopher McQuarrie is directing this installment. And I'll take that as "good news/bad news". Though, Bird isn't spearheading the film, McQuarrie did a great job directing Jack Reacher with Tom Cruise. And judging from the trailer, McQuarrie did a great job with handling the action. In Ghost Protocol, THEE sequence was Tom Cruise actually climbing the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, India. THEE sequence in Rogue Nation? Tom Cruise hanging onto a Military aircraft. From take-off to flight. I'm not sure what the sequence entails, I just know it's 100% real (hell, just watch the raw footage or them filming: HERE). No CGI trickery (aside from removing the wires). You gotta' admire Cruise and his dedication to believability when it comes to film.

It also doesn't hurt that they expand Simon Pegg's role, bring Ving Rhames back into the fold and the addition of Alex Baldwin is pretty killer. And if there is one way to see it first, it's IMAX. The Burj Khalifa sequence in Ghost Protocol made me lose my stomach at times, so Im sure they're going for the same nausea-inducing effect with the Military aircraft sequence this time around.

5. Creed

I was so conflicted about this film for the longest time. Rocky Balboa ended on the PERFECT note. I don't know a single person who doesn't love or at least like that film. It just feels... Wrong to have a spin-off for a Rocky film. The interesting thing about it is that the director of the film came to Stallone with the idea.

If you're reading this right now, you more than likely know that I met Stallone recently, and due to that, I have warmed up to the notion of this film. It's because of this film that I got to meet my hero. I met him a few weeks before he started filming, but it's because of this film that I met him. So I feel that I owe it a shot. That isn't to say that I wouldn't look forward to it or watch it. It's fucking Stallone. Of course I'm going to. I just feel an openness towards the project now. Since then, plot points and set photos have appeared online and I gotta' say, it's sounding and looking more promising. Though, I am a bit nervous about one thing. In the film, Rocky has cancer. Don't worry, I'm almost certain it's not a spoiler. It was hinted at in the synopsis and in set photos, he looks very unhealthy (chemo-related physical side-effects). There are a few other very sad events that take place in the film (unrelated to Rock's health). But those would be deemed "spoilers", so I won't touch upon them.

This will no doubt be the saddest Rocky film. I just hope it's not the worst.

6. The Hateful Eight

Tarantino is one of those film makers that I don't always like to admit that I like to just anyone. Not because I'm embarrassed to say I like his work. Because I'm not. I love his films. It's just that in recent years, the more successful his films get, the more you hear about how "innovative" he is from people who know not a god damn thing about film. Wait! You have a mustache, a PBR in hand AND a corduroy jacket with patches?! Fuck, you definitely know good cinema! Wait... You love Tarantino, too?! I bet your DGA card is next to your Urban Outfitters gift card, too. I'm I getting somewhere with this, right?

Oh yeah, Tarantino. I have always felt that Tarantino has been a damn good rip-off. He takes other artist's work and does indeed make it his own. But it's still... Other people's work. He did it with Reservoir Dogs, he did it with Inglorious Basterds and he did it with Django Unchained. That is why Jackie Brown is still my favorite film by him (though, he traded "Foxy" for "Jackie", but whatever). It is still his most mature film to date.

So... I was going somewhere with this, right? I put this movie on this list for a reason. Of course! Kurt Russell. And Kurt Russell's mustache from Tombstone on steroids.

7. Jurassic World

I mean, dinosaurs, right? Jurassic Park. Awesome. The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Eh, alright. Jurassic Park III. A glorified Sci-Fi (SyFy now) original film. Jurassic World looks to step it up a notch from the previous two installments, but it still looks to be... Off. Is it likely to touch the original? Not by a long shot. But at least the Park, or rather, World, has been realized. From that, there is probably a lot of fun to be had.

8. Terminator: Genisys

Much like the Jurassic World, this is a franchise that has been driven into the ground, and even further than that. Terminator: Salvation makes T3 look like Casablanca. Obviously, the benefit that Genisys has is that Schwarzenegger is... Here it comes... The line you're waiting to here... Returning to the franchise that made him an international sensation. But seriously, having him back will make a fraction of the film enjoyable. Who knows, it may be good. Considering they've created an alternate timeline, it could work. In my opinion, by doing that, you avoid the risk of tarnishing what came before, and set yourself on your own path of failure.

9. Maggie

The zombie craze was out of hand years ago, now with The Walking Dead's generic and overly-repetitive premise pouring onto TV's screens week in and week out, it should be considered a crisis in of itself. This film seems to set itself apart from the typical zombie-fare that we're used to endure. Obviously, it's a departure from Schwarzenegger's typical roles, so there's something fresh right there. Judging from the trailer, it's going to play out in a more dramatic sense than the shoot-em-up/slice-em-and-dice-em zombie film. He also appears to give a more serious performance than we're used to.

10. Straight Outta Compton

This film seems to be out of left field for me, but truth be told, it looks damn fun. I'm not a rap fan at all, but I can appreciate the more old school artists. The diarrhea being pumped onto the air waves today is absolute garbage. At least with NWA I hear a message. The film looks like a hybrid between Boyz N The Hood and The Wolf of Wall Street. It also doesn't hurt to have Paul Giamotti essentially playing Pig Vomit from Private Parts again!

Here's to hoping that the year of 2015 is full of expectations being met and pleasant surprises! Will half the films on the list fall flat on their faces whilst drowning in their own puke? Probably. Only time will tell...

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Night That I Met Sylvester Stallone

There are very few actors that inspire as much as Sylvester Stallone has. Yes, everyone has their personal heroes. And for those who know me, Sly is at top of the list. Yes, Mel Gibson is as well (but for "other" reasons). Rocky is universal to most people. You're told that you can't achieve what you're setting out to achieve. Told that you can't go the distance. All in all, you're told you just... Cannot. Rocky is the "fuck you" to those people. THAT is what makes Rocky universal to everyone. The whole message of Rocky is not ACHEIVING, it's going the distance. You can die saying, "I tried". Sylvester Stallone IS Rocky. And everyone has a Rocky Balboa in them.

Before I delve into how the night unfolded, I'll be honest, I wasn't all too happy about the announcement of the Rocky spin-off "Creed". I absolutely loved Rocky Balboa (2006) (you can read my review HERE). In fact, it's my favorite Rocky film. I felt it concluded the series so fucking perfectly. So the idea of a spin-off was a little disconcerting. But then the realization of them having to film in Philly set in. And that's when I realized that the dream of meeting my hero could possibly become a reality. I immediately warmed up to the notion of "Creed".

I remember being at a bar with my friends JD, Jen and Mike. And I thought, "Why not do a Philly Rocky Tour?". Were chances of meeting Sly slim? Of course. But I figured I owed it to myself to tour the spots in which catapulted his career and made history. We all agreed on the idea, considering Philly is only an hour away from us. We chose a date, January 28th. It just so happened to mesh with everyone's schedules. A week before the said tour, a few people couldn't do it. So we kinda' nixed the plan. I found out that Stallone was staying at the Four Seasons in Philly, and said, "Fuck it." and booked a room. If this was my chance to meet my idol, then that's what I'm going to do. As I got to the room, I got a call from my buddy JD saying, "Hey, Jen and I are in town, so if you wanna' get dinner somewhere, I'm game". He booked a reservation at Victor Café (IE: Adrian's Restaurant in Rocky Balboa). Even though, we didn't do a tour of the rest of locations, at least we got to go there, enjoy a meal, drink, maybe drink some more, and well... Drink a little more. And on top of that, that was actually on the top of my list in terms of locations to visit.

Now, bare with me with the little details that seem to be unimportant at first. They most definitely matter when all is said and done. JD and Jen said they were picking me up at 5:30, so I put on my black dress shirt (under my Rambo shirt, of course), and headed down to the lobby. Lo and behold, they arrived right on time. I told JD that I would leave my metal vest in the car since it's a classy restaurant. For those of you who don't know, Victor Café is an old school Italian restaurant in South Philly where the staff (waiters, bar tenders, etc.) sing opera every half hour or so. It's fancy, yet very homey. So we arrive on the street in which the restaurant is located, find a parking spot and head to the restaurant. The only issue... I forgot to leave my metal vest in the car. Whatever, it's too late, we're already headed over. Once I get to the exterior of the building, I'm just in awe. I've seen Rocky Balboa AT LEAST 30 times. To be at Adrian's Restaurant was just incredible. You walk a few feet to left of the building, and that's the alley in which Rocky gives his son the speech "It ain't about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward! How much you can take! And keep moving forward!". We walk in, I see the bar to the left that Paulie insults everyone. To the right is where Spider Rico was sitting. I peek down the steps, there's the kitchen Spider Rico was doing dishes. Everywhere I looked, I had the film playing over and over and over again in my head. The hostess seats us, and the water girl comes over. My buddy JD asks, "Is Stallone coming tonight?" as a joke. She pours our water and says, "You never know..." In an almost nervous fashion. Once she left, I turn over to JD and ask him, "Didn't that seem odd?". He didn't know what I was talking about. I elaborated saying that the way she said it was just odd.

As we're looking over our menus, our waiter Carl comes over. He asks how our evening is going, etc. And JD jokes again, "Is Stallone coming in tonight? He's in town". He responds, "He's got a reservation". I drop my menu and stare directly at him and say, "Are you fucking serious?!". He said that he should be in soon. JD then explains to our waiter what an enormous Stallone fan I am. I don't think I had the words, breath or composure to do so. I then showed him my Rambo shirt, the Rambo pins, Rocky IV and Expendables patches on my vest. Immediately after our waiter had left the table, I took both Jen and JD's hands and put them on my chest. My heart felt as if it was going a million miles a minute.

Fast-forward about 20 minutes, I see Jen and JD look over to the front of the restaurant, I felt like the girl in Jurassic Park holding the spoon of Jell-O knowing there's a Velociraptor behind her. I was afraid to look. Because I knew who was there. I then look to my right, and there he is... Rocky Balboa, John Rambo... Sylvester Stallone. You would have to ask my friends what the fuck I did. Because I felt as if I was going to black out. I can't remember my initial response. All that I remember was when he was walking towards me to sit down at his table about 20 feet away, mopping the floor with my jaw as I gave him one single wave... Then he waved back with the look of, "Yo, how you doin'?". I was ready to burst into tears.

Our waiter had come back to the table and I had asked him if I could cancel my dinner because I was ready to throw up, cry, and kill myself. I felt like a girl on prom night. The only appetite I had was for wine, wine and more wine. I still could not believe that the trip that we had all planned was nixed and last minute we decided to go to the restaurant anyway. It's unfathomable as to how well the timing was.

So it was our waiter's turn to sing, coincidentally right between our table and Sly's. Through out the duration of his performance, Sly is DIRECTLY in my eye-line. Did I want to stare at him? OF FUCKING COURSE. Did I? No. Even though, inside I was losing my shit, I didn't want to portray that. Through out his performance, I made eye contact with Sly once, and all I that I knew to do was... Give him a thumbs up. What the fuck? Luckily enough, he gave a wave back. By the time our waiter's song was over, it had gotten around to the staff that I was the biggest Stallone fan in the room. One of the staff members had given me words of encouragement to walk up to the table and meet him. Stallone may be my hero, and I may be an enormous fan, but I didn't want to burn myself by interrupting him eating his meal. But as pointed out by the staff, he was almost done. So I went upstairs to the bathroom, took a piss, washed my hands until the skin almost fell off and looked into the mirror building up my confidence to walk up to him. I said, "FUCK IT! DO IT!".

I walked down the stairs and walked up to his table. On the one side was the actor Frank Pesce and what I believe was his daughter, and Stallone on the other side, with his arm on an empty chair. I said, "Mr. Stallone, I hope Im not interrupting your meal, but I am an enormous fan of yours, and would love to have a picture with you". Then I proceeded to show him my Rambo shirt to make him aware that I wasn't just someone who knew who he was and wanted a picture. I wanted him to know that I was a legitimate fan. I'll never forget the words, "Sure, sit down". HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. I sat down next to Sly, and by that time JD and Jen had already walked over to take pictures with Jen's camera. Here is where the metal vest comes into play. As I sat down, Stallone grabbed my vest and said, "What is all this shit?". I then proceeded to tell him, "It's your shit. I've got a Rocky patch, an Expendables patch, Rambo pins". Then he said, "Isn't this heavy?". To be quite honest, I don't remember a god damn word I said in response to that. Jen took the pictures, then I asked if I could take a selfie. He agreed. I then called it a "Slyfie" and he laughed. After, I showed him pictures of my guest room which is comprised of Expendables banners, Escape Plan banners, Rambo standees, and a knife case of all of the Rambo and Expendables knives. I remember him saying, "Wow, you've got all the knives". I then thanked him for his time, shook his hand then went back to my table and consumed as much wine and beer as I could without throwing up due to sheer excitement.

We milked the rest of our time until we felt he was about to leave. I just wanted to shake his hand and thank him once more to really show my appreciation... Or just to interact with my hero once more. Whichever one. We went outside, he left, I said, "Thank you again, Sly", he took pictures with Jen and JD, he said goodnight, and then he left.

I already have the pictures printed and framed in my apartment, and I still cannot believe that it happened. Ever since, I've felt like the happiest man in the world. Though, a long-winded transcript of my experience it may have been, there are so many details that I have left out. I would just like to thank Carl and the rest of the staff of Victor Café, and most importantly JD and Jen for sharing the experience with me. I love you guys.

"This is the greatest night in the history of my life"
Rocky Balboa, Rocky II

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Top 10 Films of 2014

1. The Expendables 3

Surprise. (Read review HERE).

2. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is one of those directors who gets his cock sucked left and right. The problem I have with it, is that most people who stand behind the "In Nolan We Trust" mantra is... They know next to nothing about film. It's easy to "love" Nolan. He makes accessible films for both the mainstream average movie-goer and film-fanatics alike. And the people who rally behind him, and believe he is without flaws are merely people who haven't seen enough films to know what a god damn flaw is.

I know that first paragraph sounded like the beginning of an anti-Nolan rant. And I guess it was. But now the rest of this review is put into perspective as to how good Interstellar actually was.

I can honestly say that I love most of Christopher Nolan's films for what they are. Well-crafted, modern mainstream popcorn films. But something about Interstellar seemed as if it was going to be overly-pretentious and bland. So because I had that notion in my head, I was almost rooting against the film. Just because buzz around a film can either inflate or deflate your excitement a film. Once the film was over... I was very impressed. I believe it was a combination of having moderate expectations and the film actually being as good as it was.

There are so many things going for the film. I'll start with the cast. There are some Nolan alumni in here (Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway). But it really is Matthew McConaughey who is the glue of the film. He's an intelligent, risk-taking family man. And it's all three of those qualities that make him the driving force for the film. He is a very relatable human character that does extraordinary things. But it's all in the confines of believability, if you can wrap your head around the scientific theories this film demonstrates. A lot of emotion is concentrated in his character Cooper. And for a film this ambitious and large in scope, it's crucial. Otherwise, it would be an almost-3-hour tiresome science-fiction film. But that isn't to say the rest of the cast isn't great. Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, everybody is great here. And the film had a hidden actor not in the billing cast that was a nice surprise for such a high-profile film like this.

This film was originally supposed to be directed by Steven Spielberg. And the more I think about it, I don't think it would have been nearly the film that it is. I only say that because I think it would have been played a little more safe. Some of the scenes in this film are pretty fucking intense. The shuttle take-off scene was particularly uncomfortable (in the best possible way). From the sound design and the sense of claustrophobia, I don't see it being as intense in Spielberg's hands (and Spielberg is my favorite film director).

The visual FX were incredible, as you might expect. But they didn't look like "good special FX" like in a movie such as Pirates of the Caribbean or Transformers. There were scenes that looked 100% photorealistic. If they had told me that they had photographed IMAX-sized Hubble Telescope images, and it wasn't from a Hollywood film FX company, I would have believed them. Granted, the more fantastical scenes and images were a little less believable, but fantastic special FX nonetheless!

The one stand-out elements of the film was the score. Now of course Hans Zimmer is a master of his craft. And almost any project he's involved with will surely have a damn good score, regardless of the film's quality. But his score for Interstellar can be split into two categories. The modern Hans Zimmer score you would come to expect from him. And a harken back to the sci-fi scores of the 70's. Granted, the 70's aspect of his score doesn't feel like a cheap nudge to the ribs. To give a perfect example as what it DOESN'T try to achieve: Look at a lot of the modern "throwback" horror films that use 80's synth for the majority of it's score. You know whole well what they're doing. And it's cheap and throw-away. Zimmer's score for Interstellar really blends with the film. So much so that I didn't even notice it in the film until I was walking past one of the theatres it was playing in as I was checking theatres, making sure my ushers were doing their jobs. I literally stopped in my tracks to listen to it. Zimmer really did a fantastic job with the score and added yet another layer to an already rich film.

I really could not be happier with the film. Any film that makes you feel like a fucking speck of dust in an otherwise endless universe and makes you want to kill yourself, is okay in my book.

3. Gone Girl

If there is one director in which I am looking forward to their next project, regardless of subject material, it's David Fincher. This is the man who made "The Facebook Movie" not only watchable, but even... Good. He really is a master of his craft. He knows style, story, writing, casting, music and hell, even marketing. You have directors like James Cameron, who are technical geniuses, but may not know how to direct 180 pounds of flesh how to deliver a line. Then you have a thousand indie directors who know how to get a performance out of an actor, but can't direct a film to save their family. And then there's David Fincher.

What I loved so much about Gone Girl was that it took almost 15-20 minutes to understand why he chose this, of all projects, as his next one. Granted, the first 15 or so minutes were good and well-done, I just didn't grasp why THIS film. And then the movie turned into Se7en. And I don't mean that it felt all too familiar. I mean that any great director puts a good stamp on their work. Did it mimic Se7en completely? No. For the most part, it has nothing to do with that film. It's just that Fincher knows how to guide you through a story without you guessing 90 minutes ahead. Of course, this is an adaptation, so 60% of the audience knew the conclusion of the story. But me, having not read the book, I was unsure as to where it was going to go. And that is all due to all the pieces being laid out meticulously, and treating the audience as if they had at least half a brain.

Films like these, casting is crucial. Actors like Ben Affleck aren't the most likeable, but recognizable. But given the proper director, you can play on their strengths and weaknesses. Is Ben Affleck an awful actor? Absolutely not. But I'll never look forward to "the next Ben Affleck film". Yes, he's delivered passable directorial efforts. But he never had that "likeability" for me. In the film, without giving too much away, he is both sympathetic and despicable. For the majority of his character, you feel sympathy. But there is a portion in which you feel a little distain. Rosamund Pike, who plays who his wife, the "Gone Girl", she is a lot less a sympathetic character. In fact, there's no sympathy. Guess I gave that away. Moving on...

Tyler Perry. Maybe this guy isn't such a fucking waste of time after all. If I were him, I would choose an "actor-for-hire" career path as opposed to producing his own acting endeavors. Because he was plain and simple... Great in this film. Well, was he "great" in the film? No. He was very very good. Why? Because he played it straight. He's been shroud in this joke-of-an-actor cloud due to his own choices. But turns out, he can actually act. He was just fine in JJ Abrams' Star Trek, and he was rather good in this.

In the hands of any other director, this could have been a Lifetime Original Movie. And yet, it's one of the year's best. 'Nuff said?

4. Godzilla

I already did a write-up of Godzilla (Read review HERE), but the film is worth re-reviewing(?). I've seen the film a couple times on Blu-ray since, and it still holds up. This is a "sigh of relief" film. This could have been horrendous. And it wasn't. Is it the quintessential Godzilla film? Absolutely not. But it's the quintessential American Godzilla film. 1 out of 2? Not bad.

5. Supermenche: The Legend of Shep Gordon

God damn, was this a surprise. Was it a surprise that I would enjoy a documentary about Alice Cooper's manager? No. Was it was it a surprise that a documentary about Alice Cooper's manager was so fucking good? Yes.

This documentary was directed by Mike Myers, and you can tell that he poured his heart into it. There are segments that will produce a tear or two. I obviously know almost all of Shep Gordon's history with Alice Cooper. But there is so much more to the man than him just managing Alice Cooper. He has managed A-listers from almost every spectrum. From music, to acting, to culinary arts. If the term "well-rounded career" could be pinned on anybody, it's Shep Gordon.

The film takes you on a journey from one young Jewish man's venture from sex, drugs and rock 'n roll to sex, meditation and culinary arts. And it's as crazy a journey as it sounds. But more importantly, it's all heart. There is never a moment in the film where you ever side against the man. And that's a very rare allegiance, if you will, to have for a manager.

Oh, and having Alice Cooper & Sylvester Stallone as talking heads: A plus.

6. Super Duper Alice Cooper

This one is a no-brainer. I don't say that because any documentary on Alice Cooper is going to be good. I say that, because if you're going to do a documentary on Alice Cooper, it has to be different. And this is quite different. Unlike Supermenche: The Legend of Shep Gordon, it has no talking heads. In fact, you don't see a single talking head until the end. And it's technically not even a part of the documentary. It's more so an extra. Instead, the whole film depicts Alice's trek in animation and video clips with commentary and voice-overs. Though, it's not drawn-animation. It's animated though existing photographs and images. And it's done rather well.

I don't need to delve into his whole story because you know 65% of it. Though, to give you more incentive to watch it, it does expand on those said stories. The other 35% consists of events not cemented into the legend of Alice Cooper. There is one particular segment that even caught me by surprise. And that was the fact that Alice had free-based. I was always under the impression that he had just been a "beer-drinking, woman-chasing minister's son" (to quote Alice Cooper's "Guilty"). And in any interview I have ever seen, read or heard... Alcoholism was all there ever was. Crack was never mentioned when it came to his 40+-year career. Apparently, the producers of the film had dug this up, discussed it with Alice, and all the cards were laid out on the table.

If you love Alice Cooper, this is a mandatory to watch. If you casually like the guy, check it out. If you don't like him... Why the fuck are you reading this?

7. Cold In July

This is a film that I feel was sorely overlooked this year. It barely got a theatrical release, and was essentially a VOD release. Would it have done well in theatres? Doubtful. But at least give a film a chance to fail.

There are three main factors as to which this was even on my radar. One: Don Johnson. Two: the trailer music was damn good (from a band called Dynatron). Three: the film just looked damn good.

As I mentioned above, the trailer is what sold me on the film. But what MAKES the film is what the trailer DOESN'T show you. The film essentially looks like a typical "man's home gets terrorized, man seeks out help outside the law, man gets justice". Well, it's not. That's only half the film. Say no more, I will.

Like I said, Don Johnson was the primary reason for wanting to catch the flick, and though, Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard are damn good in it, Don Johnson steals the show. But that's just what Sonny does.

Also, if you get the chance, check out Dynatron's "Cosmo Black". That's the track used in the trailer, and it's killer. It's a retro-synth band, but that track is too damn catchy to not like.

8. Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise has been on a roll when it comes to picking and choosing his projects as of late. Granted, there have been a few critical and commercial duds here and there. I didn't really care for Oblivion, but I see what he saw in the project. But I loved Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (the best in the series, in my opinion), Jack Reacher was great and I loved Edge of Tomorrow.

The film is commonly referred to as the Groundhog Day of sci-fi. And that is not only a perfect description, but also great premise. The film, on paper, sounds like it could get monotonous, but it does anything but. A soldier waking up in the same time and place, over and over again, amidst an alien war. What director Doug Liman delivers is a fun and energetic ride. I like to refer to the film as "the perfect video game movie". And I mean that in a couple different ways. First and foremost, the plot device: Restart. When you play a video game, you start off at the beginning and then you usually die off. Plain and simple. You start again, and get a little further because you learned a couple of things along the way. Then you die again. The third time, you maybe get a lot further because you learned a few more things. And the process repeats itself. That's essentially how the film progresses. This cowardly soldier becomes a "weapon". But of course, there is more to the story than that.

The other "video game" aspect of the film are the special FX. They're good, but a lot of the times they do feel like a video game (as a lot of Hollywood films do). Good FX, but not deemed "amazing".

You're either a Tom Cruise guy or not. I so happen to be one. If you aren't, watch the film anyway. He dies like... A lot.

9. Sabotage

Not really much more to say about the film than I already have. (Read review HERE).

10. The Raid 2

I wasn't a fan of the first. A lot of people were, and I guess I get it. It just felt all too straight-to-video to me. Great fight choreography, for sure! Other than that, not much else going for the film.

The Raid 2 was FAR more superior. It had rectified most of the issues I had with the first. The story was more involved, the cinematography was brought to a professional level and it really fleshed out the world in which the characters were inhabiting. Though, I'm well aware the first film didn't lend itself to many of those aspects.

The most prominent reason why The Raid 2 kicked so much as was because... It kicked so much ass. It was so inventive with it's violence. A lot of cringe-inducing scenes. Which makes it all the better. It's almost as if the Saw-franchise had a brain... And good cinematography... And a story... And talent... And anything else that it took to make a film watchable.

And those are my favorite films of 2014. Are a lot of them going to revolutionize cinema forever? Hell no. But rewatchability is key for me. And there isn't a single film on this list I wouldn't rewatch again and again.

We'll see what 2015 brings. Will Mad Max: Fury Road be as rad as it looks? Will Terminator: Genesys be as bad as it looks? Will Jurassic World do anything to prove that 2014 can even touch the FX of 1993? And... Star Wars (fingers & toes crossed).
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Monday, July 28, 2014

The Expendables 3

The fact that I am writing this review about 3 weeks prior to the official release, is both radical and unfortunate. Radical, because chances are, if you’re reading this, there needs to be no explaining how incredibly amped (understatement) I was for The Expendables 3. So to see it early is incredible to me. On the other hand, it’s really unfortunate that someone essentially sabotaged the film’s opening weekend. Who knows, maybe it won’t affect it too much. Maybe it will. I’m a theatre manager, and I am STILL going to buy a ticket just on principal alone.

Before I delve into the film, I would like to stress that we do not know what the final theatrical version will be. It could be the same exact cut that was leaked online, or it could be a more polished version of the film.


FUCK. ME. They finally fucking got it right. And that isn’t to say that I don’t love the first two films. Though, tonally, they were very unbalanced. The first film took itself a bit too seriously. Another issue I have with the film is the way it was shot in certain scenes. A little too frenetic (and I don’t mean in a good way). Then you get to The Expendables 2, and it was a bit too cheesy. One-liners and nudges are fine, but to an extent. Also, the film looked really cheap in select scenes. Digital zooms distorting the film quality, sub-par CGI, etc. The Expendables 3 rectifies almost every issue from the previous films.

Obviously, the cast is the bread and butter of these films. And with each installment, they get exponentially more impressive! But Expendables 3 slays all. I’m still hazy from seeing Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, Harrison Ford and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a film together. And the additions of Antonio Banderas and Wesley Snipes? All other films being released this year, fuck off.

There are quite a few scene-stealers in the film as well. We’ll bang out the biggest one, and that is Antonio Banderas. I made a prediction based on the trailers that he would in fact, steal the movie, and he did. He’s fucking hilarious in the film. The Expendables films have always struggled with humor. It’s either guilty-pleasure corny or just plain bad. It’s never genuinely FUNNY. Banderas is genuinely fucking hilarious. Not one joke is flat and his delivery and comic timing are spot-on. He’s also fantastic in all of the action sequences as well. They also provide a decent backstory for him as well.

Another casting decision that paid off very well was… Kelsey Grammer. When he was cast, the entire internet scratched their head in unison. As did I. No, he’s not an “action guy” (despite him being in X-Men AND Transformers). But the role that he played didn’t call for him to be an “action guy”. He essentially just recruits grunts for special operations. A grunt manager, if you will. What shines the brightest is the chemistry between him and Stallone. They’re fucking awesome together. It’s strange. About 10-15 minutes of the movie is of them traveling together recruiting new team members. And Im not even kidding, if they did a road trip film together, it would be fucking rad. They play off of each other so well. The two characters obviously have a history together, and it’s conveyed perfectly on screen. So no, Kelsey Grammer was NOT miscast.

Onto Max Drummer. IE: Harrison Ford. Bruce Willis, you are not missed. Harrison Ford owned this role. So much so, that it needed to be addressed in the film. Stallone asks Ford’s character “Where’s Church?” in which Ford replies, “He’s out of the picture.” Another example of them getting the comedy right in this. That line is a perfect double-meaning quip. And to my surprise, they sprinkle Ford throughout the film pretty well. I would say he has about 6 scenes, which is about 4 more than I expected. There is no Harrison Ford Finger of Doom in this, but he does get a juicy F-bomb, which is always welcomed.

Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes and Schwarzenegger were all great in this as well. Dolph, much like the previous two plays a giant lumbering drunk. And much like the last one, he’s hilarious. He could have had more screen time, but with about 16 billing names, I guess he got a decent amount. Snipes is a perfect addition to the franchise. He would have been in this from its inception, I’m sure, but obviously his legal troubles prevented him from doing so. He plays a character named Doc. Before Statham’s character, there was Doc. He also so happens to be good with a Blade. Go figure. So naturally there’s a rivalry between him and Statham. And through that comes some pretty good chemistry between the two. And of course, we have Arnie… Doing what Arnie does. It took a while for him to dust off the rust, but after Escape Plan and Expendables 3, it’s safe to say… (Insert obligatory “HE’S BACK” line here). He too, is hilarious in this. Much like Expendables 2, he gets to play with the boys. And for the Jet Li fans, don’t get too excited, he doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time. Though, he too gets to play with the boys.

And of course… Mel. It should be no surprise to anyone that he completely fucking decimated. His character bared a resemblance to his in Machete Kills (an arms dealer). But obviously this movie was much fucking better. He plays a character named Conrad Stonebanks. He was one of the founding Expendables, but then decided to steer into black market arms dealing territory. I gotta say, my one worry was that they wouldn’t give Mel enough screen time. And that wasn’t the case. Of course any movie can always benefit from more Mel, but I’m content with what I got. Fuck, did he own some scenes. One in particular is a scene where they capture him. The intensity between him and Sly was incredible. Gibson really pries into Stallone. The sure insanity that pours out of Mel’s eyes… It’s unmatchable. Stallone is lucky he got Gibson for the third installment, because if he had been cast as the villain in the first film, it would be a feat topping him.

Let’s get technical. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of improvements over the first two. One, it’s cleaner. I believe they used RED Cameras on this, and the quality (even from the leaked screener) looks great. I cannot wait to watch it in theatres. Second, the director Patrick Hughes did a great job on shooting the action. The action and set pieces were bigger and more elaborate. Another plus? The locations. They go from New Orleans, to Mexico, to Arizona, to Las Vegas, to whatever fictional country that Bulgaria stands in for. It was a visual treat to more than rubble locations.

With all the improvements this film made over the previous two, there is one issue that was not rectified. The CGI. Now like I said, maybe the screener that leaked is a cut from months ago! Who knows? So I won’t make final judgment until I see the theatrical release. Luckily there are a lot of practical FX and practical sets in the film, so there aren’t a whole lot of CG sequences. But when there are, it doesn’t look very good.

To address another issue the film had was the new team. In my mind, they weren’t horrible. They just didn’t do much for me. When they’re integrated with the original team (Statham, Lundgren, Couture) and the other new guys (Snipes & Banderas) they work just fine. But standalone, they’re just… Serviceable. Though, I believe that half of the time it took to introduce the new team, that time could have been spent on Snipes, Lundgren or Gibson.

The music. Brian Tyler always does a fantastic job with the scores he does for Sly. Be it Rambo, The Expendables, The Expendables 2. I was slightly disappointed with his score for this. Only because… It felt that there wasn’t one. All the themes used in this are in the previous two. There didn’t seem to be many new music queues. It literally sounded as if it was copy and pasted into the movie. Granted, they fit with all the scenes, it just wasn’t wholly original. I already pre-ordered the score, so I can again, make final judgment when I listen to it isolated.

And my final and biggest gripe: Sly vs. Mel. The fight scene was WAY too fucking short. I honestly recall it being a minute long. One minute. Rambo vs. Riggs. Rocky vs. Rockantansky. One minute. I would have been FURIOUS if they hadn't given Gibson enough screen time through out the film. But fortunately, they did.

If you want me to sum the film up in a couple simple words: THE EXPENDABLES 3 IS FUCKING GREAT. It doesn’t come without its flaws. But those flaws don’t even come close to ruining the film for me. I really think that if people pay to see it how it’s intended to be seen, on a giant fucking screen, with loud surround sound audio, in a theatre that reeks of stale popcorn and middle-aged men, then they’ll like it. Possibly even love it. Like I said for principal alone, I will be buying a ticket. So there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Well, unless of course, you lost your job, went through a divorce, your wife took half of what’s left and only have $356 to spend on a used shotgun to blow your head off because you’re dead inside.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Godzilla is one of those characters that is timeless, yet dated. You look at the majority of the Godzilla films from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's, and you will see films that may not "hold up" by today's standards, but there is a reason why it has lasted now 7 decades. The character himself. He resonates with most people. Whether it's the serious aspects of the character (commentary on atomic warfare), or whether it's to give you your fix on mayhem, destruction and chaos. Both sides of the spectrum and all in between are what make Godzilla a character like no other. I almost look at Godzilla much like Rambo. The first film in the series dabbles in the serious effects of war and the consequences of creating a killing machine. And then you have the sequels. Cheesy & fun, but losing sight of what it initially intended to be. Obviously, Godzilla lends itself to straight-forward cheese more-so than Rambo.

So here we are, 2014, and Godzilla is still alive and well. Of course us 'Mericans had a slight (major understatement, I know) hiccup in 1998. But this entry in the franchise is more than enough to make up for the abortion of a film released in 1998. So lets delve in, shall we?

First and foremost, the design of 'ole Goji MUST be right. It is not a flawless design, but I would say they got 90% of it right. The way I see Godzilla is almost like a construction cone. The base of his body has to be huge. The less stealthy, the more menacing, in my eyes. Godzilla should be brute power and destruction. He's not a fucking Velociraptor. He needs thighs, and they surely gave 'em to him. But the most important is his head. The one thing that always made Godzilla's look successful were the cat-like features he possessed. Look at Jurassic Park. What made the designs work so well, was the fact they went with bird-like features (which is accurate) as opposed to making them too lizard-esque (hissing tongues, etc.).

THE ROAR. I loved what they did with his roar in this one. Though, I do think it's maybe a TAD too electronic sounding. It's essentially the classic roar, but beefed up with more layers of who knows what. Along with the design, the roar is essential to NOT fucking up. As silly as it sounds, if you're on the fence with the movie at that point, that roar can really make or break the film for you. The film is batting 2 and 0 so far.

The humans. The casting for the film was pretty decent, though it could have been stronger. Getting Bryan Cranston on board was a HUGE plus, considering (much like most of America will agree) that he proved himself as a tremendous actor thanks to Breaking Bad. Though, Aaron Taylor-Johnson was not bad, he could not carry the film on his own when Cranston's character had to take a "coffee break" (spoiler?). Ken Watanabe is someone I like as an actor (fucking Last Samurai), and I did actually like him in this, but he just looked so fucking angrily confused in every shot of the movie. Almost as if someone had hurled an insult at him that he didn't quite understand the meaning of, but had to look pissed and offended anyway. That being said, he was still enjoyable.

The MUTO creatures were a pleasant surprise. Warner Bros. really sold this as a disaster flick, and not a monster-on-monster film. Which is a win/win in my eyes. One, it gives you that element of surprise that almost no fucking films have nowadays. And two, I think that was their counter-response to preventing it from flopping on U.S. soil like Pacific Rim. The creature designs for the MUTO's were rad as hell as well. I mean, not wholly original, but that's okay. If a couple thousand Starship Troopers arachnids had gangbanged the Cloverfield monster: MUTO's. And I love all 3 parties involved.

The score was one of the underwhelming aspects of the film for me. Granted, I did like the score. But nothing REALLY stood out. There was no theme that I attached to. The theme that played during the opening credits worked really well with the eerie bomb footage. But aside from that, I was never anticipating a particular theme aside from the classic Godzilla theme. I knew they weren't going to use that them due to it being too "dated", but I think there is a way you can really make it work in today's day and age. Whether it's slowed down or played at an extremely low bass level. All in all, Alexandre Desplat did a pretty decent job. Come to think of it, his best musical pieces were played during the establishing geography shots. Though, the end theme was a little too "America" for me.

Two major gripes that I know a lot of people have are: Godizilla's screen time and the fights. I'll address how happy I was with the amount of screen time Godzilla had. It all goes back to JAWS-syndrome. You never see the damn shark fully until half-way through. Now granted, you don't have incredible characters like Quint, Hooper and Brody to tide you over. Regardless, it's the "less is more" theory. I do understand a lot of people's issues with the fight itself. It does cut away far too often. But factor in this: Until a couple weeks prior to it's release, most people didn't even know there were other monsters in the film (myself included). So for me, I was delighted to even see a fight. And to top it off, we didn't get ONE radioactive breath, we got TWO radioactive breaths! Two of those motherfuckers.

I am really happy with how this film turned out. And especially being a sophomore directorial effort from Gareth Evans... Kudos. The budget for the film was required, and appeared to be put to use because the majority of the FX looked great. You can't win all the shots, but most of them were pretty well-crafted. A year ago, in my mind, there was no reason why this film should have been good. Turns out, fuck me.
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Saturday, April 5, 2014


It's been a rough 2013/2014 for ole' Arnie. Last year's The Last Stand bombed at the box office, then Escape Plan. It's disconcerting to me because he is Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger. Did I like The Last Stand? No. Did I like Escape Plan? No. I LOVED Escape Plan. But both films should have performed well due to it being his first 2 films since 2003. Maybe I was born in the wrong fucking decade, but I just don't find The Rock, Vin Diesel, and Jason Statham all that appealing. Do I have anything against the likes of them? No. The appeal with them is not unfathomable. I get it. I just don't understand how they can perform better at the box office alone than Stallone & Schwarzenegger TOGETHER! I seriously want to smash a fucking light bulb on an infant's head with the thought of it. And I don't want the "they're too old" excuse. First of all, they're NOT too old. Just look at Stallone. CASE. IN. FUCKING. POINT. Secondly, how the fuck does Liam Neeson START his action-career at damn-near 60, yet Stallone & Schwarzenegger fail to CONTINUE theirs at 67 & 66?! I suppose there are some riddles of the universe I will never come to understand. Like the radio, twerking & mayo.

I guess I'll discuss Sabotage since Im already drunk and hateful. How that makes sense, who fucking knows?...

I really didn't get amped for this film up until the week it came out. Every bar I was at, it would be on the TV. Then some reviews came out. And despite the consensus of the film, the words "VIOLENT", "TOTALLY FUCKING VIOLENT", and "BLOODY AS FUCK" would pop up in almost every one (okay, maybe not in that phrasing, but fuck off. How's that?).

The film is directed from the human who wrote Training Day and directed End of Watch. He did some films in between, but to be quite honest, I never even bothered to watch them because I could be on YouTube watching Dave Mustaine insulting fans instead. The other reason: Training Day was okay, and End of Watch was... A movie. But I actually liked Sabotage.

First of all, it's great to see Arnie in a different type of movie, and as a different character. Does he still own the screen? Of fucking course. But this film is based in reality. His character is based in reality. I mean, of course you'll never see a Schwarzenegger character without an Austrian accent. That's almost always a given in everyone of his films. But he is plays a pretty damn serious character in this. Very few "cheese" one-liners. Don't get me wrong, the dialogue isn't very good. It's a lot of corny "grunt talk". But very little comes from Arnie.

I guess I skipped the introductory part. The film is about a DEA task force that is lead by Schwarzenegger, and they're attempting to take down the Mexican drug cartel. One of their missions in the beginning of the film is to seize millions upon millions of dollars. They formulate a plan to make off with $10 million after destroying the countless millions that will be unaccounted for. Double-crosses are made, their agency catches wind, and.... Thus the film unfolds.

In terms of the story, it's pretty basic. A band of brothers (and sister) are tight-knit, money separates them like water and vinegar, blood begins to shed, a reveal is made, and then, resolve. But it's effective enough to want to know the outcome. Though, the end of the film feels like a completely different film. And I don't mean that in a negative way. In fact, the end is quite possibly the best part of the film. It's "horns-in-the-air" good.

But as I mentioned a couple shitty paragraphs previous, the film is bloody. And from the B-roll footage I saw, most of it is practical FX. Sure, there are probably some CG FX, but everything looks pretty good. But then again, I can't see this having a bigger budget than maybe $30 million. And Im sure most of that went to Schwarzenegger's awesome Hitler-youth haircut.

Is the film great? No, but it's damn fucking cool. And especially given the visual fodder being thrown my way this year, it's surely the best of the year so far.
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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top 10 Films of 2013

2013 was a strange year in film. For me, May, June and July usually bring some heavy-hitters. This year? None. And the only reason why Star Trek Into Darkness (May) and Man of Steel (June) are on this list is because... It's a "Top 10", not a "Top 8". Almost everything from #1 to #8 are from September to December. Which is a shame, because in retrospect, it really was like the gold at the end of the rainbow. Except, this rainbow wasn't too lively in color. It mostly consisted of shit.

1. Escape Plan

I was fortunate enough to be satisfied with the final product of this film. First off, on paper, this film is FLAWLESS. Stallone? Schwarzenegger? Breaking out of a prison together? Could you choose a more perfect excuse for these guys to work together? But like I said, ON PAPER it was flawless. But then again, it's all in the execution. Luckily, it not only played as the film I wanted it to be, but it also was smarter than it needed to be. Like I said in my original review, it's not a genius film. But its actually a couple notches above being "dumb fun". You can read my review HERE.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

The disadvantage with films that I absolutely love coming out at the very end of the year is that I typically don't get to do full-on reviews since I like to recap the year as quick and drunk as possible. So the films that I already have written about get a paragraph and the link to the original review to avoid retreading the same water. I regret not spending the time writing 50 paragraphs about this film. Let me just dive in...

What a fucking movie. We can all collectively agree that Martin Scorsese is the most consistent American director working today. Is he my favorite director? No. A close second or third? Absolutely. Ironically enough, Scorsese's career is like a corpse's flat line. He's consistent, and rarely hits a total rough-patch. And if he does, it's almost so minor that it doesn't even show up on the screen. And most directors are like a living, breathing heart. It's up and it's down, it's up and it's down. Now, of course, consistency isn't always good. Look at Paul W.S. Anderson. He is consistently awful. But anyway, that's besides the point. The Wolf of Wall Street...

This film is so rich (much like any Scorsese film). I look at it as a combination of Goodfellas, Oliver Stone's Wall Street, and Miami Vice. It has the confidence and cuts of Goodfellas, the setting of Stone's Wall Street, and the physical appeal of Miami Vice. And of course the touch of Marty.

The film is 3 hours long, and I felt not a god damn second drag by. Like I said, the film is so sharp and confident that it just grabs you by the collar and takes you to wherever it's going. And it fucking goes to a fuck-ton of places.

Oh yeah, I guess I better give a little insight as to what the film is about. It's based off of the memoirs of the real-life Jordan Belfort who was a stockbroker on Wall Street, who made all of his money by defrauding his clients with fraudulent stocks.

The film is just full of excess. But none of it seems to be over-gratuitous. If this film was 100% fiction. Then this film could go down as possibly the most gratuitous film ever made. But the fact that this was a telling of a true-life story? I don't see how that makes it gratuitous. The film is fucking nuts. If they wanted to go with a title other than "The Wolf of Wall Street", I personally would go with something along the lines of "Stocks, Drugs and Rock N Roll". Unfortunately, that isn't an apt title due to "sex" missing from the title. Because almost half of the fucking film is sex or sex-related. How Scorsese achieved the R-rated is unthinkable. Let's see... The opening consists of cocaine being snorted from a prostitute's rectum/vagina, road head, and office gangbangs/orgies. And that's only the first 15 or 20 minutes. The rest of the film? Let's see... Airplane orgies, public masturbation, hotel orgies, elevator blowjobs, and the list goes on.

The other aspect that makes this film work so well is the humor. But that should come as no surprise to any lover of Marty. He manages to craft some of the funniest scenes without classifying his films as "comedies". And it's not different with "Wolf". This film is literally funnier than any comedy on this list. Almost every situation in this film makes you literally "LOL". As they would say on the internets, it brings the "LULZ".

Do I see why this film has divided critics? Yes. Do I understand why some people are so fucking uptight that they fart through their nose? No. But, fuck 'em, right?

3. Anchorman 2

Whether you like it or not, the first Anchorman is one of the most quoted films ever. Are most of the lines from the first film tired? Yes. But people still quote 'em to hell. So it only made sense to continue on with a sequel. Why it took so long? Who fucking knows. I know Adam McKay (director) and Will Ferrell were adamant about getting one green lit, but for one reason or another, Paramount kept stalling. Finally, they gave the go-ahead. And to be honest? I couldn't be happier.

I am not in love with the original Anchorman. I like it. And it still holds up, but around the time it came out (and years after), I never really cared for Will Ferrell. It wasn't until Step Brothers where his comedic chops really lined up for me (with the help of John C. Reilly, of course!). But I really liked Anchorman 2. Even more so than the first. The film went the typical Hollywood direction and made it bigger. But it actually worked in it's favor. Through all the big set-pieces came a lot of hilarious scenes. For instance, the RV scene. A tumbling RV with scorpions, bowling balls and hot grease flying around? It's just fucking stupid. And it worked.

The big boost this film had over the first was the casting. In this day and age of the internet, almost everything is spoiled (cameos, reveals, plot points, etc.). But there were some cameos that managed to steer clear out of my directions. I knew about Jim Carrey and Harrison Ford's cameos, but Will Smith and Liam Neeson? I had no idea. And it really made for a couple "fuck yeah!" moments.

One strange thing (good and bad) was what was sold to you in the trailers and ads. A lot of the jokes weren't in the final film, or were alternate versions of the jokes seen in the ads. Why is it good? Apparently, there are two alternate cuts where NO joke is the same. Literally, every joke and line is different. Why is it bad? A lot of people (myself included) were disappointed that they didn't see or hear the jokes that had been advertised. But I know once the Blu-ray comes out, the cut(s) will be available.

4. The World's End

This is a film I barely remember, but remembered that I loved. I.E.: I was fucking BOMBED. Before the film, I had done a bit of a bar crawl. I can't even tell you how much I drank that night. All I remember was that I laughed my ass off, and it took the next day to recollect what had actually happened in the film.

Edgar Wright is a director that I admire, but don't adore. I really like Shaun of the Dead, I wasn't big on Hot Fuzz (but need to give it a re-watch) and never even bothered with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. But The World's End is a homerun for me. He has a very good grasp on the films he makes, and I think that's great. Much like Scorsese and Tarantino, he knows how to cut and cut to music. It's quick, confident and effective as hell.

Moving on to the actual film. Obviously, the subject matter is a no-brainer for me. But it's the character-assignment that I love. It's usually Simon Pegg playing the brains and Nick Frost playing the goof. In The World's End, Frost is the voice of reason, and Pegg is not so much the goof, but the stupid asshole. And I thought that was a good turn-around for them.

5. Pain & Gain

This was one of the few films in the beginning of the year that I actually REALLY liked. Unlike most cinephiles, I love Michael Bay. I always looked at him as a B-movie film maker with a 200+ million dollar budget. And there are plenty of film makers that can spend 200+ million and make a completely forgettable film. For me, Bay doesn't do that. He always manages to entertain me. I've said it a thousand times, but he knows what the hell he is doing in terms of the technical aspect of film making. He may not know story at all, but he'll make those 4 words a page LOOK good. Pain & Gain is a different case, though...

For years, Bay has been trying to get this film off the ground. But robots have been running his life up until a couple years ago. And now, he finally made Pain & Gain. And it's his best movie since Armageddon. Much like The Wolf of Wall Street, this is based on a true story. The film centers around a Miami fitness trainer who wants to get rich quick. So he decides to kidnap and rob one of his undeservingly rich clients (with help from two other juicers). Naturally, all goes to hell, and they're stranded in the wreckage consisting of human limbs, crushed-craniums, women, dirty-money, and a fuck load of jail time. Situational, of course. I don't mean physically.

It's a hell of a ride. It's dark, unpredictable and most of all... Fun. Like I said, it's all based on a true story. And I actually read the original Miami New Times article the film was based off of, and I gotta' say the film may seem to fabricate and elevate situations that you didn't think could happen, but if anything, they watered it down. The shit that went down in Miami in 1995 was fucking insane. And the film did as much justice as possible without having people throwing their arms up in the theatre and leaving. Because what really happened truly was stranger than fiction.

6. Gravity

Maybe the festival circuit got the best of my brain, but I didn't find Gravity to be amazing. Every early review from every renowned festival was raving. And I just don't see how. I liked the film, but aside from the technical aspect, I can't see how it got such praise for it's storytelling. Good story? Yeah, but take away the technical achievements, it's just an okay film. I guess i just got burned by my expectations.

Don't get me wrong, Alfonso Curan is a great film maker, and every interview I've seen with him, he seems so genuine and down-plays his talent. Whereas guys like Tarantino want you to know how good they are. Curan is down to earth (no pun intended) with his discussions of film making. And I absolutely love that. And I almost feel bad for not liking Gravity as much as I wanted to. But then again, I don't. Why? Because the fucking movie made over 200+ million! Which is fucking great. A film as ambitious as it deserves it.

Anyway, I feel as if Im just justifying as to why I didn't like the film as much as I wanted. On to what I really liked about it. Kudos to the marketing department, first and foremost. Reason being, they sold NONE of the second half of the film in any of the trailers or TV spots. That is so incredibly rare nowadays. And it made the experience THAT much better. I forgot what it felt like to be surprised during a film.

Though, my one gripe that had NOTHING to do with expectations was the score. With a film like this, I almost wish there was no score. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more without a score. I feel it would have been more intense and engaging.

7. Machete Kills

Machete Kills isn't what it should have been. It could been a lot funnier, a lot more fun and a lot more cohesive. Unfortunately, it wasn't what it should have been, but I still did enjoy it. Though, Mel Gibson drives a Star Wars Land speeder. You can read my review HERE.

8. Grudge Match

The Italian Stallion vs. The Raging Bull. It's a shame the film isn't even nearly as good as either of the aforementioned characters' films. Here's a film that I felt could go either way, and couldn't be disappointed either way. From the trailers, I could tell it was going to be what I initially thought. Though, I did have hope that it would surprise me. Sadly, it didn't. But I know who is at fault for that. The Director.

When you get THEE two most iconic film boxing actors of all time in one film, you should probably get a seasoned dramatic director who knows comedy. Not a comedy director who thinks he knows drama. The guy who directed Grudge Match is the same man behind The Nutty Professor II. It's a shame because both talents involved (Stallone & DeNiro) really trained hard for the film, and it's almost all thrown away due to a generic tread-along in direction. And I'm not going to knock the director in a lack of interest. I'm sure he wanted to make a great film, but I don't think he was ever really capable of doing so.

I didn't hate the film, I just wish it was much better. I was entertained, and hell, I even laughed at parts. Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart were funny enough to pair together, and Kim Basinger was a nice addition to the cast. But I gotta' say the best casting that wasn't Stallone or DeNiro was John Bernthal as DeNiro's son. Not only does he look like his son, but he also has that DeNiro attitude.

The fight. Definitely the best part of the movie. But not all that it could be. The whole movie (much like any Rocky film) leads up to the fight. This fight should have been fucking great. But it was just too damn choppy. And that may be to favor DeNiro. Because if you have seen Rocky Balboa, you know that Stallone can give and take a hit in a shot, without a cut to "sell" it. Now, that was Stallone at 59 years old, and this is him at 66. But this is also DeNiro at 70. And I give DeNiro an immense amount of credit for doing all of this at his age. And that is how I know he actually really cared about this project. Because for years, he's been so damn lazy and tired with his roles. I don't think I've seen him physically prepare for a role this much since Cape Fear. And speaking of physicality, Im hearing a lot of people talking about Stallone's size, saying he's smaller than usual. It's intended. He's supposed to match the weight of a light heavyweight boxer, which is 168 pounds. Stallone is on record saying that he hasn't weighed that since 1983. And if you do a comparison of him in Rocky Balboa (2006) and Grudge Match (2013). Holy shit.

9. Star Trek Into Darkness

All my sobriety bled out on both the Stallone movies on this list. You can read my review HERE.

10. Man of Steel

I hate Zack Snyder. I hate Superman. I liked Man of Steel. Figure that one out. Too drunk to do so myself.
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Escape Plan

I can't believe Im writing this 3 weeks after it's release. But truth be told, I didn't have enough time to. I flew to California a day after watching the movie. Then again, that's 6 hours to type away. But then again, there were quite a few things I either A) Didn't remember or B) Didnt understand why certain things were done. All in a result to being absolutely inebriated. I have since watched it again (this time, I started drinking at the START of the film as opposed to 5 hours prior). And shit, how fucking good this movie is.

Just to give a little backstory on the production of this film. Originally, this was supposed to be a Bruce Willis vehicle. A plus for him, a minus for the film. Let's face it, Bruce Willie is a tired bald man. You can see it in every action film he has done in recent (and not-so-recent years). Sadly, he's 8 years YOUNGER than Stallone. And Stallone is running circles around this man. But going back to my plus & minus statement. Almost every movie Willis has done recently has been on par with his acting ability. Is Willis particularly bad in any film he's in? No. He's just bored and boring. It's Bruce Willis playing Bruce Willis. All his IMDb credits should read "Bruce Willis as Himself". If he DID do this film, it would benefit him, because this film is damn smarter than it needs to be (more on that later). Fortunately for the film, it lost Willis and gained Stallone, and THEN Schwarzenegger. Holy hell.

Originally titled "The Tomb" (a far more ambitious title) centers around Stallone's character Ray Breslin who is the foremost authority in prison security weaknesses. He is literally hired to break out of prisons to locate and address each and every weakness. His next job? A low-key, privately-funded, maximum-security prison that is off the books. Little does Breslin know, it's not a routine job. Someone wants him in there forever.

The film opens in a way to let you know how smart and clever it really is. Don't kid yourself, this isn't something like The Departed, where it's complexity is so fine-tuned. The phrase I throw around left and right with this film (and as previously mentioned) is "smarter than it needs to be". It is not a dumb film. It is not The Expendables (and fuck, do I LOVE The Expendables). It's clever. It has you guess how, and then gives you the answers. And not only does it give you the answers, but they actually make sense. Now of course there are some concessions made, in terms of accessibility. But they all still work. Going back to the opening of the film (don't worry, no real spoilers), it's more-so an introduction to Ray Breslin's (Stallone) character. He breaks out of just a routine-prison. And within those 10 minutes, you see how anything and everything are essential to escaping a prison. The layout, the routine and any help you can possibly get. From observing when guard smoke breaks occur to utilizing a milk carton to figuring out the exact keypad number combinations to your cell. It lays outs how Breslin thinks and operates.

I don't want to give too much away in terms of the story. So I won't. All that you need to know from here on out is that Stallone arrives to the off-the-books prison and realizes that he was not sent their on business. He was sent there to stay in there forever.

In the prison we meet Schwarzenegger's character Rottmayer. And I am so happy that he finally rediscovered his acting abilities again. Because I was a little nervous due to his performance in The Last Stand (you can read the review: HERE). In that film he was rusty and just awkward. In Escape Plan, Im going to say it, he STEALS the film from Stallone. A VERY fucking hard task to do. It's hard for me to even say it due to me being a "Stallone > Schwarzenegger" kind of person. Schwarzenegger not only dusted the dirt off of his shoulders in this, he is fucking hilarious. And I mean 70% in a Schwarzenegger kind of way and 30% in a genuinely humorous kind of way. He has some new soon-to-be classic lines, some German-speaking lines and one GOD-AWESOME dirty "your mother" insult. It's just really great seeing him at the top of his game again. And obviously him and Stallone together in more than a glorified cameo role. In fact, for the first 20 minutes of the film, it's solely Stallone's movie. But once Schwarzenegger's character is introduced, they split the screen time 50/50.

The rest of the cast were either tolerable or above-average. And with a Stallone/Schwarzenegger film that's NOT The Expendables, that's all you can ask for. First, we'll get to the antagonist of the film. Warden Hobbes played by Jim Caviezel (AKA Jesus in Passion of the Christ). He played a pretty good cunt warden. His character had a nice touch of Hannibal Lector, all the while staying grounded with his work. A pleasant surprise was Sam Neill, who played the prison doctor. He wasn't really sold in any of the trailers or TV spots, which rare for films like these. Vincent D'Onofrio was another nice addition to the cast. And oddly enough, 50 Cent wasn't horrible in this either. The fact that they casted him as just a computer specialist was fine for me. They didn't ultra-nerd-up his character, and didn't make him this udo-tough guy. He was just a regular character for the most part, which is the best thing they could have done for an odd casting like that.

The action. I would say that the action in this film is few and far between, but it's not. And IF it is, it's paced really well. Because there is not one second where I felt bored in the non-action sequences. Like I said (AGAIN!) the film is smarter than it needs to be. In all the in-between scenes where Stallone's character has to explain all the technics of how to escape, it's all very interesting. From navigating where they are exactly by deciphering which way the toilet flows, to deciphering how low below sea level they are by the type of metal the prison uses, to figuring out the guards' routines based on their ticks and interactions with other guards, it all works very well. But when the action happens, it's intense. Because you are obviously rooting for these guys to escape. A) Because it's only natural to see one prevail B) Because you want to know why the fuck these guys are in the prison to begin with.

Technically, you can tell some good money went into the film. The sets were realistic and believable. There were only a few noticeable CG shots. And by a few, I mean like 2. Most of the film is set inside the prison. And from what I could see from B-roll footage (raw, on-set footage) almost all the sets were practical sets. It was shot just fine. A few nice crane shots. And I think that was really to put the money on the screen. Because a lot of the sets were pretty damn high.

I am relieved to say that I set the bar high for this film, and it delivered. Do I like it more than The Expendables 2? No. But only because The Expendables 2 is too fucking fun. Too fucking fun. But I assure you, Escape Plan is a much better made film. How The Expendables 2 has a 68% on Rotten Tomatoes and Escape Plan only has a 48%? Maybe it was the Van Dammage...
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Machete Kills

Im not sure why, but I loved the first Machete. For me, it succeeded in making me laugh. Is it a real film? No. But I had a hell of a lot of fun with the first one. The odd thing is that I do NOT like Robert Rodriguez. I dont care for his style, and I dont care for his films. But he struck a chord with me with the first Machete. It was over-the-top, had killer stunt-casting, and was just generally hilarious. So with the first film ending with a tease of what's to come, I naturally got excited.

It took 3 years for Machete Kills to happen. And Im not quite sure if ideas were tossed around within those 3 years, or if they were tossed around RIGHT before shooting began, because the film was kinda' sloppy. What the first film achieved was some sense of cohesiveness. Machete Kills isn't really a cohesive film at all. I understand that if the first film was Rodriguez's "Mexican Shaft" that the second film was his "Moonraker". But for me, you can't switch a franchises genre around so abruptly. The whole film just felt off.

Let's get to plot of the film. Machete is hired by the President of the United States to stop a madman from launching nuclear missiles into space. A much larger idea than just border patrol issues like in the first one. And I'll admit, with his mission in "Kills" comes some pretty funny situations, but for the most part, it almost seemed like it was trying to be a homage to something as recent and undeserving like Jason X or something. I know for a fact that wasn't the intention at all. Maybe Leprechaun 4: In Space would be a better comparison. Regardless, they should have kept the character grounded (literally) for maybe another 3 movies.

I guess I'll get to the plus of the film. And that is once again the casting. Machete had Robert DeNiro, Don Johnson, and fucking Steven Seagal. Machete Kills? MEL FUCKING GIBSON. Dont even worry about who else is in the film. Mel steals the show. And I am not saying that biasedly. Everyone else in the film isn't even in the movie long enough to do anything with their characters. Mel plays an arms dealer named Luther Voz, and does it so fucking well. Voz is essentially a classic Bond villain. I would say he hams it up, but he plays it pretty straight, it's his costumes and surroundings that seem to ham up his character (he wears a fucking cape!). If you threw Mel in a Daniel Craig Bond film as the villain, with a serious tone and all, you would have something GREAT.

Now to nit-pick a problem with BOTH films, it's use of blood. There are PLENTY of scenes with clever and grotesque ways of dismembering and killing the baddies. It's just a shame there are no practical FX. It's all digital. And that is one of the many things that Tarantino excels at that Rodriguez does not. If you watch Django Unchained, you can clearly see that ALL of his kills are on-set squibs. Rodriguez loves to digitize everything. He shoots digital and does all of his FX in post. Which just shows a sense of laziness. I dont care if I dont like the film or not, I know Tarantino tries to make everything inside the frame as real as possible (not to mention on actual celluloid). I didn't really notice much (or any) feux-film grain in Machete Kills, but the fact that he used it for the fake trailer and the first film made absolutely no sense. If he wanted to get a sense of "aging" and "distortion", the picture should be pixelated. Putting film grain on digital video is like... Actually, I can't think of anything as stupid.

The one thing I WILL give to Rodriguez is his outsider-esque mentality. What do I mean by that? I'll explain. He works and operates in his hometown of Austin in his own film studio. He chooses less traditional projects (Sin City, Machete, etc.) and out-of-left-field projects (Spy Kids). Is Spy Kids the least bit good? Absolutely not. But I can admire wanting to make a movie his own kids can view. His craft may not be very good, but I can admire the independence he has in creating what he creates.

I know it doesnt sound like I liked the film, but in the end, I actually did. It was fun. Just not nearly as good or humorous as the first film. And that's even with the presence of Mel Gibson. Sheesh.
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Top 10 Most Anticipated Fall Films

It is now September. And usually by this time each and every year, I have very little to look forward to the remaining months. With 2013, that is not the fucking case. This summer has been horrendous for film. With any film I DID like, I only really just... Liked. Usually there is at least two or three films that I either obsessed over, or loved. Not the case... At all. This fall not only looks great in comparrison, but actually is pretty damn good standing alone. I have TWO Stallone flicks and one Mel Gibson flick within a week of each other?! FUCK ME RUNNING.

1. Escape Plan

This film has been on my radar for quite a while. And after Stallone's Bullet to the Head & Schwarzenegger's The Last Stand being not very good at all, I was a bit worried that I'd have nothing to really look forward to that wasn't The Expendables 3 from these two. Then the trailer hit. Fuck. I was actually uber-impressed as to how good the fucking movie looked. The film cost $70 million to make, which is $30 million less than The Expendables 2, and it looks higher-quality than EX2. And I mean that in terms of production value (it's going to be hard to top EX2... Until Expendables 3).

One other giant plus this film has is Schwarzenegger's screentime. From early reviews that I've read, Arnie is in the film almost as long as Sly. With The Expendables, you almost come to expect short-lived scenes. But this is a duo-film, not an ensemble piece.

Im so fucking amped for this film, that I rearranged a trip that Im taking the same time it comes out. Originally, I was supposed to fly out to California the 15th of October and get back home the 20th. Escape Plans comes out the 19th. There is NO FUCKING WAY I am not having a drunken private screening the second we receive the digital key to unlock the film. So, I will now be headed to the airport minutes after the movie is over. The reason I'm flying to California is because my buddy Ross is getting married. I informed him of this shuffling, in which he replied, "You're a fucking idiot.".

2. Machete Kills

Two words. THE MEL. I liked the first Machete a lot. Probably more than most people. Everyone loved the feux-trailer, but not everyone loved the film itself. I loved it not only because it actually made me laugh (out loud for that matter), but because it was an ensemble film unlike The Expendables. And believe me, The Expendables is my favorite kind of ensemble film, but Machete was just so fucking all over. The fact that Robert DeNiro and Steven Seagal share a film credit together is baffling. I know, I know, DeNiro has chosen some lousy films in recent and not-so-recent years, but Seagal is on a whole other (sub) level.

Machete Kills is following the first film's tradition. Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen (AKA Carlos Esteves)... Lady Gaga. 'Nuff said. On top of all of that, Mel is the heel (as he is in EX3). Mel has never played a full-on baddie before. An anti-hero? Yeah. It'll be interesting/sexually-inticing to see what he does with it. Is this going to be a "real movie"? Probably not. Do I give a fuck? Absolutely not.

3. Grudge Match

Here is yet another duo-film with Stallone. Except, this time with DeNiro. Which for a few reasons, is pretty damn cool. One, this is a boxing film. Of course it's going to elicit the "Balboa vs. LaMotta" & "Itallian Stallion vs. Raging Bull" response, as it should (and most certainly intended), but for me, it's a Copland reunion. Copland, to me, is criminally underrated. And both are GREAT in it. More so Stallone due to him breaking his mold. Instead of tough, in shape and intimidating, he was a push-over, out of shape, and timid.

Grudge Match has the potential to be a great feel-good comedy. But I don't expect much else. And where is that "feel-good" apsect coming from? It seems to be riding off the success of Rocky Balboa. A lot of the film looks and feels like Balboa. Which is not a bad thing. It's just unoriginal, especially with Stallone involved. Regardless, I think it'll be a lot of fun.

4. Gravity

A lot of the films coming out are either released in IMAX, 3D, or IMAX 3D. And most of them don't warrant either of the three. Because it's either not shot with IMAX film stock, post-converted from 2D to 3D, or both. With Gravity, I hear the conversion process is unnoticeable. Critics are throwing around the words "breathtaking" and "intense". Those words can be used for almost any film, if you wanted to. But after watching the trailers, I feel as if it really has the potential to be so. Obviously, if you're converting 35MM to IMAX, it will not consume the entire screen, but the upper hand that I think Gravity has is that it's outer space. With films that have landscapes that extend past the frame, it's visually evident where the frame ends. With a film that's background is most likely 80% black, it'll be pretty easy to become emmersed. From a story standpoint, who knows?

5. The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese.

6. Parkland

I am a sucker for almost anything that has to do with the JFK Assassination. I've spent countless hours on YouTube watching theories, footage, interviews, everything. films like Oliver Stone's JFK are like porn to people like me. It's so incredibly facsinating. And the reason why Im looking forward to Parkland is because it's not so much about the assassination itself as much as it is about the doctors who tried to save him. Should the film be called Parkland: A Lost Cause? Yes. But it should be an interesting watch nonetheless.

7. Jack Ryan

There is little-to-nothing released about this film. There's a few still images and a cast-listing released. But you know what? I really dig Patriot Games, and think this new incarnation of the Jack Ryan character can work. Twice I've tried to make it through The Hunt for Red October, and couldn't. I LOVE Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger was a step-down, and never bothered with The Sum of All Fears. But something about this reboot has me curiously optimistic. I dig Chris Pine (who is the new Jack Ryan), I've grown a new-found love for Kevin Costner (who is his mentor), and Kenneth Brannagh can direct a film, that's for sure. But can he direct one that actually interests me? We'll see.

8. All Is Lost

I guess this can be dubbed "Life of Robert Redford" considering the entire film is about Robert Redford trying to survive the conditions of the sea. In all honesty, I give the man credit. He's gotta' carry this entire film by himself at what? 77 years old? Redford will always be one of those actors that I respect. But one of those "Shit, I wish..." actors. What is a "Shit, I wish..." actor? For instance, Robert Redford & Paul Newman. The two movies they did together were not only incredibly well-made, but fun as fucking hell. I speak of course of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and The Sting. They should have made like 27 more movies together. And everytime I see Robert Redford, I always think, "Shit, I wish he would have made more movies with Paul Newman". If Newman were alive, he could have been the fucking boat.

9. Metallica: Through The Never

I was reluctant to put this on this list due to my allegiance to the almighty Megadeth. But I gotta' admit, this looks like a blast in IMAX 3D. Im not sure how the narrative aspect is going to organically mesh with the concert footage, but it's an interesting concept. I just wish Mustaine were still in the band for one reason, and one reason only... DAVE MUSTAINE'S HAIR IN IMAX 3D.

10. The Art of the Steal

Kurt Russsell.
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Friday, June 21, 2013

World War Z

When it comes to zombie films, I have a couple rules. And most of those rules apply to actual zombie films. World War Z is NOT a zombie film. It wants to be, and people will classify it as a zombie film, but it most certainly is not. Zombies, in the classic sense, were once humans that are infected with the zombie virus. They then come back to "life" and move eerily slow due to the rigor mortis that has set in. Not fast. I wont even hold that against WWZ because it doesn't even feel like a zombie film. The film should have been called "World War O" (World War Outbreak) or "World War I" (World War Infected). This does not carry the same weight as the Dawn of the Dead remake. The original '78 DOTD is a classic ZOMBIE film. And the remake should have been treated as such. With WWZ, nothing was totally sacred. Yes, I know it's based on a best-selling novel, but the translation from novel to screen is a lot more interpretive than screen to screen.

The film starts off relatively quick. And in most cases with films like these, it can be an added bonus for two reasons. 1) It means you don't have to waste time with underdeveloped characters. 2) It means that you can get straight to the bulk of what peaked your interest in the film to begin with. What is lost in the process is the sense of "Wait, why?...". It only takes minutes until the outbreak erupts. And at first, you experience it with the family. Out of left field and "unexpected". I quote "unexpected" because they don't give you enough time to forget what you came to see. Look at Cloverfield. When I first saw that, I went in wanting a great monster film, and 20 minutes in, it was all about planning a party for a dude who was moving out of the country. Im not saying it was fantastic acting or great character development, but it took your mind off the fact that you were watching a monster film, and BAM! The attack. WWZ lacked that. There was no shock and awe. I was expecting the shock and awe. And when it did happen, nothing new was brought to the table. In fact, I think there were still stale leftovers and dirty napkins left over from years previous.

This film is a boost to the ego for anyone who considers themselves a psychic. You can see any and everything that is headed your way, and even worse... Anything that was a surprise, was a let-down. Also, whoever shot the film must have their own personal earthquake, because the first 25 minutes looked as if it were shot by a 1-day clean meth addict.

The film did have a few shining moments. Most of which were it's intense outbreak scenes. Any scene in which you depict a society being ravaged by a mass of unknown beings, it's hard to act like you're not the least bit interested. But at the same rate, that's like saying, "I heard the new single from that one band, but the rest of the album sucked elephant dicks". You obviously went to the film to see what initially intrigued you, but if there isn't much else, then... Who gives a flaming fuck?

The major issue I have with these films is that there is RARELY any character portrayed by the actors. Brad Pitt plays a father who strives do the right thing and make sure his family is alright. Honorable? Absolutely. Particularly interesting? Absolutely not. Look at John McLane (From 1, 2, & 3). He wasn't a piece of shit. He cared about his family and all, but he also was a smartass asshole. I seriously don't understand why writers and producers even waste their times coming up with character names anymore for characters like this. As far as Im concerned, Brad Pitt played _______ ________.

Onto some things that particularly bothered me... Flashbacks. Listen, I have no problem with flashbacks. A lot of the times, they're essential to a film. But it's HOW you use a flashback, THAT is where you can falter. There is a scene where Pitt's character sees a man turn into a zombie from his perspective. And in that same scene about 25 minutes prior, there is a shot of the camera zooming down to his face. In his flashback, he sees that exact same shot. Unless there was a scene cut out of WWZ that involved Pitt's character as a cinematographer... GET THE FUCK OUT. Lazy. Fucking. Editing. Another scene was where the central task force has to land in Israel. Understand this: Humans have turned into savage beasts. Globally. They're killing everyone. Globally. They act in erratic, spastic & uncontrollable ways. The Israel ground control says, "Identify yourselves!". Seriously? You have millions of "zombies" terrorizing your land and plane identification is the issue? Maybe it's just my feeble brain, but if a plane is soaring perfectly in the air in a time such as that, I would look at that not as a threat, but as a savior.

You know what, Im actually getting bored as fuck thinking about this movie now. The only "fresh" idea brought to the table was the "zombie"/ant-climb idea. I admit, that was a pretty original and creepy idea. Aside from that, World War Z ended up being World War ZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZzZz (as predicted)

P.S. Since the film leaves it open for another one, I declare the cause right here: The largest stash of cocaine known to man. After all, they act nothing like "zombies" and everything like Carrie Fisher.
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