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wolverine.cb1When we first saw Hugh Jackman as Wolverine was back when the first X-men movie came out in the year 2000. Then he took the character as his own in X2 which still stands as one of the best comic book movies of all time.  Sadly then came X-Men: The Last Stand where the studio and creative people in charge took a strong wrong turn. They decided that Wolverine  shouldn’t be an unstoppable man trying to forget he was a monster… They decided he should be a wimpy man in love and that love is the only thing he is fighting for. That bad decision, plus many other lead the third X-Men film to be one of the worst comic book movies of all time. We then got the first solo Wolverine film called X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Following what they did in third X-Men they simply ruined the character of Wolverine. They made him a wimp, and spat on his origin story and filled it with nonsense. The failure of that movie made the studio take a drastic turn in trying to rebuild the franchise, so they decided to do a prequel called “First Class”. That movie took things in the right direction…

This Wolverine solo film sends Logan to Japan and spoiler alert… They did an amazing job. The film opens with Logan dreaming about Jean Grey(Famke Janssen) and the guilt over her death and everything else he’s done. This is the only toss back to the original franchise which is a good thing. Wolverine is just chilling in the woods and looking like a super hobo. He comes out of hiding when a bunch of dick head hunters kill a bear. He heads for a local bar to essentially murder these men for their crimes, a Japanese woman named Yukio(Rila Fukushima) shows up and stops the show down. Her employer is an old Japanese man who Logan saved in a WW2 prison camp. The old man says he can help Logan stop being immortal and give him a real life.

Once Wolverine shows up in Japan things get a little crazy. He finds out the old man’s grand daughter Mariko(Tao Okamoto) is being hunted by the Yakuza. The scenes where Wolverine fights the assassins  is stunning frankly. Unlike other super heroes Wolverine has claws and making his fights work in a PG-13 rated film is difficult but they nail it here.

The movies plot in the third act becomes predictable as he falls in love with Mariko and the villains goals becomes clear. Still this movie is pretty much better than X-Men Origins in every possible way. Hugh Jackman does it again, he looks amazing and his Logan is perfect here.

Another stand out is Svetlana Khodchenkova who plays the villain named Viper. She eats into the scenes around her and having a character having some fun being bad was necessary in this movie. This movie also was a real breath of fresh air being that the plot wasn’t over the top. No cities destroyed, no massive world wide disaster in it. That made this movie a real treat that everyone should check out.

Rating: 8/10


Movie Review: White House Down

WhiteHouseDown_cb1North Korean’s attack the White House and only Gerard Butler can… Wait that was another movie that came out several weeks ago. This movie has Jamie Foxx playing the President who isn’t Obama but come on he is basically playing Obama. We also get Channing Tatum playing John Cale and doing his best Bruce Willis impression(with tank top and all!). He’s there to interview for a secret service job and of course the White House is attacked by bad guys. The movie is a little too corny and should have been rated R because if it was, the movie would have been a lot more fun.

This movies only major issue is how corny it is, it is a disaster movie that is trying to appeal to everyone and because they made this choice the movie just doesn’t pack the punch that it should. Amazingly Channing Tatum is really good here, to me he could really be an action star. The problem for him is Cale is written poorly, they give the character an eleven year old know it all daughter, who of course puts herself in the cross hairs of the villains. This is so boring and has been done so many times that when you watch it you just don’t care. Jamie Foxx is fine as the President but he has nothing to do, he and Tatum work well together and their back and forth is pretty funny. Problem is the President has no back story he just wants to end war in the Middle East, that’s it, nothing else. So again you just don’t care about him very much. We do get a wave of solid performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal, Richard Jenkins and James Woods. They still don’t get a lot to do but they are great when they are on screen.

The one great thing about the film is the villains, they are a mixed bag of ex-soldiers, neo-nazi’s and dudes who just hate the American government. The way they get into the White House and take it down is actually pretty amazing and well written. Problem is because of their goal of mass appeal the action after that is tame and stuff you’ve seen before in every PG-13 movie. The gun violence is quiet. The fights are quick cut shot so you can’t ever really tell what is going on. It was refreshing to see this type of villain in a movie, because a lot of these types are real world villains.

The film is either a blatant rip off or a straight homage to Die Hard. Sadly the team up of Cale and the President is fun but not enough to keep the movie going. Way too many scenes that make no sense and the film relies heavily on CGI that really hurts the movie. When you go in you either need to relax and sit back and watch it like a Fast and Furious film, that way you’ll have fun. If you look for a serious action movie like Die Hard, you’ll find yourself regretting your decision in checking this movie out.

Rating: 5/10

Movie Review: The Bling Ring

movies-the-bling-ring-4I remember being in LA when the houses of Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom were robbed. What no one realized at the time was that these places were being hit by a group of privileged teens. This group ended up with over $3 million worth of goods. These teens though weren’t doing it to prove a point or because they needed the money. No it’s because they were fame obsessed and over all just silly teens that idolized people who were under the spot light.

What this film has going for it is Sofia Coppola, this story shouldn’t be as interesting as she makes it. The kids aren’t much different from the people they are robbing. They go to the same clubs, they live in same areas. At no point are they robbing these people to prove a point or to gain the cash. They just want to live as if they were them for just a night, or in some cases many nights. They break into Paris Hilton’s place like eight times. At no point does Coppola even hint at trying empathize with these people, it’s frankly impossible to do it. Some of the teens are worse than others, some come off as morons like Emma Watson’s character. She sees no wrong in robbing these people, almost no one even blinks when it comes to the idea of breaking into celebrity houses.

The film does an amazing job showing what peer pressure can do. It also breaks down how obsessed out culture is with fame. What is interesting to note is that the focus of the group was Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan, who now are both kind of has-beens. Still the way the group is so focused on them is beyond interesting.

Minus Emma Watson and Leslie Mann the rest of the cast is pretty much filled with unknows. They do such a good job I expect that to change. Mann plays Watson’s characters mother. The woman is just as dumb as the teens. She home schools her kids off of the lessons of “The Secret” and pumps them full of prescription drugs. If anything this movie will make you kind of sad that these people exist. It also makes the club life look terrible as well.

Over all this is one of Sophia Coppola’s best films. It’s an interesting crime movie that we probably will never see again. The cast is very solid and the pace of the movie which you would think would get dull, never does. It’s for sure worth your time.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: World War Z

world war z 2America really loves zombies, so much so we now have different kinds of zombies in movies. There are the originals which are slow and love chewing on flesh. Then in the Dawn of the Dead remake we got fast zombies. In 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later we got fast zombies that were essentially humans with rabies. The best part of this film is new type of zombie we get here. These zombies could care less about eating flesh, they simply want to bite people once and spread the virus in their blood. For a PG-13 rated zombie film it’s a real nice touch.

We follow Gerry(Brad Pitt) and his family, he used to work for the UN but decided to be a stay at home dad. Then as they try and drive through New York the end of the known world happens as they virus breaks out. The scenes in New York are intense and almost too real. In about seconds things fall apart, people run screaming in every direction, the zombies leap around, no fear or death or pain, they jump through windows  and over each other just to bite any human they can find. Gerry takes his family to New Jersey and they have to hide out in apartment complex, these scenes are also intense, impressive with the lack of violence Marc Foster is able to push up the tension with silence or just leaving most scenes in darkness.

Eventually Gerry and his family are rescued by a friend of his at the UN. They are taken by helicopter to a battle ship where survivors are being taken. From there Gerry is given an ultimatum by the commanding officer, help lead a team to figure out what started this zombie horde or his family gets kicked off the ship. So obviously he agrees to go on the mission. This is kind of where the film starts to run out of gas. The film really hinges on Brad Pitt’s performance, you like him so much you can’t help but cheer him on. Mireille Enos(AMC’s The Killing) plays his wife and is also very impressive. Sadly once they are on the ship she is pushed into the back ground.

Gerry’s first stop is South Korea, he’s not there long before he heads to Israel to find out how they are fairing against the zombies. The movies plot moves so quickly but goes no where. Gerry moves from one action set piece to another without learning anything. Now the fall of Israel is an impressive scene. The one from the trailers where the zombies climb up each other like ants. The scenes are fantastic and frantic. The main issue is that the virus makes no sense and all the action scenes lead to nothing. Gerry learns nothing until he just randomly decides to find a medical facility. I won’t spoil how he comes up with a plan to defeat the zombies, it makes sense but it’s not very complicated and it makes everything that happens in Korea and Israel rather pointless.

The major issue with the film is the virus that is turning people into zombies. I just couldn’t get over the fact that in twelve seconds after being bit you turn into a zombie… That’s impossible. Then later the film just abandons this by having characters say they’ve seen people change in ten minutes and in some cases it took even longer. We never find out where the virus came from or how it spread world wide. The film just chooses to ignore all of this even though Gerry’s first mission is to find out these very things.

Brad Pitt helps make this movie work even though the third act can’t keep up with the first two and when the movie ends you kind of shrug and say “Okay, that was cool.” it really would have helped if the film was rated R. The tension worked really well early on in the film but if there was real danger in violence the movie might stand out more. Also one big battle sequence between soldiers and zombies would have been cool to see too. Over all the movie is a lot of fun and worth your time.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: Man Of Steel

maxresdefaultcbThe original Superman film is a classic. In 2006 we got Super Returns which was mainly an homage to those movies. At the time critics claimed the film lacked action. To me I enjoyed most of that movie besides a couple of story decisions. I couldn’t handle the fact they gave Superman a son and barely used it to be a part of the major story. That film didn’t exactly bomb but it didn’t meet studio expectations so the sequel was never green lit.

Now we have Zack Snyder’s film that essentially reboots the entire story. Russell Crowe plays Jor-El a scientific leader on the planet Krypton. He tries to stand up to General Zod(Michael Shannon) as  he attempts to over throw the leadership on the planet. The one thing they agree on is that Krypton is going to be destroyed. So Jor-El sends his new born son Kal-El into space towards his new home Earth.

The telling of Superman’s up bringing is done totally through flash back as we follow Clark(Aka Kal-El) as he moves around from job to job. He tries to wrestle with what to do with his powers. His genetics on Earth makes him God like, he can fly and is super strong. Once an old ship from Krypton is found by the government Clark meets Louis Lane(Amy Adams) who is doing a story of the ship for the Daily Planet. Clark gets on the ship and learns who he really is, and gets a great suit. Everything would be awesome if it wasn’t for Zod coming back with a small army. Then the third act of the film is basically watching a fictional city get destroyed.

I was worried about this film before it opened, Superman to me hasn’t exactly been done right. I really liked Superman Returns but Lex Luthor creating a Continent from Kryptonian technology wasn’t enough for me. I wanted a little super hero action. Well Man Of Steel throws action right in your face. Superman’s show down with Zod and his people is epic on a scale of comic book action we have never seen before. This movie simply blows The Avengers away. They did things I only imagined as a kid reading Superman comics, he punches people through trucks and buildings. It’s frankly amazing.

When it comes to some of the changes they did in his origin, I liked almost all of them. Louis Lane gets a lot more to do and they wrote off the idea that she never connects that Clark is Superman. My only issue is with his suit, Kal-El finds it randomly in an old Kryptonian ship. Most of the armor Zod and his other people wear are black and silver. Yet Kal-El just finds a blue and red suit in a ship he and none of his family was ever on. This just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Maybe I missed something. That is a minor complaint.

Some reviews online have stated that there is too much action in this film. I don’t remember this claim for last years Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. The film is epic in scale that is for sure. Maybe for some watching building collapse is a little too much, if you’re sensitive about watching cities being destroyed then maybe stay away from this film.

The acting is fantastic across the board. Henry Cavill plays it just right as the boy scout in blue. He just nails it. He doesn’t really get to be Clark that much but I’m glad he’ll be Superman for a while. Amy Adams is just charming and really works as a modern Louis Lane. Russell Crowe is that stand out here as he really seemed to enjoy playing Jor-El. Kevin Costner plays Kal-El’s human father and is fantastic even though his screen time is limited. Michael Shannon plays Zod straight, not really over the top. He’s a man who loved his people so much he’s willing to destroy all of Earth just to give his people a chance. It might take another view before I really know how I feel about his version of Zod.

The film has minor issues but over all is a great comic book movie. It is visually impressive but if you can’t handle destruction on a massive scale you might want to avoid this movie.

Rating: 9/10

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Now.You.See.Me.cb1Four random magicians(Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco) are brought together by a mysterious force or individual. A year later the four are part of a group named The Four Horsemen. After a show in Vegas where the group seems to steal millions from a French bank. This brings in the FBI and Interpol. This leads a cynical and drunk agent Dylan Rhodes(Mark Ruffalo) and French investigator(Melanie Laurent) must team up to track down the Horsemen before their real plan can unfold.

I didn’t really know what to expect with this movie, the trailers never gave you any hints. My biggest surprise is that this movie really follows Mark Ruffalo and the magicians don’t really get a lot of screen time. The tricks they pull of are massive. One problem the movie puts on itself is that it plays with the idea that the magic could be real. It only plays with this idea though and never gets really deep with it. The film also heavily uses CGI during the larger moments and it’s blatant and kind of takes you out of the movie.

The best part of the film is the performances, everyone is good here and is obviously having a good time. Eisenberg especially seems to enjoy the cocky magician role. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine show up and give very solid performances too. It’s Mark Ruffalo’s show though and he does a fine job here, I’ve always really liked him and here he gets to shine.

Don’t really be expecting anything deep or intense, this is really just a cops and robbers/magicians type movie. At times it acts like it wants to be more, but never really pushes past it. Melanie Laurent is kind of wasted here as the partner/love interest character but she still does a fine job though. I’m having a hard time not liking this movie, it’s charming and fun and a perfect summer film, problem is it could have been more, for what it is though it’s very solid.

Rating: 7.5/10

after.earthcb2So try and follow me here, in a near future mankind must abandon Earth because we treated it like garbage. Humanity found a new home on a planet called Nova Prime, problem is aliens show up and send down monsters that can only smell fear. The face these creatures down a man named Cypher Raige(Will Smith) takes them down. Years later his son Kitai(Jaden Smith) wants to follow in his fathers footsteps. They go on a training mission, problem is there ship crashes down on to Earth. Cypher Raige is hurt badly so his son must go out alone to find a beacon that will signal help. Kitai must over come his fears to survive.

M. Night Shyamalan gets hated on a lot these days, some of it is deserved but most of it isn’t. I hated Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender but some of his other films have been very strong. His style here never really hurts the film. The movie has a lot going for it, Earth looks amazing, most of the animals are overly CGI’d. The future technology is pretty interesting and at least a little refreshing to see some different ideas on how things would look or work.  There is also a strong back story here involving Kitai’s sister, but the film doesn’t really use it right, which is a shame.

Will Smith is strong here, but frankly he doesn’t have much to do, he’s stuck on a ship most of the time. Jaden Smith struggles here, his line delivery is very weird at many times. M. Night has proven one thing, he isn’t good at working with kids. The script is really where the failure is though so you can’t blame Jaden all that much. The film even though being titled “After Earth” doesn’t really seem to make Earth matter that much. Things just evolved to be bigger, I was expecting some sort of explanation or discovery on Earth but that never happens.

The film comes of like a video game mostly, as Kitai must over come an obstacle, then face off with an animal, then face off against a monster. He even has to take capsules to survive every day. That is the major issue with the movie, using a video game structure just doesn’t really make this movie very interesting. At no time is there any real peril it’s just going through the motions.

After Earth isn’t terrible, visually it is very interesting. There is no major twist or anything like that. Just don’t go in expecting some sort of science fiction game changer. Some of the ships and tech choices are interesting, but beyond that the film is basically a short video game.

Rating: 5.5/10

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

iMarvel is moving on to “Phase 2” and that starts with this film which in many ways feels like the end of Iron Man… Do understand that reading on you will experience EXTREME SPOILERS… This is your only warning…. I lied here is another one… I will be diving deep into the plot of this film so be warned I will be SPOILING MAJOR PLOT PIECES. Okay, shall we begin? The film is set right after the events that happen in the Avengers… Which means the world knows of these super heroes… Loki and aliens attacked New York City. Not only is Tony Stark dealing with what happened but everyone else is too. He cannot help but run into someone asking about the invasion or about other Avenger members like Thor. Stark has panic attacks from the fight in New York and doesn’t see very nasty events unfolding right before his eyes. It takes his house exploding, his girl friend being placed in extreme peril and a lot of rebuilding for him to shake it off.

I really enjoyed the first two Iron Man movies. The first film is a solid set up movie. The villain ended up being rather weak. Iron Monger deserved more screen time. The second film failed because it was being used as a launching pad for the Avengers, it simply had too much on the plate. Still Whiplash’s entrance and fight scene was fantastic as was the use of War Machine. This third film isn’t structured like the others though which is great. We start off in 1999 where we see Tony Stark(Still in drunk dick head mode) blow off a bio engineer named Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and from there the story evolves. Set today Stark watches as a terrorist named The Mandarin(Ben Kingsley) take credit for explosions happening around the world. Iron Man does nothing to stop him. So the President of the United States makes War Machine(Don Cheadle) become “Iron Patriot”, basically War Machine painted red white and blue to go fight The Mandarin.

When one of the terror attacks hits Tony personally he decides to threaten the Mandarin on live news, this leads to his house being blown up by helicopters. With the world(including the bad guys) thinking he’s dead he must use his wits and big ass brain to solve what is going on. All of this works on many levels when it really shouldn’t. Downey gives his best performance as Stark here, it’s deep and more than him just being a drunk who finds a soul. He’s a man on a mission who doesn’t have his money, suits or Avengers as a crutch to help him. Shane Black is directing this time and his work with comedy makes this movie flow and ends up actually being pretty hilarious. The action is also solid across the board.

The movie stumbles when the plot unfolds… The Mandarin ends up being just a drunk actor. Killian is using something called Extremis to grow back people’s limbs/make them invincible/makes them spit fire/make them explode… I’m not kidding. He decided to create a public menace in the Mandarin to get the focus off him and his evil organization. This is the films glaring issue that holds it down… The villain Killian to me doesn’t make any sense, his ultimate plan seems almost pointless and unnecessary. We get tones that why he focused on Stark so badly was due to just jealousy, which is tired and has been done before. The fact that Kingsley plays the Mandarin so well in the first half makes the audience prepare for some ultimate show down, but it just never happens. Killian is the big bad here and his evil plan is just not explained very well. It also doesn’t help that his army of Extremis soldiers just seem like super powered zombies and have no depth.

Still even with this glaring hole the film is still very fun. The actors blow it away here, Kingsley and Guy Pearce are frankly amazing here, both very much enjoying their roles. Gwyneth Paltrow returns as Pepper Potts and has a lot more to do here, her scenes are the best frankly and you can’t help but cheer for the character a little as all the events unfold.

I will give this movie credit for having one of the best twists since “The Sixth Sense” or advertising since “Scream”. I never saw The Mandarin coming as he even claims in the movie. They caught me off guard, problem is the movie didn’t even seem to know what to do with the twist. The plot needed some help towards the end, a clear goal, the best super hero movies have strong villains with a plan. Loki in the Avengers was interesting because he was a pawn, but a dangerous one that the audience understood needed to be stopped. Killian on the other hand, I still am not clear on what he was even about. He was just bad and had to be stopped. The movie is witty and visually stunning and that alone is worth the ticket price but in the end you feel cheated, this could have been the best comic book movie ever, instead you feel like even it doesn’t know what it is half way through. The movie ends in a way that makes it seem like will never see an Iron Man 4… I doubt it of course but it’s interesting. I wish I would say this movie was amazing but really in the end “interesting” is the only word you can toss at it.

Rating: 7/10

Movie Review: Pain and Gain

pain and gainWhen one thinks of Michael Bay they usually think of explosions and more recently robots. Here in this film Bay goes for something a little different and way more darker. Set in 1994/95 we follow Daniel Lugo(Mark Wahlberg) who is a body builder who works in a gym but wants more, cash, a large home and a fancy lawn mower. He brings in two other body builders and makes a plan that involves torture and making a man hand over everything he owns. That man is Victor Kershaw(Tony Shalhoub) and the three men get a taste of what taking what you want and doing whatever you can for the American way can be like going down an bunny hole.

This is a weird movie, just understand that going in, the trailers and commercials almost try to make Daniel Lugo look like some sort of good guy. Make no mistake we do follow him and his buddies most of the movie but at no point does the movie treat this guy like some sort of hero. The odd choice though is that Victor Kershaw and the people Lugo go after are not exactly heart warming people.  What makes the movie work are the performances, Mark Wahlberg continues to impress me and here he doesn’t hold back. The stand out performance though comes from Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson plays a large, heavy religious mess of a man. Every scene he’s in he dominates.

What stands out to me in this movie is Michael Bay seems to pull away from what he’s used to, his style is all there, slow motion shots, tints and everything are still there. What I really mean is he tries to make everything look perfect. Here he makes Miami look rather disgusting and a mess. Usually his films are filled with shiny things and half naked women, yet the movie seems to make fun of a world with men lusting for these things. It’s hands down Bay’s most interesting movie to date since he actually took chances.

Now don’t get into this film expecting a laugh riot, most of the actual jokes are forced, many are side bits from minor characters. The film is very dark, the violence isn’t action movie violence, it’s gritty torture violence. There are some minor shoots outs at the end that make no sense, it seems in Michael Bay’s world cops will just shoot at anything at any time. What makes this interesting is that this was a true story, I’m sure liberties were taken to complete the film.

The strongest part of the film really comes from Ed Harris who plays a retired personal investigator that starts putting the pieces together to track Lugo and his buddies down. Unlike everyone else he isn’t playing things over the top, so I feel like the audience connected with him that way easily.

This isn’t Bay’s best work which I still believe is “The Rock” and secondly “The Island” even though the second half of the film is terrible that film is still strong. Pain and Gain might not be a film you check out in theaters but if you’re interested check it out for rent. Just prepare yourself the film is dark and not a good time in anyway you might be expecting, it’s a story about how greed can destroy anyone no matter how many muscles you have.

Rating: 6/10

Movie Review: 42

fortytwocbfordThe true story of Jackie Robinson’s(Chadwick Boseman) first season as a professional baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His road wasn’t easy, even though he was a good player, the game of baseball was stuck in the old ways of segregation, a lot of the country hadn’t progressed and he faced a lot of hateful language and death threats. With the help of owner Branch Rickey(Harrison Ford) he was able to break though and wear the Dodger blue.

The story of Jackie Robinson is probably the best in sports, he is true American idol. Being the first African American in baseball was huge not only for the sport but for the country. Racism is frankly pointless and many during that time period were doing it solely because that’s “how they were raised”. The story was seen on the big screen before in the 1950’s where Robinson played himself, the movie was really bad though. This film is a much better approach to the topic and story. The films one real problem is that it so wants to be a classic the movie is filmed in an old school way. This should have been done a little differently. The film should have an edge, like the film Moneyball which to me is one of the best sports films in the last two decades.

42 works because of the two leads, Boseman and Ford are fantastic and when they are on screen together it’s fantastic. The films biggest issue is the pacing, when the film dives into baseball and Robinson of the field it’s fun and intense. One scene where a racist ball club manager vocally taunts him while he’s batting is so hard to watch you’ll find yourself wincing. Yet off the field the movie doesn’t work. We follow Robinson’s life with his wife, but there is never really any problems and they just love each other, that is awesome but we don’t need them together every other scene to push this across to the audience.

If you have kids, take them to this film, it’s a good history lesson. If you love baseball you should really see this movie, like I said the scenes in the ball park are fantastic. I just wish there wasn’t this idea of making the movie some sort of timely “classic”, everything feels old school, the soundtrack to the way it’s filmed. The movie never takes risks visually which doesn’t help, 42 feels very long, I wouldn’t be surprised if many people glance at their watch or cell phone during the movie.

This is a by the books sports film, the story is so special that families should go see it. If you’re a baseball fan this is a must but average movie goers might find this film a little bland and slow. One thing is for sure I do want to get to the ball park and see a game!

Rating: 6/10