Tag Archive: Movie Reviews


I’m a big fan of these movies and not afraid to say so. The first film is classic… Sorry if you disagree but the movie works in so many ways and was made on such a low budget. The sequel I think added onto the story and moved things in the right direction. The third film sadly kind of took a step backward, loved the VHS filming, and it hands down had the best scares and visual moments of the franchise. Problem is the ending basically showing us that a cult was helping the demon with its plans was so generic and boring. Sadly Paranormal Activity 4 had to follow with this and what we get is a not so scary movie that had to add on a story element that I think was a bad move from the start.

Here we follow a 15 year old named Alex(Kathryn Newton) who we follow mainly through her lap top conversations with her friend/boy friend. When her family takes in a neighbor boy whose mother is in the hospital things go from normal to shitty very fast. Now I will say this, the actors are really strong here. I had never seen this actress before, but she is great and I think has a career ahead of her. Problem is the movie doesn’t make any sense.

The franchises cannon has basically been this: A paranormal force terrorizes a person to possess them. This happens when someone in your family makes a deal for money or anything with the demon. The deal is the demon gets to have the next male born into the family. So in the first film we see the demon take over a girl named Katie. The sequel explained why it happened. The third film showed us the demon has been haunting the family since Katie and her sister were little girls. It also showed us a cult was trying to help this demon with its goal. So the fourth film shows us basically the boy Hunter being prepared to be taken by the demon. So why would the paranormal force then haunt the family in this film? This is never explained and frankly makes no sense.

The movie doesn’t have a lot of scares, the one’s we are shown we’ve seen before. People getting pulled by an invisible force. Katie standing in door ways. Bumps and creeks heard in the dark. Unlike the third film that tried new things and scared the shit out of you, this movie seems more focused on pushing its limp storyline about the cult preparing the demons take over of Hunter than setting up scares. It seems like they felt that having two creepy little boys in the movie would be enough for audiences, it wasn’t.

Also something I found rather annoying was the heavy amount of product placement in the movie. Xbox gets major moments throughout and I noticed a lot of Pepsi. That is a minor complaint but still. I know they will continue this franchise but they need to expand on the cannon and focus more on the scares. The worst moment of the film comes at the end…. SPOILER… We basically see that everyone in the “cult” have been possessed like Katie from the first film. The final shot is of about twenty to thirty people with creepy faces. This is hands down one of the worst decisions I’ve seen in a while. It brings up too many questions for the viewers… If demons can possess that many people at once, why not just take over the world? Is it one demon possessing them all or multiple demons? If so why? If they bring this up in the fifth movie I’ll be happy… But they won’t. As a fan and defender of this franchise this movie left me simply shaking my head instead of shaking in my boots.

Rating: 4/10

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Movie Review: Looper

In the future where time travel exists but it is only used by criminals, a hitman from a crime syndicate is hired to kill people from the future. Problem is that the crime lords in the future of course don’t want witnesses. So when your job is finished you must kill your future self, that way you close the loop. So these killers are called Loopers, get it?

This review will be really simple and I’ll try and not spoil anything too much. Anything can happen though so I will give this warning… SPOILERS! This film is one of the strongest science fiction films to come out in a long time. Hell it is one of the strongest films to come out this decade. I like it so much because time travel can be a tricky thing to work with but this film just gives an explanation and allows the audience to either buy it or not. Sure there are elements from other films like Terminator but this movie dives so deeply into directions you won’t expect that it caught be my surprise.

Acting wise the film brings the goods. Joseph Gordon Levitt brings it almost anytime he’s on screen but this is his best performance to date. He allowed make up use to change his face to make his look a little closer to Bruce Willis. Speaking of him this is his best work in a long time. Willis is a tortured sole and is brutal, he’s not really a hero at all in this film and it really caught me off guard. Emily Blunt shows up late in the film but I barely recognized her. Her accent is gone and she instantly made me believe she was an out doors farmer girl.

The film is beautiful and a scary look at the future. Nothing is very pretty, I believe we see Kansas City in 2044 and essentially everyone looks to be in a depression. Criminals high roll around the city on hover bikes and carry around high powered pistols and shot guns. The film isn’t as action oriented as the trailers would make you believe, don’t get me wrong there is a decent amount of gun play. The film does slow down several times though, which I enjoyed. My only complaint about the movie is there is a kid that shows up later on and is an important plot point. This child is freaky and speaks like an adult, I hate this in movies and I really disliked it here. Still that wasn’t enough for me to toss away how much in love I was with the rest of the film.

I avoided speaking about the plot and a lot of details for a reason, I kept myself in the dark when seeing this. I was blown away and I feel like you should go through this same experience. See it in the theaters. It’s a movie you’ll either love or hate but will love to discuss this I promise you.

Rating: 9/10

We pick up a decade after last seeing Agent K(Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J(Will Smith) kicking alien butt. The first film is frankly and action/comedy classic. The second movie is well… Not anything really. Every beat of that film was wrong. It was too short. The villain was terrible and they played everything for jokes. A funny villain is one you don’t remember. Well I’m happy to report that they have fixed a lot of those problems the third time around. The movie is funny and will surprise you a couple times, especially towards the end.

The plot starts with Agent K and J doing their normal job, stopping aliens and their zany antics. Something bad happens when an alien named Boris the Animal escapes a moon prison. When we see Boris he is missing an arm and is the last of his warrior species. The tricky beast gets a device that allows him to travel through time and not only kill a young Tommy Lee Jones but helps his people invade and destroy Earth. Agent J must go back in time to the 1960’s and stop Boris. He is told to avoid young Agent K(Josh Brolin) but of course almost the second he is there he teams up with young K to stop future and past Boris’s.

Now sure time travel is kind of “been there done that” but it flows here. A lot has to be said about how great Will Smith is, it’s been a while now since we’ve seen Agent J but the second he’s on screen it feels like no time has passed at all. His goofy and charming ways are hard to ignore. You simply like him. It helps too that he and Brolin create a fantastic chemistry, so you find yourself just enjoying the ride. Brolin’s impression of Tommy Lee Jones is so spot on, and most actors when doing an impression try to go over the top, to show off mannerisms, Brolin’s impression is actually very low key and allows you to enjoy what is going on, instead of just focusing on it.

The graphics here are pretty fantastic, a nice blend of CGI and practical effects. The film’s only problem is that even with time travel and aliens being involved, the film feels very grounded, there is never really a stand out action moment. Which is fine, this franchise was never about huge action set pieces. It does underuse some side characters, like Alice Eve and Emma Thompson both feel like they get a total of two minutes.

What really works for the movie is that it actually has a villain that stands out. Boris the Animal is pretty gross and isn’t afraid to kill someone. The second film had a villain that walked around in her underwear and beat up Johnny Knoxville. A villain can really help a movie feel better. Boris never gets to be a great villain with any stand out dialogue or big moments(like Loki in Avengers) but you never like him. You straight up want the Men in Black to defeat him, that really helps, especially towards the end of the movie.

In the end the film is pretty strong, a huge step up from the second one. It’s not too heavy, it should be okay to take children to, not small kids but there is nothing too scary going on. It’s cute and funny and not a waste of time. There is a moment towards the end that is decently surprising and rather heart warming. So I’d check it out if you get the chance.

Rating: 7/10

 

Hayao Miyazaki is a master of animation, his films are classics, this film isn’t directed by him directly but it is a part of Studio Ghibli. Arrietty is a small person, no not like that I mean literally less than an inch tall. Her people are called Borrowers. They live in the walls and under the floor boards. They take thing humans won’t really miss. If ever caught they must flee very quickly before being captured. Arrietty is caught by a sickly boy named Shawn, who’s staying at his aunt’s country home while awaiting a heart transplant. She befriends the sick boy, even though the other people in the house, including a house keeper may try and capture Arrietty and her family.

This film is a nice breath of fresh air as recently when it comes to animation we have seen just too many CGI films. Here the basic animation is frankly beautiful. The best moments are when Arrietty and her father travel through the house, in the walls, through the kitchen, the mission is simple, get a sugar cube and a piece of tissue. This scene alone is worth a look at this film.

The voice work is pretty solid across the board, many times in films like these we get over the top work that takes you out of the film. Will Arnett and Amy Poehler do good work her as the family members of Arrietty. My only real complaint with the movie is the work done with Shawn. His character is cold and his look on life is so dark and bleak that it seems vert out of place in a very family friendly film. This is a minor complaint though. One should check this film out for the animation, the work with animals, a fat cat and a crow are good examples of how great the work is here. This is a short review because breaking the plot down is rather pointless because it’s thin, the film is not long at all either, that’s good for families, the animation is beautiful and the story is nice, that’s about it.

Rating: 8/10

Sherlock Holmes has returned along with his right hand man Dr. Watson. Together they must stop a plan being put in place by Professor Moriarty, to make Europe dive into warfare. Now the first film was personally for me a classic in many ways. The plot flowed and the action was really solid. This film really picks up from the last one left off. Holmes is jealous of the marriage that Watson is about to have. Not much the fact he’s getting married, but that his best friend is moving on. Holmes himself is connecting the dots to several murders and bombings that are leading Europe towards the wars of all wars.

Robert Downey Jr. I like as Holmes here again, a solid balance of crazy and genius and his accent is pretty solid. Jude Law really works as Watson. His balance with Downey’s over the top performance helps the movie flow. He is charming without even trying, yet you believe he is a brute who can beat down anyone in his path. The stand out performance though comes from Jared Harris, his Moriarty is very dangerous and is constantly ahead of Holmes. One moment where he has Holmes trapped actually becomes rather disturbing in how evil Harris comes off. Moriarty pushes the franchise higher as his plan essentially seems unstoppable. Sadly though Noomi Rapace, from the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo plays a gypsy wrapped up in the plot. She somehow comes off very cold here and doesn’t seem to be living it up with the rest of the cast. She’s great in the action sequences though and I blame her coldness on the script, which kind of show horned her in.

Guy Ritchie really nails it again, the movie simply comes off as a good natured action film. I love a film that has well shot hand combat scenes, since it’s very rare these days. There are many moments in the film though where I wish the slow-mo might be taken down a notch. That is a minor complaint. I’ve seen some people complaining the plot is hard to follow, for me it’s the exact opposite, Moriarty’s plan seems realistic in many places and once Holmes connects the dots, I never found myself lost or confused.

I really hope this film expands into a third film, I really enjoy the actors and the characters they have created. Moriarty is a great villain and hopefully the story can continue. Guy Ritchie I think has created a fantastic action franchise that should at least go for one more round.

Rating: 8/10

The late Stieg Larsson’s series of three mystery novels are huge hits, they have sold millions of copies. Those books were adapted into three wildly popular series of Swedish films, which made a star out of leading lady Noomi Rapace. So many were kind of confused seeing the films were going to be remade. For me I usually stand against remakes, I find most of them pointless. This film though with David Fincher behind the camera gives this film such a great atmosphere, also with the addition of Rooney Mara as the punk bad ass Salander makes this film not just good but possibly better than the original.

The plot follows disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist(Daniel Craig), career is crumbling all around him and is effecting his marriage. So when a rich reclusive Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger(Christopher Plummer) to solve the disappearance of his niece that happened over forty years ago. As Mikael dives deep into his investigation and picks up Lisbeth Salander who is a young hacker. She has almost endless issues but stays on the mission. Together they are able to connect the young woman’s disappearance to a string of murders.

As a remake this film pushes past the original in many ways. First off Rooney Mara does a fantastic job as the lead. Her character continues to get underestimated and used in many ways. Yet she fights through it and is stronger than you might think. Daniel Craig here kind of takes a back seat, but it really works, his character is charming and well tempered. When the two are on screen the film really picks up because the two are great together.  The only real problem this film has is that as a remake, we sort of figure out who the villain is easily just by the actors chosen. Wish they would have tried a little harder to hide who the villain was.

The real star is David Fincher who gives this film such a dark vibe. Even knowing the story or seeing the original you’ll feel the tension. The film never blinks or turns away from violence or sex, which is a breath of fresh air. Two scenes focus on anal rape and it would be tempting to spin it or not show it so straight forward. Fincher doesn’t blink and even though it’s disturbing it does make it clear to the audience that anything can happen. Fincher has a true vision and most of his films stand in my mind as great films, like Seven and The Social Network. This film very much belongs to be named with those. I for one hope Fincher returns for the other two films. It would be a real let down if he doesn’t step back up to the plate.

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: The Muppets

Well the Muppets are back in a new and mainly off balance film. One that will warm the hearts of their fans but will also leave some people scratching their heads. I say this mainly because due to the amount of new characters the Muppets somehow seem to not exactly be the focus. Still with plenty of good laughs and a number of great songs the film does achieve the goal of proving the Muppets are still a much needed member of our popular culture.

We open two brothers, Gary who is human, and Walter who is a Muppet(They don’t explain how this is possible and frankly I don’t want to know). Walter has grown up knowing he was different and always dreamed of going to Los Angeles and teaming up with the famous Muppets. When Gary and his long time girl friend plan to leave “Smalltown” for Los Angeles for their anniversary, they let Walter tag along. Once arriving in L.A. they find that the Muppets have fallen apart. Not only that but the famous studio they once run is being purchased by an evil oil executive named Tex Richman(Chris Cooper) who plans to destroy everything the Muppets once were.

The films first half is frankly perfect, most of the jokes are not over the top or smash in the nose type humor. No a lot of the jokes you’ll find yourself laughing about later. The dance and music numbers never come off as campy or dumb, they seem perfectly placed. The movie essentially makes us understand that the 70’s and 80’s were just better than today, at least pop culture wise. Something happens though half way through and the movie essentially looses steam. I frankly can’t put my finger on it but the film simply lost a lot of it’s energy. It’s still cute and charming but something is just not right.

My main issue with the film is addition of new characters, we focus on them decently enough that the original Muppets seemingly only get moments together. Jason Segel and Amy Adams play the human leads, their relationship is a minor part of the story, that’s the way it should be. Though the human Muppet Walter gets a lot of focus, and frankly he is very interesting. It’s a story we’ve seen before and his character doesn’t bring a lot of comedy either. He screams and runs into things a lot, but mainly he is there to ground the audience, we are living through Walter and sadly he’s just boring. His main issue is not wanting his brother to move on. Problem is the movie is so light hearted that this never feels like a real problem.

In the end the film is worth your time, the first half should have you laughing and smiling a lot. I’m not sure how kids would take it. I’m sure they would love the Muppets, but most of the jokes will go over their heads. There are also a number of cameo’s in the film, most don’t make sense(Sarah Silverman, the guy from The Big Bang Theory) but there are some solid appearances by Jack Black and Neil Patrick Harris. The film though is mainly about friendship and that the culture should return to accepting people and being friendly, instead of overly nasty and cynical. The message is great it’s just somehow the second half of this film just slows down and looses a lot of it’s magic.

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: Abduction

The rise of Taylor Lautner has been interesting. He was a thin long haired kid in the first Twilight movie. Then he went through a transformation, the kid got stacked, then suddenly he became almost only known for being shirtless. Now I know this sounds odd, but I feel bad for him. He’s not being remembered for being a good actor, which he actually does stand out in the Twilight films. He’s being remembered as having nice abs and I’m sure he wants to be more than that. Well they try that here in Abduction sort of, and basically fail. Lautner plays Nathan a kid who basically lives his life with an anger rolling around inside of him. He has to keep his attitude in check all the time, he goes to a therapist, his parents try to keep him in line. Even though his father doesn’t help, the second Nathan comes home after a party his dad beats his ass with boxing pads.

Of course Nathan has a crush on a high school hottie played by Lilly Collins. Her role is beyond pointless and sad to see her character basically dragged along as the story moves. The film is really about Nathan’s parents aren’t really his parents. He was raised by CIA agents. His father is essentially James Bond, so if anyone knew Nathan was alive as his son, they could take him and make American James Bond give them information they need. There is a little more to the story, but it’s pointless to tell you anymore. The trailers kind of confused me, I though Lautner’s character was special in some way, genetically advanced or something, instead he just ended up being someone’s son. Kind of a let down.

The films real issues is that it’s just a mess, there is no weight to it, Lautner and Collins just run around from Euro-trash villains for the second half. The dialogue is corny and almost every decision they make is either bad or it comes off like a joke, but it’s not a joke. There are a couple of action scenes that are pretty well put together. Still there are too many dumb moments to seriously enjoy any of this. For Lautner he does what he can, he is shirtless again several times, he did well in the action scenes but when it comes to more serious moments he seemed stiff. Probably not his fault the script seemed like it was written in half a day. The problem for Lautner is by the third act his character mainly is made to just run around, while other characters do the action. The movie also has possibly one of the worst endings I’ve seen in a while. It’s a shame because there would have been a good movie, maybe even a good franchise in here somewhere, but it’s just so badly done. The villains needed an upgrade, we just get  a bunch of Serbian guys which is really boring. They needed to do something a little more original to make this stand out. Instead it feels like they were making a teen version of the Bourne series. Instead they made a silly movie that is forgettable… What I mean by that is that you’ll want to forget it

Also if you live in Pittsburgh you may want to see this movie. It was filmed locally there and that is one of its only major positives. The film actually does have nice back drops and feels real because they actually filmed there. The film ends at PNC park. You know you’re watching a fantasy because the ball park was sold out in the film. Ouch! That’s right I went there Pittsburgh.

Rating: 1.5/10

Okay ignore the obviously horrible and silly title. The film was originally called “Rise of the Apes”, fearing audiences wouldn’t get the connection to the previous franchise they added “Planet of the Apes”. Problem is no planet rises in this movie, it doesn’t make any sense. Still hidden behind the silly title is an amazing film, which frankly is ground breaking in multiple ways, first of the CGI over all is pretty fantastic, and the main character is an ape named Caesar. The plot is pretty simple really, Will Rodman(James Franco) is a brilliant young scientist, his father(John Lithgow) is slowly falling apart from Alzheimer’s. This motivates him to create a way to fight the disease, he starts treatment on apes. The treatment works and raises brain activity in the test apes. When one of the apes becomes violent and escapes, she is killed, Will finds out the reason she lost it was because she had a baby. The company ordered all apes to be put down, feeling guilty Will takes the baby ape into his home.

We follow Will as he takes care of baby Caesar realizing that the ape genetically gained intelligence from his mother. Frida Pinto plays Will’s love interest, she’s a vet and she and Will raise Caesar. Problem is as he grows it becomes harder to keep him a secret. After an incident involving an annoying neighbor they are made to take Caesar to an ape preserve. There the men running it a brutal to the animals, not treating them with the respect Will did. The mistreatment leads Caesar to lead and revolt to free all apes from imprisonment, whether it be a lab or zoo. His development is the key part to this, we see and feel everything he does, you connect to the mistreatment. When he has had enough and plans to escape you can’t help but root for him and the apes to succeed.

I get that this film is a prequel leading into The Planet of the Apes franchise. It does a fine job setting up the series, we get NASA updates about a lost ship. At sometime the references to the other movies gets annoying, they basically sneak in every famous line. Looking past that though this film is a very good stand alone film. The film is advertised as if the apes are trying to over throw man kind, that is far from it actually, most of the action is at the end of the film when the apes are simply escaping.

Also most of the human actors are fine, Lithgow really stands out here while the other actors seem to be going through the motions. It’s fine though because the movie is about them, the humans are side characters, this is Caesar’s show and Andy Serkis did an amazing job with the motion caption here. The CGI here has some bad spots but overall it’s very impressive. The final twenty minutes is where things really shine as police confront the escaping apes on the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s very impressive.

What I really like about this film is that it’s not a remake, the story stands alone and if no sequels are to come we would be fine with the story here. The real triumph is to have the audience connect with a CGI ape pretty much all the way through. The movie may be one that is remembered for a long time in the sci-fi department. Doesn’t exactly reach a classic status but it really is an impressive film that doesn’t rely on CGI, it just adds to a very great story.

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Crazy Stupid Love

This movie can be placed in the “almost” category, everything is in place for something really special but when it came to closing the deal, they blinked. The film follows Cal(Steve Carell) is a simple and basic guy. We open on him eating dinner with his wife Emily(Julianne Moore) and she tells him she wants a divorce and that she cheated on him. He deflates basically. Having never been with any other woman than his wife, Cal is lost at a singles bar he continues to go to. That is until he is taken in Jacob(Ryan Gosling), who teaches him the ins and outs of the new dating game. Meanwhile, Jacob falls for a law-student named Hanna(Emma Stone) who is not very impressed with how he picks up women.

This film could easily stand alone on the actors it has in it. Both Carell and Gosling are very appealing here, as is the rest of the supporting cast. Emma Stone is just charming and is lining herself up in my opinion as the real next Julie Roberts in Hollywood. Julianne Moore doesn’t get a lot of screen time here, but when she does, she stands out. She is frankly always great in what she is in. Still beyond the cast Crazy Stupid Love could never make a decision on what type of film it is. Don’t get me wrong it is funny, the characters have charming moments. Yet when the film just starts feeling unique it gets weighed down by cliches and just nonsense.

Two other story lines in this film follow Carell and Moore’s children. A thirteen year old boy who is in love with the seventeen year old baby sitter. Problem is the baby sitter has a crush for the much older Cal. This story line continues to slow down and wreck an utterly charming film. First off I despise this cliche’d pointless move to have a young teen who “wise beyond his years”. We see this time and time again, it’s old, it’s boring, and seeing it here was a huge let down. Yet not seeing they were setting their boat aflame they continue to ram the kid down out throats.

The films biggest failure was simply blinking when they had a chance at something special. There is a twist in the final act which spices things up but still leads into the basic rom com direction… It’s just a shame and a waste. It reminds me how much I love the film The Breakup, starring Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn. That film was funny but never blinked, it was about a breakup and I know the ending pissed some people off but it was real and not cliche’d at all. Here Crazy Stupid Love blinks on several occasions which is a shame. I say that because the actors and the characters frankly are so great. It’s sad the story and plot lags behind them and simply never generates anything note worthy.

This is essentially the Spider-man 3 of rom-coms, just has too much going on. We care and like Carell and Gosling, Moore and Stone so much that jumping away from them to follow some cliche’d thirteen year old boys arch is overly frustrating. A lot like SP3 the film sets up something special and then kind of fumbles everything into an ending. I’d suggest seeing it due to the performances, but the plot and cliche’d rom-com devices will leave you wishing for more.

Rating: 6/10