Tag Archive: Movie

Movie Review: Fury

fury-review-2Now from what I can tell Fury is not based on any true story. I’m fine with this, not all war movies have to be based on something that really happened. In the last several years we’ve seen a minor come back for war films. David Ayer the director of Training Day brings a gritty vision to a film genre that I believe lost it’s balls recently. Problem is the film almost goes too dark.

Brad Pitt is a stand out in this film. Frankly without him the movie might have really struggled. He is the commanding officer of a tank lead by men who have seen too much combat. They’ve been together for a long time, fought through Africa and France and now find themselves in Germany with their foot on the throat of the Nazi’s.

The rest of the team is made up of “Bible” the religious man of the group played by Shai Labeouf. “Gordo” played by the impressive Michael Pena. Then of course there is “Coon-ass” played by Shane… I mean Jon Berthal. They are paired up with a new kid played by Logan Lerman. They pick at each other and at many times seem like animals. Slowly we see them become brothers. The actors are all fine but really don’t stand out against Pitt.

The best thing about this movie is that there really isn’t any secret mission they go on or anything. They simply lumber forward and fight off desperate Germans. In one scene they fight children armed with rockets. Unlike other movies that try and find some sort of light hearted or meaning to war, Fury makes it clear that war is brutal and disgusting.

My only issue with the movie is its constant mission to be dark. There is no sympathy here in this movie. The balance is just off, at many times I actually disliked Pitt’s crew, that’s fine I guess but it doesn’t balance well with the action. The last almost twenty minutes of the movie the crew fight off a hundred SS soldiers. The violence turns real to suddenly comic book silliness. If you want to go dark and gritty then that should flow right into the action.

That being said the film is still very interesting. Just be prepared this is not a “fun” movie. The violence is brutal and Ayer is never afraid to show it.

Rating: 6/10

equacbThe plot is rather simple, Robert McCall(Denzel Washington) plays an ex-spy? Killer? Never really explained, all we know is that he’s out of the business and works at a fake Home Depot. Then one night he watches as a young prostitute(Chloe Moretz) get abused something goes off, he then goes on simply a killing spree, taking out every level of a Russian mob in Boston.

Where this film stands apart from most of the “ex-bad ass goes on a revenge binge” type film is that this movie is brutal. The violence is beyond over the top. McCall’s lack of empathy for the men he kills is interesting here but never looked into. They focus on him being slightly OCD, which again is just something to make his character stand out it never really becomes a part of the story. The movie is lightly based on a television show with the same title.

The film succeeds only in its action, the brutal R-rating is deserved and works. No CGI blood, this movie makes the violence very real. McCall weirdly barely uses guns and goes for books or tools to take out bad guys. Where the movie fails in not taking things a step further with the story. McCall is basically a quiet lunatic, I guess we’re suppose to believe he’s a nice guy who has an extreme on off switch but I never bought it. His brutality increases as the movie goes along and he seems very addicted to it. We spend most of the movie following McCall as he lays down his own balance of justice on, robbers, dirty cops, etc. None of which connect to the story. I thought they were going to use this for something greater but they never do. The film at no point tries to explain why almost all of a sudden McCall just goes on a vengeance binge. Somewhere in there was a very interesting movie, they decide to ignore and make it as generic as possible.

The third act of the film is so cliche riddled and so predictable, that it’s almost pointless to watch it. McCall also comes off as a quiet Superman. Nothing seems to hurt him and he seems to know what the villains are going to do several steps before they even think about doing it. Marton Czokas’ plays a very good Russian mobster. His character stands out in many ways, but by the end you know he is not a threat to McCall so the drama is gone. Nothing is a surprise, you’re just waiting for the next beat before the movie ends.

Antoine Fuqua is one of my favorite directors, he just makes good action movies. It felt like though the movie he wanted to make was held back here. It’s going on direction and then basically turns into Mr. and Mrs. Smith, by that I mean that it had something interesting going and then just decides to dumb it down and end it with a big shoot out in a department store. Kind of a let down.

Rating: 5/10

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: 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

Movie Review: Oblivion

Oblivion.cb3Science fiction is making a huge come back and Oblivion is proof of that. Last summer Prometheus came out and even though it had problems it was the strongest science fiction film to come out in a long time. Oblivion follows Tom Cruise’s character named Jack, he is part of a two man team to fix drones that roam around the surface of Earth. We’re told that humanity won a war against a scavenger alien race, the aliens were defeated but the planet was destroyed when the scavengers blew up the moon. So most humans now live on the moon of Saturn called Titan. Jack and his partner Victoria(Andrea Riseborough) who are slightly romantically involved have a system locked down. Jack occasionally faces off with the masked aliens left on the planet but most of the time he’s bored.

Things heat up when a ship crash lands and has humans on board. The drones Jack repairs open fire on the pods holding the people. This leads to an avalanche of problems for the two of them. Especially when Jack saves one of the people aboard the crashed ship that turns out to be someone from his past, her name is Julia(Olga Kurylenko) he remembers her even though his memories were wiped by the company they work for. Jack begins putting the pieces together… SPOILER ALERT…… I’M SERIOUS…. Once Jack meet Morgan Freeman and a human resistance he finds out nothing is like it seems. I’m not going to spoil anything else. The plot gets a lot better minus one or two odd choices towards the end. The films pace is fantastic, this is essentially a drama but with well placed action the movie rolls along very quickly.

Joseph Kosinski made Tron: Legacy which I strongly enjoyed, that film and this one are alike in many ways. The main connection is both are visually stunning. The world of Oblivion is empty and sad. The technology we are exposed to in fantastic but very realistic, like one day we could actually see stuff like that exist. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Kosinski has in store for us down the road.

The key piece of why this film works is Tom Cruise, the man is an action star. He makes this film work in every scene, we care about him. The two female leads are fantastic as well and bring a lot of heart to a film with barely little human interaction. Morgan Freeman isn’t on screen for long but he does add a little comedy to a film set at the end of the world.

It’s not a sequel or based off a comic book but the film is strong and I hope it opens the door for more science fiction in the next couple of years. Go see it, you won’t be upset that you did, if anything you’ll find this film interesting.

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Emperor

emperor-review-1Do you like history? You better if you want to like Emperor. The story isn’t about the war on the islands against the Japanese. It’s set after all of that, after Emperor Hirohito’s surrender General Douglas MacArthur found himself in a bit of a weird spot, he had to put the leaders of the Japanese empire on trial for war crimes, if he placed the Emperor in this position it could destroy the Japanese totally. Most Americans don’t know this but at that time the Emperor was worshipped as a God by his people. So wisely MacArthur put General Bonner Fellers in a covert mission to connect the Emperor to the Pearl Harbor attacks. If he had any direct connection to it, he would be placed on trail for war crimes.

The film is obviously very well made, everything from the wardrobes to the back drops look perfect for the times. Problem is as important as the story is, it’s not really cinematic. Matthew Fox plays General Bonner Fellers and does a fine job. I’ve always liked him and recently he’s been trying to branch out, playing a psycho killer in “Alex Cross” and I loved him in “Speed Racer”. Still his character is very straight laced, trying to find a Japanese woman he fell in love with before the war… SPOILERS…. Major problem is the audience basically understands that she is dead way and I mean way before Fellers ever does. So there isn’t really that many places the movie can go.

Tommy Lee Jones does a fantastic job playing General MacArthur and his performance isn’t over the top and it’s layered as well since MacArthur, who no doubt is an American hero, but the guy had a God complex for sure. The movie plays with this a little, but really the film over all comes off like a History Channel movie before they were focused on Pawn Stars and other reality programming.

The story is important, something every American should understand but the film just lacks the drama that makes it a strong movie. This is something one should watch in an afternoon, not a night out at the theater. The love story angle ultimately fails so the film is only really good when it breaks down the historic elements. There just isn’t enough here to be worth seeing this movie in theaters, it’s for sure a rental, the story should be heard, it’s just not over all a strong film.

Rating: 5 out of 10

Don’t rub your eyes, you’ve seen this story before, high schooler Peter Parker is bitten by a genetic changed spider, gains super powers, learns that with great power comes… Well he learns it but those words are never really used. It’s a lot like Spiderman that came out in 2002, yet it somehow feels older than that film, the movie is dark in tone, graphics are a mess and in the end they squeezed the fun out of Spider-man. Now not everything is bad here, the actors are actually better, it’s closer to the comics in many ways, but its when it decides to stray from the comic that things get really messy and really silly.

This series really shouldn’t have been rebooted, a sequel would have worked fine. I get the interest though in rebooting it, you get a new at bat(Sorry for the baseball lingo). The bonus to that though is we get Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and he is frankly perfect for the role. I buy him as a geek, he also handled all the emotional scenes very well. Really there is a lot more weighing on Garfield since the movie itself is a mess and none of that is his fault. He and Emma Stone who plays Gwen Stacy are so good together on screen you almost forget all the other nonsense that happens… Almost. They along with the other actors really try and it shows and frankly they almost save this sinking ship… Again, almost. We get Spider-man’s intro AGAIN accept this time we are introduced to his parents who will probably come up in sequels but are barely important to this film.

Martin Sheen plays Uncle Ben, his screen time is limited but when he is there his heart is felt on screen. He and Garfield are very good together. Sally Field plays Aunt May who has even less screen time, but I’m sure as more movies come along she’ll get a little more to do. Uncle Ben’s character though and what happens to him is where the movie really starts to slip, as a reboot we go through everything again… So they had to change Spider-man’s creation a little, which frankly is pointless. Instead of Ben being killed while waiting for Parker, he is killed trying to stop a robber. Peter in a weird way could have maybe stopped the man. He knows what the guy looks like and learns that the robber had a star tattoo on his left wrist. This is what leads Parker to become Spider-man… To find this man and get revenge. So he goes out and attacks any criminal that looks like the killer. That is simply stupid.

The films other huge problem was the villain, Rhys Ifans plays Dr. Curt Connors who knew Parker’s father. He is missing his right arm, so he dedicated his scientific career to help those who are impaired. This leads him to testing a formula Parker help create on himself. This turns him into a human sized Lizard. It also seemingly makes him go insane as he then tries to turn every citizen of New York into Lizard people. First problem is the Lizard looks nothing like he does in the comics, maybe wears him lab coat once, he has human face… They got everything wrong. Even to the end where Connors is essentially looked at as a terrorist.

The action I have to say is very solid in places, a fight between Spider-man and the Lizard in the high school is very impressive. Still what plagued Spider-man 3 essentially hurts this film. They simply had too much to do. They re-started the franchise, introducing us again to Peter, they brought in his parents story line, Uncle Ben’s death, Peter’s love story with Gwen Stacy, The Lizard’s arch… It was just too much. A lot felt rushed and it became clear why they rebooted it this quickly. They are using this film as a launching pad for others.

I don’t mean to be this negative, there are a lot of positives, the acting is really strong and worth the price of admission. The direction is a mess as is the story. They tried to ground Spider-man too much, like Nolan’s Batman films somehow was a shadow over this movie. You cannot make a movie based in a “real world” when having the villain be the Lizard, it just doesn’t work. After seeing this film I simply sat back and wish that Sony let Marvel take this product back.

Rating: 5/10

What happened to Natalie Portman? To me she always seemed a little stiff or cold. Her work in the Star Wars prequels had no life to it(might not have been her fault). Yet she has hit this year with a shot of life. Her performance in The Black Swan has made her a shoe in for a Academy Award and now she just lets herself go and shows us a funny side in this film. Ashton Kutcher to his credit is very charming and he does have comedic timing. His character here isn’t very layered, he plays Adam who is a super nice guy who has a nice job, his only problem is that he wants to be a writer and can’t get his foot in the door. His only real dilemma in the movie is his air head British ex-girl friend starts sleeping with his dad. Still Kutcher does what he has to and is so charming in some scenes you can’t help but like him. The real star though is Portman who amazingly lands most of the laughs in the film. Her character is an uptight, she likes to keep emotion out of her life. Her career as a doctor allows her to ignore trying to start relationships. Even her friends and room mates don’t seem that close to her. So when these two finally come together things get a little complicated.

A big surprise is that this movie is made by Ivan Reitman, yes the man who made Ghostbusters. The films vibe is interesting, Kutcher and Portman are not life long friends who decide to sleep together, instead they run into each other every decade or so and finally decide to do it. The movie is raunchy in language more than actual sex. A couple scenes of half naked Kutcher and Portman, but besides one scene the sex in the movie is more referred to more than seen. I’m sure that will disappoint some but the film is more about people getting over self inflicted walls and learning to be with people they never thought was possible.

It must seem like I loved this movie, don’t get me wrong it is charming but has loads of problems. Kutcher and Portman just work together and are both great in the rules given to them. Sure the film is also a watered down When Harry Met Sally but as for rom-coms it is one of the better one’s we’ve had in a while. Still the film has issues, mainly the supporting cast, a lot of the friend characters to the two leads have witty lines that fall flat. The movie seemed slightly influenced by movies like Funny People and Knocked Up, basically the Judd Apatow formula. That’s when you just let side characters have over the top lines for laughs while the main characters can stay basic and more real to the audience. Here it just happens way too many times where the dialogue is forced and the laughs just don’t come. Still the movie powers through all of this and stays away from predictable and the eye rolling that comes from most general rom-coms. This also confirms that Natalie Portman is a stand out actress and pretty damn funny. “You look like a pumpkin bitch!”… You’ll understand when you see it.

Rating: 7/10